Past Events


Here's what we've been up to

We are constantly working to iterate and improve our events to better serve our community.

Farm Tour

Farm Tour at Thousand Hills

Join us on July 28th for a farm tour, networking, food, and beverages! Head out to the Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed farm in Clearwater, MN and immerse yourselves into multi-species regenerative agriculture. We will be strolling through the pastures and woodlands learning all about rotationally grazed cattle, free-range pasture-raised chickens, pigs, and goats. There will be a guided farm tour from 10am-12pm, with a networking/socializing lunch beginning at 12pm at the farm's very own rustic lakeside pavilion. For lunch, Thousand Hills will be grilling up some of their delicious 100% grass fed beef products along with sides and beverages. We can't wait to see you out on the farm!

summer spree

Summer Spree

Join us on June 7th on the FINNEGANS patio, starting at 4:30 PM for food, drinks, and live music. Hear from regional leaders Pete Speranza (CEO of Wicked Foods), John Haugen (Founding Partner of SEMCAP), Michael Stern (Founding Partner of Gather Venture), and others on the state of the ecosystem and how you can be a part of a vibrant community that will be home to the decade's blockbuster brands.

Native launch-a-thon

Native Launch-A-Thon

Calling all current (and future) entrepreneurs! Join MN Cup, InnoNative Consulting, and LAUNCHKIT for an intensive startup sprint—a fully guided walkthrough to bring you from an initial idea to launch and beyond!

The theme of this new event is Indigenous Entrepreneurs: this launch-a-thon is open to any Native-led and Native-serving concepts and startups.

More information and a full agenda to come, but we hope you can join us and spread the word!

early stage startup funding panel

Early Stage Startup Funding Panel

This session will address some of the key tactics and resources concerning startup funding. Based on your venture's growth potential and business model, various funding options may be appropriate, including SBIR/STTR and other grants, bootstrapping, angel investors, loans, crowdfunding and (occasionally) venture capital. Panelists will also discuss how venture competitions not only offer prize money and in-kind benefits, but also lay the groundwork for funding.

Growing Indoors

Growing Indoors: The Future of Controlled Environment Agriculture in Minnesota

Join us April 28, 2022 from 12-1 p.m. CST for a webinar featuring a panel discussion with industry thought leaders highlighting scalable specialty indoor crops, with an eye to the future of CEA applications in Minnesota. Following the webinar, join the AURI team at Bushel Boy indoor growing facility in Owatonna, MN at 3 p.m. for a tour of its R+D Greenhouse. We also invite you to attend our networking event, co-hosted by Grow North, from 4-6 p.m. at Corks and Pints in Faribault, MN.

Four Steps to Pricing Success

Most emerging brands think that pricing based on ingredient and packaging cost is sufficient. But more often than not, brands are not taking into account the additional costs associated with retail sales. Additionally, pricing is more than a math equation and strategic pricing means that you understand the SRP, price sensitivity and margin norms for your category, who the high, mid and low-priced leaders are, how heavily-promoted and how stable or volatile your category is.

We are excited to welcome CPG industry leader Kate LaBrosse to speak on the important, but often misunderstood and miscalculated, topic of pricing your products for success. She will walk you through a 4-step, tactical approach to pricing your products and leave you with a useful tool that you can use to calculate the right price for your products.

Angel Tax Credit Certification Lunch 'n Learn

If you're an entrepreneur raising capital from Angel Investors don't miss this event which will demystify the process to apply for the MN Angel Tax Credit Certification, which you must have in order for your Angel Investors to get the tax credit. Minnesota’s Angel Tax Credit stimulates private investment in emerging businesses. It provides tax incentives to investors or funds that invest in start-up businesses that are researching or developing a proprietary product, process or service in the fields of agriculture, tourism, forestry, mining, manufacturing (CPG), transportation or businesses focused on high technology. During this session, Stephen Wolff from DEED will walk us through the steps and answer questions to ensure you have peace of mind when applying. Additionally, we will hear from John Waller, CEO of Humble Nut Butter, who recently received the certification to talk about his experience applying for it as a CPG company.

