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AgePower Tech Search Announces Three Winners Creating Technology
to Benefit a Rapidly Aging World

Winners to participate in 6-month pilot with Ecumen to gain consumer experiential insights

MINNEAPOLIS/SAINT PAUL (February 3, 2014) – Ecumen and MOJO Minnesota, co-sponsors of the inaugural AgePower Tech Search initiative, today announced three winners of the competition designed to help bring new consumer technology solutions to a rapidly aging world.  The winning companies are: Playtabase™ LLC, ForMyChildren® and GO2, LLC (company product summaries below).

The three winners were selected from five finalists following a recent AgePower Demo Day in Minneapolis/Saint Paul.  In all, AgePower had 27 submissions from the United States, Europe and the Middle East.   Each AgePower winner will collaborate on a 6-month pilot with Ecumen customers and employees, which is designed to give technology teams valuable user feedback to aid commercial market expansion.  The winners also will be working with a MOJO team in strengthening business strategy and execution.

Ecumen, a Minnesota-based non-profit company that is among the country’s top 20 largest nonprofit senior housing and services organizations, and MOJO Minnesota, an innovation cooperative and advocacy force working to fuel entrepreneurship and a culture of innovation, launched AgePower in late 2013.  The intent of AgePower is to locate, reward and help launch new high- and low-tech technologies and innovations that have a positive, near-term impact on the aging experience.

AgePower ( differs from most “incubators” or “accelerators” in that its focus is on transforming the future of aging and providing real-life test environments along with access to business experts in key areas beneficial to fueling a successful new venture.

The AgePower Winners’ Products
The following winners were selected among five finalists by an AgePower evaluation panel that included seniors, physicians, Ecumen team members and members of MOJO Minnesota.

Playtabase’s™ Reemo™ (  What if you could control your home’s lights, door, window shade and other aspects of your home with a simple gesture?  Such a product could benefit people with and without physical disabilities.  Playtabase™ is a Minneapolis-based startup company “dedicated to fun solutions to reinvent your world.”   It has developed reemo™, a stylish wrist-worn technology that empowers users to interact with electronics around them through gesture alone.  The wrist band works with a receiver to send signals to the electronics.  The Playtabase™ team will use the AgePower pilot to gain user feedback as it develops expanded user capabilities.

Playtabase™ CEO Muhammad Abdurrahman Ph.D. was inspired to create the technology and a more accessible world after his father experienced multiple strokes. Abdurrahman received a University of Minnesota Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2013.

ForMyChildren’s® LifeDeposit® Box (  As a parent, how do you easily and securely share with your children and grandchildren important aspects of who you are as a human being?  How do you share this information for generations to come?  Online startup ForMyChildren® is billed as the first online tool designed by parents to help create a living, ongoing history of one’s life while also allowing safe storage and sharing of important information, such as insurance information, health directives, wills and other legal documents.

Not simply a collection of photos or videos, ForMyChildren® helps users tell stories they want their children or others to have.  ForMyChildren® users can write or audio- or video-record their feelings, thoughts, memories and stories for their family and friends, and upload them directly into each child’s or other recipients’ unique LifeDeposit®Box.   Parents can also designate when their children can see uploaded information.  For example, it could be provided after a milestone or key life event, such as a wedding or after a death.  Each account is protected with encryption, which ensures the safety of all legacy information.

ForMyChildren® co-founders are Michael Wright and Scott Garen.  Wright, who is based in Minneapolis, is former President of Entegris, Inc. a publicly-held developer of products for microelectronics, and is a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute.   Garen, who is based in Los Angeles, is an award-winning veteran of the television and film industry and has produced for all major broadcast networks and The Walt Disney Company and Smithsonian Institution.

GO2, LLC’s CV2 (  Not everyone can walk for needed and/or prescribed exercise, especially people who have poor blood circulation in their legs.  So what if the blood circulation in a person’s legs could improve without having to wear bulky compression socks or other inconvenient means?  And what if athletes, such as long-distance runners, could benefit from the same product?

