New annual startup competition gives a voice to great minds

The Ignite Cup will take place in Red Wing on April 26 — and the winner will be an automatic MN Cup semifinalist

By Brian Martucci

Southeast Minnesota’s entrepreneur community is getting a big boost this spring with Ignite Cup, a new annual startup competition that “is open to all entrepreneurs, investors and community members who are focused on launching a startup and want to pitch their idea to an experienced panel,” according to a release from Ignite Cup.

Ignite Cup is backed by a diverse group of regional community builders, including Red Wing Ignite, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, the Blandin Foundation, and Lake City EDA.

“We are very excited about the new partnership between the community organizations and MN Cup. There are many big ideas that live within our communities,” says Neela Mollgaard, executive director at Red Wing Ignite and organizer of the Ignite Cup. “The Ignite Cup exists to bring a voice to some of the greatest minds in the area.”

This year’s Ignite Cup competition will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26, at the Red Wing Ignite Innovation Center. Participants will have the opportunity to hone their pitches and receive feedback from an experienced judging panel. The event is open to the community. More information is available at Ignite’s Eventbrite listing.

Also: this year, Ignite Cup has a brand-new partnership with MN Cup. The winner of the 2016 Ignite competition will automatically be entered as a semifinalist in MN Cup. As in, they’ll get to leapfrog the early stages of the MN Cup and seriously contend in its final rounds.

Oh, and if you haven’t heard of Red Wing Ignite: it’s a community-funded innovation center that empowers creative individuals to build (and build businesses out of) their ideas. Red Wing Ignite’s services include coworking space, private offices, business-oriented events, resources for entrepreneurs at every stage of the ideation and startup processes, and access to “like-minded entrepreneurs, investors, and advisors” — a full business incubation ecosystem.