Preparing to Raise Capital? Here's How to Meet Investor Expectations.

Raising capital means speaking the language of investors, framing your business opportunity in a different way than you would to a consumer or retail buyer, having a grasp on your business drivers and risks that gives an investor confidence you will be a good steward of their capital, and much more. In this Grow North education session Michael Movitz and Tom Malengo, Co-Founders of Brandjectory, will review key capital raise preparation best practices, and the art and science behind investor criteria.

FAI Week 2021

Food Ag Ideas Week

Food, Ag, Ideas Week will be coming back both virtually and in-person this year – hybrid model here we come!  Mark your calendars for October 1st – 7th for a week of innovative conversations, networking, and fun events! This year we will be keeping all of the panels and speakers virtual to maximize accessibility - with folks attending from 3 countries and over 20 states last year, we want to ensure everyone can tune in for great content! In order to deliver the convening, connecting, and networking you’ve come to expect and enjoy at FAI, we will have multiple opportunities to meet in person both on track days and at larger events.

Local CPG Trade Show

Minority Trade Show

As part of Grow North's commitment to creating a more equitable Food and Ag startup ecosystem, we are excited to partner with Target for the second year in a row to offer this opportunity to women-owned and BIPOC-owned businesses. This event is an opportunity for these entrepreneurs to pitch to various local, regional, and national grocers and retailers, broker those relationships, and expand and grow their business! Be sure to keep an eye out for the Trade Show on October 1st during FAI week.



As part of TCSW, Aeterna Media, in partnership with Grow North and Chef Justin Sutherland, is excited to bring MSP "Chopped" to TCSW 2021. Closing out the Food/Ag track of Startup Week on September 24th, we will be hosting a cooking competition featuring up-and-coming MSP Chefs. The ingredients for the dishes will be sourced from local CPG entrepreneurs who will be highlighted throughout the event. The competition will be curated by Chef Justin Sutherland and judged by Justin and a panel of local celebrities and award-winning chefs! The winning Chef and accompanying CPG product will receive a cash prize and the opportunity to attend a mentoring session with one of our judges. 

From Commercial Kitchen to Co-man: What to do to Scale Successfully

Wednesday, July 22 2021, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Online Event

Join us over the lunch hour as we welcome back our resident co-manufacturing experts Jim Costello and John Castillo from Food Ops LLC as they talk about the critical steps involved in scaling your formula from a commercial kitchen to a co-man. Once you've found a co-man you want to work with and are getting a contract in place, it is a crucial juncture to learn the steps you need to take for success in scaling with your co-man partner. This includes processing adjustments, ingredient and packaging ordering and spec management, quality and safety protocols, the impact to COGs, and post-production plans (i.e. where's your product getting stored and shipped to?). Join us as we demystify this *critical* step in any company's scaling journey and prepare for success in the long run.

Mastering the Co-man Search: How to Find the Right Manufacturing Partner

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Online Event

Join us over the lunch hour as we have resident co-manufacturing experts Jim Costello and John Castillo from Food Ops LLC share the keys to finding the right partner as you scale. Listen in as they demystify when to move to a co-man, where to search, what info to prepare, questions you need to ask, and more. All geared towards you honing in on a quality relationship with your co-manufacturing partner to set you up for success in the long run.

Conversing with David Swinghamer

Conversing with David Swinghamer-Former Shake Shack CEO & Industry Advisor

Thursday, June 10th, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Online Event
Join us for an intimate conversation with David Swinghamer, Carlson alumni and former CEO of Shake Shack, who led the expansion of the brand from its humble beginnings as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park to a multi-national burger company with over 80 locations prior to its IPO. Aside from sharing lessons learned during his tenure at Shake Shack, he’ll be talking about current trends in the restaurant industry, short and long-term impacts of COVID, and what he’s most excited about as we look into the future for dining out. 

Shelf Appeal: Packaging Insights to Ensure Your Brand Stands Out!

