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The next great idea could come from you, and the Carlson School of Management is here to help. From mentorship from world-class faculty and experienced entrepreneurs to support through our dedicated center for entrepreneurship, the Carlson School is with you every step of the way.

In the past decade, students, faculty, and alumni have launched hundreds of businesses with the support of the Carlson School.

Pathways to Entrepreneurship

Whatever the needs, the Carlson School can provide. Explore everything the Carlson School has to offer:


Cross-Campus & Community Engagement

How We Support Entrepreneurship

The Carlson School and the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship have developed key partnerships both across the University of Minnesota System and around the Twin Cities business community to support entrepreneurs.


MIN-Corps is the University’s site for the National Science Foundation I-Corps program. Carla Pavone, associate director of the Holmes Center, co-leads this program that provides commercialization education and coaching to help STEM students, post-doctorates, research scientists, and faculty members develop the skills required to translate their innovations into products and services with real-world impact. Since 2014, 3,750+ participants from 22 colleges within the University of Minnesota and across the business community have participated in more than 100 MIN-Corps academic courses, commercialization bootcamps, value proposition design workshops, seminars, and events.

Grow North

Grow North works to accelerate and connect Minnesota's food and agriculture entrepreneur and innovation ecosystem.

Launch MN

The University serves as the statewide educational partner for Launch MN - the statewide collaborative effort to accelerate the growth of startups and amplify Minnesota as a national leader in innovation.

Ascend Twin Cities

BIPOC entrepreneurs with high-potential companies gain support from the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship’s new management education program.

Part of a 15-city national network, Ascend Twin Cities is a partnership between the Holmes Center and the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda). The first cohort had 12 business owners participate in 12 bi-weekly sessions led by a cross-functional team of Carlson School instructors to develop their growth strategies and connect with leading corporations. Three of these companies were sponsored by the Holmes Center to participate in semester-long projects as part of the Carlson Ventures Enterprise course. Companies participating in 2020 have already raised more than $2 million in capital and been awarded two contracts from corporations introduced through this program.

The Toaster

6,500 square feet of innovation, on campus, and open to any student!

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Investing & Competitions

Get the Funding Your Startup Needs

Any startups need to raise funding. Through investment opportunities or competitions, the Carlson School provides ways to advance ideas and move to the next level.

MN Cup: The Largest Statewide Competition in the U.S.

Through the Holmes Center, the Carlson School annually hosts MN Cup, the largest statewide startup competition in the country. The competition reaches emerging entrepreneurs from across the state and connects them with education, mentorship, and support to launch and accelerate the development of their new ventures. 

Atland Ventures

Student-owned $1+ million venture capital fund is managed by 25 undergraduate students from across the University.

Gopher Angels

One of the most active investment networks at the University, this group focuses on supporting Minnesota-based companies. The network has 80 active investors and has invested $15 million into 50 companies.

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Courses & Curriculum

Expand Your Skills in the Classroom

Through its extensive coursework, the Carlson School provides students with opportunities to build and shape their entrepreneurial skills.

Entrepreneurship in Action

Unique 2-semester undergraduate experience challenges student teams to conceive, test, launch and operate real startups while providing up to $15,000 of funding.

The START-UP Class: Open to all UMN students

The Carlson School’s STARTUP course allows students to develop their own personal business ideas by working with instructors and mentors from the business community to test their entrepreneurial ventures. In the class, participating students are eligible to receive pro bono legal assistance and small seed capital grants to fund prototype development and testing.

Carlson Ventures Enterprise (CVE)

Designed for students interested in learning and practicing entrepreneurial frameworks, tools, and mindsets, CVE has been active for 20 years. Through a combination of coursework and real-world expertise, students in the Ventures Enterprise typically research, validate, and implement new business concepts using entrepreneurial best practices and methodologies.

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The Power of Mentorship

Mentors help aspiring entrepreneurs by sharing knowledge, harvested through years of experience. At the Carlson School, startups have the opportunity to connect with mentors from all over the country, spanning nearly every sector of the economy.

Abdo Dinners

Through informal discussions at the dinner table of their historic Nicollet Island Inn, Caryl and Larry Abdo, both Carlson School alumni, and other invited entrepreneurs share their perspectives and advice with Carlson School students. The Abdo Dinners are structured to generate lively discussion on a range of topics relevant to current students. In the past decade, the Abdo’s have brought more than 400 students together to talk about nearly every aspect of entrepreneurship imaginable.


Organized by the Holmes Center and led by a committed group of women entrepreneurs and investors, WE* is focused on supporting scalable, women-led startups in Minnesota through a series of conferences and events.

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Alumni Start-Ups

Hundreds of Startups and Growing

Carlson School alumni have started a number of successful businesses, including: