Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis is one of the most active business locations in the USA with a plethora of Fortune 500 companies residing in the city.

Minneapolis, MN, one half of the state’s Twin Cities, is the 45th-largest city in the country and the largest in Minnesota. When combined with sister city St. Paul, the two cities make up the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the country. Home to more Fortune 500 companies than all but four other American cities, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area is one of the most active business locations in the country.

That atmosphere translates to the entrepreneurship scene as well: Minneapolis ranked 39th in WalletHub’s 2018 rankings of the best large cities to start a business in 2018. The same website had Minneapolis ninth overall on its 2019 list of the best metro areas for STEM professionals, while Business.org had it third on its list of the best cities for entrepreneurs and start-ups in 2018.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Minneapolis’ entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

On the first Thursday of every month, the Club E networking group of entrepreneurs and business professionals meets in Minneapolis.

Active and aspiring entrepreneurs can join Minnesota Entrepreneurs, a Minneapolis-based group that hosts regular events centered around small business and entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners in the St. Paul-Minneapolis metropolitan area have an opportunity to meet one another through this networking group.

Located in the Minneapolis suburb of New Hope, the Growing Networking Group hosts meetings every Tuesday morning to help entrepreneurs connect.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Enterprise Rising is an annual two-day conference held in Minneapolis based on supporting technology- and software-based startups throughout the Midwest.

Held in the Twin Cities’ Target Center, the OnRamp Insurance Conference is an annual celebration of the top insurance companies and startups.

The Minneapolis branch of Startup Grind hosts regular events designed to help support and educate area entrepreneurs.

Twin Cities Startup Week is an annual weeklong conference celebrating and showcasing the best startups and entrepreneurs in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.


Startup Competitions:

University of Minnesota students can compete in the BizPitch Contest, where they make 90-second pitches to a business panel for the chance to win $1,000 prizes.

Organized by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, the MN Cup is a competition open for Minnesota-based entrepreneurs with prizes of seed funding for winners.

The University of St. Thomas organizes business plan competitions for its students as well as local high schoolers with business plans, rewarding $10,000 cash to the winner of each.

Based in Minnesota, Walleye Tank is a pitch competition for life sciences companies, with three separate divisions depending on the stage of the startup.


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Co-working Spaces:

FLOCK is a dog-friendly co-working space in Minneapolis specifically designed to promote creativity and productivity and offers a variety of amenities.

With locations across the Twin Cities and in Chicago, Fueled Collective is a co-working space and social club that its members can use to relax, hold meetings and more.

Minneapolis is home to two locations of Industrious Office co-working space, in downtown and the North Loop, that both offer conference rooms and a dedicated staff on-site.

After a one-day free trial at Studio CoWork, members can choose between traditional co-working options and private office space for rent.

WeWork, one of the largest co-working companies in the world, offers three Minneapolis locations that include private office space and traditional co-working options.



With locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Minnesota Tool Library offers a number of membership levels that provide varying access to over 2,400 tools and two workshops.

Founded in winter 2015, MPLS MAKE is now an 8,500-square foot workshop that offers a variety of tools and hosts regular classes and workshops.

Members of the Nordeast Makers makerspace have 24/7 access to a wide variety of tools and equipment, including laser cutters, 3D printers, a full woodshop and more.

The Hack Factory, a makerspace and hackerspace organized by Twin Cities Maker, hosts regular events and workshops to help its members learn more about the available equipment.

All students, faculty, and staff at the University of Minnesota have access to the university’s makerspaces, located in the Bio-Medical Library and Walter Library.



Not quite an incubator or an accelerator, Beta is a company that aims to support Minneapolis startups through a collection of events and resources.

Grow North MN works with entrepreneurs as well as larger companies and corporations to create and promote a sustainable, healthy ecosystem for the area’s agriculture-based startups.

The Lynhall is a kitchen incubator that works to support food-based startups by providing entrepreneurs with 24/7 personalized access to commercial kitchen space.

Companies selected to participate in the Target Incubator will receive a $10,000 stipend and will spend the eight-week incubator program in Minneapolis.



Run by the gener8tor accelerator, gBETA is a seven-week early-stage startup accelerator with a location in Minneapolis affiliated with the University of Minnesota.

With locations in Wisconsin and Minneapolis, the gener8tor is a nationally-ranked accelerator that runs a variety of programs to support promising startups.

The RetailXelerator is an organization dedicated to growing and supporting retail startups in the Minneapolis area.

The company Target runs a pair of accelerator programs in Minneapolis for retail-based startups, Target Takeoff and the Target Retail Accelerator.

Several of the highly-ranked accelerators organized by Techstars are located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, including the UnitedHealthcare and Farm to Fork programs.



Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s School of Business and Economics offers a pair of business degrees as well as a 19-credit certificate in entrepreneurship.

The Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship organizes a number of resources for entrepreneurial students at the University of Minnesota, inside and outside of the classroom.

Among the resources offered by the University of St. Thomas’ Schulze School of Entrepreneurship are undergraduate major and minor programs.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Based in Fargo, ND but with an office in the Twin Cities, Arthur Ventures invests in B2B software startups based outside of Silicon Valley in North America and Western Europe.

Founded in 1985, Brightstone Venture Capital has invested in early-growth stage startups in the technology and life science sectors.

Dundee Venture Capital, which aims to invest in companies based in underserved markets, has offices across the Midwest in Omaha, Chicago and Minneapolis.

Gopher Angels is a group of angel investors that look to invest primarily in promising Minnesota-based companies led by passionate teams.

With offices in Minneapolis and Boulder, CO, Matchstick Ventures invests in seed-stage startups in the North, the Rockies and around the country.

Based in Minneapolis, Twin Cities Angels’ primary investments are in companies located no further than 300 miles from the Twin Cities area.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The only daily newspaper focusing exclusively on the Twin Cities’ business news, Finance & Commerce also offers daily e-mail alerts.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal offers newsletters focusing on the biggest headlines in the world of business in the Twin Cities.

Twin Cities Business offers a wide variety of newsletters that each take a unique angle on covering business and entrepreneurship news in the area.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Minneapolis not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Ann Arbor, MI, Chicago, IL, Detroit, MI

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.