Twin Cities Startup Week Leans Into Arts and Culture
Courtesy of Twin Cities Startup Week

Twin Cities Startup Week Leans Into Arts and Culture

Innovating beyond tech, the September entrepreneurship festival redefines what "startup" means in Minnesota.

The word “startup” often brings to mind data scientists, engineers, and techies who are working on the next big disruption. Twin Cities Startup Week wants to broaden that perception to showcase innovation in all forms. This year, for the first time, the week-long September festival will put special emphasis on arts and culture.

“We wanted to expand how we defined innovation and who can participate by extending invitations to those communities who didn’t feel included in the past,” said Casey Shultz, executive director of BETA, the local organization that produces TCSW. Billed as “one of the largest entrepreneurial festivals in the nation,” TCSW drew more than 17,000 attendees in 2019 (the 2020 event went virtual due to Covid-19). The addition of immersive experiences adds to the appeal for out of town visitors, Shultz said.

TCSW is partnering with Best Buy, Aeterna Media, First Avenue, the Science Museum of Minnesota and others to bring to life a variety of arts and culture focused events including a Minnesota music showcase and a food competition with chef Justin Sutherland fashioned after the TV show “Chopped.”

“Twin Cities Startup Week has always been a community driven festival,” Shultz said. “It’s really important that we highlight the stories of all entrepreneurs, and maybe not just tech.”

Another new aspect of TCSW will be its focus on cultivating connections with small businesses in town. Pop-up shop events on Sept. 18 and 19 are designed to help attendees to get acquainted with local retail.

“Much of our economic growth comes from these small businesses,” Shultz said. “We want to make Twin Cities Startup Week feel inclusive by giving those businesses opportunities to connect.”

Connection is the operative word this year, Shultz said.

“What we’re hearing is that people are missing out on their community and a sense of belonging that they usually get from participating with the entrepreneurial community,” Shultz said. The TCSW calendar includes both in person and virtual from Sept. 17 to 24. All main stage events will be streamed online.

For in-person attendees, proof of vaccination or a negative covid test within the last 72 hours will be required for admission. Masks will also be required indoors.

While the trajectory of the Delta variant remains unclear, TCSW is prepared to adapt as needed, Shultz said. TCSW is vigilantly tracking covid cases and working with venues to follow safety guidelines. Attendees can expect to be warmly greeted by the community and have the opportunity to learn and celebrate the many innovations happening here in Minnesota.

“It’s a great way to look for a job, find a mentor or your first investor or co-founder. Maybe you’re thinking about starting a company or you’re working for a company in town and you want to be inspired, or you just need the energy to go back to work in the office. There’s truly something for everyone at Twin Cities Startup Week.”

TCSW Registration is now open. Tickets start at $30 with some free access.