Here's what we've been up to
We are constantly working to iterate and improve our events to better serve our community.
An Investor Viewpoint in 2020 with COVID-19: Pete Speranza
In this Thought Leaders in Food & Agriculture session, Pete will be leading a dialogue around an investor's viewpoint in 2020. How COVID-19 has impacted decision making, the way investors look at companies to partner with while they are scouting, and ways in which the current food system is broken. Come with questions and let's forge a path forward!
Pete Speranza Founder/Business Development leader 301INC, the venture arm of General Mills. Pete utilizes his 23 years of CPG experience to discover and nurture the best food brands, with the intent of reshaping General Mills portfolio towards growth. He is also a passionate local pioneer building new capabilities to support the early Food/Ag innovators in the state of Minnesota.
The Flavors of Money: A workshop designed to "train the trainer"
Friday, February 21, 2020
Carlson School of Management
Do you work with growth-focused startups in food and agriculture and want to know more about financial options available to them? One of the top questions entrepreneurs wrestle with is money - what types of capital to pursue and when? How can they understand the investor mindset?
The intimate workshop will discuss some of the most popular funding sources with a focus on food and ag. It is designed for individuals who work with startups. A limited number of spaces are available for entrepreneurs/students.
The workshop will cover:
- Commercial lending including the bank mindset as they evaluate a loan
- Grant opportunities through MN Department of Ag and insight into the grant process
- Early stage and venture funding and what investors look for
Paul Dietmann, Senior Lending Officer, Compeer Financial Emily Jerve, Marketing Supervisor, MN Dept of Agriculture David Heyer, Business Development Representative, MNDEED Brett Brohl, Managing Director, Techstars Farm to Fork and The Syndicate Fund Mary Grove, Partner, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund
Grow North Entrepreneur Education Event: Using Fractional Staffing to Grow Your Team
Thursday, August 8, 2019
8:30am - 10am
Join us this month at Grow North's entrepreneur education series where we will discuss growing your business through the 'fractional staffing model.' Fractional staffing is a way for growing businesses to get the resources that they need while not taking on full time staff, but instead hiring for a specific skill on a part-time or 'fractional' basis. In this workshop led by Brendan Kurvers of Clifton Larson Allen as well as David Mauch, BizOps CFO, will talk through the fractional staffing model, how to structure a role to make it successful for your team and company, watch outs, as well as questions to think through to ensure this is right for your business.
Brendan Kurvers is a manager in the CliftonLarsonAllen Manufacturing and Distribution Group and specializes in serving food and beverage manufacturers and distributors. He has provided services to privately-held clients in the manufacturing, distribution, retail, and professional service industries which include companies with domestic and international operations. Additionally, Brendan has worked with CliftonLarsonAllen’s Transaction Advisory services team.
David Mauch is a BizOps chief financial officer in CLA’s Minneapolis location. He is an active member of our manufacturing and distribution industry group. With 30 years of accounting experience, he joined CLA in 2019. He is responsible for the delivery of outsourced controller and chief financial officer services for our manufacturing and distribution
Thought Leaders in Food & Ag: The Mainstreaming of Hemp (and Hemp CBD) with Manitoba Harvest
There is no hotter product right now than Hemp. While there are many applications, we are going to start with a conversation on consumer products. With increased interest in potential health and wellness benefits, the passing of the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, and increased capital investment, it seems like the sky is the limit. But there are also lot of questions from the product itself to consumer perceptions and the regulatory environment.
In our next event, we welcome the team from Manitoba Harvest, a global leader for over 20 years in hemp-based products. They will share insights on the current and future hemp and hemp CBD landscape, building their brand, educating the consumer, sustainability and more.
AURI will also share an update on their upcoming Hemp Opportunity Report and seek feedback for future sessions.
Public Benefit Corporations & B Corps: Putting Your Mission Into Your Model
More and more entrepreneurs are launching and scaling businesses with a desire to not only make a profit, but also have a positive impact on the world. In reaction to this as well as consumer interest, many founders are assessing whether to become a public benefit corporation (PBC) or pursue a B Corp certification.
In this special Grow North Entrepreneur Education Event in Collaboration with Lunar Startups, we welcome Deborah Walker Kool of Fredrikson & Byron to share more about the process and commitments required, questions to ask as well as financial considerations. Deborah served on the Minnesota State Bar Association’s drafting committee for the Minnesota Public Benefit Corporation Statue 304A, which became law in 2014. We will also be joined by Lee Wallace of Peace Coffee, a certified b corporation who will share the entrepreneurs perspective. Together they will share questions to consider and lessons learned.
