LOCAL BUSINESS IDEAS ADVANCE TO NEXT ROUND IN MN CUP

The nation’s largest statewide new venture competition announces semifinalists

— competing for a record $327,000 in prizes

MINNEAPOLIS—June 8, 2015—The MN Cup announced today that it has advanced 70 teams of Minnesota-based entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators to the second round of the 2015 competition. In its eleventh year, the MN Cup is giving away a record $327,000 in prizes.

The following 70 semifinalists across the seven divisions will compete for a share of the $327,000, as well as resources and training to make their entrepreneurial visions a reality:


Energy/Clean Technology/Water Division


Food/Agriculture/Beverage Division


General Division 


High Tech Division


Life Science/Health IT Division


Social Division


Student Division

  • Autonomee, Hennepin County
  • Lightwater, Washington County
  • Lionheart Cider, Hennepin County
  • Ova Woman LLC, Hennepin County, Women led team
  • Qopo, Rice County
  • Rakuna, Hennepin County
  • RED Foods, Hennepin County, Women led team
  • Startup Finder, Hennepin County, Women led team
  • Unique Pontoons, Washington County
  • Who's Missing?, Rice County

Nearly 1300 participants entered this year’s MN Cup. Thirty-three percent of this year’s entries came from women-led teams, and a total of 46 percent included entries from a team with at least one female team member. Additionally, 61 percent of entries came from a team that included University of Minnesota alumni, and 10 percent of entries included a team with a veteran.

The MN Cup’s semifinalists were chosen from a wide variety of emerging businesses, entrepreneurs and investors who entered in the following categories: Energy/Clean Tech/Water, Food/Agriculture/Beverage, General, High Tech, Life Science/Health IT, Social Entrepreneur and Student. The semifinalists will now have the opportunity to craft a detailed business plan with the help of an experienced mentor, as well as enjoy a complimentary one-month PRO membership to Café Inc proworking environment.

Semifinalists will be honored at a reception on June 17 at the Carlson School of Management.

“Year after year, we’ve seen our state grow as a place where innovative business ideas really take off thanks to the businesses who participate and move forward with our competition,” says MN Cup co-founder Scott Litman. “This year’s entrants were among the strongest and most diverse candidates we’ve seen, and we’re excited to see where these semifinalists will go as they move forward this summer.”

 On Aug. 18, finalists from each division will be announced, and each division winner will receive $30,000 in seed capital. Additionally, one runner up from each division will receive $5,000 in seed capital.

On Sept. 9, the grand prizewinner across all divisions will be announced at the University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center. The winner will receive an additional $50,000 in seed money. The AARP will award a $5,000 prize for an innovation that improves the lives of seniors, and two audience favorite winners will receive an additional $1,000. Again this year, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will provide $25,000 in seed funding to the top entry from that region of the state.


Host sponsors of The 2015 MN Cup competition include Wells Fargo and the University of Minnesota. Other lead sponsors include the Bush Foundation, Carlson Family Foundation, Digital River, General Mills and UnitedHealth Group. Supporting sponsors include 301 Inc, ACG, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, AARP, Andcor, Blandin Foundation, Café Inc, Carin Ventures, CliftonLarsonAllen, Eide Bailly, Fredrikson and Byron, Gopher Angels, Grain Millers, Gray Plant Mooty, Haberman, IBM, Initiative Foundation, Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Company, Magnet 360, Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, Messerli & Kramer, Midwest Pantry, MN Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources, MN Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota High Tech Association, MOJO MN, The Mosaic Company, Proto Labs, Inc., Schwan’s Food Company ,SixSpeed, Sofia Angel Fund, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation, Star Marketing, Spoken Impact, Stinson Leonard Street, Stoel Rives, StarTec Investments, TECHdotMN, Treehouse Health, Twin Cities Business Magazine, Venture Bank and West Central Initiative Foundation

MN Cup is the premier resource for Minnesota entrepreneurs. We support emerging entrepreneurs from across the state through events, educational programming and an annual new venture competition that provides them with tools, resources and support to launch and accelerate the development of their new ventures. For more information, please visit mncup.org