Why Saint Paul Innovators Come to MinneDemo and Love Saint Paul
Saint Paul, Minnesota, is home to many things: the bustling Xcel Energy Center, the ferocious Minnesota United FC, the eclectic Science Museum of Minnesota, and this past July in The Ordway Theater, the grandest tech show-and-tell in the Midwest: MinneDemo. MinneDemo has been around since 2006 and it’s where Minnesota’s brightest show off their inventions, network with their peers, and connect with their friends and colleagues. The organization leading the event, Minnestar, has been a huge asset to the Saint Paul tech community as they serve as a hub for tech-related happenings in Minnesota. Apart from hosting MinneDemo, they host MinneBar, an annual technology and software conference that’s entirely user-generated and participant-led.
MinneDemo is a showcase for working technology products made in Minnesota where people of entrepreneurial mind and spirit showcase their tech inventions to the local scene. It’s an informative evening for innovators, investors, and tech-lovers. Aside from the showcase, there are great opportunities to meet other like-minded people in the tech sphere and make new connections amidst city attractions.
My favorite thing about MinneDemo is the unconventional demonstrations, and that’s because of one unique rule: no slide presentations. Presenters must showcase their products live on stage. One of my favorite demonstrations was Code Championship’s, an organization that brings a sports-like mentality to programming to help encourage kids to code. They had a live tournament where each team had their (pre-programmed) robots go head-to-head in an epic game of digital dodgeball. All of the technologies at MinneDemo this year differed wildly, but I was struck by their ingenuity and widespread application.
Here’s a spotlight on three Saint Paul based companies who presented at the event and shared why they love Saint Paul. Which one is your favorite?
What’s stopping you from becoming the person you want to be? For me, it’s spending too much time on my phone. BetterYou is here to help people better moderate their time usage. It asks what your goals are and diligently works in the background to help log your progress. Whether it’s exercising or calling your mom more (which BetterYou CEO Sean Higgins proudly showed on stage), BetterYou is here to help create a better you. Check out more details about the team behind BetterYou on StarTribune.
I had a chance to talk to Sean Higgins after MinneDemo about his experience working in Saint Paul. His organization is headquartered in Osborn370, which is Saint Paul’s crown jewel in the tech and innovation workspace. He said “I really love the building we’re in — Osborn370. It’s a very centralized community for folks building things in tech. There’s a lot of really cool things happening from Lunar Startups, to Techstars, to Bootstrappers on the top floor. There’s a lot of really cool community elements coming together and so you have a day where you show up and you bump into people you know and you’ll have questions and there are people nearby who will have those answers.”
As a wise presenter at MinneDemo once said, “ we wrote Kinetic Tech Bar because sitting on hold and talking to chatbots sucks”. Ain’t that the truth. Kinetic Data is here to alleviate that problem with their app Kinetic Tech Bar, which is designed for companies to create an ecosystem where employees can schedule appointments and deliver in-person service.
I asked Kinetic Data’s Matt Howe how he would describe Saint Paul, and he said “I’d say it’s a little bit quirky, but it’s pretty cool, and right out here where we are headquartered (in gorgeous Mears Park) they have Blues Fest and Jazz Fest. Every weekend there’s something going on out here.”
Recovree uses technology to help improve the lives of people who are trying to change their relationship with drugs and alcohol by connecting them with someone who has recovered from addiction. Headquartered in Osborn370, their app seeks to expand drug counseling access to a wider cast of people through a digital medium.
I asked Melissa Kjolsing, CEO of Recovree, what she and her team liked about doing business in Saint Paul. “We are big fans of Osborn370” Kjolsing said, referring to the 200,000 square foot tech entrepreneurship incubator located in downtown Saint Paul. “There are significant benefits to working alongside experienced entrepreneurs including Scott Burns, Chip Pearson, Jeff Freeland Nelson, and others.” As former director of both the Minnesota Cup, the state’s largest startup competition, and Lunar Startups, Kjolsing knows what she’s doing.
Saint Paul is home to so much innovation, and it’s at events like MinneDemo where entrepreneurs, creatives, and anyone in between can connect with their fellow innovators who can help bring their ideas to life. If you’re looking for a place to embark on your business venture, create the product you’ve dreamed of, or engage in a vibrant tech community, look no further than Saint Paul and its robust, business-friendly ecosystem. Interested in attending the biggest tech bonanza in Saint Paul? Check out Twin Cities Startup Week on October 9th — 16th.
About Full Stack Saint Paul
Full Stack Saint Paul is a public and private collaboration between the City of Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce to help tech and innovation sector businesses start up and scale up in Saint Paul, and build upon the history of businesses that have already contributed to the tech and innovation ecosystem. We promote the story of innovation in Saint Paul, support talent pipelines, and facilitate the ecosystem for innovative companies.