No Kid Hungry Hotlist Event
Grow North has partnered again this year with No Kid Hungry Minneapolis to give food and beverage startups the opportunity to sample products at No Kid Hungry's annual Hotlist event!
This is a great opportunity to get your product in front of a culinary audience including 20+ chefs and media influencers. Companies will be selected by the No Kid Hungry team and evaluated for their fit with the event audience. The application is due on June 1.
Thought Leaders in Food & Ag: Ryan Raguse, Chairman and Co-Founder, Bushel
Join us for our next Thought Leaders in Food & Agriculture event where we welcome Ryan Raguse, serial entrepreneur and Chairman and Co-Founder of Bushel™, the grain industry’s first automated mobile app platform for elevators and cooperatives to connect with their growers. Bushel has raised over $8.5 million in funding and just received top honors at Rabobank Food Bytes! San Francisco global pitch competition.
In this fireside chat, Ryan will discuss his entrepreneurial journey, the growth of Bushel and the impact of farmtech, and his thoughts on the future of farming. He will also talk about several new agtech initiatives launching in Fargo, ND and how Minnesota can get involved.
Grow North Entrepreneur Education Event: Winning with Amazon
Ecommerce growth continues to explode and has become an essential part of any business' strategy. With over 54% of product searches starting on Amazon, ecommerce is a core platform manufactures use to launch and scale products. As technology and shopper behaviors continue to evolve, brands need to understand the importance of optimized product pages to drive sales within the e-commerce retailers.
In this dynamic discussion, we will be joined by Jay Tanel from MarketingLab, a retail digital marketing agency based in Minneapolis; as well as entrepreneur Erik Greene from CoffeeBooster. During the conversation they will share insights from both the agency and entrepreneur's perspective on how to maximize your e-commerce footprint.
This session will be tailored for companies already selling on Amazon, but open to anyone.
We will cover:
How to leverage Amazon’s algorithm to create a fully optimized product that will be found more often and to drive sales more frequently. This will include Above the Fold (ATF) elements, photography and product imagery as well as Below the Fold (BTF) content and managing consumer ratings and reviews.
Best practices using keywords.
How to test and evaluate your page for an objective assessment of its potential effectiveness.
Copy of Thought Leaders in Food and Agriculture: The Leaders of Techstars Farm to Fork
Hanson Hall (map)
Join us to kick off Grow North's Thought Leaders in Food and Agriculture Speaker Series with a conversation with the leaders of Techstars Farm to Fork.
We will hear from Lawrence Wang, Digitialization and Analytics lead at Cargill, Meredith Englund, Sr. Director, Strategic Technology Partnerships at Ecolab, and Brett Brohl, Managing Director of Techstars Farm to Fork as they discuss the "why" behind the program, what they look for in companies, and their thoughts on where the industry is going.
This event is a part of Grow North's Thought Leaders in Food and Agriculture speaker series. This event series is free through the support of our partners including Lazard Middle Market.
WE* Talks: Brewing Possibilities - Women Innovating in Beverages
Join us for our next WE* talks where we hear from a panel of women leading exciting innovation in the beverage space as well as get an inside look at The Lab, the new pilot testing facility and taproom by Bevsource, before it opens to the public. Meet incredible women, sample some new beverages, and explore this incredible new resource for entrepreneurs. The discussion will include Danielle Callahan, Manager of The Lab, Melina Lamer of Superior Switchel and more to be announced.
This event series is a part of WE*, a community of communities focused on supporting scalable, women-led startups in Minnesota led in collaboration with Grow North, both initiatives of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship.
Education Event - Making the Sale: Strategies to Grow Your Business
Join us for this month’s entrepreneur education event focused on making the sale!
Tom Mondragon, VP of Sales for OLLY will share tips, strategies and lessons learned on sales strategy and making the sale with a customer as you grow your packaged goods startup. presentation, Tom will cover:
- Approaching the customer
- Prep before the meeting
- Tips on how to handle the meeting when it does not go as planned
- Materials that matter - what do customers really want/need after the meeting
This event series is FREE for participants through the collaboration of The Good Acre and OLLY and the generous support of General Mills.
