Here's what we've been up to.
We are constantly working to iterate, and improve our events to better serve our community. Stay up to date with upcoming events here.
Thought Leaders in Food & Agriculture Speaker Series: Carla Vernón, President of General Mills Natural & Organic Portfolio
May 17th, 2018
This was the first event of the “Thought Leaders in Food and Agriculture”. We were lucky enough to have had Carla Vernón, President of General Mills Natural & Organic portfolio (which includes brands like Annie's, Cascadian Farm, Epic and Muir Glen). In a moderated Q&A discussion with the 70 attendees, Carla touched on a variety of topics spanning from industry trends and the pace of change to diversity and inclusion. We also had a 'crash the networks' style happy hour for the community including appetizers and a cash bar.
Make sure to get tickets to the next event of this series by staying connected with Grow North MN.
Sample at the Fulton Gran Fondo
May 12th, 2018
Fulton Brewing and Grow North partnered for the Fulton Gran Fondo’s 5th year in hopes of helping to showcase Minnesota’s food and beverage producers along the ride. In addition to showcasing local products, $1 from every pint sold at the block party was donated to a local non-profit.
Building a Foundation for Food Startups Training: Optimizing Business Models for Profitability and Growth
April 19th, 2018
42 trainees attended this 1.5 day interactive training that took a deep dive into the financial side of building a profitable food business. Some of the topics included current market and industry trends, a closer look into the different types of business models, and highlights of Minnesota specific resources and programs available to entrepreneurs.
This training was led by Tera Johnson, the Director of the Food Finance Institute in Madison, Wisconsin and Founder of teraswhey®. She has led this training all across the country, and we were excited to bring her to Minnesota.
2018 MN Cup Launch Party with Grow North Food Startup Showcase
March 26, 2018
300+ attendees joined us for the celebration and kick-off of the MN Cup, the state's largest early venture competition! Attendees networked with leaders from across Minnesota's startup community as well as investors, industry leaders, entrepreneurs.
The showcase featured 32 startups including past MN Cup companies from the Food, Agriculture and Beverage division as well as exciting new food and beverage startups.
MN mingle @ expo west
March 9, 2018
Over 200 Minnesotans joined us in Anaheim, CA for a happy hour and networking event. This casual opportunity led to attendees meeting and connecting with Minnesota's dynamic and growing food startup and innovation ecosystem including food start-ups, industry leaders, investors, retailers, and organizations. We had over 200 people at our event last year, so you won't want to miss it.
This event was sponsored by Compeer Financial, and Greater MSP, Insignia, and Westrock.
Start the Year with Traction: A Workshop to Take Your Business to the Next Level
February 15, 2018
Back by popular demand, Grow North kicked off the year with a workshop on Traction, the Entrepreneur Operating System utilized by startups throughout Minnesota. We partnered with Sara Stern, a Traction EOS facilitator and owner of Family Business Minnesota, to lead a dynamic workshop that not only deepened attendee understanding of Traction but also gave attendees time to apply methods to their business.
MN Mingle @ the Winter Fancy Food Show
January 21, 2018
We had over 100 Minnesotans and friends attend our happy hour and networking event in San Francisco, CA. This casual opportunity led attendees to meet and connect with Minnesota's growing and dynamic startup ecosystem including the food start-ups, large food and agriculture manufacturers, retailers and broader food community that all call Minnesota home.
This event was sponsored by Westrock, Insignia and Compeer Financial.
Canadian Food Labelling and Market Access
December 6th, 2017
Canada is a top entry point for U.S. food products and understanding the regulatory requirements can be a confusing for those just entering the market or figuring out changes to the system. We heard from a Canadian-based regulatory affairs specialist and others who helped us navigate the regulatory hurdles required to gain market access. Many Minnesota food startups export their products to Canada - take advantage of this opportunity to expand your business.
This event was developed in partnership with the MN Dept of Ag.
China E-Commerce for Food Products
December 1st, 2017
China is now the largest e-commerce market in the world and setting the benchmark for the future of global retailing. Since 2013, policy reforms in China have encouraged the online sale of foreign goods in the country that included duty tax reductions on cross-border e-commerce. Online companies like Alibaba’s tmall.com and Beijing-based JD.com are streamlining operations with international shipping and payments making it easier for Chinese consumers to buy from overseas companies. The food sector increased 82% in 2016 with projected sales of nearly USD 35 billion by the end of next year.
