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Friday, February 23, 2018







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First Things First

Happy Friday, Beat readers! Two quick things before we get started:

  1. HUGE shoutout to everyone that came out to our State of Innovation: Artificial Intelligence meetup last night! What an awesome opportunity to hear from local startups working in the field and bask in a room full of A.I. brainpower and enthusiasm.
  2. Beat gotta eat. I hope that you enjoy reading this newsletter as much as we love writing it. If you enjoy the Beat, share this link with a friend or colleague. The more Beat readers the better. We can’t do what we do without you!

Alright, let’s kick a quick Beat and head into the weekend.

1: Minne Innovator Spotlight

A place for an exceptional mover-and-shaker to shine.

Could Virtual Reality Make Your Next Dentist Visit Less Awful?

In an effort to reduce the anxiety and discomfort some patients feel during dentist appointments, a Minnetonka dentist partnered with local virtual reality company Visual to create a virtual reality headset specifically for dentistry.

“One of the most common things people say is ‘I hate being here,’” Dr. Bryan Laskin told Minne Inno. “Now we can say, ‘Great. Let’s send you somewhere else.’”

Dr. Laskin and the other dentists at his practice, Lake Minnetonka Dental, introduced virtual reality to their office last year. So far, he said, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. While Lake Minnetonka isn’t the first dentist office to use virtual reality, Dr. Laskin claims to be the first to develop software specifically for dentistry.

The medical field, like other industries, has started dabbling in virtual reality over the last several years. There’s still a good deal of in depth research that needs to be done. But early studies have shown that patients using virtual reality software for 20 minutes experience an average pain reduction of 24 percent. In other words, roughly the same effects as a light dose of narcotics. (READ MORE)

2: In Case You Missed It

Inside the people, companies and organizations shaking things up this week.

Osborn370 Will Add a New Startup Incubator

Minnesota Public Radio’s (MPR) parent company, American Public Media (APM), announced Tuesday that it will launch a startup incubator in St. Paul this summer. The new tech hub will be called the Glen Nelson Center, named after the APM and MPR board member who died in 2016. The center will begin taking applications for its incubator next month. It will be led by Jeff Freeland Nelson (no relation to Glen Nelson), founder of YOXO Toys.

Startups selected for the Glen Nelson incubator will receive assistance from the newly formed Lunar Startups, a collaboration between the Glen Nelson Center and Osborn370 and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Lunar will incubate and accelerate early-stage, high growth startups and will have a special focus on entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities, APM said in a release. This entity will be headed by former Minnesota Cup director Melissa Kjolsing Lynch. (READ MORE)

Bind Benefits Raises $60M in Venture Capital

Bind Benefits, a health-benefits company led by serial entrepreneur Tony Miller, has closed a $60M round of funding as it prepares to expand into new markets and ramp up hiring. Wayzata-based firm Lemhi Ventures, where Miller is a managing partner, led the round. Miller has been quietly building the Minneapolis company for more than a year. It has 50 full-time employees, about 20 contract workers and six business customers, the Biz Journal reports. Following the funding round, Miller expects to add between 50 to 70 more jobs and take Bind into six new markets.

Full story from the Biz Journal here. [subscriber content]




3: Mark Your Calendar

The events and happenings to know about next week. Overview of Minnesota Healthcare Innovation
MONDAY: “To kick off 2018, we’re giving Minnesota’s healthcare scene an opportunity showcase what they are working on this year. Come hear short talks from MN healthcare powerhouses, as well as informal 60-second pitches.” Details here.

Ignite Minnesota Kickoff
TUESDAY: “In order to keep rural America on the front edge of the tech wave, a new initiative called ‘Ignite Minnesota‘ will be unveiled at a public celebration at the Red Wing Ignite Building on Feb. 27.” Details here.

Gener8tor’s OpenBETA: How to Get Into an Accelerator
WEDNESDAY: Gener8tor’s Minnesota director Eric Martell will discuss the basics of accelerators and share suggestions for startups looking to apply. Details here.

4: Reading List

The tech and startup stories to brush up on over the weekend.

Gener8tor Expands to Cincinnati Through New Partnership
Madison, Wis.-based gener8tor will partner with Cincinnati’s Brandery to bring its full suite of programming to Ohio.

Meet the University of Minnesota’s Therapy Chicken 
The University’s PAWS program boasts a diverse collection of therapy animals, including three chickens named Layla, Henley and Tilly.

Minneapolis Threatens Fines for Local Airbnbs [Star Tribune]
Minneapolis will soon start imposing $500 fines on unlicensed, short-term rentals in the city.

The WeWork Manifesto: First, Office Space. Next, The World. [New York Times]
The brash, ambitious founders of WeWork, a global network of shared office spaces, want nothing less than to transform the way we work, live and play.





Meanwhile in another corner of the internet…

Free Startup Idea: Rent-a-Shovel

I spent a good chunk of my morning trying to dig my car out of a snowbank. Being a seasoned Minnesotan, I had a scraper on hand, but that doesn’t get you very far when your car is buried in six inches of snow. I ultimately freed myself using a scraper and my feet to kick the snow into submission. It was a long, cold, arduous process. As my toes started to freeze, I thought, “There has to be some sort of rent-a-shovel app out there. The techies haven’t tried disrupting snow yet?”

I suppose the snow bank problem has common-sense solutions like “keeping a shovel in your car” or “not driving head-on into a giant snow bank.” But who has time for that? The real solution? On-demand shovels. Minnesota’s first unicorn startup. I’m calling it now.

Featured Jobs

Featured startup and tech jobs on Minne Inno’s new Careers Directory.




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Meet The Authors:

Maddy Kennedy

Will Flanagan












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