Education Event - Pitching Your Brand (and Standing Out) to the Media
Thursday, March 14, 2019
8:30am - 10am
You have the product, the brand name, the story, now how do you share it with the world? How do create the pitch so that media outlets and influencers pick up the phone or return your email?
Join us for a workshop led by food entrepreneur champion Stephanie Hansen of Weekly Dish and the Maker's of Minnesota podcast. In this session, Stephanie will share best practices on how to position your 'pitch' so your brand stands out to media outlets large and small. She will also share insights on lessons learned from the many entrepreneurs she has worked with in the past.
Minnesota Mingle Happy Hour at Expowest
Hilton Anaheim Expowest (map)
Join the many Minnesota food and ingredient companies at Expo West after the show ends on March 7th for a happy hour and networking event. This is a casual opportunity to meet and connect with Minnesota's growing food startup and innovation community including food start-ups, industry leaders, investors, retailers, and more. We encourage our Minnesota "ex-pats" to come by.
Enjoy passed appetizers and the first drink is on us.
Start The Year With Traction
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
8:30am - 10am
The Good Acre (map)
Join us for one of our favorite events of the year, Start the Year with Traction, an interactive education event on using the Traction Entrepreneur Operating System (EOS) to grow and scale your business.
This year, we are excited to partner with Amol Dixit, founder and CEO of Hot Indian Foods and Traction EOS implementer to share best practices and insights on implementing Traction from the entrepreneurs perspective. We will deep dive into selected EOS concepts as well as lessons learned along the way.
This event is great for entrepreneurs who are already utilizing EOS within their companies or are interested in taking the leap and wondering where and how to get started.
This event is the first part of Grow North's Entrepreneurship Education series hosted by the Good Acre. This event is FREE through the generous support of The Good Acre as well as Grow North's support partner, General Mills.
Thought Leaders in Food and agriculture with mike guanella, president of justin’s nut butter
Thursday, September 20, 2018
1pm - 2pm
We were joined by Mike Guanella, President of Justin's Nut Butter based out of Boulder and now a part of Hormel.
In a moderated Q&A discussion, Mike touched on a variety of topics including the acquisition process (as much as he could share) between Justin's and Hormel, maintaining a company culture post acquisition, trends in the industry and more. Following the conversation, we had a 'crash the networks' style happy hour for the community including appetizers from Eat for Equity. Tickets for this event were free through the generous support of Justin's Nut Butter.
Growing your Company in Business to Business (B2B) Food Service Channels
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
8:30am 0 10am
As the food and beverage landscape continues to grow and change, having a strategy across customers and channels is essential. While the conversation many times is on retail, the world of foodservice offers many opportunities for companies to grow. Join us to hear experts from JT Mega share insight on marketing your brand across foodservice segments including C-Store, Healthcare, College and Universities and more. This session will include a discussion on nuances of the audiences within these channels and an overview of effective communication tactics
Stay for coffee and networking with other entrepreneurs.
This event is FREE through Grow North and the generous support of JT Mega.
301 INC. Food/Ag/Beverage Pitch Slam
Monday, August 27, 2018
3:30pm - 4:30pm
MN Cup and 301 Inc. of General Mills hosted the 2017 MN Cup Food/Ag/Beverage (FAB) Division semifinalists and other entrepreneurs from the community. Exhibitors included: 5 Infused Vodka, Bare Honey, Burning Brothers Brewing, Farm Vision Technologies Inc, Fresh Bar, Get Bizzy Inc., K-Mama Sauce, Kakookies, KinoSol, Midwest Elderberry Cooperative, Minneapolis Cider Company, Nourish, Toom Dips, WholeMe
Thought Leaders in Food & Agriculture Speaker Series: Nick taranto, Co-founder of Plated.
Thursday, July 12, 2018
2pm - 3pm
Grow North partnered with Bunker Labs Minneapolis for part 3 of the Thought Leaders in Food and Ag series featuring the co- founder of Plated. Nick Taranto. Sponsored by Land O' Lakes the event featured a moderated Q and A session as well as networking happy hour with an open bar and delicious food from Eat for Equity. Make sure to stay up to date with upcoming events and attend Part 4 of the Thought Leaders in Food and Ag series on September 20th. Check out photos from the event!
