Startup

Improving the Health of People and Companies, with Zach McGill, Perk Health

Perk Health helps you pick up healthier habits in a way that is sustainable. Zach McGill and Doug DeBold grew up playing sports. Games taught them so much: achievement, competition, leader boards, point scoring, rewards, rules of play, self-expression, socializing, mastery, and status. When it was time for college, Doug went off to college in Vermont while Zach attended the University of Minnesota. Initially, Zach studied engineering. He wanted to invent things. But, he says, “I realized, with engineering, there would be less inventing and lot more equations.” So, he started studying entrepreneurship. “It became clear to me that my path was going to be to start and build companies.”…

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Sustainable Community Development through Entrepreneurship, with Marcus Owens, NEON

Northside Economic Opportunity Network, better known as NEON, provides entrepreneurs in North Minneapolis with business development services. Marcus Owens is a product of North Minneapolis. He grew up there, graduating from North Community High School. He bought his first home there. Then his second. He says, “I always wanted to find a way to give back to this community.” Marcus has long been an entrepreneur, operating real estate and financial services businesses. He also worked at a regional bank and a large retailer. He ran a small nonprofit. By 2012, he was looking for more ways to give back to the community. He found his way to the board of…

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The Intersection of Food and Social Justice, with Michelle Horovitz, Appetite for Change

Appetite for Change uses food as a tool for building health, wealth, and social change in North Minneapolis. Michelle Horovitz grew up in the well-manicured suburbs of Minneapolis. If you ask her about the beginning of her journey to social change, she points to her Jewish upbringing. She says that her family made her aware of major injustices in the world. This gave her a sense of empathy for people who had been “othered.” Throughout high school and college, Michelle waited tables. She had a keen interest in food and wanted to be a chef. As an undergrad student living in West Philadelphia, she was exposed to a world that…

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Clarity Comes While You Are Working, with Junita Flowers, Favorable Treats

Favorable Treats is a cookie company and social impact venture. Favorable Treats has a mission to let families across the country enjoy warm cookies in safe homes.  They produce and sell pre-portioned cookie dough. A percentage of their profits goes towards dating and domestic violence awareness and prevention. The founder of Favorable Treats, Junita Flowers grew up in a large family with seven brothers and sisters. Her mother and grandmother cooked and baked together. Junita says “The majority of my best childhood memories were spent in the kitchen.” In 2006, while staying home with her two small children, she began to experiment with cookie recipes. It reconnected her to her…

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Hacking the Diversity Gap, with Kristen Womack, Hack the Gap

Hack the Gap is a weekend event where women come together to build a project as a team. Kristen Womack is a bona fide techy. She worked as a product manager for some well-known tech companies. She runs Night Sky Web Co. And she has been involved in the local tech scene from Geekettes to Mpls MadWomen. And yet, as she attended hackathons, she couldn’t help but notice the lack of women. “When I went to the bathroom, there was no line,” she told me. The diversity gap in tech has been widely reported. The problem starts early in life. In a recent survey, only 0.4% of teenage girls plan…

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Start and Grow a Veteran-led Business, with Tim O’Neil, Bunker Labs, Minneapolis

Bunker Labs, Minneapolis is a non-profit built by military veteran entrepreneurs to empower other military veterans as leaders in innovation. This year, 200,000 military veterans will leave the service. Twenty-five percent of them want to start a business. In 2013, Tim O’Neil was one of those people. After 7 years as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, Tim left the military. He enrolled in the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Business to pursue his MBA. When Tim graduated, he started Fidelis Co, a manufacturer, and distributor of carried goods: backpacks, duffle bags, cases for electronics. The company has a veteran’s thesis. Tim took components of what he…

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Turn Emotions into Action

What will you do with your emotions today? Can they be channeled for social good? President Obama has left the White House after eight years and the man who is taking his place could not be more different. No matter your political affiliation, this inauguration day is a day of strong emotions. Emotions are important. By paying attention to what evokes strong emotions in you, you learn something about your values and your life’s purpose. By Noticing Your Emotions, You Understand Your Purpose For you, what creates a sense of love, empathy, injustice, disgust or moral outrage? What kind of news stories evoke your emotions? Is it poverty? Gender equality? Income…

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Turn Emotions into Action

Mentoring for Social Entrepreneurs

Every social entrepreneur needs mentoring from time to time, right? Yes, I mentor social entrepreneurs, but I also seek out mentors for my personal, business and leadership growth. That’s why I’m giving away ten one-one-one mentoring sessions throughout the month of April. (Click here if you want to register. Don’t worry, I have nothing to sell.) Mentoring is one of the fastest ways I know to get results. It accelerates your personal and business growth so that you can get results faster. Mentoring synthesizes the lessons learned by others, condensing knowledge into useful insights. When done right, mentoring provides a structure that you can follow. And, mentoring gives you a systematic process that you can use now and over…

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Mentoring for Social Entrepreneurs

028, Marina Kim, Ashoka U | Every Campus a Changemaker

Colleges and Universities are complex cultures with deep thinkers and multiple stakeholders. Marina Kim, has had plenty of practice at working across complex cultural boundaries. She is the daughter of Korean and American parents. She was raised by a single mother. She spent her summers in Costa Rica, and then when she was 10 years old, she and her family moved to northern England. As an eighteen year old, she attended Stanford University in Palo Alto. All of these experiences prepared her perfectly for her current role as the co-founder of Ashoka U. Ashoka U takes an institutional change approach to impact the education of millions of students. They accomplish this through three…

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028, Marina Kim, Ashoka U | Every Campus a Changemaker

027, Tim Fargo, Tweet Jukebox | Lessons on Starting Your Business

Tim Fargo might know a little something about attracting, converting and retaining new customers. He grew Omega Insurance Services from a three person operation in an extra bedroom to over 300 employees and with revenues in excess of $20 million. After selling Omega, Tim tried his hand at several businesses, some of which were not successful. Tim is the author of the best seller, Alphabet Success, an investor in numerous businesses, and an active adviser to several start-up firms. Today he is the founder of Tweet Jukebox, a software as a service (SaaS) content management system for your Twitter account. Tim launched Tweet Jukebox with only a freemium model. He…

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027, Tim Fargo, Tweet Jukebox | Lessons on Starting Your Business