Got a genius business idea?

Give it life by entering the 2017 MN Cup

By Melissa Kjolsing

Entrepreneurs, start your engines! It’s time to take your innovations to the next level, by applying for the 2017 MN Cup. Since 2005, the MN Cup has been supporting entrepreneurship in Minnesota by helping early-stage businesses get off the ground.

The free-to-enter competition is now accepting applications through April 28. This is your chance to compete for a share of the prize money, which last year was nearly $400,000, as well as visibility, connections and mentorship.

How does a budding business know if the MN Cup is right for it? The rules are simple: every stage from an idea up to pre-existing businesses generating less than $1 million in yearly revenue can enter. Entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors and small-business owners are welcome to take a shot at the array of resources provided for MN Cup competitors.

Who are some of the startups that have taken advantage of MN Cup in prior years?

When I Work, 2013 MN Cup High Tech Winner: The easiest, most powerful online employee scheduling software and time clock available, has raised nearly $30 million and is planning to double its workforce to 200 by the end of 2017. The fast-growing tech startup recently moved into the Ford Center in Minneapolis.

75F, 2014 MN Cup Grand Prize Winner: A predictive, low-cost and easy to use technology to create comfort and solve energy issues in light-commercial buildings. 75F has raised almost $3 million and employs almost 20 people in the U.S. and approximately 30 in Karnataka, India.

Rebiotix, 2011 MN Cup Finalist: A clinical-stage biotechnology company based in Roseville focused on harnessing the power of the human microbiome to revolutionize the treatment of challenging diseases. The company has raised more than $30 million in funding and is charging through the development process to get its breakthrough idea to market.

GiveMN, 2011 MN Cup Finalist: Launched in 2009, GiveMN is the collaborative venture that organizes the annual Give to the Max Day. This year’s Give to the Max Day raised $20,120,336 for Minnesota’s favorite nonprofits. 



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