TCSW: food manufacturing in the Twin Cities: a guided tour
October 11th, 2017
There is a whole world of manufacturing happening in the Twin Cities built to enable food startups to grow and scale their ideas. Attendees were able to experience it first hand on a guided bus tour designed to give them an inside look. Our tour guide was Jim Costello of Costello Solutions with surprise guests.
Stops included The Good Acre and the Local Food District Commercial Kitchen space in NE MSP.
tcsw: Hooked on 'Ponics: Aquaponics, Aeroponics and the Evolution of food production
October 11th, 2017
This panel featured leaders in aqua and aeroponics as they spoke about the changing world of agriculture, consumer preferences and the strategic partnerships that are enabling them to scale faster. Panelists included Dave Augustine, CEO Living Greens Farms, and Michael Ziebell, President and CEO, trū Shrimp, Dave Roeser, Garden Fresh Farms and moderated by Jeremy Lenz, strategy consultant and water expert.
TCSW: 'Crash the Networks' happy hour and networking event
October 10th, 2017
Food entrepreneurs, brewers, distillers, farmers, marketers, supporters, investors and many others came out to meet and mingle! We raised a glass, reconnected, discovered new resources, and met someone new.
TCSW: dynamic duos: corporations investing in food startups
October 10th, 2017
We brought together corporations and startups to answer questions like: What does a partnership like this actually look like? How do the two companies work together? What does a large corporation look for in a startup and vice versa?
TCSW: Maker to Market Demo Day: A New Food Accelerator Developed by Lakewinds Co-Op and The Good Acre
October 10th, 2017
A first of its kind Food Accelerator program launched in the Twin Cities, Maker to Market to not just offer personalized food business consult, from container shape to culinary support, but also elevate the commercialization process by pairing selected startups with local, small and disadvantaged farmers, subsidize their shared commercial kitchen production time, and guarantee six months on shelf at Lakewinds Food Co-op's three Twin Cities area stores.
We met and heard from the leaders behind the Maker to Market Food Accelerator Program as well as the food startups that participated. Program partners also released details on the 2018 cohort including application release date and some new program offerings!
TCSW: Lunch and learn: innovation and solving the problem of food waste
October 10th, 2017
As part of the Food & AG track during Twin Cities Startup Week, JoAnne Berkenkamp, Senior Advocate for NRDC, dove into how solving the problem of global food waste starts with local communities and involves integrated solutions throughout the entire supply chain. Startups and organizations participating included Reinvia, Sofi Taste Kineto, the Cleantech Open’s recently launched Food and Ag vertical, JavaCycle, as well as the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute (AURI).
Lunch was made by local chefs, creating something delicious utilizing products normally thought of as food waste inspired by Dan Barber’s WastED.
TCSW: Meeting at the table - food as a tool for social justice
October 10th, 2017
Grow North and Impact Hub hosted a panel and discussion moderated by Jeff Dykstra, Co-Founder/CEO Partners in Food Solutions, and featured Michelle Horovitz, Co-Founder/Executive Director, Appetite for Change, Marcus Owens, CEO/President of NEON, Tricia Nelson, Sales Development and Community Relations, FINNEGANS SBC, and Patsy Noble, Senior Program Director, of Urban Roots.
301 INc. Food/ag/beverage pitch slam
August 24, 2017
MN Cup and 301 Inc. of General Mills hosted the 2017 MN Cup Food/Ag/Beverage (FAB) Division semifinalists and other entrepreneurs from the community. Exhibitors included: 5 Infused Vodka, Bare Honey, Burning Brothers Brewing, Farm Vision Technologies Inc, Fresh Bar, Get Bizzy Inc., K-Mama Sauce, Kakookies, KinoSol, Midwest Elderberry Cooperative, Minneapolis Cider Company, Nourish, Toom Dips, WholeMe
WE* Talks: Janet Johanson
August 9th, 2017
We got together for WE* Talks, a new series that highlights successful women entrepreneurs from Minnesota by providing a platform to share their entrepreneurial journey. Our first WE* Talks event featured Janet Johanson of BevSource, an integrated provider of beverage development, production, sourcing, and logistics solutions to new and established beverage companies. Janet shared lessons learned and insights over a 15 year career of building her own company in an industry where women are the exception not the rule.
