We’ve gotten some very interesting and very strong feedback from our first round Innové applications.

Certainly, the $250,000 was a big draw, but we’ve heard time and time again that it was the mentoring and coaching that they felt was the most valuable resource they received from Innové. But even beyond $250,000 and coaching, we’ve found that there are even more benefits to applying to Innové, some of which might not be evident at first glance.

  1. The very act of applying helps hone your vision and mission. There is something important about having to put something down in writing. We’ve gotten feedback from applications who were thankful just for the application! The discipline of answering the application questions forced them to think more clearly about what they hoped to accomplish and how they planned to accomplish it. The initial application isn’t designed to be long and intensive, but we’ve found that even that process has been a benefit to young social entrepreneurs who are working to clarify their thinking around their ventures and ideas.
  2. Again, the coaching is invaluable. Did you know that social ventures have launched Innové without having received any money? Many found that the coaching and mentoring that is involved with the Innové process was exactly what they needed to both serve as a sounding board, or also to sometimes serve as some invaluable course corrections. None of us can do this alone. Several have found that having someone believe in them and push them in positive directions was EXACTLY what they needed.
  3. Networks are increased and community is formed. Social entrepreneurism can be a very lonely place. It’s invaluable to know that you aren’t alone and to have a placebo connect with like-minded peers, who understand you perfectly because they are on the same journey you are. Many first round applicants remarked that a benefit they weren’t expecting with Innové – but were thrilled to have received – is the new connections and friendships it formed. Not only did many connect meaningfully with their peers, but they also were introduced to brand new professional networks that were an integral part of their future success.
  4. Future funding often hinges on early success. How often have you heard from a potential investor, “Come and talk to us in a couple years once you can demonstrate some success.” That first dollar is the most difficult. With Innové being willing to take a chance on untested ideas that we can help nurture, it opens up the door for future investment.

The coaching and $250,000 are certainly exciting. What’s even better, however, is that there is a host of other benefits in applying to Innové. If you were considering applying, it’s time that you simply take that plunge. It’s worth it.

Colonial Church seeking young entrepreneurs is also the title of the news piece that ran in Edina’s Sun Current last week. The story focuses on our 2nd round of Innové, plus also mentions our November 3rd “Investing in Dreams” event where we celebrate both local entrepreneurs as well as entrepreneurs in developing nations around the world.

An excerpt:

Colonial Church’s grants for young social entrepreneurs worked so well that they’ve decided to do it again.

And this:

Last year’s Protégé Leah Driscoll, founder of the Twin Cities Mobile Market, will be joining a panel discussion during Colonial Church’s Investing in Dreams event. Investing in Dreams will focus on investing in meaningful ways by investing in social entrepreneurs and helping people in need. The event is 7:30-9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3, at Colonial Church, 6200 Colonial Way, Edina.

You can read the full story by clicking here.

The Benefits of Innové

Brian —  October 5, 2014

Beyond the obvious possibility of $250,000 in prize money, there are other benefits to Innové. In fact, time and time again, the feedback we’ve received is that the below benefits are much MORE valuable than the money.

  1. Undergo a rigorous process and receive constructive feedback on a project or venture they have eagerly desired to pursue but for which funding and assistance has been unavailable. The actual process of applying for Innové forces you to hone your mission and strengthen your plan.
  2. Receive hands-on coaching from a team of mentors and coaches with a wealth of successful experience in a variety of marketplace and entrepreneurial ventures to improve and develop a venture idea for judging by a panel of experts.
  3. Gain experience and feedback on how to pitch and communicate your venture, not just for the sake of Innové, but for other future partners as well.
  4. As a semi-finalist, participate in a one-day workshop with marketplace and cultural leaders as well as other semi-finalists in order to build relationships, receive encouragement and further refine ideas, and then “pitch” their venture to a panel of judges.
  5. As a Protégé, have an opportunity to present their winning idea audience of prospective supporters and investors and the congregation of Colonial Church and participate in “incubation” with project mentors to receive further consulting, financial and business planning assistance, and funding awards.

Innové is not just simply about the money. Innové is about relationships, networks, skill building, mentoring, and so much more.

