MN Cup winners portend more mission-driven businesses

By Melissa Kjolsing, Director of the Minnesota Cup
Friday, November 20, 2015

Each year, the Minnesota Cup receives hundreds of breakthrough ideas from across Minnesota. Since 2005, the competition has supported more than 10,000 entrepreneurs from 79 counties. These ideas span industries from healthcare to retail to education to agriculture, and range from complex technologies to simple innovations. A common theme is emerging among these numerous applications: mission-driven businesses.

Reviewing the MN Cup entries, it is rare to find an entrepreneur who is driven solely by the dollar. Increasingly, entrepreneurs are creating businesses that were founded on a clear and focused mission to inspire and engage customers, attract and retain talent, and connect as well as support the communities they operate in. Standouts from this year’s MN Cup competition showcase this new energy for mission-driven businesses:

Food/Ag/Beverage Division Winner: SIMPLS is a retail outlet offering fresh, healthy and convenient options with local and natural ingredients. In addition to their focus on healthy grab-and-go meals, SIMPLS is supporting and showcasing other local brands from emerging Minnesota startups.

Social Division Winner: Civic Eagle creates technology solutions to increase civic engagement, specifically targeting millennials and people of color. The ambitious startup is driven by changing the landscape for how people engage with their politicians and communities in order to have more voices heard.

General Division Winner: Woodchuck’s mission is to bring nature back to people, jobs back to America and quality products back to consumers.  Its team delights in partnering with customers to design unique natural products manufactured in Minnesota.

Student Division Winner: OvaWoman is a hub for women to find the most innovative women’s intimate health products. Founder Elise Maxwell is building a trusted community that reviews, curates and shares information and products for women to improve their lives. 

These MN Cup winners represent a much larger group of companies that are putting the mission of what they do at the core of their business to improve both their bottom line and their communities. To be successful with your future venture, ask yourself: What is the heart of my business and how are we leveraging our mission to differentiate ourselves? If you can answer this question in a concise and meaningful way, chances are you’re already seeing the benefits with customers, employees and partners.