Entrepreneurial Landscape in the Twin Cities

By Andrew Doughty

The Twin Cities present a seemingly unlimited landscape for entrepreneurs, largely a result of numerous universities in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, an unbelievably ethnically diverse population and a plethora of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the metro. Options for first-time entrepreneurs to successful business professionals are considerable, with rallies, luncheons, open forums and clubs combining to form a very supportive environment for anyone and everyone.

Bootstrappers Breakfasts is an opportunity for technology entrepreneurs looking to take the next big step in growing their business. The group, founded in 2010, meets once per month for breakfast in order to share ideas and compare operational, development and business issues with other local entrepreneurs. While the meetings are not free ($50 annual fee), this is a reliable, organized and committed group of experienced and diverse professionals that could make the $50 investment irrelevant very quickly.

For those without a company but with a great idea for one, contests are routinely started in or brought to the Twin Cities, including AOL co-founder Steve Case’s “Rise of the Rest” pitch tour this year. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch an idea to Case, who has pledged a $100,000 investment to the best idea. He is partnering with Google and three other forward-thinking companies to promote and plan the tour’s stops across the country.

And lastly, for the young minds without experience who are simply exploring options for long-term innovation, they can enroll in one of the numerous university degree programs that support entrepreneurship. Richard Schulze, founder of Best Buy, invested millions of dollars into the University of Saint Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. If the small, private setting does not appeal to you, consider the unique Inter-College program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. The flexible program allows students to create their own degree from hundreds of options and thousands of courses, with a heavy emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship. Macalester College, College of Saint Catherine’s and Concordia College are just three of the other metro schools also promoting entrepreneurial growth.

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