What Motivates Innové

Brian —  October 5, 2014

Colonial Church successfully helped launch five entrepreneurial mission initiatives through the first round of Innové in 2012-2014. At our 2014 Annual Meeting, the congregation voted to offer a second round. We intend to be faithful stewards of our resources for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Colonial Church has people, relationships, experience and facilities to assist and direct mission endeavors. We desire to unleash these resources for the sake of Christ’s work in the world.

Colonial Church desires to be a place where people are drawn to develop and use their particular gifts, talents and skills.

Historically, common mission works to generate enthusiasm, galvanize service, solicit deeper faith, necessitate prayer, build community and bear fruit for the kingdom of God. Colonial Church seeks to do that which will stretch us toward greater faith and dependence on Christ.

These are the things that motivate us. Below is the foundation which guides us.

Foundational Values

Colonial Church views itself as a “place to grow in Christ and serve the world.” In other words, the energy Christians gain from their relationship to Jesus within this faith community is ultimately intended for the sake of others. Applied to entrepreneurship, the purpose of work is to serve. We serve the world by creating and providing goods and services that enable people and the earth to flourish. Often these goods and services will take on redemptive qualities. Rather than simply adding to a community’s stockpile of available products of supplying another new amenity for amenity’s sake, Christian entrepreneurship seeks opportunities where service or products may be used to help, heal, restore, redeem or bring hope.

In both creative and redemptive work, Christian social entrepreneurship provides workers opportunities to express at least a portion of their God-given identity through meaningful and creative labor. We should strive to inject a sense of mission, purpose, meaning and joy into all we do.

The apostle Paul encourages that “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for people” (Colossians 3:22-24). When our tasks are done for a higher purpose, ultimately in service to God, they have their own integrity apart from anything else they might accomplish, for the labor itself brings honor to God. Moreover, if we perform our tasks “as working for the Lord,” we will want to pursue them with all of the skill, care, and quality we can bring. At the same time, when we engage our tasks as “working for the Lord,” there is a built-in safeguard against work ever becoming a source of idolatry for which we would sacrifice family, health or friendship.!

[Ideas adapted from James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. (Oxford University Press, 2010.), and Jeff Van Duzer, Why Business Matters to God (And What Still Needs to Be Fixed). (IVP Academic, 2010).]

More than 150 people are involved with Innové in some capacity, most of whom participate in a very focused area which allows them to best utilize their experience and talents. Typically this takes the form of Task Forces, which are listed below to help you understand a little more of what goes on behind the scenes of Innové.

Task Forces

Publicity: Tasked with promoting the competition through various networks directed to young adult communities for the sake of inviting proposals.

Prayer: A regular gathering of members to pray for the participants and for wisdom for the discernment of judges and navigators and congregation.

Screeners: Reads initial proposals and determines pool from which semi-finalists are selected by Navigators. First line of communication with applicants.

Navigators: “Listening mentors” who will select semi-finalists from a screened pool. Each Navigator will choose one applicant to mentor, coach and walk through the rest of the Innové process. Navigators will participate with semi-finalists at February 28 Immersion Day Workshop. Emphasis will be on a strong relationship between Navigator and the Semi-Finalist each chooses to work with.

Judges: Review semifinalist full proposals, listen to pitches and select Protégés. Participate in All-Church Reveal Day as responders to presentations on May 3.

Skills Coaches: A pool of approximately 50 people to serve as coaches for semi-finalists. Coaches will have expertise in areas related to entrepreneurship and business planning, project development, mission and business, and much more.

Immersion Day: Organize and carry out February 28 workshop for semifinalists.

Incubator: Plan and execute a one day incubation for Protégés with specialized seminars, networking and personalized coaching. Assist in relationship connections at Colonial and guide toward successful launch of project. May 16.

The Twin Cities Mobile Market has had quite a journey since becoming an Innové Protégé in 2013. From a discovery in Innové’s Incubation process that the non-profit designation they were counting on might not be the best fit, to ultimately deciding to operate as a program of the Wilder Foundation, the Twin Cities Mobile Market has necessarily remained flexible in their launch plans without drifting an inch from their mission to strengthen low-income communities by increasing access to healthy food.

In the words of Protégé Leah Driscoll:

Innove’ really enabled us to turn our idea into reality. Not only did we receive initial start-up funds, but we gained great connections with others that played a pivotal role in moving the Twin Cities Mobile Market forward.