Minnesota Mingle @ the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY
Sunday, July 1, 2018
5:15pm - 7:15pm
Hudson Bar Room at the Four Points by Sheraton (map)
Come enjoy open bar and appetizers one block away from the Jacob Javit Center for a happy hour and networking event and join the dozens of Minnesota food companies showing and exploring the Summer Fancy Food Show. This is a casual opportunity to meet and connect with Minnesota's growing and dynamic startup ecosystem including the food start-ups, large food and agriculture manufacturers, retailers, investors and broader food community that call Minnesota home.
Friends of Minnesota and those curious about our food community are welcome. Feel free to forward this invitation and please bring a friend or colleague.
Grow North @ Taste of the Nation Hotlist for No Kid Hungry
Thursday, June 21, 2018
7pm - 10pm
Grow North has once again partnered with Taste of the Nation to give food and beverage startups the opportunity to sample their products for attendees of the event! Come check out the companies sampling as well as the incredible restaurants sampling their products as they raise money to end child hungry.
Thought Leaders in Food & Ag Speaker Series: Innovation and Investment in Agtech
Thursday, June 21, 2018
5:30pm - 7:30pm
Herbert M. Hanson Jr. Hall (map)
The world of technology innovation in agriculture has changed dramatically in the last few years with increased visibility, challenging conditions for farmers, rapid changes in consumer sentiment and a dramatic increase in capital investment.
Join us for a moderated Q&A discussion with Chris Abbott of Craig Hallum and Aaron Knewtson from Compeer Financial as they share the investor's perspective on growing trends, emerging 'winners and losers' and what they are excited about happening here in Minnesota. This event is meant for both entrepreneurs as well as those working or interested in the sector as Grow North wants to bring this growing community together for connectivity, discussion and conversation. Please join us afterwards to continue the conversation and additional networking.
Aaron Knewtson VP, Food and Agribusiness
Aaron joined Compeer Financial in 2004 and has provided both public and private financing. Aaron also represents Compeer’s leadership role in developing junior capital funds licensed under the USDA’s Rural Business Investment Program. Aaron’s background includes working with agricultural and financial derivatives including time spent on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.
Christopher Abbott, Craig-Hallum Capital Group
Chris leads Craig-Hallum’s investment banking efforts focused on sustainable solutions companies across agriculture, food, water and energy. Chris has spent the past decade in capital markets and investment management focused on technology and sustainability having worked with companies that span venture capital, growth equity, public markets and real assets. Chris’ advisory experience includes raising capital, business development and mergers & acquisitions.
Grow north @ taste of the nation hotlist event
Thursday, June 21, 2018
11:30am - 12:30pm
Grow North partnered with No Kid Hungry once again, to give food and beverage startups the opportunity to sample their products for attendees of the event! We had a great group of companies sampling as they raised money to end child hunger. Make sure to follow Grow North for your chance to represent at the next sampling event.
Minnesota Mingle @ the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, NY
Thursday, June 21, 2018
11:30am - 12:30pm
Guests enjoyed an open bar and appetizers one block away from the Jacob Javit Center for a happy hour and networking event and joined the dozens of Minnesota food companies showing and exploring the Summer Fancy Food Show.
Thought Leaders in Food & Agriculture Speaker Series: Innovation & Investment in Ag Tech
Thursday, June 21, 2018
10:30am - 11:30am
A conversation between Chris Abbott of Continental Grain and Aaron Knewtson from Compeer Financial sharing the investor's perspective on growing trends, emerging 'winners and losers' and what they are excited about happening here in Minnesota.
Sample at the Soundset Music Festival
Fri, May 25, 2018; 11am - Sat, May 26, 2018; 3pm
Exciting news! Grow North has partnered with Soundset, the music festival featuring Erykah Badu, Logic and others, to give food and beverage startups the opportunity to sample their products for the VIPs and performers! This is a great opportunity to get your product in front of influencers and their audiences. Products must be individually packaged.
Thought Leaders in Food & Agriculture Speaker Series: Carla Vernón, President of General Mills Natural & Organic Portfolio
Thursday, May 17, 2018
5pm - 7pm
Herbert M. Hanson Jr. Hall (map)
Please join us in kicking off a new series, "Thought Leaders in Food and Agriculture" - a series of fireside chats with the entrepreneurs, individuals and organizations leading the future of the sector. For our first one, we will be joined by Carla Vernón, President of General Mills Natural & Organic portfolio (which includes brands like Annie's, Cascadian Farm, Epic and Muir Glen).
