Local entrepreneurs compete in MN Cup semifinals

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(ABC 6 News) – Each spring, about 90 companies are picked as semifinalists to compete in the MN Cup. It’s a chance for businesses to pair with mentors and compete for thousands of dollars to take their business further.

Several southeast Minnesota companies are competing, including:

  • SafeSphere – Rochester
    • An app providing mental health resources.
  • Chickpeazie – Rochester
    • A chickpea protein bar created by an eight-year-old.
  • QoL Devices – Rochester
    • A respiratory muscle-training system.
  • Craft Innovators of Kasson
    • New technology for canned bottles.
  • Pneumeric – Rochester
    • Helping bring oxygen to the lungs in an emergency.

“2023 has been a big year for us. We had over 3,000 Minnesotans involved in our application period,” shared Kailin Oliver, the Associate Director of MN Cup. “All of our programming is completely free. We provide mentorship, education programs, publicity, networking, and all of these resources and connections entrepreneurs need to really get moving and get their business started.”

Pneumeric was in the competition last year. The product is a type of needle that lets first responders know if a person is getting air into their lungs in an emergency. Pneumeric’s tool would provide visual detection for needle thoracostomy (the needle needed to make this process successful).

Dr. John Aho, the CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Pneumeric, tells ABC 6 News that when people die under these circumstances, it’s not necessarily their health, it’s just not being able to tell if the decompression tool is in far enough.

Another year of competing for the prize, this is a chance to expand on what Pneumeric built on last year.

“One good thing about participating last year was the awareness we raised here in Minnesota,” said Sasha Gentling, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Business Development of Pneumeric. We were early pre-revenue at that point so now we’re at the stage where we’re showing some sales, showing some interest in the product.”

“Leaving a broader footprint on how we practice medicine in this county and hopefully across the world,” added Aho.

Semifinalists will work with mentors throughout the summer. The winners will be announced in September and will split a prize of more than $400,000.