Ready to Launch: StartMN
Minnesota, you inspire us.
Every day, the staff of Twin Cities Business get to talk to people who see the white spaces and invent solutions that change the way we live now and in the not-too-distant future. Developing diagnostic tests that can predict individual responses to medications (Geneticure). Bottling a probiotic juice shot that’s leading a new category of wellness drinks (So Good So You). Creating a fintech platform for hourly workers to get paid in advance without fees (Branch).
It’s true we’ve been a bit slower than competing markets to tout our advantages for startups. But that’s changing, thanks in part to Minnesota’s Angel Tax Credit (“Calling All Angels,”), a new and more inclusive generation of venture capital firms (“Minnesota’s Home Field Advantage,” page 18), corporate accelerator programs (“Supporting Startups,”) that often draw promising startups like Branch to town, and an amazingly supportive startup community.
One unique advantage that really can’t be overstated, however, is the connection between large corporations and startups in Minnesota. It’s easy to think of big companies and startups as opposite ends of the business spectrum, but in reality, they feed each other. You can read about the startup founders who emerged from Minnesota’s largest companies—a small sampling among many (“The List,”); most would tell you how much that training helped them bring a new product or service to market. Proof of Minnesota’s appeal: Even after leaving Medtronic, Target, and the like, these founders stick around to launch their brands here.
We’ve also talked to big companies that are creating new roles for innovators and digital disruptors in their quest to recapture the entrepreneurial spirit that fueled their own founding. Amol Dixit, who is on the cover, is the consummate example: a corporate marketer turned entrepreneur who recently made a seemingly surprising move—he returned to General Mills to run the company’s new internal startup incubator.
As a media company built on local journalism, we see the white space in this innovation ecosystem: an opportunity to connect the dots among the entrepreneurs, investors, collaborators, and corporate partners and tell stories of innovations likely to transform our state—and our world. That’s why we created StartMN. We’re building more than a magazine; our ultimate goal is a content hub for entrepreneurship that we hope inspires even more ideas and collaborations. After reading our inaugural issue, feel free to share it, especially with an out-of-state friend or colleague who asks, “Why Minnesota?” We need to get louder about the work that’s happening here.
Myles Shaver, professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, busts a common myth about big companies. “There’s a perception with big corporations that they’re around forever and ever,” he says. “In actuality, the average time on the Fortune 500 is six to seven years.” But, he continues, Minnesota is a notable exception. “The reason our region has so many big companies, and ones like 3M and General Mills that have been in the Fortune 500 since it existed: They reinvent themselves.”
At Twin Cities Business, we do too. TCB has been covering the state of business and its influential leaders for nearly 30 years, which has always included entrepreneurship—in its myriad forms, across every industry, whether it starts in a garage or a state-of-the-art lab. There’s no question that starting something new has become a more popular path in recent years, however. Our dreams are bigger, our needs are more urgent, and technology makes once far-fetched ideas seem within reach.
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That’s what StartMN is all about. It’s an extension of what you’ll find in our main magazine, on our website and podcast, in e-newsletters, and at events. We know innovation moves fast today, and we want to make sure you’re in the loop.
Let’s get started.