Members of Minnesota’s tech, business and startup communities converged on WeWork in downtown Minneapolis Wednesday night to celebrate Minne Inno’s inaugural 50 on Fire, a party honoring 50 of the most innovative companies and individuals in the state.
This process started two months ago when we asked the community to send us the names of people or startups that they thought were changing the community for the better. After we were inundated with submissions, the Inno team was tasked with choosing 50 winners.
If you’ve read our original post about the 50 on Fire winners, you probably noticed that there isn’t a neat, unifying thread that ties them all together. It’s eclectic, just like the Twin Cities startup community. In Minnesota, there are startups driving innovation in just about every industry and corner of the state. We thought the best way to honor them was to get them together in a room so everyone could see how they’re lighting their little part of the ecosystem on fire.
After choosing our 50 winners, we reached out to members of the startup community to help us rank the top three in each of our seven categories. We tallied up all their votes to choose our category-winning Inno Blazers.
We’re all about innovation here at Minne Inno, which is why we decided to give our Inno Blazers a – you guessed it– bright red blazer. We’ll post pictures soon.
Let’s get to the list of winners:
The 2018 Inno Blazers
Branch Messenger: The company relocated to the Twin Cities from California after participating in the first Target + Techstars retail accelerator in 2016. Since then, Branch Messenger has grown, adding more than a dozen people to its team in the last year. In 2017, the startup raised $6.8 million.
Stemonix: Since winning the Minnesota Cup’s grand prize in 2016, StemoniX has landed $2.5 million in seed funding and moved into its first headquarters and manufacturing facility in Maple Grove. The company has also cemented partnerships with Pairnomix and the U.S. Military.
Scott Burns/Structrual: An investor and innovator with Osborn370. Burns is an outspoken advocate for St. Paul’s startup scene, and is part of the city’s Full Stack St. Paul initiative. After selling his company GovDelivery in 2016, Burns launched Structural.
Lauren Pradhan: Has expanded local food org Grow North, hosting 20 events that reached more than 3,000 people in the last year. Pradhan assists with leading the food and agriculture track during Twin Cities Startup week and works with more than a half-dozen local nonprofits in and out of the food sphere.
GogyUp: Working with local organizations to improve adult literacy and help resolve the talent crisis faced by local employers. GogyUp was a semifinalist in the Impact Ventures division of this year’s Minnesota Cup, and received a $5,000 innovation award from AARP.
Caroline Karanja: A developer, consultant and business owner growing diversity and inclusion practices at the Twin Cities. Karanja is a co-founder of 26 Letters, a SaaS solution that helps businesses grow their diversity. Karanja pitched the business at Minnedemo during Twin Cities Startup week.