Innové is much more than funding. It is connections, coaching, and so much more.

Look below at some pictures of the old city bus now turned into a market on wheels, the design, incidentally, having been done by an Innové Coach.

Twin Cities Mobile Market Twin Cities Mobile Market Twin Cities Mobile Market


When we began the Innové Project we knew that we needed to see actual results out in the community. That is, would we really be able to help young social entrepreneurs launch or scale their ideas to do good in the world? Here’s an answer to that, directly from a 2013 protégé:

When we met Innové, The Sheridan Story had hopes of what we wanted to become, where we wanted to go, and the way in which we wanted to impact our community. In the Twin Cities, over 100,000 kids live in food insecurity and face hunger on the weekends – our mission was to change that. Through the support, education, and funding The Sheridan Story received through Innové, we launched as a non-profit organization, began our expansion into multiple schools, and flourished.

The Sheridan Story has grown from operating in 1 school to 25 schools, from serving 300 kids a week to 1700 kids a week – in 1 year. And we’re still growing. This growth, not just organizationally, but in the impact we are now able to make in our community, would not have been possible without our partnership with Innové.
If I were to summarize in one sentence… Innové’s investment of their time, their talents, their people, and their funds have changed the story of child hunger in our community, and for that we are incredibly grateful.
Rob Williams
Executive Director of The Sheridan Story & 2013 Innové Protégé

First, let’s talk about the name and then describe Innové in a nutshell. Innové is the French word for “breaking new ground.”
Colonial Church invites proposals from idea-makers, 35-years-old and younger, residing in the greater Twin Cities region, to submit ideas for projects that “break new ground” for the sake of cultural betterment and human flourishing in accordance with gospel values of faith, service, grace, justice, love, redemption and reconciliation.

Innové offers $250,000 for project grants, along with human resources, expertise, time, networking, creative community and acceleration toward a successful launch.

As for our objectives, we’re looking for “the GOODS”:

  • GOOD for the Gospel: To heed with humility and by faith, God’s calling to be salt and light in the world, working toward the promised new creation where righteousness, justice and love fully reside. To promote Christian gospel values of faith, service, grace, justice, love, redemption and reconciliation.
  • GOOD for the World: To accelerate the successful launch of creative and faithful ideas that address major challenges in our world.
  • GOOD for the Idea-Makers: To enable faithful entrepreneurs to break new ground through identification, mentoring, creating, planning, funding, making, doing, growing, sustaining and celebrating.
  • GOOD for the Church: To excite and involve Colonial Church as incubators, innovators, accelerators and partners of new creative work in the world.

Let’s Grow Together!

Brian —  June 8, 2014

Does your idea have legs, but it doesn’t quite seem to run? It’s not easy to turn a dream into reality and young entrepreneurs can’t be expected to have a full set of skills necessary to launch their idea. Innové’s mission is to help you launch your world-changing idea successfully.

All semi-finalists will be paired with mentors who care about the person as much as they care about the project. We want this to be an encouraging, affirming, and fun experience! On top of that, our mentors – called Navigators – have expertise in mission, start-ups, finance, operations and more. These caring Navigators with a lifetime of experience can help to bring out the best from the idea and help shape it for a successful launch.

Semi-finalists will also gather for a one-day workshop to share ideas, and receive coaching toward success while building community together. The relationships you build will prepare you to launch your world-changing idea. Networking is important, and to be able to make connections with other young entrepreneurs who share your passion can be life-changing.

Finally, on top of our Navigators, we have dozens and dozens of Skills Coaches. Each of these Skills Coaches has a very practical area of expertise and each is available to you. Does launching your idea require legal help such as protection of IP? There are Skills Coaches available to you for that. Could you benefit from an hour with a financial wizard, or an expert in process or manufacturing? We have Skills Coaches for that. Skill Coaches can provide you with the practical tools to help you fill in the missing pieces of your idea, whatever that missing piece may be.

Our mission is to help you launch successful. Funding plays a large role in that, but so do practical skills. We are here to help you with both.

To give away money is an easy matter in anyone’s power, but to decide to whom to give it, how much to give, when to give, and to give for the right movie and in the right way, is neither in everyone’s power nor an easy matter. Hence, it is that such excellence is rare, praiseworthy, and noble.


Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book II, Chapter 9, 350 BC

Innové in the Press

Brian —  June 7, 2014

We want to take a moment to aggregate some of the places where Innové has been featured by the media:

Innové made the cover of the current issue of The Congregationalist, the magazine that goes out to all Congregational churches. In addition to the cover, the story is on pages 28-29.

WCCO filmed a 90 second spot which aired in November on the evening news. The video and the full text can be found on WCCO’s website.

The Star Tribune has written two articles, one in their business section (Lee Schafer) and one in the lifestyle section (Rose French).

The Sun Current attended our April 21 celebration and write about that experience, plus gives a look at each of our protégés.

Tech {dot} MN wrote about Innové openness to invest with a mission for good in the emerging tech or mobile markets.

The Innové story was also shared in the Minneapolis / St. Paul Buisness (Biz) Journal, where each protégé was also highlighted.

Additionally, Innové has been face-to-face in many of the Twin Cities entrepreneurial gatherings. (MoJo MN) (Entrepreneur Meetup) (TiE MN Entrepreneul Kick-off)

Much of the Innové experience has been through the pairing of the experience of the Baby Boom generation with the passion of the Millennial generation. So why do we think Millennials and Boomers make a great team?

According to the latest census there are approximately 79 million baby boomers in the Unites States (give or take). Many of these Boomers will be retiring in the next 5-10 years, or launching encore careers growing out of their desire to do meaningful work. They plan to take the experience and skills they’ve accumulated from decades of work and put them to use on projects they think will have a positive impact on the world.

On the other end of the spectrum is the roughly 82 million Millennials, who sandwich 53 million Gen Xers. Perceived as self-centered, the tech-savvy Millennials are often hard for older generations to work with. Basic necessity tells us that Boomers and Millennials will be increasingly working side-by-side and we saw this to be the case with Innové, which we saw a powerful opportunity of what each generation can give.


One of our older members said to me after our protégé’s presented that “what she no longer had, but the protégés did, was energy.” I get what she was trying to say, but I think that Boomers do have energy, it just comes in the form of experience. If you’ve had the opportunity to sit with a Boomer and have them share with you what they’ve learned in their lives and it’s clear there is energy behind the words.

But this plays out very differently. Boomers have spent decades working and learning, gaining intangible wisdom that comes from a career of forming and living through relationships, experiences and projects. Along the way, their brains were wired for what they found to work.

Now they want to give back, passing along the things they have learned, so that they can make the world a better place for their kids and grandkids.

But did I mention that they have an often uneasy relationship with technology and how it works or what is possible with it?


Millennials, on the other hand, are digital natives. They’ve never known a world without smart phones and the cloud, and understanding and leveraging it comes naturally and intuitively for them. While Millennials might have years of education (and student debt) under their belts, they are fresh in the working world, having accomplished very little, if anything.

But also inherent is the desire to see the world a better place. But unlike Boomers – who might say they’ll give back upon retirement – the Millennials say, “why wait?” Baked into a MIllennials is an ability to work incredibly hard for something that feels meaningful to then, given that they are motivated to do so, that is.

Teaming Up

This creates a powerful opportunity to pair them up. But what should this tag team look like?

  1.  Focus on the mission, not the methods. Appeal to their shared sense of purpose by focusing on the underlying purpose, and not the process of how it will get done.Compare: “Our mission is to provide hospitality to the homeless families who will be staying in our church for the week.
    Versus: “Our mission is to place a bed in rooms 4,6, and 9, place 4 towels at areas A, B, and C, create 3 signs each saying…” You get the idea.

    This allows Boomers to convey the principles that experience has taught them works, while leaving flexibility in the methods, as the fresh eyes, enthusiasm, and technical skill that can bring great improvement. While they are working with a shared purpose, they are creating the process together.

  2. Over communicate. Boomers often think that they don’t know how to talk to a Millennial, yet they have a career of experience in building working relationship. This should give them a confidence. Meanwhile, the Millennials desire for personal growth and development should create a confidence that they can go to a Boomer for non-threatening advice.They should be communicating about everything, even difficult situations where one of them is frustrated, impatient, or confused. This brings the Boomer and Millennial together in an even better partnership.
  3. Require two-way teaching and learning. At times each should be leading, trusting each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The Boomer can contextualize previous experience using specific examples and explanations of why certain approaches are more or less likely to work. Boomers can also proactively think about where the natural talent of the Millennial can come into play, inviting them to teach them about new software, models or tools that could aid the project.

