Advice From MN Cup Judge: Ben Aase

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ben Aase

Throughout the 2015 MN Cup, we will be featuring our wonderful judges and mentors. First up is Ben Aase, Principal, CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP. Ben Aase is a judge for the Social Entrepreneur Division of MN Cup. Hear what he has to say about MN Cup and the advice he has for future entrants.

Tell us about yourself – who are you, what do you do?
My name is Ben Aase.  I’m a Twin Cities native, Carlson School PT MBA alum (’07).  Co-founded an outsourced accounting firm out of undergraduate school and have been with CliftonLarsonAllen LLP for the past ten years, where I’m a Principal and lead our Public Sector Group’s consulting practice.  In that role I work with our nonprofit, higher ed, and government clients wrestle with questions of strategy, finance, and operations.  I personally got involved with the MN Cup about a decade ago when I was spending my nights over at Carlson School getting my MBA.  For me it’s right in the sweet spot of my personal and professional interests, and it’s been amazing to watch the event and community grow over the last ten years.  I’m married to Alix and have two young kids, Etta and Oskar. 

What is your favorite part about being involved with MN Cup?
MN Cup is truly a community-driven effort; it is what we make it. As my firm has grown alongside MN Cup we’ve more proactively sought out partnerships that we feel are core to our values: leadership, ownership, and entrepreneurship.  As I see it, we share a common purpose: helping people and organizations get to the places they want to go and making as easy for them to get there as possible.  We don’t necessarily know where it will take us—one thing that I love about MN Cup is that it is whatever we all choose to make it—and that’s part of the fun.

What can startup companies gain from entering the competition?
Healthy competition; practical, straightforward advice; connections and relationships to help you accomplish what you’re after.  And maybe some prize money.

What are the three most important components to a great business plan?
The problem, the solution, and why you’ll win.

What advice do you have for companies entering the 2015 MN Cup?
Don’t wait to start organizing your business plan, and be ready for it to be wrong: when asked about his plan for an upcoming bout, a famous boxer once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”