The Twin Cities tech community gathered at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis Thursday evening for 2018’s first Minnedemo, an event where local startups and entrepreneurs give live demonstrations of current projects.
The seven presenting teams were each given seven minutes to make a case for their product, which last night ranged from police-monitoring software to geology apps. The popular, quarterly “geek show-and-tell” was well-attended Thursday, filling up the majority of the theater. The event began with an appearance by Minneapolis’ new mayor, Jacob Frey, who briefly touched on the strengths of the local tech community.
“We’re recognized as a tech hub in the Upper Midwest, but that’s not good enough. We’re world-class,” Frey said.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each of the seven presenters and their pitches:
Founder Mondo Davison worked with Minneapolis-based Software for Good to develop SafeSpace, an app that “empowers the community to be each other’s allies” by monitoring interactions with law enforcement. The app is designed to keep users safe while tracking officers’ conduct in real time. If a SafeSpace user is, for example, pulled over by an officer, he or she can open the app and send a notification to emergency contacts and any other users in a half-mile radius to inform them of the interaction. After it’s completed, the affected user can rate the officer’s behavior using SafeSpace. Officers can be up-voted to highlight their positive work in the community.
Thrivors aims to empower cancer patients to live longer, healthier lives by using its platform, which correlates a person’s pain and energy to determine special meals and workout plans. Founder Cathy Skinner said that she has worked with cancer patients for nearly two decades, and emphasized that what patients do outside clinical settings, like nutrition and exercise, can drastically affect their outcomes. The company is currently participating in the Launchpad Digital Health accelerator in San Francisco.
Kwikly aims to fix the process of finding temporary workers for a dentist office. Presenters explained that finding replacements can be a complicated process, often involving many calls to multiple agencies to find one person. Using Kwikly, offices can post available shifts to a pool of pre-screened professionals. One of the Kwikly presenters was Dr. Bryan Laskin, a Minnetonka dentist and dental entrepreneur whose other ventures include communication software Opera DDS and a virtual reality headset for his patients. Read Minne Inno’s story about Laskin’s virtual reality headset here.
Rental Researcher seeks to fix the “power imbalance between renters and their landlords.” Using information gathered through Minneapolis’ open data initiative, users can learn more about potential apartments and the landlords who run them. In addition to listing basic information about the property, Rental Researcher also includes a log of all 311 calls (the city line for rental complaints) made about the building and in the surrounding area.
While the majority of Minnedemo presenters are typically early-stage companies, the event sometimes features presentations from tech pillars like SportsEngine. SportsEngine is a youth sports management platform that helps parents connect with local clubs or teams in the area. The company was sold to NBC Sports Group in 2016. At Minnedemo, SportsEngine said that it would use its relationship with NBC to promote winter sports on its site during the Olympics.
Described by founders as the “Google Maps for education planning,” UR Turn encourages students to set goals and monitor their progress. The platform uses predictive analytics to monitor a student’s work, and determine where they will go if they continue on their current path. UR Turn also helps school counselors track students’ progress. The startup was a division finalist in the Minnesota Cup in 2017, and is currently looking for pilot schools to test their software, presenters said.
Developed by a group of geologists and techies at the University of Minnesota, Flyover Country is an interactive mobile application that uses GPS tracking, offline geographic maps and geo-referenced Wikipedia articles to inform users about points of interest, such as fossil findings, as they fly. Read Minne Inno’s story about the startup here.