Innovation Archive

Patent Trolls, Got an App for That?

Patent Trolls, Got an App for That?

9e35a89addd611e28deb22000ae911d0_7Of all the ways to judge the effectiveness of an event here at CoCo, my favorite is what I call The Sam Rating.

The Sam Rating was inspired by CoCo member Sam RaicheSam is one of the most curious and approachable CoConuts I’ve met. It’s hard not to like the guy. It’s even more difficult to get Sam to quit working and go home. When the bell hits five o’clock, you’re more likely to find Sam furiously sketching away at a white board than packing up to go home. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I really respect his enthusiasm and work ethic. However, as an event staffer, Sam’s work ethic also makes me late for dinner dates and Friday night movies! But I digress, this post isn’t actually about Sam Raiche. It’s about the recent App Developers Summit here at CoCo MPLS. So, let me get to the point…

The Sam Rating is simple: the more difficult it is to get people to leave after an event, the higher the rating. The more engagement, idea-sharing and post event chit-chat going down, the higher the chances are that I’ll find Sam in the crowd—and that I’ll be postponing tonight’s viewing of Game of Thrones!

On a scale of 1-10, I would say the recent App Developers Summit earned a Sam Rating of at least 8.5.

Legal fears and frustration brought the group together. Sharing stories and resources kept them late into the evening. It turns out that for every slick new Web app that hits the market, there are a handful collecting digital dust on the shelf thanks to the quagmire of legal barriers otherwise known as patent law. 

The Application Developers Alliance is out to change that. The group hosts Patent Summits around the country, bringing together developers, policymakers and patent experts together to discuss practical topics, like assertion and defense strategies for startups, as well as policy reform. 

refreshments fuel collaboration at Coco Mpls

Each event features a patent expert, followed by a panel discussion between policymakers, app developers, and attorneys, an open Q&A, and plenty of beverages to fuel the reception afterward (but more on that later).

This event was sponsored locally by Fantastic iP Consulting, CoCo and MOJO MinnesotaErnest Grumbles of Adams Monohan, LLP and Co-founder of MOJO Minnesota kicked things off with a quick overview of the current legal challenges facing app developers.

I noticed an unusual amount of head-nodding and MMMM-HMMMM’s during the opening session, which I later understood as the group’s shared frustration with a legal system that simply isn’t keeping up with the rate of change and innovation in their industry.

For example, panalist Michael Cohen of Gray Plant Mooty Law told a story of spending millions defending a totally bogus claim by a patent troll. (What would a troll even do with a mil anyway?!) My take-away: When it comes to defending a patent in court, even when you win you lose. For most of these cases, all that “winning” means is that you regain the right to get back to work, only now with a few thousand—or million—missing from your budget. 

My other take-away: Some app developers really need a drink! The requisite legal jockeying  in the app development world may be bad for innovation in America—but it seems even more soul-sucking for the individuals trying to share their passion and ideas. Many of the folks in the room seemed guarded and tense when they arrived (after a few stories like Michael’s, I definitely understood why!).  I don’t know if it was the booze or simply the opportunity to connect with others navigating the same troll-infested waters, but closing remarks were punctuated with a palpable sense of camaraderie, perhaps even a twinge of relief that the trolls won’t get the last word. 

Speaking of the last word, when I left the building the conversations had migrated to the elevator lobby—and yes, Sam was still there. 

By John Pederson


stoke.d about design thinking

stoke.d about design thinking

Anna Love-Mickelson of Stoke.d led last year's design thinking Boot Camp.

We’re pleased to announce that Anna Love-Mickelson (our design thinking guru in residence) has launched stoke.d, a company that teaches and practices human-centered design.

If you attended any of our design thinking crash courses or workshops last year, then you already know Anna.

The good news is that stoke.d will continue to hold design thinking workshops at CoCo in 2013. (And we will be sure to post them on our site!)

“We are on a never ending hunt to find new ways to teach and practice human-centered design. This year, we are excited to play around with some new tools, concepts and learning experience – all for the purpose of making it even more accessible to our community,” Anna said.

You can learn more at the Stoke.d website or by following them on Twitter.



