Graeme Thickins on Tech

Reflections & analysis about innovation, technology & startups, with a focus on Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes

Category: Innovation (page 1 of 127)

So, What’s Happening in Bitcoin and Blockchain in Minnesota?

Bitcoin Minnesota graphicHave you been wondering what might be going on in our state in the burgeoning area of bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain? Well, I have, too! Luckily I met a guy recently who filled me in — bigtime. He reached out to me on LinkedIn, and I was glad he did. His name is Stephen Gornick and, just a couple of months ago, he relocated back here to his home state from California. He’s an accomplished techie, and he’s been involved in this space for several years. I’m pretty sure I haven’t met anyone with more knowledge about this field than Stephen. So, I was delighted to learn more from him about all the startups, projects, meetups, and more already happening, right here in our state. The amount of activity shocked me! It’s a list he compiled from research he did upon returning here, as a way to get connected back into our tech community.  Stephen also has set up a Twitter account called @MinnFinTech — so, follow him there! He was nice enough to allow me to republish his great list here:

A List of Bitcoin and Blockchain-Related Organizations and Projects in Minnesota

by Stephen Gornick (LinkedIn)
  • Silicon Prairie Online/SPPX — a MNvest equity and debt-based crowdfunding portal
  • BanQu — Economic identities for the unbanked (ICO forthcoming)
  • Vault Logic — Digital Currency Payment Kiosk Network & ATMs (Coming Fall 2017)
  • Scryp — Currency of cooperation (Coming soon)
  • CBT Success — Pay For Success (aka Social Impact Bond), on the blockchain (Coming soon)
  • Nomics —Yahoo Finance for Crypto (Coming soon)
  • SSAYE (ICO forthcoming)
  • ParaShoot — Video platform (ICO forthcoming)
  • Bitkota, LLC — Lawyer on all things crypto (exchanges, ICOs, & more)
  • Sawtooth Lake Core —A Hyperledger blockchain project that makes use of a trusted execution environment
  • CTI Consulting — Buy and Sell Bitcoin locally with cash
  • CoCreateX — Built a Blockchain-based Thank You app and community
  • Watch My Bit — Video platform, though currently in hibernation
  • Strength In Numbers Foundation’s 2Give Coin — Social tipping platform

Events / Meetups / Groups / Meeting Spaces

Organizations or projects not based in Minnesota but have a presence here

List composed/curated by Stephen Gornick.

Stephen adds: “This is certainly a work-in-progress. Any additions, corrections, clarifications, or any other submissions are welcome. Please submit to me via  e-mail or via mention to @MinnFinTech on Twitter.”


As Stephen updates me with any further information, I will add it to this blog post. Meantime, if you’re interested in the topic, I’d encourage you to attend any of the meetups listed above. Maybe you’ll even meet Stephen!

Let me know in the comments what you might know about any of the resources on the list, or what you think of the list overall. Thanks!

My Live Blog of the 10th Annual Defrag Conference…


Once again, I live-blogged the Defrag Conference in Denver. This is the tenth year of this great annual tech event, and I’ve attended them all. The original idea was to get together to defrag our brains and stop to think about where technology is headed — what’s coming next. I’ve met and interviewed so many great people at this event over the years: Brad Feld, Seth Levine, Fred Wilson, David Cohen, T.A. McCann, and tons of other tech leaders, investors, authors, and more.  Not to speak of many fellow tech observers, analysts, writers, bloggers, PR people, and notable geeks who’ve come to be frequent collaborators and friends. I’ve also connected with old buddies, like the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto, and shared some huge laughs. Attending this conference is almost like going to camp each year. I just wouldn’t miss it! (Especially when I was one of only three guys who had perfect 10-year attendance records.) Eric and Kim Norlin and their team do such a great job putting on Defrag.

So, what was on tap for discussion at the 10th annual? Lots of topics: AWS Lambda, microservices, blockchain, APIs, machine learning, AI, insights about developer marketing, bare-metal cloud, and other geeky stuff — presented by an impressive band of speakers… founders, CTOs, rock-star developers, tech evangelists, and other crazy folks. Always a fun event. And what you don’t learn in the big room, well, you can learn in the Tap Room each night till the wee hours. (Oh, and we talk a lot about sports, too!)

My play-by-play updates are posted below, now in archived chronological order, from Wednesday morning November 16th through Thursday afternoon November 17th — all posted live, in real-time from the Omni Interlocken Resort, in beautiful (warm and sunny!) Colorado… well, until it snowed in the final hours.

TreeHouse Health Names Its 13th Portfolio Company

The winner of the 2016 Minnesota Cup, the largest business plan competition in the U.S., has been named by healthcare-startup incubator TreeHouse Health in Minneapolis as its latest portfolio company. StemoniX is leading the development and manufacturing of human-induced pluripotent stem cells for pharmaceutical drug-discovery applications, such as biologically accurate, miniaturized organ-like microtissues.TreeHouse-FinalLogo

“We are excited to announce the addition of StemoniX to the TreeHouse Health ecosystem,” said J.D. Blank, managing director, in a prepared statement. “Through their innovative work, they are advancing the field of drug discovery and ultimately helping patients get better treatment more quickly.”

StemoniX’s biotechnology provides scientists with standardized, easy-to-use, cost-effective access to relevant human microtissue for toxicity and efficacy screening. stemonix-logoIncorporated in Minnesota, the company is colocated in Minneapolis and San Diego, California.

TreeHouse Health defines itself as an “innovation center” designed to invest in emerging healthcare companies and help accelerate their growth. It says Stemonix is setting a new standard for stem cell technologies to meet the demands of drug discovery and personalized medicine.

mncup-logo-squareStemoniX earned the Grand Prize and title of “Best Breakthrough Business Idea of 2016” at the 12th annual MN Cup awards, held on September 22, 2016 at the University of Minnesota.

StemoniX says its efforts are revolutionizing stem cell-based research and drug screening and will lead to a new era of drug discovery and personalized medicine. “We’re grateful to become part of TreeHouse Health as a portfolio company,” said Ping Yeh, CEO. “We’re confident our relationship with TreeHouse Health will help us establish a strong presence in Minnesota, as well as generate new opportunities for Minnesota-based financing and collaborative partnerships with TreeHouse Health anchor tenants and other connections.”

TreeHouse Health now has 13 portfolio companies.

TreeHouse Health now has 13 portfolio companies.

Yeh continued: “We are thankful to the MN Cup organizers, sponsors, and community for their support and the opportunities created by our participation in the competition this year, which includes our new relationship with TreeHouse Health.”

Along with providing investment, TreeHouse Health offers its portfolio companies access to its ecosystem consisting of leading healthcare organizations (its “anchor tenants”), professional service providers, and other emerging healthcare companies. To date, TreeHouse Health has invested in thirteen early-stage healthcare companies and has anchor tenant relationships with Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (BCBS), and Accenture.


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