Entrepreneurs Archive

CoCo partners to help launch Silicon North Stars

CoCo partners  to help launch Silicon North Stars

logoCoCo is joining forces with groups in Minnesota and California to help launch Silicon North Stars.

The new one-week program gives a select group of high-potential eighth and ninth graders from Minnesota the opportunity to spend a week in California’s Silicon Valley, learning about technology and the Internet directly from some of the top tech companies and startups in the world.

The students will come from a variety of diverse backgrounds, but share a passion for technology and the Web — and a desire to one day pursue a career in those fields. The program’s name is meant to evoke the combination of Silicon Valley’s unique culture of innovation, and Minnesota’s state motto, “L’Etoil duNord”, or “Star of the North.”

As TECHdotMN reports, the program is the brainchild of  husband and wife duo and Google executives Steve and Mary Grove who formed Silicon North Stars as a separate organization, primarily funded through an Indiegogo campaign.

“We started Silicon North Stars because we believe that exposure to possibility at a young age can fundamentally change the course of a person’s life — giving them a new vision for their future and something to work for,” the Silicon North Stars site explains.

“To give middle school students the opportunity to experience what is possible in tech entrepreneurship is life changing,” said CoCo cofounder Kyle Coolbroth, who will lead the kick-off orientation at CoCo and will be one of the chaperones in this summer’s inaugural class. “And to do so by bringing them to the epicenter of the digital world in Silicon Valley for a whole week is simply amazing.”

Other organizations partnering to help launch Silicon Valley Northstars include Minneapolis Public Schools, STEP-UP, Reve Academy and Washington Magnet School in St. Paul.

Come to the App Strategy Workshop

Come to the App Strategy Workshop

Jul 10 2014
3 to 6:30 p.m.
CoCo Uptown

Sessions and Registration

Use the code “CoCo” to get in free!

Opt web graphic with ADAJoin developers, analytics experts, and leading app publishers and platforms to learn about tools and strategies to understand your users, boost retention, and drive downloads. Take a deep-dive into app store optimization and explore ways to get your app discovered.

Local and national app experts include:

  • Cami Zimmer
  • Brett Bauer
  • Shivani Khanna
  • Dug Nichols
  • Andy Vaughan
  • Jake Ward
  • Wade Beavers
  • Rob Weber
  • Greg Blackman
  • Jim Dahline

Additional speakers and workshop leaders will be announced soon!

The Gain & Engage Users Workshop is part of a nationwide App Strategy Workshop series complete with 15 events.

The Minneapolis stop of the App Strategy Workshop is made possible by the generous support of Google for Entrepreneurs.

GFE 2-line Logo for Web Use [PREFERRED WEB LOGO]


Google startup secrets revealed!

Google startup secrets revealed!

July 17
6:30 – 8 p.m.
CoCo Uptown

Eventbrite - In the Startup Lab ... with Google Ventures

googleventuresHow does Google Ventures nurture their own startups? Find out first-hand at this special event.

Google Ventures provides seed, venture, and growth-stage funding in more than 225 companies, including Uber, Nest, Cloudera, Flatiron Health, and RetailMeNot. They provide these companies unparalleled support in design, recruiting, product, engineering, marketing, and more.

Rick Klau and Ken Norton are product partners at Google Ventures. They help the portfolio with product and strategic planning, and also organize workshops and events. They will discuss their approaches when coaching the startups that Google Ventures invests in:

Part 1: Setting and measuring ambitious goals with Rick Klau
Rick will talk about how successful companies set and measure ambitious goals, drawing on Google’s success using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). He’s helped more than 30 companies in the portfolio use OKRs and he’ll share his experiences making them work for fast-paced startups.

Part 2: Product management with Ken Norton
Ken will speak about the importance of product management at startups, one of the hardest jobs to define at any company. A long-time product manager, Ken will share what he’s learned about the PM role at startups, when to hire them, and how to make sure your team ships the right product to your users.


Bring your enthusiasm and questions! Food and drink will be provided.


RICK KLAU (@rklau) is a product partner at Google Ventures where he helps lead Startup Lab. Rick was previously a product manager at Google where he led product initiatives on Blogger, Google+, and YouTube.

Rick’s earlier professional experience includes leadership roles at several software and Internet startups. He was an early employee at FeedBurner, where he ran the publisher services team until Google acquired the company in 2007. Rick received dual degrees from Lafayette College, and while a student at the University of Richmond School of Law, he founded the Richmond Journal of Law & Technology, the world’s first student-edited law journal to publish exclusively online. He serves on Richmond Law’s Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Outside of his love of technology, Rick is also a political junkie. He has lent technology advice to three US Presidential campaigns, ran the campaign weblog for President Barack Obama in his 2004 Senate race, and ran product strategy for and managed Google’s presence at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

KEN NORTON (@kennethn) is a product partner at Google Ventures where he advises startups on product management and also helps organize our workshops. Prior to joining Google Ventures, Ken was a group product manager at Google. In his more than six years as a PM at Google, Ken led product initiatives for Docs, Calendar, Google Mobile Maps, and Google+.

