Twin Cities Startup Week Organizers Hope to Conquer ‘Digital Fatigue’
How do you provide a space to network when most people are still stuck at home? That’s the question Casey Shultz has been pondering this summer. As executive director of Beta.MN, she’s spent the last few months testing digital platforms for Twin Cities Startup Week, Beta’s annual event aimed at highlighting the region’s startup scene and connecting entrepreneurial-minded folks. Now in its seventh year, the event is going entirely virtual this year due to Covid-19.
After a healthy round of dress rehearsals, Startup Week 2020 began Sept. 7. To keep attendees engaged, Shultz is spreading this year’s events over three weeks, with an in-person closing ceremony in St. Paul scheduled for Sept. 24.
Beta eventually landed on the “Hopin” digital platform for the event. Of the platforms evaluated, Hopin provided the best substitute for in-person networking, Shultz says. Attendees have five different ways to connect with one another on the platform.
This year, Startup Week features more than 200 digital sessions, covering everything from fundraising to financial technology and workforce equity. Though there are less events than the prior year, Beta.MN received more session submissions than in recent years, Shultz says.
“We did pare down the number of sessions that we had on the calendar this year,” Shultz says. “We wanted to minimize overlap.”
Organizers also wanted to minimize digital fatigue — something many of us are all too familiar with in the age of Covid. (“Nobody’s going to want to sit on a virtual conference call, all day, every day for five days in a row,” Shultz says.) Beta.MN leaders also incorporated some moments of levity to help break up the days.
Similar to prior years, Startup Week 2020 features four topic-specific “tracks:” education technology, health care, sustainability, and food and agriculture. Of course, there are a number of sessions outside the tracks, too.
Below, we round up a few sessions to watch over the next few days:
- Fly-in Community, Culture, and Career Fair, Monday, Sept. 14
- BETA Fall Showcase, Wednesday, Sept. 16
- Entrepreneurs Fighting Covid with Science and Nutrition, Thursday, Sept. 17
- MN Cup Final Awards Ceremony, Tuesday, Sept. 22
- Minnesota Startup Awards, Thursday, Sept. 24
- Law Questions Facing Startups and Emerging Companies, Thursday Sept. 24
- The Power of Rural Innovation through Collaboration, Thursday, Sept. 24