CV2 is described as a wellness product that can effectively increase circulation for nearly everybody through “treadling” – an intuitive form of pedaling done while sitting down and oftentimes also while reading or watching television.  It’s designed require minimal effort to benefit those with limited mobility, but it has potential benefits for endurance athletes who seek improved blood circulation after a workout.  The CV2 has been shown to increase blood flow out of and into the lower extremities and been demonstrated to reduce edema (excess fluid in the legs) and leg pain in those with leg edema.  There are also reports of accelerated healing of leg ulcers caused by vascular disease and reduction of night cramps and the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.     

Co-founders of Wilmington, N.C.-based GO2, LLC, are the father-son team of James Hundley, Jr., and James Hundley, M.D., a retired board-certified orthopedic surgeon, both of whom treadle daily.  They previously co-founded, an aggregate information website that supports the broad orthopaedic market.

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The Angel Loan Fund (ALF) is the latest effort by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to support Minnesota’s entrepreneurial growth by offering attractive funding for early-stage businesses.  The fund provides direct loans for 10% of the total amount of equity investment received in the business’ approved funding round (subsequent to ALF approval).  To be eligible, businesses must be certified to participate in the Angel Tax Credit Program and have fewer than 500 employees.

Visit the Minnesota DEED website for more details on this new opportunity for small businesses in Minnesota.

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Dan Grigsby

MOJO Agitator Dan Grigsby will be a speaker at this year’s MobCon in Minneapolis: November 7-8. Dan will speak on what he has learned from 10,000 hours of mobile projects. The event sold out last year and early bird registration ends Monday, September 30th. Use the discount code drivetrain13 to save 20%.

MobCon is a high demand Conference that has a necessary focus on all facets of mobile: Strategy, Marketing, Technology, Best practices and achieved Successes. Join the discussion for TWO full days to acquire knowledge, share ideas, get inspired and stretch your imagination.  People from across the nation will be welcomed into Minneapolis, the center of emerging mobile leadership.

MobCon 2013 brings 50+ speakers from keynotes to breakout sessions with the added opportunity to participate in the selection of the top three app concepts that will be awarded a total of $50,000 – see more MobDemo.

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AgePower Tech Search Opens Door To Technology Innovation for Global Age Wave

MINNEAPOLIS (July 22, 2013) – The “new normal” of a rapidly aging world needs new solutions, and the AgePower Tech Search seeks to find and help launch them. AgePower was introduced today by Ecumen, a Minnesota-based non-profit senior housing and services company, which serves more than 10,000 people, and MOJO Minnesota, an innovation cooperative and advocacy force working to fuel entrepreneurship and aculture of innovation. AgePower’s national advisory board can be viewed at

AgePower’s intent is to locate, reward and help launch new high- and low-tech technology and innovation that have a positive, near-term impact on the aging experience. AgePower ( open to start-ups, innovators and long-established companies globally. AgePower differs from “incubators” or “accelerators” in that its focus is on transforming the future of aging and providing real-life test environments, along with access to business and invention experts in key areas necessary to fueling a successful new venture.

Aging represents a global innovation opportunity. Today 900 million people in the world are over age 60. By 2050 that number will have grown to 2.4 billion. As World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan says, “Being in the older age group is becoming the ‘new normal’ for the world’s population.” It’s not just the sheer size of those numbers, but these demographic realities impact every aspect of living. The “new normal” of a rapidly aging world needs new solutions.

“Society has long looked at aging as a challenge, but it is one of the world’s great innovation opportunities,” said Kathryn Roberts, President and CEO of Ecumen. “From better coordinating health care services, to enhancing social connections, to making life easier and more fun, we believe the nexus of people and technology can open the door to new possibilities that improve lives and use resources better.”

Ernest Grumbles, a MOJO Agitator and one its co-founders, noted that “the aging demographic tidal wave is going to drive technology change at high speed.”

The AgePower Submission Process

AgePower will take submissions until Oct. 31 at A joint Ecumen and MOJO committee will select up to four technologies/companies to receive a six-month field trial among Ecumen clients, residents and employees. In addition, finalists will gain access to the expertise of leading business advisors, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, engineers, and others who comprise MOJO Minnesota.

This combination is designed to help expedite a move to market either through a company’s own investment, outside investment, acquisition by an investor or other means. In return, Ecumen and MOJO will receive a small equity stake to align interests with the tech innovators for market success and dispersion of new, life-enhancing technologies.

