About BETA.MN

About

BETA provides Minnesota-based founders from the top local tech startups with the resources and relationships required to scale their business.

Overview

The Beta Group is a 501(c)(3) that develops Minnesota’s next generation of business leaders by inspiring and educating first-time founders. We nurture these scalable small businesses so that they can grow to become our next Fortune 100s.

The organization runs two main programs - Twin Cities Startup Week (TCSW), which inspires would be entrepreneurs to start a business and the BETA Cohort, which trains founders on the topics required to grow a business.

At a Glance:

MISSION - Accelerating the success of Minnesota-based technology founders.

  • Year founded: 2013
  • Headquarters: Minneapolis, MN
  • Status: 501(c)(3)
  • Brands managed: BETA - beta.mn
    TCSW - twincitiesstartupweek.com

Key Programs

Twin Cities Startup Week Logo

Twin Cities Startup Week is the front door to Minnesota’s startup ecosystem. The week includes countless events featuring the area’s brightest innovators and creative hotbeds. What began as intimate gathering of local technologists has ballooned to a regional festival celebrating the leaders who are creating impact within their community, startup, Fortune 100, nonprofit and more.

The week functions as an unconference, where a majority of the content comes from local community and business leaders. The TCSW team includes a full time Director, plus a lean group of part-time contributors who execute the operational and promotional activities of the week, in addition to hosting its own events.

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BETA.MN Logo

BETA’s Cohort experience is a series of programs where founding teams learn and grow together. Their education is similar to a coding school, but in place of training programmers, we groom the next great non-technical business leaders. Each program is designed to provide founders with resources and relationships to accelerate the growth of their business.

The cohort experience includes access to space, education and events geared toward introducing founders to the people that will positively influence their business.

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Executive Director

Casey Shultz

Casey joins us from the Bay Area with a host of relevant startup and accelerator experience. She was one of the original employees of CouchSurfing International—a precursor to AirBnB —where she helped the company raise its $7.9M Series A-round. She then moved into the capital side of the equation as a lead of the Citrix Startup Accelerator. Most recently, Casey was the head of Business Operations at Serverless, Inc.

Casey was wooed to Minnesota via the Twin Cities Startup Week Fly-in Program, where she was first introduced to our thriving startup ecosystem. Casey lives in St. Paul with her husband, daughter, and goldendoodle—Bumper. She holds an MBA from Presidio Graduate School.

Operations Lead

Kelly (Buhl) Schultze

Kelly has worked in people operations for Fortune 500s, nonprofits, and startups where she’s created and implemented operational systems that empower people to do their best work. Kelly is a graduate from the Carlson School of Management.

Kelly grew up in MN and loves the snow, lakes, and people that make this place home. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Peter.

Entrepreneur in Residence

Cihan Behlivan

Cihan Behlivan is a technology entrepreneur and operations executive, who led the first tech IPO out of Turkey in 2000. He joined his first tech startup in 2002 as the first employee, and oversaw product development and engineering teams, while managing sales and marketing efforts. Cihan started his own tech company in 2009 and sold it to a CRO company in 2017.

Cihan has over 18 years of digital health startup experience from cloud-based clinical documentation systems to clinical outcomes data collection and analytics platforms. He also has eight years of financial and operational experience in the long term care industry. He has been actively advising startup founders since, while working on a new healthcare startup.

Marketing & Communications

Eri O'Diah

Eri has worked in digital for nearly a decade, helping organizations uncover the best ways to engage their audience and drive remarkable results. She’s also an entrepreneur who is passionate about growing her Collective.ly Digital brand and lending her platform to social causes. Eri is a graduate of California State University Northridge. She is Nigerian born, lives for yoga, and is currently pivoting her entrepreneurial interests to the AI and SaaS space, in addition to supporting BETA’s marketing & communications efforts.

Board of Directors

Board Chair

Ryan Broshar

Ryan Broshar is the co-founder and General Partner for Matchstick Ventures - an early-stage venture capital fund that focuses on the North and the Rockies. Prior to Matchstick, Ryan was the co-founder of BETA and Twin Cities Startup Week. He also was the Founder of Techstars in the Twin Cities with the Techstars Retail Accelerator w/ Target. He currently resides with his young family in St. Paul, MN.
Treasurer

Allison Barmann

Allison is a Philanthropy Executive and Cross-Sector Leader. Most recently, she served as the Strategy and Learning Vice President at the Bush Foundation. Previously, Allison was a strategy consultant with McKinsey and Company and directed the Itasca Project, an alliance of CEO’s and civic leaders addressing economic competitiveness in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. She also worked at a technology start-up in San Francisco and as a Plant Engineer at 3M. She earned her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, where she was an all-American gymnast.

