Tech Start-up PreciouStatus Wins MN Cup Grand Prize, Receives $65K

The company, founded by a former Best Buy executive, developed a mobile application platform that allows people to receive updates about their loved ones in real time from daycare providers, hospitals, and care facilities.

Excelsior-based technology start-up PreciouStatus was recently named grand-prize winner in the eighth annual Minnesota Cup entrepreneurial competition, beating out more than 1,000 participants and ultimately receiving $65,000.
 
PreciouStatus developed a mobile application platform that allows people to receive updates about their loved ones in real time from daycare providers, hospitals, and care facilities.
 
Newrai came up with the idea in early 2010 after her husband was hospitalized with a severe brain hemorrhage when their child was eight weeks old. On her way to a business meeting, she called her daycare provider to check on her baby and was put on hold. Moments later, the same thing happened when she called the rehab center to check on her husband. She thought there had to be a better way for busy professionals to receive status updates about their family members—so she started mapping out a tool that would make life easier.
 
“It was during those months that I learned firsthand how difficult communications with loved ones can be during times of crisis,” Newrai, a former executive at Best Buy Company, said in a statement. “The more I looked at the system at large, it became obvious how broken it was.”
 
The Minnesota Cup is a statewide contest that seeks out the state's newest and most innovative business ideas. Participants competed in one of six divisions—bioscience and health IT, clean technology and renewable energy, general, high tech, social entrepreneur, and student.
 
PreciouStatus—which recently raised $1.2 million in capital, according to a July regulatory filing—won the high tech division before securing the grand prize. Each division winner received $25,000 in seed capital (with the exception of the social entrepreneur division winning team, which received $20,000 and the student division winning team, which received $10,000). PreciouStatus received an additional $40,000 after being named the contest’s overall winner.
 
Upon accepting the grand prize at a Thursday awards event at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center, Newrai told attendees: “My goal is to make Minnesota the new, much improved Silicon Valley.”
 
This is the second consecutive year in which the Minnesota Cup grand prize went to a female entrepreneur whose business idea was inspired by a tragic family event. Last year’s grand prize went to AUM Cardiovascular, whose noninvasive device can identify lethal coronary blockages in less than 20 seconds. President and CEO Marie Johnson was inspired to start the company after her husband died of a heart attack in 2002 at age 41.
 
The Minnesota Cup has become a major part of the state’s entrepreneurial DNA. It’s put on with the help of a long list of sponsors, including well-known companies Wells Fargo, Carlson, General Mills, UnitedHealth Group, Digital River, The Mosaic Company, and Xcel Energy.
 
Minnesota Cup finalists from 2009, 2010, and 2011 have collectively raised $52 million in capital.
 
“It’s amazing how much the quality of plans and presentations improve every year,” Minnesota Cup cofounder Scott Litman said in a statement. “But it’s not just the number of entrants increasing or the quality of business plans that makes the Cup continually successful. It’s also the support we receive from mentors, judges, sponsors, supporters, and competition alumni. That list keeps getting longer by the year and we’re so grateful for all the amazing support we receive.”

This year’s Minnesota Cup winners will be featured in the December issue of Twin Cities Business. To read about the 2011 Minnesota Cup winners, click here.