Ken joined Google with the acquisition of JotSpot, where he was vice president of products. Before JotSpot, Ken led product management at Yahoo Search. Back in the day when he was a software engineer, he was one of the first 50 employees of CNET and the founding CTO of Snap (which became NBC Internet).

Ken has written extensively about the craft of product management, is an inventor of more than fifteen patents, and a competitive cyclist. He earned his bachelor’s from Boston University and master’s from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

An Unlea(she)d for teens and their parents

An Unlea(she)d for teens and their parents
Madi Lommen

Madi Lommen

The POWER of being female: the Girl Effect

June 26
6-9 p.m.
CoCo Uptown

Eventbrite - Unlea(she)d: The power of being female

Find out how to use your ideas and questions to create, lead, and take risks that not only change the world but make you more powerful, confident, and authentic.

Solome Tibebu

Solome Tibebu

In this fun, inspirational and interactive workshop you will be inspired to take action by a panel of six young women (see below!) who have created social change by asking BIG questions, thinking innovatively and becoming entrepreneurs.

Large and small group work will challenge and encourage you to figure out how to bring your ideas to reality; you will transform your words to actions and will start to find your voice, passion, and authentic you in the process.

G-rated drinks and snacks will be provided.


Our panelists

Amanda Erickson is 17 and a social entrepreneur in training. She got involved with social entrepreneurship 6 months ago when she formulated her big question “How can I help people feel safe in their own skin?” Answering that has been harder than she thought. It’s led her all over the place: from interviewing peers to making art, and she’s yet to find an exact solution. However her journey thus far has definitely been empowering. It’s taught her to take risks and embrace failure. Her biggest piece of advice to other women/girls in this area is take charge. All great things start with the decision to do something. She can be reached via email at amanda.erickson@pcae.k12.mn.us

Ashley Paguyo co-founded @DogsofInstagram, a rambunctiously vibrant Instagram feed, providing a community of over 700,000 canine-lovers with a daily dose of the most lovable pups. An unexpected project that fell into her lap, Ashley quickly identified @DogsofInstagram as an opportunity and saw possibility. Her first foray into entrepreneurship has taught her the importance of moving fast, creatively, and tenaciously with the right partner. She strongly recommends listening – to the changing landscape around you, to the things that stir your soul, and to your intuition. website | instagram.com/dogsofinstagram | lucyand.co Instagram/Twitter Handles | @dogsofinstagram | @lucyandco | @apaguyo Email | dogs.instagram@gmail.com | ashley@ashleypaguyo.com

BreAnna Fisher is founder of Raising Biz Kids, a vlog & blog startup aimed at teaching parents and kids to think like entrepreneurs by addressing each situation with concrete, problem-solving skills. As a young serial entrepreneur and a woman she is most empowered by the difference she can make in others’ lives through entrepreneurial education. She believes that we can change the world if we embrace entrepreneurial thinking and take action for the many opportunities available all around us. She encourages all woman to think and act like entrepreneurs by identifying problems and creating unique solutions that drive value for a market who is willing to pay for it. Raisingbizkids.com @fisherbre www.linkedin.com/in/breannafisher/

Holly Jade Chan is founder of The Green Habit. She comes from working at Apple on the environmental team and looks to make a lasting impact of change; recently she gave a TEDx talk about the zero-waste movement she’s on. The mission of The Green Habit is to bridge the gap between sustainability and people through design and engagement with people. Ultimately, she set out to be a green thought leader, and look to connect the world innovators to come together and create sustainable impact. Currently, The Green Habit is raising seed money to launch a product for sustainable packaging, so they can START making zero-waste a reality. They encourage those that may feel curious, distant, or unsure about “sustainability” to check out TheGreenHabit.com. Sustainability isn’t just for the tree-huggers, but its a life shift and where society is headed. Join us. ( www.TheGreenHabit.com )

Madi Lommen is CBO (Chief Baking Officer) of Madibanani Bread Company. Madibanani Bread Company is a banana bread business that serves orphaned refugee children in Thailand, providing immediate support abroad while generating inspiration for long-term social change in the local community. The next step of her entrepreneurial journey is determining a way to unite existing enterprises that strive for social good in order to improve their efficiency and impact. Numerous encounters along the way have drawn attention to the fact that she is female, but none have made her as proud to be a young woman as receiving support from the staff at Women Venture. He advice to fellow aspirational women is to follow your passion! As Premal Shah, President of Kiva put it, “the world needs those individuals who create positive change by pursuing their passion and then applying that passion to the needs of the community.” Find more information about Madibanani Bread Company at: www.madibanani.com or contact Madi at madi@madibanani.com