We’ve found during the Innové process that this Boomer/Millennial pairing has been a match made in heaven.

A Chipmunk on the Train Tracks

Brian —  March 12, 2014

Innové aims to help brand new initiatives launch or to help existing initiatives scale. Some Innové initiatives are nothing more than an idea from a great social entrepreneur working to get it going and off the ground. Others have recently launched or have been operating for a couple of years and they are looking to scale their initiative for broader reach.

The two types are very different in need and approach.

It’s been said that a new organization is like eight small children chasing a chipmunk. There is lots of noise and confusion, scrambling in every direction, and a lot of wasted energy. The earliest stage of life for a new initiative is both motion and commotion, but not yet very much locomotion.

At this point almost nothing is done in an orderly way. Records are mess, thoughts and ideas are scribbled everywhere, and budgeting procedures can be haphazard. But there is great flexibility, unlimited motivation, a willingness to try new things, and the capacity to respond quickly!

To contrast, an organization with a couple of years to mature is generally quite orderly. It knows where it has been and has a good sense of where it is going. Procedures have been defined, there is a pecking order, and there is a patient advance along a settled path. It reminds you of a locomotive steaming down the tracks with everything functioning predictably and energy being transformed into forward motion. But this can lead to a decrease in learning and motivation, a little possibility of going anywhere except where the tracks lead.

Innové steps in to corral the chipmunk, our Navigators (mentors) and skills coaches giving valuable insight in terms of direction, procedure, budgeting, and discipline. Our aim is to help those idea-makers get on the right track.

On the flip side, our Navigators bring a fresh set of eyes that can bring zest, fresh thought, and renewed energy that is critical for existing organizations to go to the next level. We’re not looking to drive an initiative “off the rails”, but we will look where we can provide some steam.

Completely different needs, but our Navigators have seen it all.

Innové Deux

Charlie —  January 28, 2014

Colonial Church sponsored the enormously successful Innové initiative in 2012. We provided $250K in funding with invaluable coaching to a stunning collection of young Christian social entrepreneurs with a passion to serve the cause of Christ in the world.

The Church Council has enthusiastically endorsed planning for Innové Deux, a second round to operate much like round one, with multiple task forces committed to prayer, publicity, screening, navigating, coaching, Immersion Day planning, judging and incubating.

We anticipate not only a larger pool of applicants, but even greater participation by the congregation in round two. Innové Deux would commence with publicity in the fall of 2014, followed by an application deadline of early January 2015 and awards given in April 2015.

As with round one, Innové Deux will be open to any resident of the Twin Cities, 35 years old or younger, who affirms the Apostles’ Creed. Only round one Protégés (the 5 funded projects) would be ineligible for round two.

We will again grant $250,000.

It is important that Innové be an initiative of the church, funded by our faithful passion and personal commitments. We have eschewed external funding for this reason. Hopefully, other foundations and organizations that have offered financial support to Innové will match grants we give to future Protégés to expand their impact.

We held a series of gatherings this winter/early spring. In addition to raising pledges for Innové Deux, these gatherings provided wonderful opportunities for Colonial members to share memories of round one as well as hopes for round two.

We wanted to give all social entrepreneurs a little “spark.” This video is of Ryan Skoog, giving a message to social entrepreneurs during the closing session of our recent Innové Immersion event.


May it be a spark of creativity. A spark of hope. A spark of inspiration. A spark of encouragement.

Innové Presents Ryan Skoog

Ryan’s Bio
Ryan, co-founder of Venture Expedition, oversees finances, development, staff, and board. Ryan earned his MBA from University of Saint Thomas’s Schultz School of Entrepreneurship before founding two companies, Fly for Good and International Volunteer Card, which serve customers such as Harvard University, Invisible Children, and Youth With A Mission. He has presented and shared at colleges and churches internationally and has visited many places Venture works (such as Tibet, Burma, Kenya, and Zimbabwe) to spread the tangible love of Jesus. Ryan enjoys anything outdoors that involves adrenaline, such as skydiving, snowboarding, surfing, kayaking, and mountain biking. Ryan and his wife, Rachel, have two ginger-headed kids, Colin and Sydney.

