Twin Cities Startup Week. Maybe you’ve heard about it, but haven’t quite made it out. Or maybe you’ve been in the past, caught a glimpse at how much its grown, and are wondering where to re-engage! Or perhaps you have no idea what I’m talking about.

The 5th annual Twin Cities Startup Week (TCSW) is what it sounds like, a week long series of events and activities from October 7-13, celebrating the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region’s entrepreneurs, innovators, collaborators, and others who are building what’s next.

This year promises to be the biggest yet, stretching from the stage of First Avenue to the riverfront views of the Science Museum of Minnesota, to the campuses of some of the dozens of Fortune 500 companies that once called themselves Twin Cities startups.

So, consider coming out to discover why Forbes & Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Fund just named Minneapolis-Saint Paul as one of the country’s top 10 rising startup cities.

Here are 5 tips to help you get started.

TIP: Think about TCSW as a window into what’s happening all year long

Resist the urge to try and make it to every pitch, panel, demo, or networking opportunity. With more than 250 sessions happening, it’s impossible anyway.

Instead, consider this an opportunity to seek and find people, organizations, and conversations that might be happening beyond your radar all year round. Browse the schedule and make note of the things you might want to follow up on after the week – once everyone takes a few days off!

The fact that TCSW provides this glimpse into a vibrant community is exactly the reason why Make It. MSP. has been supportive of efforts to bring in new attendees, from local residents unaware of the activities to out-of-towners looking to learn about our region and even apply for a job.

TIP: Find an opportunity to discover and cheer on local entrepreneurs

Like a conference, there are dozens of amazing opportunities to develop your skills, expose yourself to new ideas, and expand your network. But what truly sets this week apart is its emphasis on celebrating local innovators.

If you’ve never been to Techstars Demo Day, Minnedemo, BETA Showcase, MN Cup finals, or another local pitch event, now’s your chance. And you’ll discover new opportunities with gBETA MedTech, Power of 100 MSP, MEDA’s Million Dollar Challenge, Social Entrepreneur Live, and more.

You’re sure to find more than one entrepreneurial team that will inspire you. And who knows when you might be able to help that team find its next customer, mentor, teammate – or even investor.

TIP: Take note of these big new happenings during 2018

TCSW has served as a launching pad for independently-run events as well as attracted others.

Food, Ag, Ideas Week is an example, as Grow North is powering an incredible lineup of programming at the Minnesota History Center, Guthrie Theater, and more. Discover why Minnesota is the nation’s farm-to-fork leader and plug in to the food and agriculture community. Get your ticket to all FAI events.

The very first MANOVA Summit will bring leaders from around the world to Medical Alley for a conversation on the future of health. This event stretches over three days at the Minneapolis Convention Center, The Armory, Mayo Clinic Square, and more. Get your ticket here.

Finally, our team at Make It. MSP. is excited to sponsor the national Blacks in Technology Conference, or BITCON. The event takes place Thursday through Saturday across the campuses of Fortune 500 retailers Target and Best Buy, as well as in downtown St. Paul. Learn more here

TIP: Try and step out of your comfort zone during the week

There’s a reason that diversity of ideas and people leads to greater success. With all the unlikely pairings, consider checking out a topic, speaker, or venue that wouldn’t normally cross your path.

One of my favorite parts of the week is the free co-working offered at spots like Impact Hub MSP, Fueled Collective, The Glen Nelson Center, Spaces, WeWork, Wellworth, UEL, and Industrious.

Even if you can’t make time for an event, getting out of your everyday routine and into one of these spots might help inspire you. And if you find yourself at the Fueled Collective at the Grain Exchange Building in downtown Minneapolis, feel free to take a load off in the Make It. MSP. space!

TIP: Follow up on an idea that sparks during the week

The best part of the week may be what it might lead you to next. An entrepreneurial community thrives when more meaningful connections are being made, ideas are cross-pollinating, and collisions are bringing new ventures forward.

All this activity may spark your next idea. For example, this year’s FinTech Track was made possible when folks like Elizabeth Carraro at Securian and David Ness at U.S. Bank saw an opportunity to spark a new industry focus. They worked alongside peers at companies like Thrivent Financial, Allianz Life, Bremer Bank, Wells Fargo, Sezzle, Sunrise Banks and others to launch the track.

Your idea could be smaller or bigger, but consider what it might take to seize the opportunity. Perhaps you’ll be back next year to tell the community how it went.

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