The Experience Economy coming to CoCo

The Experience Economy coming to CoCo

As authors and speakers, Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore have built a well-deserved reputation for thought leadership. The ideas launched through such ground-breaking books as The Experience Economy, Authenticity, Mass Customization, and Infinite Possibility have given readers countless ways to see the world differently and have forever changed the landscape of business competition.

Now, author Joe Pine will be personally hosting a How-To series of three workshops intended to skill you and your business around the powerful concepts of experience staging – outlining practical steps for accelerating the adoption of these ideas into your company. The How-To Workshop Series features day-long sessions that will highlight content, facilitate exercises, and outline applications for you to go beyond the concepts and into real planning and tactics. If you have been looking for a way to get started on the road to staging more compelling customer experiences (or if you just need a little help with your initiatives) then these workshops are ideal for you.

And best of all – these sessions will all be taking place at CoCo Minneapolis! This is a rare opportunity to see a world-class thought leader close to home.

Session 1: How to Stage Engaging Digital Experiences
Hosted by Joe Pine
December 6, 2012

Session 2: How to Create a Sense of Place
Hosted by Joe Pine
April 4, 2013

Session 3: How to Mass Customize Your Offerings
Hosted by Joe Pine
May 30, 2013

Sessions take place 8:30am to 4:30pm each day. Workshop sizes will be limited 25 participants to ensure personal interaction.

Sessions can be purchased individually or as bundles. Single sessions are $595 per person. Any two workshops is $990. Any three or more sessions is $1,385. The fee includes admission, lunch, and materials.

For more information or to register for Pine & Gilmore’s How-To Workshop Series, visit You can also call (330) 405-2886 or send an email to

CoCo launches “ @ CoCo”

CoCo launches “ @ CoCo”

CoCo is bringing the design-thinking movement to the Midwest with the launch of @ CoCo, an innovation school based on the world-renowned at Stanford University. @ CoCowill offer classes and workshops on design thinking to individuals and larger organizations. The school will be led by Anna Love-Mickelson who is a former Fortune-500 innovation leader and currently teaches design thinking at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ( Classes will be taught by Love-Mickelson as well as other coaches certified by the at Stanford. “We’ll be using the same great curriculum that is used on campus in California. However, because we are in Minnesota and operating within the CoCo community, we will also looking to prototype new ways of solving local problems by enabling radical collaboration at the community level,” Love-Mickelson said. Classes and workshops will include:

  • Crash Course – a 2-hour introduction to design thinking methods and mindsets. The first class is on April 20.
  • Design Thinking Workshop – Three half-day, hands-on sessions that explore the design thinking methodology more thoroughly. The first Workshop series will be held May 7-9.
  • Design Thinking Bootcamp – Designed after the Stanford’s flagship course, Bootcamp gives executives hands on experience leading a design-thinking project from start to finish. The first Bootcamp will be held Sept. 26 – 28.

Anna Love-Mickelson, director of @ CoCo

“One of the most exciting things for us at the is hearing how past d.schoolers are spreading design thinking. We are excited to see how this new venture impacts the Minnesota community,” said Evelyn Huang, Lecturer, Executive Education at the at Stanford. The opening of the @ CoCo represents a big step for CoCo and coworking movement in general. “We are building a community of members who are naturally inquisitive and creative.” said CoCo founder Kyle Coolbroth. “the @ CoCo makes our collaborative environment available for leaders in the area to learn design thinking methods and fully experience a collaborative community.” More information about @ CoCo is available at

The power of purple corn

The power of purple corn

Wednesday, Jan. 25
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
CoCo Minneapolis

CoCo Member Bill Petrich, CEO of Suntava, (recently featured in the Star Tribune) will talk about his company’s breakthrough product: a natural substitute for Red Dye No. 40, made from Peruvian purple corn.

Bill will talk about the challenges he faces in trying to grow the business and ask for ideas from attendees.

We’ll even serve up some purple corn in the form of homemade “chicha” (a traditional Peruvian soft drink) and purple corn chips. Come learn about an innovative business model and offer your ideas!

This is a members-only event.

Register at Eventbite