Solome Tibebu Her business, Anxiety in Teens, is a resource for young adults with anxiety and other mental health disorders as well as their loved ones to offer information, inspiration and community. Anxiety disorders are the #1 most prevalent mental health issue among both adults and youth, but also experienced twice as much in girls than in boys- a personal experience that could relate to my audience! Your experiences and skills are much more relevant and valuable than you may realize as you decide to start a business- but, you won’t realize it unless you give it a try and take action! Websites: AnxietyInTeens.org SolomeTibebu.com Email: stibebu@anxietyinteens.com
Twitter: @SolomeTibebu LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/solome Facebook: facebook.com/AnxietyInTeens


Our moderator


Coach Kristi Hemmer has always known and felt the Girl Effect in her life.   However, as a teacher, school counselor, principal, and coach for 20+ years, she experienced first-hand how girls and women shrink in a classroom, a community, and the world.  Something needed to be done.  So, Kristi quit her six-figure job and started AWE (Academy for Women’s Empowerment) for girls/women of all ages to put the W in poWer.  Learn more at www.kristihemmer.com and www.theawemovement.com.


About Unlea(she)d

Unleashed is a monthly speaker series, held at CoCo, in which we invite women entrepreneurs and leaders to talk about their journeys in life and business. Unlea(she)d is part of CoCo’s participation in the Google for Entrepreneurs #40 Forward program – an effort to increase the presence and participation of women in startup communities around the world.

Join our mailing list for updates on future women’s happenings at CoCo.


Recap: Inspired by students of STEP-UP Achieve

Recap: Inspired by students of STEP-UP Achieve

Guest judge Meghan Wilker (r) shows an app to Paige, a student entrepreneur.

A little over a week ago, on a Saturday afternoon, I went to CoCo’s downtown location to be a guest judge at the STEP-UP Entrepreneur-in-Training Day.

My thoughts about the day are best summarized by this tweet:

That gives you a sense of where my mind was by the time the event was over. But, before the event? Let me be honest: I had an exhausting week. I agreed to volunteer at this event before finding out that my husband also had an event that day, which meant we had to find someone to watch our kids for most of the day. I went into the event feeling tired and overwhelmed. (Cue the tiny violins.)

Then I got to CoCo. The energy was apparent as soon as I walked into the room. Groups of students and mentors were buzzing in small groups, preparing to present their ideas — which they only had a few hours to come up — to a panel of judges (myself, Kyle Coolbroth, Adam Bacchus and Chris Carlson). Over the next couple of hours, ten groups of students presented product concepts to address food deserts, financial literacy, clean drinking water, and college attrition.

Their ideas ranged from iPhone apps to buses that could drive, fly, and crawl across terrain. They presented their ideas with humor, and style. They flubbed and messed up, but they kept going. They were nervous, but they worked through it. Their creativity was astounding. Their teamwork was inspiring — especially considering that most of the students didn’t know their teammates before the event.

After the presentations were over, Kyle asked each of the judges if we had any words of advice for the kids. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but above all else I wanted these kids — young adults, really — to hear two things:

  1. At this event, and in life, winners and losers get chosen — for different things, and by different “judges.” But, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship, the real winning ideas aren’t always the ones that judges pick as winners. Breakthough ideas are often not understood right away. Things that are ubiquitous now — like Google, for example — were seen as WTFs when they were first launched. So, don’t get caught up in what someone else says is a winning idea. If you believe in it, make it happen. When you — or the idea — fail, keep going. Don’t let the opinion of a “judge” deter you.
  2. You’ve already accomplished something remarkable: you got up in front of a roomful of people and you talked. That terrifies most people. So, the hard part is over: you spoke publicly, and you survived. After this, you can do anything.

So, back to my original tweet. I hear lots of people lament about the next generation. I hear that kids these days don’t have social skills because they interact with screens all the time. I hear that kids these days can’t write because txting. I hear that kids these days are disrespectful. I’m not naive — I’m sure “kids these days” have some issues. But, frankly, so do a lot of adults. (Check the internet, there’s tons of evidence.)

But the kids of Achieve Minneapolis? If those kids are running the world someday, we’ve got nothing to worry about.

Achieve Minneapolis and CoCo: thanks. Thanks for inviting me to participate. Thanks for creating spaces and events for adults and young adults to flex their entrepreneurial muscles. Thanks for shaking me out of my funk and reminding me why I love what I do. Because we get to make stuff up — and then we get to build it. And we should all look forward to having the STEP-UP students on our teams.

Entrepreneur Training Day in pictures