Startups Archive

Erin Newkirk to speak at Unlea(she)d

Erin Newkirk to speak at Unlea(she)d


April 24, 2014
6 – 9 p.m.
CoCo Uptown Garage

Eventbrite - Unlea(she)d, with Red Stamp founder Erin Newkirk

Making Relationships Stronger: Erin Newkirk of Red Stamp
If there is one thing Erin knows for sure, it’s that friends + family make the world go round. Which is why Erin founded the top tier, award-winning Red Stamp. Recently acquired by The Occasions Group and selected as one of “100 Brilliant Companies” by Entrepreneur Magazine as a “Compan[y] that [is] identifying and solving the problems we face every day,” Red Stamp’s purpose is to cut through a lot of puffery around the “proper” way to thank, wish, invite + announce and just get straight to the heart of the matter…Making Relationships Stronger.

Making Relationships Stronger is also why Erin is a modern etiquette correspondent for Matchbook Magazine, was a finalist in Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards, is a Professor for Fast Company’s 30 Second MBA, and has been selected by EU’s Global Board Ready Women initiative.

IMG_2111Erin will be interviewed by our guest “conversationalist” and CoCo member Ellen Guettler [Get-ler]. Ellen is a writer, editor and award-winning radio producer. She spent ten years at MPR making documentaries with American RadioWorks and helping to launch new radio shows like Marketplace Tech, Dinner Party Download and Wits. These days, when she’s not back at MPR wielding a microphone or corralling a budget, she helps launch creative ideas and develops content strategy for the public media universe and beyond.


There will also be time for Q&A and networking. (Please submit any questions you have ahead of time!)

Appetizers and snacks and a cash bar will be provided.

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 effort to increase the presence and participation of women in our community. Join our mailing list for updates on future women’s happenings at CoCo.

They came, they pitched, they got funded!

They came, they pitched, they got funded!

Kidizen CEO Dug Nichols and co-founder Dori Graff give their pitch onstage at Google Demo Day.

Tech Hub startups at Google Demo Day

The 10 startups came from the seven Google Tech Hubs across North America.


Docalytics founders Steve Peck and Evan Carothers chat with their newest investor, AOL founder Steve Case, after the pitch event. (Blurry photo courtesy Don Ball)

Google Demo Day a success for CoCo startups

Congratulations to Kidizen and Docalytics, the CoCo-based startups who were chosen to demo their products at the first-ever Google Demo Day.

Imagine the scene: a room full of some 50 Silicon Valley investors, plus tech reporters and bloggers and some senior Googlers. The judges for the event were well-known investors, including Stephanie Palmeri of SoftTech VC, MG Seigler of Google Ventures and AOL founder Steve Case, representing his venture fund, Revolution.

Despite some pre-game jitters, both of our startups were pitch perfect in their demos. But the best part came last. Kidizen’s Dug Nichols described it best:

“Here’s the scoop on what happened next, as told to me by an anonymous insider: The three judges retired to a back room and deeply struggled with who to give the trophy to. Steve Case said ‘I know what to do’ and that was it.

They came back on stage and announced Windsor Circle as the top pick, and then Steve asked Mary Grove for the mic and dropped the bomb, ‘I’m investing $100k in every company that presented today.’


That was pretty f***ing cool.”


Equalizing opportunity at CoCo

Equalizing opportunity at CoCo

Get updates by joining CoCo’s 40Forward mailing list!

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We’re delighted to announce that we’ve joined 40 Forward, an effort by our partners, Google for Entrepreneurs, to increase the presence and amplify the voice of women entrepreneurs in 40 startup communities throughout the world.

Despite strides in practically every field, women are still terribly underrepresented in technology and startups.

Intuitively and experientially, most of us can appreciate what happens when a culture  is saturated with too much of any one thing, whether that’s gender, race, ethnicity, educational background or any number of cultural biases. The potential for original ideas and approaches to problems is diminished. Well, it turns out there’s more than experiential evidence of this affect, with research showing that women-led companies demonstrably perform better!

At CoCo, we’ve always tried to create a bigger tent. We believe there is a benefit in hosting a  community that consists of a diverse array of people undertaking a wide range of efforts. In other words, we host startups, but not just startups. Sure, we have techies, but not only techies. And over the past 4+ years as a community, we’ve seen that “big tent” approach pay off. As we have told new members who tell us they want to be around more people just like themselves: “the worst thing we could do for you is let you be surrounded by people just like you.”

So, what does 40 Forward mean at CoCo? We will be making a deliberate effort to meet and welcome more women. Our goal is to boost our female membership from its current 35% to 50% in one year. 

