Monday, October 4, 2021

Minnesota Cup Finals: A Clean Sweep for the Student Division

As frequent readers of entreVIEW will know from many prior posts since the early days of our blog, the our Entrepreneurial Services Group at Lathrop GPM has been a supporter and sponsor of the Minnesota Cup since its early days.

In case you aren’t familiar with the program fostered by the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Management, the Minnesota Cup is a business plan competition (purportedly the largest in the country) to help identify promising Minnesota-based start-up businesses. Over the years, over 16,000 businesses have participated in the competition, which has awarded prize money of about $3 million dollars. It isn’t just about prize money because the competition also helps entrepreneurs hone their business plans and pitch deck and also access mentorship and other valuable connections. The competition reports that Minnesota Cup alumni companies have raised nearly $400 million in capital! 

There are currently nine divisions in the competition and members of Lathrop GPM serve as judges in the general, high tech, and impact ventures divisions. Yours truly also has been serving as a judge in the student division for the last several years. It is always impressive to see great ideas from undergraduates and graduate students, many of whom have made considerable progress on their plans. This year’s crop of competitors in the student division was especially strong, making the judging that much more difficult.

As evidence of the strength of such competitors, at the finals event recently, there was a sweep of awards by the Student Division:

  • Telo, a business looking to revolutionize the mobility industry with its innovative rollator walker, walked away with the audience award for the best one-minute pitch among the runners up from each of the nine divisions.
  • The $50,000 grant prize winner, and also winner of the audience prize for best pitch among the division winners, was Nanodropper.  This is the first time the student division winner has won the overall prize.  Nanodropper has developed and is selling an attachment for eyedrop bottles that makes the drops the ideal size for your eye. This saves you from having 80% of the drop rolling down your face, and also saves eyedrop users thousands of dollars in annual prescription drug costs. 

Congratulations to all of the participants and winners! Looking forward to 2022 when there are bound to be another strong crop of contenders. Also keeping my fingers crossed for an in-person finals event, after two years of pandemic-induced virtual ceremonies. If you’re curious, you can find the video of this year’s final event here (start at about 10 minutes and 30 seconds, when the event gets moving).

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