Startups Archive

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.

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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.

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

Serial Startup Stories at the next Unlea(she)d

Serial Startup Stories at the next Unlea(she)d

unleashed_logoCoCo Uptown Garage
May 29
6 – 9 p.m.

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

From startup “scrappiness” to well-executed strategies, the various stages of building a business expose you to it all. Hear from three women entrepreneurs who, between them, have built six businesses from the ground up. This expert panel will dive into discussions regarding customer discovery, startup business models, niche markets and the importance of strong partnerships.

Whether driven by a passion to launch their business or focused on solving a unique problem, these women bring serious street cred to the startup space.

The Unlea(she)d panel includes:

  • Mary Meehan, Co-Founder of Panoramix Global, and Co-Founder of Iconoculture
  • Zahra Aljabri, Co-Founder of Mode-sty, and Co-Founder of Muslim Buddy
  • Ashlee Olds, Founder and Chef, Sweet Science Ice Cream, and Founder of Clean House

There will also be time for Q&A and networking. Appetizers and snacks and a cash bar will be provided.


Zahra Aljabri

Zahra Aljabri is the Co-Founder of Mode-sty the largest online retailer dedicated to fashionable and conservative women. In 2013, Mode-sty placed second in the MN Cup General Division and has been selected as one of the hottest fashion startups by Forbes (2012) and Business of Everything magazine (2013).

In 2013, she was an invited speaker at Gel 2013 a conference that showcases “customer experience innovators” before they hit the mainstream. The Gel conference was the first speaking platform for Marissa Mayer (CEO Yahoo!), Salman Khan (CEO Khan Academy), and Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia). You can view Zahra’s talk here.

Prior to Mode-sty, Zahra co-founded and was COO of MuslimBuddy, Inc. a nonprofit dedicated to building the capacity of community institutions serving Twin Cities Muslims. Her role at MuslimBuddy helped her win a four-year Bush Foundation Fellowship to continue her community activism. She is also a principal at Zahra Aljabri Estate Planning, the first law practice in the Twin Cities that specializes in Islamic Wills and Estate Planning. Through her various roles within these startups, Zahra has gained expertise in customer discovery, startup business models, and niche markets. Zahra obtained a J.D. from Syracuse University and B.S. from UCLA. She began her professional path in the media and entertainment industry where she worked for Hollywood directors and producers Ridley Scott and Tony Scott at RSA Productions/Scott Free Productions, as well as local TV station KTLA in Los Angeles. Follow Zahra at @ModestyFashion.

Mary Meehan

Mary Meehan is the co-founder and lead cultural Intelligence analyst for Panoramix Global, an international research consultancy helping brands and organizations understand the complexities of future consumer behavior as a pathway to growth and innovation. She is an expert in providing clients with ahead of the curve insights on trends, movements, and market changes that will profoundly influence their business outcomes.

A serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience as a leader in consumer behavior analysis, in 1992, Meehan co-founded the international consumer trend agency Iconoculture, recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing private companies in America and providing the research industry’s first theoretical framework for translating trends into practical insights using a highly qualitative, proprietary methodology. Meehan has worked with Volvo, Hasbro, Wal-Mart, Pepsi Co, General Mills, J.P. Morgan, Time Inc., AARP, and a myriad of other companies in helping to better understand the realities of the consumer landscape.

In 2010 Meehan sold her firm and founded Panoramix Global, a next generation research and consumer behavior firm that specializes in providing clients with a hybrid, analytic perspective that maximizes cultural data to deliver expert foresights driving consumer decision-making, working with clients to develop effective strategies for growth in the face of these learnings.

Meehan is the co-author of The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be: The 40 Cultural Trends Transforming Your Job, Your Life, And Your World. She speaks and writes frequently on the topics of consumer behavior and the market forces that influence change, currently a contributor to Her opinions and insights have appeared in Advertising Age, the Associated Press, BBC, CNN, Wired, and The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. A frequent speaker, she has appeared at the Research Advertising Conference, Ad-tech, Future Trends, The Market Research Event, and the CEO Leadership Roundtable. Follow Mary at @PanoramixGlobal.

Ashlee Olds

Ashlee is Chef and Founder of Sweet Science Ice Cream. Sweet Science Ice Cream was born out of her lifetime mission to create the perfect scoop. An East St. Paul resident, Ashlee, 33, started churning small-batch all-natural artisan ice cream in her kitchen for friends over a decade ago. After realizing her passion and buoyed by her friends’ enthusiastic praise, she started renting space in a commercial kitchen in early 2012 to craft pints for the masses.

Ashlee’s ice cream flavors, bases, and components are handmade from real ingredients, and each small batch is hand-packed. The all-natural ice creams are without added chemicals such as high-fructose corn syrup, stabilizers, artificial flavors, and additives. “Using the highest-quality ingredients and the properties of science, I’m able to craft the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted,” said Olds.

Most of the ingredients are organic, and Ashlee sources from local suppliers whenever possible. “I look for companies that share my dedication to not only quality, but the betterment of the community.” Sweet Science Ice Cream recently received the City Pages 2014 Best of the Twin Cities Award for Best Ice Cream in Minneapolis. Follow Ashlee at @Ashleebug


About Unlea(she)d

Unlea(she)d 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.

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.