TC Startup Week Comes to a Close
On Wednesday, ed-tech entrepreneurs met in St. Paul for discussions about the future of education.

TC Startup Week Comes to a Close

After hundreds of events, the region’s sixth annual startup week wrapped up on Wednesday.

Out-of-towners have left. Organizers have packed up. Twin Cities Startup Week has ended. Total attendance figures haven’t been released yet, but the event typically draws more than 17,000 people. To get a better picture of the week’s impact, we’ll check back in with organizers after they’ve pour through this year’s data. For now, we round up some key happenings from the week’s final day.

The business of education: There’s plenty of opportunity for emerging businesses in the education-technology space. On Wednesday, ed-tech entrepreneurs met up at the Osborn370 building in St. Paul for a day of discussions about the future of education. Like many startups, ed-tech companies often need to “pivot” from their original business plans. But for some entrepreneurs, a pivot doesn’t mean changing gears entirely. “When I think about my first pivot, it happened very quickly, but it also required me to come back to that original business plan,” said Elizabeth Orme, founder and CEO of Creatively Focused, a company now aimed at reducing attrition rates for special ed teachers. Orme spoke on a panel with FANschool founder Eric Nelson and 26Letters founder Caroline Karanja.

The Instagram puzzle: “People will decide in 30 seconds whether or not to follow you,” said Jenna Redfield, marketing coach, social media strategist, and owner of Twin Cities Collective, a network to help Twin Cities bloggers and creatives connect with other like-minded individuals and learn how to market their businesses on social media. “But your brand will stand out with consistency.” Then there’s the issue of the hashtag: They’re not pretty, but they’re important. Put them in the comments to hide them. Keep a list of hashtags you use regularly that you can just copy and paste. Use a mixture of large, medium, and small hashtags.

Startup Week honors: The week closed out with an awards ceremony at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Seven startups were honored at the event:

  • Sean Higgins, CEO of self-improvement app BetterYou, earned the Emerging Startup Award, which honors a “hungry new organization or individual to Minnesota’s startup community.”
  • Customer communication company Kipsu took home the Voyager Award, which recognizes a successfully bootstrapped tech company.
  • Minneapolis retailer Target Corp. received the Redwood Award (Corporate Champion). The honor recognizes big companies that support Minnesota’s startup scene.
  • Coffee for Closers earned the Impact Award, which honors companies that help make Minnesota more startup-friendly.
  • Red Wing-based Give.Save earned the 10K Lakes Award, which recognizes companies that help grow startups outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro.
  • Same-day delivery company Dispatch earned the Operational Excellence Award.
  • Paul-based incubator Lunar Startups earned the Inclusive Evolution Award for helping create a more inclusive startup scene.

Quote of the day: “There’s critical momentum in support of startups,” says Lisa Crump, cofounder of Stratasys and Sofia Fund partner. “That’s what we’re seeing here in the Twin Cities, with outreach to greater Minnesota and underrepresented entrepreneurs through organizations like the Metropolitan Economic Development Association.”