Innové Protégé Andrew Hanson from MATTOO spoke recently at a Bordertown Community event. He explains why is is critical for men to be involved in the fight against sex trafficking.

Innové Project in Edina Magazine

Brian —  December 4, 2013

Innové was featured in the Edina Magazine’s December issue. An excerpt:

For more than 50 years, Colonial Church members have embraced a tradition of funding missions and outreach, both locally and around the world. Colonial Church views itself as a “place to grow in Christ and serve the world.” Christian entrepreneurship seeks opportunities where service or products may be used to help, heal, restore, redeem or bring hope. Colonial Church is holding a fundraising campaign within its congregation in hopes of being able to hold another Innové project and empower more socially conscious nonprofits next September.

Please click here to read the full article.

Meet the Helper Squad

Brian —  December 2, 2013

Innové has also been active with social entrepreneurs beyond our protégés. Thomas O’Neill was a semi-finalist whose mission is Helper Squad, a concierge service to help seniors live with dignity in their homes longer. Although Helper Squad didn’t win a grant, our coaches have continued to walk with Thomas and help him in his launch.

Helper Squad was recently featured in the Sun Post. A sample:

“My work is with people that are coming to an age where they realize they’re not going to live forever and they come to a time when normal folks would retire or step away from their work … Nobody wants to move out of their house and go to a nursing home. They want to stay in their home as long as they can,” and the squad helps ensure that those people don’t take risks and hurt themselves when they try and do things they shouldn’t.”

It’s an excellent article. Click here to read it in its entirety.

Protégé in the News

Charlie —  November 13, 2013

Innové protégé, Anna Brelje, was featured in the Star Tribune’s Business Section discussing predatory Pay Day lending.

Anna Brelje, 33, recalled being trapped in a circle of payday-like cash advance loans from Wells Fargo about 10 years ago. She was working as a political organizer but couldn’t make ends meet because of medical bills.

One day she used a cash advance feature online with her Wells Fargo account. The cost only added to her debts, she said, and she used the loans for two years.

Brelje said a better job and financial counseling helped her dig out. She said she felt angry when a counselor told her she’d more paid $2,000 in fees. “I had no idea I was paying an APR of 700 percent,” Brelje said.

Spread the word!

Innové was featured in Christianity Today’s This is Our City project, which documents how Christians are responding to their cities’ particular challenges with excellence, biblical faith, and hope.

It begins:

I’ve always believed that the church exists on earth for the sake of mission—the tangible, embodied love of Christ. It’s the one thing we do on earth that we won’t do in heaven. More than well-done music and a well-honed sermon in a well-crafted building, the church is called to take up concrete things done with and for other people: feeding the hungry. Visiting the sick. Loving neighbors. Speaking truth. Loving enemies. Sharing the gospel.

Given this, it seems odd that many churches treat mission with nickel-and-dime efforts: a few hundred dollars a year to this agency, another check to that, a short-term trip here and there. Churches outsource much of their mission work to specialized organizations. Though both efficient and expedient, doing this has a way of teaching us to be donors instead of doers.

Arriving as the new minister at my church—a fairly affluent, Midwest, middle-aged, suburban church in the Congregational model—I became convinced that God was calling us to something we could we do together that none of us could do alone…

Click HERE to read the full story.

Learning Exchange on Strategy

Charlie —  October 1, 2013

One of our learning exchanges in our recent Innové Immersion Day was on Strategy, a thoughtful mindset that every young social entrepreneur needs. Here is Kevin Kickhaefer’s slide deck from the Immersion Day. Hope it is helpful and you seek to launch your venture!

Not only are we providing FREE LUNCH during our September 28 Immersion Day, but over that hour we’ll be hosting a panel discussion.

While you enjoy a delicious lunch (Did we mention it is free?), you’ll earn from our current Innové Protégés, all young social entrepreneurs who are presently in the trenches and  bringing their concept to scale.

Bob ThomasThey’ll share insights on their most significant lessons learned, what they wished they had known earlier, and much, much more. A question and answer time will follow.

