MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Energy/Clean Tech/Water category division winner of the Minnesota Cup, 75F, was awarded the $50,000 grand prize at the tenth annual Minnesota Cup. The prize was given at a ceremony Wed. evening, Sept. 10, at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center. The Minnesota Cup is the country’s largest statewide venture competition — supporting and accelerating the development of breakthrough business ideas across Minnesota. Nearly 1,300 entries were submitted to the competition this year.
75F took home the lion’s share of the Cup’s more than $300,000 in prize money — a total of more than $105,000. The company, based in Mankato, Minn., is an HVAC sensor technology that uses wireless zone controllers to monitor airflow temperatures in building zones to regulate building temperatures at ecologically friendly and energy efficient levels. Using this technology, study cases saved an average of 24 percent in air conditioning costs — up to 35 percent in some instances. The name of the company was inspired by a United Nations initiative in 2008 to make its conference rooms in the Secretariat building more ecological by raising thermostats from 70° F to 75° F.
In addition to winning $30,000 as the Energy/Clean Tech/Water division winner, as the grand prize recipient, 75F took home an additional $50,000 award and a host of professional services and other benefits to help build its business. 75F also received a matching grant of $25,000 from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.
“Through the course of this adventure, we’ve learned so much about how to structure, manage and grow our business, and we are grateful for all that the Minnesota Cup competition has given us,” said Deepinder Singh, founder, 75F. “We are excited to represent the Minnesota Cup and promise to do it proud as we continue to keep everyone from being too hot or too cold — and of course, to scale and grow over the next year.”
“The mission of the Minnesota Cup is to support early stage entrepreneurs with capital as they begin to grow. And, we’re proud to note that over the last ten years, our Minnesota Cup finalist businesses have raised more than $160 million. This year was the most competitive year yet — the judges had a hard time deciding between these seven strong candidates,” said Scott Litman, co-founder, Minnesota Cup, and managing partner of Magnet 360. “In the end, our judges felt 75F demonstrated a well thought out business plan, superior presentation skills and an unmatched vision for the future. We’re looking forward to seeing and hearing big things from this entrepreneurial enterprise down the road.”
Winners from each division received $30,000 (except in the Social and Student divisions, where winners received $20,000 each). Runners-up in each division received $5,000 in seed capital. The seven finalists in the Minnesota Cup competing for the final prize were:
75F - Deepinder Singh, Blue Earth County
Trovita Health Science - William Brown, Hennepin County
YOXO - Jeff Freeland Nelson, Ramsey County
Elevate - Joe Stanton, Dakota County
Life Science/Health IT:
Andas Inc - Joseph Jensen, Hennepin County
Verde Environmental and Medsaway - Carter Anderson, Dakota County
Jonny Pops - Connor Wray, Rice County
The audience chose two elevator pitch presentations to receive $1,000 each in cash prizes. Minnesota Cup student division winner Jonny Pops and social entrepreneur division finalist Twin Cities Mobile Market each accepted a $1,000 cash prize based on audience voting.
Additionally, the University of Minnesota named Steve Eilertson as its 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year. Eilertson, an alumnus of the Carlson School of Business, has served as the president of Grain Millers, Inc. for the past 17 years. In that time, Eilertson built his Eden Prairie-based global producer and marketer of whole-grain food products and services into a billion dollar global powerhouse.
Entries for the 2014 Minnesota Cup were due in May. Judges selected semi-finalists from each division to develop more comprehensive business proposals in June. Later, three finalists from each division were chosen to present final business plans, from which, in late August, the field narrowed to the final seven.
The competition is free to enter and each year encourages applications from a wide range of businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors. More than 9,000 Minnesotans have participated in the Minnesota Cup since it began in 2005. Finalists from 2005 have gone on to raise more than $160 million in capital to support the development of their ideas, create jobs and broker numerous business partnerships, collaborations and distribution agreements. This year, the Minnesota Cup and the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship partnered to launch two new programs encouraging more women-led entrepreneurship. This resulted in thirty-four percent of this year’s entries coming from women-led teams, and forty-five percent of total entries from teams including at least one female member. This is the largest female representation in the Minnesota Cup’s ten-year history.
Host sponsors of the 2014 Minnesota Cup competition include Wells Fargo and the University of Minnesota. Other lead sponsors include Carlson, Digital River, General Mills and UnitedHealth Group. Supporting sponsors include Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, Blandin Foundation, Cafe Inc., Cleantech Open, CliftonLarsonAllen, The Collaborative, The Digging LLC, ecomagination, Eide Bailly, Fredrikson and Byron, Gopher Angels, Gray Plant Mooty, Grain Millers, Haberman, Initiative Foundation, LifeScience Alley, Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Company, Magnet 360, Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, Messerli & Kramer, MN Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources, MN Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota High Tech Association, Minnesota Venture Capital Association, MOJO MN, The Mosaic Company, Proto Labs, Inc., Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation, SixSpeed, Split Rock Partners, Spoken Impact, Stinson Leonard Street, Stoel Rives, StarTec Investments, TECHdotMN, Treehouse Health, and West Central Initiative Foundation.
The Minnesota Cup is an annual competition that seeks to support and accelerate the development of the best breakthrough ideas from across Minnesota. The competition will be open for entries in March 2015, its eleventh year. For more information and to enter, please visit www.breakthroughideas.org.