In a moderated Q&A discussion, Carla will touch on a variety of topics including industry trends and the pace of change, maintaining a company's culture post acquisition, her team's commitment to regenerative agriculture, diversity and inclusion and much more. Following the conversation, we will have a 'crash the networks' style happy hour for the community including appetizers and a cash bar. Tickets for this event are limited.
Sample at the Fulton Gran Fondo
Saturday, May 12, 2018
9am - 5pm
Excelsior, MN, 55331United States (map)
Are you a startup interested in the sports consumer? Fulton Brewing and Grow North are looking for Minnesota food & beverage companies to provide in-kind sponsorship at aid stops along the route of the Fulton Gran Fondo bike ride.
Now in its 5th year, the Fulton Gran Fondo has become a premier Minnesota cycling event, drawing over 1,500 riders and an additional 2,500+ attendees to the block party. Each year, $1 from every pint sold at the block party is donated to a local non-profit. This year Grow North has once again partnered with Fulton to help showcase Minnesota food and beverage producers along the ride. Products should be appropriate for bike racers and will be selected by the Fulton team.
Building a Foundation for Food Startups Training: Optimizing Business Models for Profitability and Growth
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 8:30am - Fri, Apr 20, 2018, 1pm
Sunrise Bank Headquarters (map)
Do you work with multiple food businesses that will need financial investment in the future? Do you have expertise in food, but wish you knew more about the financials and available business models paths for entrepreneurs?
This 1.5 day training is designed to build a stronger technical foundation for those who actively support/consult with packaged food startups, restaurant owners who want to sell retail products or farmers looking to do value-added food production so they can better assist their clientele.
What can I expect?
This 1.5 day interactive “train the trainer” session training is a deep dive into the financial side of building a profitable food business.
- Current market and industry trends
- Deep dive on the different types of business models (and their implications) to create an economically sustainable food business
- Highlights of Minnesota specific resources and programs available to entrepreneurs
The training will be led by Tera Johnson, the Director of the Food Finance Institute in Madison, Wisconsin and Founder of teraswhey®. She has led this training all across the country, and we are excited to bring her to Minnesota. Learn more about Tera and the Food Finance Institute here.
MN Cup Kickoff with Grow North Food Startup Showcase
Monday, March 26, 2018
5:30pm - 7pm
To celebrate the kick-off of the MN Cup, the state's largest early venture competition, join us for a celebration event featuring a food startup showcase hosted by Grow North. Network with leaders from across Minnesota's startup community as well as investors, industry leaders, entrepreneurs.
The showcase will feature past MN Cup companies from the Food, Agriculture and Beverage division as well as exciting new food and beverage startups.
Food ENTREPRENEURS Showcase at 2017 MN Cup Launch Party
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
12:30pm - 1:30pm
MN Cup and Grow North partnered together for the first MN Cup Launch Party, featuring 30 food entrepreneurs sampling, and pitching their products to over 400 members of Minnesota's entrepreneur community.
Minnesota Mingle Networking Happy Hour @ Expo West
Friday, March 9, 2018
6pm - 8pm
Hilton Anaheim - California Ballroom B (map)
Join the 50+ Minnesota food companies showing and exploring Expo West in Anaheim, CA this year for a happy hour and networking event. This is a casual opportunity to meet and connect with Minnesota's dynamic and growing food startup and innovation ecosystem including food start-ups, industry leaders, investors, retailers, and organizations. We had over 200 people at our event last year, so you won't want to miss it.
Please forward this invitation to others. Minnesota ex-pats are encouraged to attend - once a Minnesotan, always a Minnesotan. We are always here for you.
We will be in California Ballroom B.
Come enjoy a complimentary beverage and hor d'oeuvres.
Start the Year with Traction: A Workshop to Take Your Business to the Next Level
Thursday, February 15, 2018
8am - 10am
Back by popular demand, Grow North will kick off the year with a workshop on Traction, the Entrepreneur Operating System utilized by startups throughout Minnesota. We have partnered with Sara Stern, a Traction EOS facilitator and owner of Family Business Minnesota, to lead a dynamic workshop that will not only deepen your understanding of Traction but also give you time to apply it methods to your business. This 90 minute session is designed for leaders working with Traction currently or those who have been thinking about it and are ready to take the leap. Each registrant will receive a Traction workbook and there will be time throughout for Q&A.