Winning Ideas: MN Cup Founder Panel
Minnesota is not only the home of 17 Fortune 500 companies, but also a growing hub for Tech Startups. Our Tech Founders are creating innovative products in existing industries and forging new paths in markets they're seeking to shape. In the MN Cup Founder Panel, you'll hear from three division-winning tech leaders about the unique benefits and challenges of creating their companies from scratch, and you'll walk away with an understanding of how to connect to our local startup ecosystem.
Amanda Heyman is the Founding Director of Lunar Services, a business and legal technical assistance program of Lunar Startups designed to supercharge early-stage, underestimated startup companies. Amanda is also Co-Founder and General Counsel of Starting 11, a global daily fantasy soccer startup that won the MN Cup High Tech Division in 2017. During Amanda’s decade-long legal career, she has practiced on the cutting edge of innovation on behalf of businesses ranging from tech startups to organic farms. Amanda holds a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; she was named a Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Women in Business award winner in 2015.
Sameer Kumar is the co-founder and CEO of HabitAware. HabitAware created its Keen smart bracelet to help people “Retrain The Brain” away from detrimental behaviors including hair pulling, skin picking and nail biting, to positive ones. Sameer's company is an alumnus of the HAX hardware accelerator and recently received a research grant from the NIH to improve their device and validate Keen as a treatment for these disorders. HabitAware was the Grand Prize winner of the Minnesota Cup in 2018 and has been featured as a TIME Magazine Best Invention of 2018.
Peter Schultze is the Co-Founder of Plyo, a loyalty app that rewards students for exercising on campus with exclusive offers to local restaurants, stores, and popular brands. Plyo won the 2018 Student Division of the Minnesota Cup, and since has reached thousands of new users who have logged a quarter million hours of exercise through the app. Plyo recently launched its second university and has partnered with numerous brands like Starbucks, Subway, Qdoba, Midwest Mountaineering, and more. Peter is currently pursuing the venture full-time, balancing founder responsibilities while participating in the Ventures Enterprise program at the Carlson School.
Jessica Berg is the Director of Minnesota Cup, leading strategy, operations and partnerships for the competition. She is the only full time employee of MN Cup, and manages a team of student interns and external service providers to execute the competition's events and programs. Prior to joining MN Cup in 2017, Jessica spent ten years in business development and product strategy roles at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Fredrikson & Byron. She co-founded and runs a women's networking organization in the Twin Cities called WomenConnect. She currently serves as interim board co-chair of Forge North, a coalition of Minnesota leaders seeking to serve entrepreneurs and make Minnesota the problem-solving capital of the new economy. She also serves on the board of Normandale Lutheran Church. She's a native of Edina, Minnesota, and holds a BA from Emory University in International Communications. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband Nate and their four year old son.