Test environments will include in-home settings, assisted living communities, Ecumen sites providing Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and clinical settings with short-term physical rehabilitation services and/or more intensive long-term care.

About Founding Partners

Ecumen (, headquartered in Shoreview, Minn., is a non-profit senior housing and services company, empowering individualsto live better, easier and more fun lives. It has served people for 150years, and operates a wide array of senior housing and services for its 10,000+ customers and develops and operates housing for third parties nationally. Contact: Eric Schubert, T. 651-766-4333,

MOJO Minnesota ( an innovation cooperative and advocacy force working to fuel entrepreneurship and reignite Minnesota’s culture of innovation. MOJO includes leading Minnesota entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business advisors and engineers passionate about creating jobs and economic growth through the power of Minnesota-based innovation-driven startups. Contact: Ernest Grumbles, MOJO Minnesota, 651-491-3643,

Padilla Speer Beardsley ( is a strategic communications firm with expertise in a broad range of sectors, including consumer products, agribusiness, manufacturing, technology, health care, medical device and financial services. Services include consumer and b-to-b marketing, investor relations, crisis management, creative, digital and social media, and research. Contact: Kirsten Lesak-Greenberg, Padilla Speer Beardsley, 612-455-1749,


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On Tuesday, March 12, MOJO Agitator Mary Meehan presented at the 2013 What’s Next Boomer Business Summit. Her presentation topic was “Global Trends Shaping The Boomer Market.”

Mary Meehan is the co-founder and CEO of Panoramix Global, a unique research consultancy designed to help companies understand an increasingly complex consumer living in an increasingly dynamic global marketplace.

You can view her presentation below:

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MOJO Minnesota, The Carlson School of Management, Drivetrain, and MHTA are proud to present Selling To Large Companies, the inaugural Enterprise School event. Minnesota’s got a lot of large companies; more than you’d expect for our population. We’ve also got an abundance of small, creative-class service businesses. This event is to help teach small companies how to earn large company business.

Enterprise School puts leaders from large Minnesota companies’ business-line and sourcing organizations in a room to talk about how they decide whom to work with, what makes a vendor credible, how they evaluate risk, and the mechanics of working with their sourcing systems.

Confirmed panelists and presenters come from Medtronic, Pearson VUE, UnitedHealth, and Thomson Reuters. Additional panelists to be announced as they’re confirmed.

For additional event details and to register ($10.00), click here.


The specific agenda is still being finalized, but is expected to be in three parts:

(1) A panel of business unit decision makers

(2) A set of lightning talks on the the how specific companies’ sourcing systems work

(3) A session on how to negotiate with big companies.

Confirmed Panelists and Presenters

Dan Grigsby, CEO at Drivetrain (Organizer)

Margaret Anderson Kelliher, President and CEO at Minnesota High Tech Association

Kevin Oakman Director, Enterprise Sourcing at UnitedHealth Group at United Healthcare

Clarke Porter, Vice President & General Manager, Credential Management at Pearson VUE

Mike Ryan, Senior IT Director at Medtronic

Debra Thill Sevelius, Vice President Sourcing at Thomson Reuters

Additional panelists will be announced as they’re confirmed. Stay tuned by following @MOJOmn on Twitter and checking back right here on the MOJO Blog for updates.


Hanson Hall
Carlson School of Management
1925 4th Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455  

What are you waiting for? Register today!

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The U.S. Small Business Administration will host a series of webinars in recognition of the seventh annual National Entrepreneurship Week: February 16-23, 2012. The emphasis will be on how the next generation of small business owners can leverage crowdfunding as an alternative finance option to start and grow their businesses. 

WHEN: February 19-21, 2013, daily at 3:00 p.m. (ET)
WHO: Webinar topics and presenters listed below.

To register for the following webinars, visit the MOJO Events Calendar.


Topic: Crowdfunding – Pros and Cons
Tuesday, February 19 at 2:00 p.m.
Jay Goth, Business Consultant
TriTech Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

Topic: Crowdfunding Innovation
Wednesday, February 20 at 2:00 p.m.
Kevin Lehman, CEO and Co-Founder
Three Revolutions 

Topic:  Kickstarting an Urban Farm
Thursday, February 21 at 2:00 p.m.
Ryan Finch, General Manager
Raleigh City Farm

photo credit: eveos via photopin cc

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We would like to introduce you to Kelly Henry, the newest addition to our MOJO Agitator team. Kelly cares deeply about the Twin Cities community and is passionate about early-stage companies. Kelly came to MOJO in the spring of 2011 as an intern and has remained involved in supporting our mission to bring Minnesota’s rich innovation heritage back into national prominence. She is impressed by how MOJO “effectively supports innovation in Minnesota with little or no budget.”

