Awards and Benefits

Our annual new venture competition – free to participate – boasts several benefits and resources including seed money (awarding $2 million since 2005), business planning support, mentorship, exposure, feedback from investors, access to exclusive events and professional connections. Past participants continuously say that this program furthers your idea and connects you with talented people who want to help you succeed.


Official 2019 prizes will be confirmed this spring - check back!



  • An opportunity to learn about resources available to entrepreneurs
  • Network with MN Cup partners, investors, and other entrepreneurs
  • A chance to improve the entrepreneur’s pitch and business plan
  • An invitation to attend a semifinalist reception at the Carlson School of Management, where they can meet other semifinalists, members of the review board, and MN Cup partners
  • The opportunity to be paired with a mentor with extensive entrepreneurial experience
  • Featured in December issue supplement of Twin Cities Business
  • Division Finalist Training - "Winning Investment Presentations" presented by Padilla
  • Detailed feedback of their final written entry and oral presentation
  • Opportunity to present their plan to prominent business leaders and investors

Division Prizes

$5,000 in seed capital

$30,000 in seed capital

  • Additional $50,000 in seed capital
  • The MN Cup, presented by David and Carolyn Cleveland
  • Business services from Maslon LLP
  • Business services from Incubology, LLC valued at $30,000
  • An invitation to present to Gopher Angels
  • Media Package from Media Minefield

Special Prizes

  • DEED is offering $30,000 ($10,000 each) in prizes for the top startups led by a veteran, minority, and Greater Minnesota entrepreneur.
  • Carlson Family Foundation will award $25,000 for the top women-led business and the top veteran-led business.
  • Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will provide up to 3 - $5,000 cash grant awards to startups from their region.
  • Meda & JPMorgan Chase will award $20,000 to the minority entrepreneur with the most innovative business concept.
  • Securian Financial Group will award $10,000 for an innovation that shapes the future of financial services or life insurance through technology.
  • Sunrise Banks will award $10,000 to the top company innovating the future of financial wellness
  • AARP may award a $5,000 prize for an innovation that improves the lives of seniors.
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