We’ll start by hosting a series of women-focused events:

  • Unlea(she)d  - A monthly speaker series in which women entrepreneurs and business leaders reflect on their experience in building their companies. The inaugural Unlea(she)d event, on Feb. 20 at CoCo Uptown, will feature Nancy Lyons and Meghan Wilker, of the Geek Girls Guide and Clockwork Active Media Systems. Unleashed events will be free and open to the public.
  • WoCoCo – A monthly lunchtime meetup of women at CoCo at all our locations. It’s an open forum for discussing the experience and challenges of being a woman in business. This event is for CoCo members and guests, but all Unlea(she)d attendees will be invited!

Please join us for these events! We would also appreciate your support in letting the women entrepreneurs you know about our efforts.

Get updates by joining CoCo’s 40Forward mailing list!

MSP representin’ in Silicon Valley!

MSP representin’ in Silicon Valley!

DocalyticsTwo CoCo member startups will be headed to Google Demo Day on April 2, 2014.

Docalytics and Kidizen won 1st and 2nd place, respectively, at CoCo Pitch Night, on Feb. 21. By winning the pitch competition that night, Docalytics won the opportunity to go to Google headquarters and demo their product to Silicon Valley investors, including AOL founder Steve Case and MG Siegler.

kidizenAs the runner-up, Kidizen was entered into a wild-card round and selected yesterday to also demo at Google.

“We are delighted that two of our member companies will have this opportunity,” said CoCo founder Kyle Coolbroth. “These are two highly investible companies with solid leadership teams. We’re proud that Minnesota will be so well represented in Silicon Valley,” he said.

Docalytics is a startup that gives companies the ability to capture leads with PDF documents, such as white papers and research reports, and gather insights into how those documents are read and shared. Below is a video of their presentation at CoCo Pitch Night:

CoCo pitch night: Docalytics from TECHdotMN on Vimeo.

Kidizen is an online and mobile marketplace for parents to buy and sell pre-loved kidstuff, such as clothing, and toys. Below is their presentation at CoCo Pitch Night:

CoCo pitch night: Kidizen from TECHdotMN on Vimeo.

Cover photo credit: Photo Credit: romanboed via cc

Top CoCo startup to demo at Google

Top CoCo startup to demo at Google

3374813066_74a4827ca6_mMarch 3, 2014 – Update

Both Docalytics and Kidizen have won the opportunity to demo at Google. Congratulations! More info here.

Feb. 14, 2014 – Update

We’re pleased to announce the lineup for CoCo Pitch Night!

The startups that will pitch are:

  • OMG Transit
  • Apruve
  • Nexting
  • Docalytics
  • Itizen

Our esteemed panel of judges for the competition will include:

  • Dan Kinsella, General Manager - JAMF Software
  • Justin Kaufenberg, Founder & CEO – Sport Ngin
  • Erin Newkirk, Founder & CEO – Red Stamp
  • Anna Love-Mikelson, Founder – Stoke.d


We’re excited to announce that CoCo® has the opportunity to send one of our startups to a Google-hosted Demo Day in Silicon Valley this April! As you know, we are members of the Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network and this Demo Day is part of a series of programs Google is hosting for this network. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time Google has hosted their own Demo Day for startups, and we’re excited to be part of this unique opportunity.

Startups that participate in the Demo Day will have the chance to:

  • Pitch their companies to and receive product feedback from a panel of investor judges, including Steve Case.
  • Interact and learn from Google product experts in small group sessions during their visit.
  • Spend time with other startups from similar sized markets across North America.
  • Load up on Google schwag, and enjoy the Bay Area.

Qualifying startups to be determined at CoCo Pitch Night, Feb. 21
To determine which startup gets to go to Demo Day, CoCo is going to host it’s own pitch competition on Feb. 21, at a member appreciation event. Five startups will make their pitches that night. The winner, as chosen by a panel of judges, will go on to the Google Demo Day event. To prepare them for the competition, they will receive training from CoCo’s own pitch doctor, Chris Carlson.

A runner-up will also be chosen as a backup and for a possible wildcard round.

A member-only opportunity
This opportunity will be available to CoCo members only. You can become a member by registering online before Feb. 21. However, please note that any company signing up to take advantage of this opportunity will need to have all founders join, with a minimum 6-month commitment.

Apply now!
If you’re interested, please apply for CoCo Pitch Night.

To qualify for the Google Demo Day event, your startup:

  • Should have a live product that is getting customer traction.
  • Should actively be seeking investment, or strongly considering it in the near future.
  • Should be willing to travel to California for two days to succinctly explain their company; co-founders’ backgrounds; product; and market fit to investors, Google product experts and others in the Silicon Valley technology community.
  • May come from any industry, but should be growth (not lifestyle) businesses, and understand that most Demo Day investors and product experts will have technology backgrounds.
  • May be at any stage of fundraising.

Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary via Compfight cc