Making up almost ten percent of the semifinalist field, companies with St. Thomas connections are staking their claim as some of the most promising entrepreneurial companies in Minnesota. Almost 1300 people entered this year’s Minnesota Cup, with 70 semifinalists announced this week, across seven categories. St. Thomas companies represent four of the divisions.

Three businesses started by UST alumni made the semifinals of the Food/Agriculture/Beverage division:

  • Alexander French ’11, is behind the cold-press coffee startup Bizzy Coffee. French is a judge in the Entrepreneurship 200 Lemonade Stand class and is a speaker at Entrepreneurship Society events.
  • Andrew Kincheloe ’12, founded Buddy’s Nut Butters three years ago. His three flavors of peanut butter can be found at all Twin Cities co-ops, Lunds and Byerlys, Kowalski’s and more. Buddy’s launched out of the Schulze Hall Business Development Offices.
  • Sue Marshall ‘14 MSRE, entered the 2014 Fowler Business Concept Challenge with NetZro, an infrared dryer of waste materials. She won the Social Venture division of the competition, before moving her company forward in the Cleantech Open Midwest.

The High Tech division has a Tommie startup looking to impact rideshare drivers:

  • Vugo is led by a team of Tommies: James Bellefeuille ’11 and Rob Flessner ’10 M.B.A. The rideshare advertising company aims to place meaningful advertisements in vehicles, while earning drivers more money.

The Life Science/Health IT division features a William C. Norris Institute portfolio company:

  • Fixx Orthopedics received a Norris investment for its bone fracture fixation system that provides physicians and patients with a more stable, comfortable and convenient method to temporarily stabilize long-bone fractures in emergency rooms.

The Student division highlights a standout company that wants to bring a party to a lake near you… for a lot of your friends:

  • Unique Pontoons won the 2014 Fowler Business Concept Challenge undergraduate division, then went on to win the Grand Prize at the Minnesota Inventors Congress 2015 Innovation Expo. Entrepreneur Jeremy Little received a Norris investment for his expandable pontoon boat, which is headquartered in the Business Development Offices.


In the previous ten Minnesota Cups, St. Thomas-related companies have been semi-finalists at least 11 times. This year’s six semifinalists beats the university’s previous record of five, from 2011. The school has had three division winners.

For more information on the Minnesota Cup, click here.

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