Allison was a Presidio Institute Cross-sector Leadership Fellow, a "40 Under 40" leader named by the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal in 2013 and a Humphrey Institute Policy Fellow. She currently serves on Emerging Prairie and BETA Boards of Directors and on the Her Next Play Advisory Council. Allison is a devoted member of two book clubs. She has also participated in seven WorldLoppet cross country ski events and has ridden her bike across several states.

Secretary

Reed Robinson

Reed Robinson is a founder, community builder, and investor. His direct startup experience ranges from co-founding a small consumer-tech company to an acquisition as an employee of a venture-backed startup. As a Co-founder of BETA and Twin Cities Startup Week, Reed has developed programming and channeled community investments into Minnesota's most promising early stage startups. With Groove Capital, Reed is providing first check investments to the area's top innovators whose products and services make the world a better place, starting in Minnesota.

Clarence Bethea

Clarence is a seasoned entrepreneur who has worked with dozens of startups and Fortune 500 companies to drive business momentum and success. He’s been written about in fast company, MPR and the observer. He brings a wealth of business knowledge, networking acumen and passion to the service contract industry. Prior to starting Upsie, Clarence created 2nd Chance Staffing and secured contracts to staff distribution centers for local businesses. Before launching 2nd Chance Staffing, Clarence assisted in launching 43 Hoops, a premier basketball training academy. In its first two years, 43 Hoops reached $1.5 million in revenue, and Clarence’s sales skills were responsible for more than 70 percent of that success. In 2005, Clarence also assisted Gravelick, a local trucking startup that served clients such as Menards and Stock Builders. In less than one year, Clarence negotiated new contracts and increased revenue by 200 percent while managing a team of 10. 

 

Today, Clarence is founder and CEO of St. Paul based, Upsie. Upsie is a venture-backed tech company disrupting the extended warranty industry by creating a win, win solution for consumers. He has raised over $10m from some of the top venture firms in the country including True Ventures, Techstars, Matchstick Ventures, Syndicate Fund (Bread & Butter Ventures) and has a team of 13. He lives in Prior Lake, Minnesota with his wife, Jenny, their daughter, Addison and son, Austin. Clarence is a committed mentor to young people who are seeking a career path in business and entrepreneurship.

Shonnah Hughes

Shonnah co-founded a successful nonprofit to help underrepresented adults break into technology. She resigned from the board of that nonprofit in 2019 to focus on her life long passion to introduce youth to the multifaceted technology ecosystem.
Shonnah founded Teen Tech Titans in 2019. In her role, she partnered with her co-founders to fund, scale, and grow Teen Tech Titans in Minnesota and beyond. Shonnah Hughes has spent more than a decade administering the Salesforce.com platform and other tools to create technical solutions for streamlining and optimizing processes to eliminate manual dependencies. Additionally, Shonnah has incorporated her training expertise in conjunction with her process improvement methodologies to effectively and efficiently train customers, end-users and stakeholders. Shonnah pioneers solutions that strengthen customer service, and the end user's satisfaction and adoption of software. Shonnah is a champion for organizations that are committed to innovation, change, and providing solutions. Her SFDC career has spanned many industries including Finance, Medical, Real Estate and Non-Profit. Shonnah is able to humanize highly technical information without losing her technical aptitude. Shonnah created the Women In Tech Diversity Chapter to address the unique challenges and stigmas faced by minority women. This group provides support, encouragement, mentoring and opportunities to collaborate and network. Salesforce's “1:1:1 model” inspired Shonnah to give back to her local and extended community. Her leadership with Teen Tech Titans, PepUp Tech, WiT Diversity & other community organizations has led to multiple awards & recognitions. Including the Equality Trailblazer award and a golden hoodie. 
Shonnah Hughes had the distinct honor of signing the White House’s Pledge to America’s workforce along with Marc Benioff. The Pledge to America’s Workers—committing to expand programs that educate, train, and reskill American workers from high-school age to near-retirement. On the rare occasion that she is not thinking about new solutions or volunteering, Shonnah appreciates the time she spends with her family and friends enjoying life's simple pleasures: football, basketball, movie watching, hosting game nights and collecting passport stamps with her children.
BETA.MN Original Founders

Our History

BETA was founded in 2013 by Reed Robinson, Ryan Broshar, and Justin Cox with a simple vision—to celebrate the efforts of local tech founders. We hosted our first event—the BETA Showcase—in January, 2014. We found a venue, invited the active startups in our network, and convinced 200+ of our closest friends to see what our startup community is all about.

Though the organization has expanded into a variety of offerings, the mission has never changed—BETA brings people together to support and celebrate the efforts of Minnesota-based entrepreneurs. We do that to increase the likelihood of their success, and to inspire others to join in the action.

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