Social Media 2.0 Workshop at The Lynhall
August 8th, 2017
In this interactive workshop, we put two MN Cup companies in the hot seat, The Twisted Shrub, and Mississippi Mushrooms, as real life examples - using their current social media channels as our case studies. Shruti Acharya, Digital Communications Manager and Jen Smith Social Content Designer from General Mills served as our guides as they asked questions, provided feedback and shared best practices. Meet the speakers here...
sampling event at Minneapolis Taste of the Nation Hotlist
June 22nd, 2017
Grow North partnered with No Kid Hungry to host a food entrepreneur sampling section at the Minneapolis Taste of the Nation Hotlist event. The event included food and drink by the Twin Cities 30+ top chefs and bartenders as a fundraiser to end child hunger in America. Grow North hosted Bare Honey, Five Vodka, K'ul Chocolate, Maddy & Maize Popcorn, Mama Stoen's Gluten-Free Treats, Midwest Elderberry Association, Triple Crowne Organic BBQ Sauce, and Velvet Bees Gourmet Honey Butter while they sampled their product to the event attendee's. 100% of entrepreneurs found this event helpful as they build their business strategy.
sampling and mentor event at land o' lakes
June 20th, 2017
Grow North partnered with Land O' Lakes to host six food/agriculture/beverage entrepreneurs for a morning of sampling and mentoring. Participating companies included Hoyo Sambas, Kakookies, Mama Stoen's, RSVTea, So Good Brands & Thumbs Cookies. 96% of Land O'Lakes employees said they would recommend participating in this event to a colleague, and 100% said they'd participate in another Grow North event.
Brand design workshop at Lunds & Byerlys, Ridgedale
July 18th, 2017
Grow North partnered with Ultra Creative, Capsule, and Lunds&Byerlys to develop an interactive workshop to help entrepreneurs bring their vision to life, and get the most out of working with a designer/agency. This workshop was led by Sharon Gorney, Vice President of Ultra Creative and Kitty Hart from Capsule. 93% of entrepreneurs found the speakers useful as they build their business.
Food entrepreneur showcase at FULTON GRAN FONDO
May 6th, 2017
Grow North partnered with Fulton Brewing to host 9 food startups at the 4th annual Fulton Gran Fondo bike race. The event included 1500+ bike racers that stopped for samples from our MN food companies along their ride. Participating companies included Bare Honey, Buddy's Nut Butters, KaKookies, Maddy & Maize, Nots!, Mixmi, Red Head Creamery, Superior Switchel, & WholeMe.
Food ENTREPRENEURS Showcase at 2017 MN Cup Launch Party
March 20th, 2017
MN Cup and Grow North partnered together for the first MN Cup Launch Party, featuring 30 food entrepreneurs sampling, and pitching their products to over 400 members of Minnesota's entrepreneur community.
Investing in Food Start Ups Angel Investment Panel
with Gopher Angels
March 15, 2017
Gopher Angels and Grow North hosted a panel discussion for 30 angel investors on investing in food start-ups including two food investors in the space, Mary Kosir (Wholeme), and Kirk Sabiston (M&A for General Mills who worked on both Annie's and EPIC acquisitions).
Minnesota Mingle happy hour at Expowest
March 10, 2017
Grow North, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Greater MSP, and Minnesota Department of Economic Development hosted a happy hour for over 200 guests at Expowest. This was a casual opportunity for the 50+ Minnesota companies + friends of Minnesota to meet and connect with the food start-ups, large food, agriculture manufacturers, retailers, and the broader food community that all call Minnesota home.
Growing Your Business Series: Get on Shelf & Grow Sales, A Buyers Panel
February 1, 2017
Midwest Pantry led, in collaboration with Grow North, a panel of diverse buyers from the buyer community. Attendee's heard from panelists representing Lakewinds Co-op, Market Distributing, Seward Co-op, Wedge Co-op and Whole Foods.
SHOWCASE and Mentoring SESSION at Land O' Lakes
January 27, 2017
Land O' Lakes, a Grow North sponsor, hosted 7 entrepreneurs at their headquarters for an afternoon of sampling to employees, a luncheon with R&D executives, and mentoring from Land O Lakes specialists. 100% of employees said they would participate again and 80% of entrepreneurs surveyed said that the employees helped them solve a critical problem.
"Start the New Year with Traction" A Panel for Food Entrepreneurs
January 19, 2017
There are many entrepreneurs in the food community using Traction, a practical guide of business practices that help run your business and have seen great results. Our panel shared their stories with the broader community, which included: