The First Twin Cities Tech Trek at Carlson

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Carlson has a history of going west (i.e. to San Francisco, Bay Area and Seattle) as part of its career treks for students interested in the tech industry. On Friday, the 25th of March the students had their first local tech trek visiting the tech startups in the Twin Cities. 

It was a first of its kind and was organized by the Business Technology Club (BTC) with the help from the Graduate Business Career Center (GBCC).  As a board member of BTC, I was responsible for putting this trek together so I had been keenly looking forward to the day.

The day started at 8:30 AM when the students met near the Carlson school to board the bus chartered by GBCC for the trek.  

Charter Bus group picture

The first stop of the journey was Sport Ngin – the world’s largest amateur sports organization managing platform. The company was founded in 2008 although the seeds were sowed long before when the co-founders Justin Kaufenberg and Carson Kipfer started their first business together in the dorm of the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. The group was hosted by Carson who gave us a tour and then showed us a little presentation about the company, its history and accomplishments.  This was followed by Q&A where students had ample time to ask questions. This, of course, was followed by a group picture. 

Group Picture

The next stop was Target headquarters. We hopped on the bus and finished our lunch on the bus as it sped towards downtown Minneapolis. After reaching Target the group was greeted by a team of three people who were primarily responsible for recruiting into different technology roles within Target. After a quick round of introductions the group was quickly split into smaller groups and then, accompanied by a target employee, was taken on a tour of Target headquarters. It was my first time visiting Target headquarters and I was thoroughly impressed by the facility. Again, I didn’t miss the chance to take pictures or be in some of them.

Target Headquarters

After Target, the group walked towards the office of Techstars since it was really close to Target headquarters. Techstars is a business accelerator that, with help of corporate partners, helps small entrepreneurs turn their ideas or small ventures into a viable business. Techstars Minneapolis was busy screening applications for their Minneapolis 2016 summer where they pick ten business ventures from around the world and give them an opportunity to spend the summer at Techstars location and help them accelerate their business. The corporate partner for Minneapolis 2016 is Target. I had read a day earlier that they had received more than 550 applications from all over the world so I couldn’t be more appreciative of the fact that they still found time to meet some students! The students again had a great time. The structure was fairly lose so we just had a Q&A session for the entire time and got to know about several companies Techstars had already helped grow with some familiar names popping in the conversation too. 

After an interesting and engaging conversation at Techstars we moved towards St. Paul to visit the startup – When I Work, which has been growing rapidly in the past year. We were greeted by a very enthusiastic and welcoming group of people consisting of sales managers, product managers, marketing managers, a cultural operations manager, a recruiter and the CEO of the company, Chad Halvorson. The visit consisted of two panel events and a tour of the company followed by a talk with the CEO. We found out that When I Work completed two rounds of funding last year, has been growing at 300% YoY and are on the verge of outgrowing their current office space. Finally, we had a group picture where Chad kindly joined us as well.

Group Picture

That concluded our local tech trek. As I reflect on the day I believe that on the lines of Carlson Goes West and Carlson Goes East, this could be the beginning of a new tradition – Carlson Tours Home!