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Online Event

So you’ve got a great new product or product idea and you need a beautiful package to make it shine. You know you need to create something that truly represents your brand and is eye catching so consumers will grab it time and time again. But wait, there’s more. Don’t forget about the importance of label regulatory compliance and technical content. Please join Capsule and Artisan Row as they share insights on all things package development. They will cover how to best showcase your brand, key benefits, technical content, and the importance of collaboration between the design and technical teams to avoid common pitfalls and deliver a beautiful AND regulatory compliant package. They’ll bring these concepts to life through the package design journey of up-and-coming brand Verse Chocolate.

Making Your First Hire

Making Your First Hire: A Conversation Led by Mesh Founder Dalton Scott

Thursday, May 13th, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Online Event

Join us as we welcome Dalton Scott, an expert in connection and hiring as he discusses the uncharted territory for entrepreneurs when they make their first hire. We know that can be extremely daunting, so join us for a conversation around making that first hire and setting up your company for success by creating a culture based in empathy, openness, and diversity.

Vendi Presents: Drive Bigger and Better Traffic to Your Website

Vendi Presents: Drive Bigger and Better Traffic to Your Website

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Online Event

Need a new website but don’t know where to start? Have a great website no one sees? Have a ton of site visitors but it’s not translating into sales? Let the experts from Vendi Advertising explain the top strategies to improve your digital marketing and drive quality traffic to your website. We’ll cover the importance of consistent brand messaging, building a strong social presence and how to effectively track your efforts to better understand your customers. Following the presentation, there will be ample time for Q&A.

Presented by

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Sales Channel Strategy and Optimization

Sales Channel Strategy and Optimization - Where and When to Sell

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Online Event

Next-level sales strategy means placing the customer at the center of everything you do. In order to meet customers where they’re at, your sales and marketing approaches must be able to resonate across audiences and harmonize together. The Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed and RealTime Solutions teams walk through their industry-leading strategies, which customize every interaction along the customer journey, bringing the brand story to life in tangible, personal and memorable ways.

Knowing Your Market Fit for Effective Tactics

Knowing Your Market Fit for Effective Marketing Tactics

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Online Event

You have a great product, but how well do you really know its place in the market amongst your competitors? What problem are you solving for the consumer and have you communicated that in a way that they understand? Listen in to Kate LaBrosse from Kate LaBrosse Consulting as she discusses efficient ways to evaluate your category, maximize the impact of your products’ benefits (be it flavor, texture, nutrition, or packaging), and how to translate that knowledge into effective tactics for marketing your product to your key consumers. Join us February 17th from 12 – 1 pm to unlock the power of your brand and product!

Understanding Your PNL

Understanding Your PNL (Profit and Loss) aka Where Does All Your Money Really Go?

You know you have ingredients coming in and products going out, but where is all your money actually going? What is your true cash flow? How effective is your forecasting method or tools? Do you know what your true operating costs are? It is time to dig in and really understand where your money is coming and going so you can start the year off with clarity, and enable better business decisions to minimize waste and maximize your profitability.

FAI 2020

Food | Ag | Ideas Week 2020

If you missed FAI this year, we’ve got good news - for $25 you can get access to watch recordings of all of the sessions and panels by registering here.  And if you did attend but missed some key sessions of interest, you can still access the attendee hub here and watch them at your leisure until early March!

With FAI being virtual this year we brought together entrepreneurs, investors, industry experts, academics and everyone in between from 20+ states and 3 countries!  FAI was jam packed this year with a little something for everyone, highlights included the following:

  • Our Keynote Address featuring Commissioner Steve Grove and Canadian General Consul Ariel Delouya consisted of a dynamic conversation around trade, the role of innovation, and what strengths we have here in Minnesota to drive those forward 
  • Three track days featuring 5-6 sessions covering Food Systems, Agriculture, and CPG
  • Bread and Butter Pitch Event where VC’s provide feedback on live pitches
  • A Showcase of BIPOC Entrepreneurs and Chefs highlighting their products and talents
  • Entrepreneur Education Day filled with 5 session topics
  • Manufacturing and Farm Tour videos and Q&A
GN Survey

Exciting Trade Show Opportunity for Local CPG Companies!

