Making Breakthrough Ideas a Reality

Website aims to link angels, start-up firms from the get-go
GetGo helps Minnesota entrepreneurs plug in to the state's network of investors and expertise - and it's free. Star Tribune - March 20, 2007
By Neal St. Anthony, Staff Writer

GetGo is a fledgling online marketplace designed to link tiny entrepreneurs with individual "angel" investors. The online network also brings the resources of sponsoring businesses, schools and government to bear on building a smarter, more prosperous climate for the state's small-business community. And it doesn't cost a dime to be a member, as more than 1,000 subscribers have learned since the business-network portal ( was launched a few weeks ago.

"It's a catch-all, and there is the opportunity for entrepreneurs to find angel investors," said Dan Mallin, a veteran entrepreneur and one of the founders of the nonprofit network.

"But it's designed to support all the constituencies that an entrepreneur deals with," Mallin said. "The depth of what the tool can do isn't fully understood yet. But they're all using part of it."

GetGo also is the outcome of several false starts.

A couple of years ago, a small-business/emerging industries task force of the Itasca Project, headed by Tom Kieffer, another veteran technology entrepreneur, concluded that such a resource was needed. Kieffer had kicked the idea around years ago with the Minnesota High Tech Association and then funded his own short-lived initiative. He brought in Mallin and Scott Litman, the business guys also behind the annual Minnesota Cup entrepreneur sweepstakes, as co-founders.

A number of stakeholders put in about $200,000 to capitalize the nonprofit organization and get everything up and running, Mallin said.

GetGo - established as sort of an honest broker for commercial information and exchanges - lives inside the James J. Hill Library, the business research organization that has developed a national reputation for online span and excellence.

"It's kind of like putting it in Switzerland - a neutral location that should sponsor it for the greater good and supports all the charters among the business schools and business partners," Mallin said.

GetGo springs from the collective resources of Hill, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota High Tech Association, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Wells Fargo and the Itasca Project, which a group of Minnesota business executives formed to examine and make recommendations on several state-policy issues.

"It has always been difficult for first-time entrepreneurs to raise seed capital, partially because they aren't networked into the investment community and partly because of the high risk of 'pre-revenue' deals," said Mike Moore, director of the William C. Norris Institute.

"GetGo will make it easier for entrepreneurs to find out about and contact those sources,'' he said. "Much of the angel investing in this area tends to either concentrate on previously successful entrepreneurs or happen through chance encounters in isolated deals. The Twin Cities needs more collaborative investing to support a vibrant community of entrepreneurs who are struggling to put together early-stage deals of $500,000 to $1 million."


Business and community

About 350 business people, nonprofit agencies and others participated in the annual "ChangeMakers" program of the Collaborative ( this month. The 20-year-old membership organization of growing companies and financiers is focused on the intersection of entrepreneurship and the nonprofit community, from the United Way to small agencies. Business folks know it's good business to invest wisely and generously in education, disadvantaged kids, community health and the working poor.

Warren Buffett, a guy who has acknowledged he made his billions thanks in part to the smarts and labor of others in whom he invested, has led the way by investing most of his fortune in the Gates Foundation.

Copyright 2007 Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities
Record Number: 070320nealst0320