Tuloko Wins MN Cup’s Social Entrepreneur Division

The start-up developed a Yelp-like website and smartphone application aimed at sustaining black-owned businesses and decreasing the unemployment rate within the black community.

Local start-up Tuloko has been named winner of the Mosaic Social Entrepreneur Division of the Minnesota Cup competition, a statewide contest that seeks out the most innovative business ideas.
 
Social Venture Partners Minnesota manages and runs the Mosaic Social Entrepreneurs Cup as one of six divisions of the Minnesota Cup; Plymouth-based The Mosaic Company sponsors the division. The winner receives $20,000 in seed capital and advances to compete with other division winners for the Minnesota Cup and the $40,000 grand prize. Tuloko received the award last week at The Engaged Philanthropy Conference, which aims to accelerate the pace of social innovation in Minnesota.
 
Tuloko was among 19 Minnesota Cup finalists in this year’s competition. Winners of the five remaining divisions—High Tech, BioScience & Health IT, Clean Tech & Renewable Energy, General, and Student—will be announced Tuesday and the grand-prize winner will be revealed September 6.
 
Tuloko, whose tagline says “Make Every Day Black Friday,” has nothing to do with the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, it developed a website and smartphone application that list businesses that are owned by black entrepreneurs, including restaurants, gift shops, spas, law firms, auto repair shops, and more. The website allows users to write reviews—much like the popular social networking and local search website Yelp. It also lists events, nonprofits, and historical landmarks pertinent to the black community.
 
The Tuloko website launched in February and now has listings for businesses in six metro areas—Minneapolis/St. Paul; Atlanta; Chicago; New York; Oakland, California; and Washington, D.C. It aims to sustain black-owned businesses and decrease the high unemployment rate within the black community.
 
The Minnesota Cup is now in its eighth year and has become a major part of the state’s entrepreneurial landscape. 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, and Xcel Energy.