By Mai P. Tran, ECMC Foundation
Got an innovative idea to transform education, but have no startup capital? Well, if you're a Minnesotan, you're in luck.
This week marked the official launch of the 14th Annual MN Cup, the largest startup competition in the state. MN Cup connects and coaches early-stage ventures as they compete to be named the best new business idea each year.
To kick off this year's competition, aspiring entrepreneurs, business owners, investors, and funders across the state gathered in Minneapolis on Monday to celebrate its opening and connect with each other.
Minnesota businesses who choose to apply can be in any stage—from idea to revenue-generating—as long as their annual revenue is less than $1 million. Winners in each division receive $30,000 with a chance to win the $50,000 grand prize. Applications are open until April 27.
More than 13,000 participants have entered into the contest since it began in 2005. With support from lead sponsors ECMC Group and its philanthropic arm, ECMC Foundation, this year's MN Cup was able to launch its ninth division, Education and Training. The division will focus on investing in innovative ideas to drive change in education and workforce training and development.
From Left to Right: John Stavig, Carlson School of Management program director; Don Mallin, MN Cup co-founder; Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey; Dave Goff, ECMC Group CTO; and Jessica Berg, MN Cup director.
"During past MN Cup competitions, entrepreneurs with creative ideas to innovate education and training in Minnesota selected divisions that weren't specific to that industry," said Jessica Berg, director of MN Cup. "Now thanks to the support of ECMC Group and ECMC Foundation, we can offer more tailored industry expertise and dedicated prize money to entrepreneurs hoping to catalyze transformation in education and training."
Attendees at the launch event heard from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey who came to show his support for the competition. Other speakers included Dave Goff from ECMC Group; past MN Cup finalists, Amanda Heyman from Starting 11 and Frank Jackman from Local Crate; among others.
Dave Goff, ECMC Group Chief Technology Officer, delivers remarks at MN Cup Launch Event
Representing both ECMC Group and ECMC Foundation, Goff explained why the two ECMC enterprises sponsored the Education and Training Division: "Supporting creative solutions driven by talented, ambitious entrepreneurs like many of you in this room is exactly what we do, and also exactly what Minnesota and the rest of the country need."
Anyone interested in learning more about applying to the Education and Training Division are invited to an event hosted by EducelerateNorth and held at ECMC Group headquarters in Minneapolis on April 10. The event will feature a panel discussion with serial entrepreneurs and experts in investing, and will be moderated by ECMC Foundation President Peter Taylor. More details to follow in coming weeks.
Learn more about the MN Cup and how to enter the competition.