Astropad & Ova Woman

Past winner Astropad gets the Apple bump, student winner Ova Woman keeps learning

By Melissa Kjolsing
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Astropad, the 2015 MN Cup Grand Prize Winner, continues to grow aggressively. Apple introduced a new iPad and stylus (the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil) in November 2015 and it caused Astropad’s sales to climb 3x from when they participated in last year’s MN Cup.

Matt Ronge is one of two cofounders for Astropad. “We’ve got tons of new enhancements in the pipeline for Astropad and a new, related product coming later this year,” says Ronge. “Our long-term plan is still the same, to be a replacement and take on Wacom, who is currently the market leader in making drawing tablets. We want artists worldwide reaching for Astropad instead of their Wacom tablet.”

Astropad is also hiring. They’re looking for people with experience in customer support, marketing and engineering. Contact Astropad at if you’re interested.

Lessons Learned from Elise Maxwell, Ova Woman

We recently caught up with Elise Maxwell, the 2015 MN Cup Student Division Winner and asked her to share lessons learned in 2015 as her journey with Ova Woman continues. Here’s what she had to say:

  • Identify key metrics: Working backwards from my vision, I’ve identified what success looks like for the week, month, the next six months and the year. What do I need to learn? What metrics are critical to the learning process?
  • Reflect: Take time to actually reflect on key learnings from each week, month, six months and the year. Postmortems are critical. I never want to make the same mistake twice and I want to make sure I am leveraging past information for future decision-making.
  • Stay connected and transparent with advisers: Don’t fake a smile and guard data. The best guidance I’ve received is when I am completely transparent with my advisers. No ego, no defenses, just the desire to get better. I want to ensure I am doing this consistently and not just when I am in crisis mode.
  • Take moments to gain perspective: The struggle is real. Flipping through business magazines can sometimes paint a false picture of what it looks like to lead an early-stage company.

Learn more at and check out the Ova Woman blog!


Melissa Kjolsing is the director of the Minnesota Cup, an annual entrepreneur competition at the University of Minnesota. More at