Our Protégé Panel will be facilitated by Bob Thomas. Currently the Chief Experience Officer at the Twin Cities YMCA, Bob is a marketing and sales leader with 13 years of experience in mission led organizations, both for-profit and non-profit. As a member of Colonial Church for years, Bob, his wife Jennifer, and his two children are active in building a healthy and welcoming community of faith.

Click HERE for an introduction and a video look of the work of our panelists.

Three Marketing Moves You Need to Make Now

Jeff PopeLearn the three key marketing decisions you need to make early in your organization’s development about: why you exist, what you do, and how you make a difference. Plus a “bonus” move that will help create success. Facilitated by Jeff Pope.

Jeff holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His career includes stints as a consultant at KPMG and as a marketing manager at Pillsbury. After Pillsbury he co-founded a research and consulting firm based in the Twin Cities, which worked worldwide with Fortune 100 companies like Procter & Gamble, Coca Cola, Apple Computer, and Bank of America.

How to Pitch an Idea & Make Your Message Stick

Kristin GeerAs an entrepreneur with for-profit and non-profit experience, Kristin Geer knows how difficult it can be to get your foot in the door of potential donors, investors & clients.  In this Learning Exchange, she’ll share techniques that work to book those important meetings with decision-makers.  She’ll also show you how to create powerful presentations that will “wow” them and lead to action.  Finally, she’ll share valuable strategies to get your message to the masses without paying a dime for advertising. Facilitated by Kristin Geer.

An Emmy-award winning investigative reporter, Kristin Geer left television news after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2005.  She founded the Cancurables Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for cancer research under a “mission-to-marketplace” business model.  In addition to her nonprofit work, Kristin also started her own television production studio, successfully producing regional and nationally syndicated television shows such as Kent Hrbek Outdoors, Blueprint for Green and the Gopher Coach’s Shows.  She has produced commercials and videos for major corporations such as Cargill, 3M, Cambria & KLN Enterprises.  Kristin lives in Edina with her husband Brad and 4-year-old daughter and is currently in the process of launching a new Faith-based social entrepreneurship venture.

Armstrong to Zimbabwe: Bringing Creative Ideas to Life

HughesMaking dreams become reality is one of the most difficult things we’ll ever do. Yet entrepreneurs are faced with this daunting task every day. Come to this brief session that will focus how to make ideas become a tangible reality. Facilitated by Eric Hughes.

Eric is currently Sr. Director of Product Development at Caribou Coffee. Prior to Caribou, he spent nine years leading the product innovation process around Dairy Queen’s food and treat business segments bringing to life ideas like the FlameThrower GrillBurger and S’mores Blizzard Treat. He currently resides in Edina, Minnesota with his wife Megan and children Brennan, Eleanor, and Jane.

How to Create a Strategy that Works

Kevin KickhaeferThis Learning Exchange will focus on developing a simplified approach to ensure a successful strategic plan for your organization. Strategy in it’s simplest form is choice. Simplified choice will decide the direction and success of your ideas. We will discuss and challenge these concepts as they relate to the future development of your company. Facilitated by Kevin Kickhaefer.

Kevin leads the national sales and distribution efforts across all segments and markets for Bloom Health. Kevin brings unique skills to Bloom Health having led national sales and new business initiatives for several fortune 500 Companies, being recognized nationally for leading the country in sales for both CIGNA Healthcare and Aetna Chicago. Kevin has presented at National Conferences on topics that cover private exchanges, defined contribution for health care and wellness initiatives for employers. Kevin has a B.S. in Finance & Accounting from Kansas State University. In his downtime, he manages a cattle ranch in Kansas and enjoys working out, golfing and spending time with his wife Suzanne, son Ty and daughter Chase.

The Importance of Partnerships

Paul-BertelsonForming strong, strategic partnerships is critical for success. Dig into all types of partnerships, from simple networking to strategic alliances and everything in between. No one gets started or succeeds alone. Facilitated by Paul Bertelson.

It’s hard for Paul to believe that a volunteer effort as a teenager showed him his purpose — a lifetime of ministry. As founder and CEO of YouthWorks! Inc, his life’s journey is a path that thousands of youth choose every year after experiencing a YW mission trip. Paul is the CEO of Real Resources, the umbrella that covers Youthworks!, Youth Specialties, Youth Enterprises, and Big Stuf Camps.  Paul also volunteers as a leader for YoungLife Capernaum.