As part of Grow North's commitment to creating a more equitable Food and Ag startup ecosystem we are excited to partner with Target to offer this opportunity to women-owned and BIPOC-owned businesses.

This event is an opportunity for these entrepreneurs to pitch to various local, regional, and national grocers and retailers, broker those relationships, and expand and grow their business! We encourage all local food producers to apply if you feel you fit the criteria to participate in this showcase and are retail-ready and able to scale your business. Space is limited so please click the link apply.

By applying to the event entrepreneurs can expect the following actions over the next 8 weeks:

  • Entrepreneurs will be provided a template to put together their pitch deck and get feedback and mentorship from Target Buyers and other industry experts to finalize their content.
  • Entrepreneurs will fill out a 1-page summary they will submit for a "pitchbook" of products sent to all Buyers prior to the event to prime them on who is presenting.
  • On 12/4 we will have a Pitch-style event where all entrepreneurs pitch to all Buyers for 2-3 minutes.
  • Buyers and entrepreneurs will have the chance to connect either separately as schedules allow or immediately following the pitch event in breakout rooms.

Application closed on November 2nd. If you have any questions please contact us at

BIPOC Chef + Entrepreneur Showcase

Showcase of BIPOC Entrepreneurs + Chefs: A Culinary Exploration

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Online Event

The event features a box of CPG products made entirely by BIPOC entrepreneurs in our ecosystem! They have been paired with a local chef of color who is creating a unique dish using one of the products whose recipe will be shared. Tune into the event and see the chefs and entrepreneurs in action, make the dish at home, learn about each pair, and taste some delicious products! This box has a whopping 8 pounds of product in it so get ready for a night of deliciousness!

Eating til Spring

Eating til Spring: How Restaurants and Customers Can Avoid the Deep Freeze

Join us for a Thought Leadership Event! With patios closing down and indoor dining limitations, it's hard to imagine a winter where visiting your favorite restaurant is not an option. During this conversation, we'll talk to Minnesota restaurant leaders about what they are doing to keep customers fed and what customers can do to help restaurants make it through a cold, long winter. Spring will come as it always does, and we will be there to welcome it together.

Sustainable Packaging and Your Brand

Sustainable Packaging and Your Brand

A food product’s packaging plays an integral role in ensuring it gets to consumers with the intended taste, quality and texture. Oftentimes, the package also represents the first interaction between a brand and a consumer, communicating both product expectations and brand values. Today’s consumer expects their most trusted brands to not only deliver the product they love, but to do so by making environmentally responsible packaging choices. Join us as local packaging and marketing experts from ePac, Packaging Technology and Research, Clutch Performance, and Sweet Marketing Success share their insights on implementing more sustainable packaging strategies for food products in our webinar.

Intro to E-Commerce

Intro to E-commerce: Platforms and Digital Marketing Strategies

Join us for a 2-hour dive into the world of e-commerce! In the first half we will have industry experts provide an overview of different e-commerce channels that can be used to drive online sales. In the second half we will provide examples of successful digital marketing strategies you can employ (i.e. how to drive traffic, use social media effectively, etc.). Finally, hear from local startups who have found success in e-commerce. This event is brought to you by Grow North in collaboration with AURI and the MN Department of Ag, who will also provide information about their cost-sharing program for e-commerce activities.

Bold Open Virtual Event

Bold Open Virtual Event

The Bold Open platform and virtual event brings together leading Minnesota food and agriculture companies to highlight unique industry challenges to create partnerships with producers, entrepreneurs, researchers, businesses and creators that have innovative solutions. It utilizes an open innovation platform and a reverse pitch model to partner with creative solution providers to overcome research challenges.

An Investor Viewpoint

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.

Flavors of Money

The Flavors of Money: A workshop designed to "train the trainer"

Friday, February 21, 2020
9AM -12PM
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

Our Speakers:

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

Education Event

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.  

Speaker Bios:
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

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.

Speakers include: 
Anne Thompson - VP of Marketing
Brent Budke - Director of Insights 
and more to be announced.