When asked what she enjoys most about working with MOJO Minnesota, Kelly replied, “I enjoy the diverse and creative group of people MOJO brings together.”  She is excited about becoming an Agitator and continuing to support the entrepreneurial community in Minnesota.

Kelly specializes in refining ideas and making ideas become a reality. She is currently working at The Learning Bank, a Minneapolis-based startup. Kelly received her BA from Bates College and her MBA from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management.


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2013 Is Upon Us


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What time is it? It’s time to get you pumped up about what’s in store for 2013. To do so, here is a recap of a dynamic year in 2012 in which MOJO sponsored:

  • MOJO Mixers: We hosted two speed-dating and mentoring events for local entrepreneurs.
  • Ecumen Partnership: We created an “aging power” technology business award contest in partnership with Ecumen. This is set to launch next January!
  • Launched the MOJO Monthly eNewsletter: We started to grow our MOJO community. Don’t forget to sign-up!
  • Active Leadership in Regional Business Plan and VDO Initiative: We look forward to continuing our active leadership role in the community in 2013.

Amazingly enough, this was all accomplished with no budget, just a group of dedicated folks like yourselves with a deep commitment to innovation in Minnesota. Thank you for your support and contributions to our MOJO Minnesota community . Get ready for another successful year and let the MOJO flow!
photo credit: poolie via photopin cc

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Federal Credit Extended AND Minnesota Taxpayers Don’t Need Tax Liability to Get Cash Back!

A guest blog post by Scott Schmidt of the Black Line Group.

As they have done consistently since 1981, Congress passed legislation as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extending the federal Research & Development tax credit. The new law extends the incentive retroactively back to January, 1st of 2012 and through December 31, 2013. This is the fifteenth extension of the credit since its inception. The new federal legislation also includes minor modifications around the rules for acquisitions and controlled groups.

This is a double win for Minnesota taxpayers. The State of Minnesota also has an R&D Tax Credit for qualifying expenditures taking place within the state (the definition of R&D for the MN State Credit is the same as for federal). What many companies do not realize about the MN State R&D Tax Credit is that it is refundable! This means that even if you can’t use the credits, whether it’s because of no corporate tax liability or due to Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) limitations commonly experienced by shareholders of S corps, you can request a refund from the state. This is immediate cash that can be very beneficial, especially for early-stage companies where much/most everything taking place is R&D and/or for companies that are investing back into their business in order to compete more effectively.

Minnesota companies make two big mistakes when considering (or not considering) the R&D Tax Credit for tax planning.

  • Because they don’t realize how broad the definition of Research and Development (“R&D”) is for tax purposes, Minnesota-based manufacturing and technology companies of all types often mistakenly assume that they do not qualify for the federal or Minnesota State R&D Tax Credits.
  • The other big mistake that many companies make is that they assume they cannot immediately benefit because they don’t have a current tax liability or because shareholders are limited by the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).

This is not true for Minnesota Companies!

No matter the age of your company, this is great news that can potentially enhance the bottom line for all manner of manufacturing and technology related companies because the tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of a company’s/shareholder’s tax liability. What qualifies as research and development (R&D) is much broader than commonly realized. Activities and costs associated with developing or improving a product and/or process can potentially generate R&D tax credits. Manufacturers of all kinds including those that design and develop their own products, as well as those (i.e. “job shops/contract manufacturers”) that make parts for their OEM customers, are often unknowingly engaged in research and development. Metal stampers and fabricators, precision machinists, mold builders and plastic injection molders, and tool and die-makers are examples of industries that are regularly eligible for the tax credit, but often don’t pursue the credit because they don’t understand that many of their day-to-day activities DO qualify as R&D.  Significant R&D also routinely takes place in software development, medical device and other technology companies, and these organizations may also benefit from the tax incentive.

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

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