AURI will also share an update on their upcoming Hemp Opportunity Report and seek feedback for future sessions.

Public benefit

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

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.

winning with amazon

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.

leaders farm to fork

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.

making the sale

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.

pitching your brand

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.

Mingle happy hour

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

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

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.  

pitch slam

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!

fancy food

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. 

taste of the nation

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.

Our Speakers:

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.

hot list

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.

fancy food 2

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. 

innovation 2

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'sCascadian FarmEpic 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.

Fulton Gran

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

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.

Topics Include:

  •  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

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

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.

Thought Leadership in Regenerative Agriculture

Are you curious to learn more about regenerative agriculture? Join Naturally MN as we celebrate the newest star in our sustainable food orbit, Tree-Range Farms. TRF CEO, Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, will share his journey to create a scalable regenerative farming system capable of transforming a significant portion of the poultry industry.

Naturally Minnesota Presents: Holiday Happy Hour featuring Plant Power

Join Naturally Minnesota and broadhead on December 8th at broadhead HQ in the North Loop starting at 5:30 PM for a holiday happy hour featuring food, beverages + more. Hear from plant-based leaders and enjoy sample products from some of the industry’s most innovative brands. Food and beverages will be provided so bring yourself and a friend, and join us in kicking off this holiday season right!

Naturally Minnesota Launch Party and Second Annual Pitch Slam

Grow North is evolving to join the national Naturally Network, which has chapters in critical food hub cities across the country.

Join us at Mill City Museum to celebrate this momentous occasion with a blowout party with the entire ecosystem, featuring hosted food and drinks, music, a photo booth, and fun!

A big part of the night will also be the second annual Pitch Slam featuring top local brands competing for more than $30k in cash and in-kind prizes, hosted by John Haugen, Managing Partner of SEMCAP Food & Nutrition! Witness the fun as 6 founders pitch LIVE, and in-person in front of an audience and panel of judges to win both prizes and notoriety!  

We hope to see you on October 3rd at the Mill City Museum from 6 - 10pm CST!

FAI Week 2022 Registration

The wait is over! Registration for Food, Ag, Ideas Week is opening TODAY. Back to fully in-person this year, sessions are designed to offer perspectives from a cross-section of the ecosystem from startups to Fortune 500 companies with voices from Minnesota and across the country. You won’t want to miss this incredible opportunity for an extraordinary week of learning, conversations, and convening! Follow the link below to register.

AURI Connects: Webinar Wednesday

Webinar Wednesday returns! Join AURI Connects: Webinar Wednesday — Understanding Food Product Shelf Life for Scaling Businesses on September 14 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CT to learn more about the basics of shelf life, including what it is, what it isn’t and what impacts it. Additionally, the webinar will touch on shelf life testing and modes of failure, business implications of shelf life decisions and share a few examples. The webinar will conclude with a Q&A session. 

Women Minority Showcase- Local CPG Tradeshow

As part of Grow North's commitment to creating a more equitable Food and Ag startup ecosystem we are excited to partner with @Target for a 3rd year in a row to offer this opportunity to women-owned and BIPOC-owned CPG brands. This event is an opportunity for these entrepreneurs to pitch to various local, regional, and national grocers and retailers, broker those relationships, and expand and grow their business!  If you fit the criteria, are already in retail and able to scale your business, we encourage MN-based food producers to apply! Please apply by 8/31. Apply below now.

M/O Fellowship Showcase

Join the Naturally Austin network on Tuesday October 25th at Super Coffee HQ for the M/O Fellowship Showcase and Market! The 2022 M/O Fellowship Austin cohort just completed 6-months of hard work and are spotlighting their talent and efforts. Come discover these early-stage, minority-owned brands, learn more about their businesses, and support them in this market-style showcase.

Monday Mingle

Attention Members! Keep an eye out for the next Monday Mingle.  These networking “coffee”  meetings are held on the third Monday of each month and are an opportunity to expand connections and keep communication alive even during the pandemic. There will be 2-3 breakout sessions where you will be able to meet the amazing people making up your ecosystem along with a larger group discussion. Make sure you are a member to attend this great event!

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