Entrepreneurial Vision

Mary Grove
Mary Grove (courtesy photo)

I have an acute appreciation for the power of entrepreneurship to transform people’s lives and bring about positive change to communities. In 1970,  my  parents  immigrated to the U.S. in pursuit of better opportunities. They launched and ran a small business for 30 years, which gave my siblings and me a first-hand look at the challenges and rewards of the entrepreneurial life.

It was that belief in the power of owning your own business that drove my work at Google for 15 years. I was the director of Google for Entrepreneurs, which brought the best of Google’s technology, talent, and resources to startup ecosystems around the world. I worked alongside the team at Revolution, which is led by Steve Case, co-founder of America Online (AOL), a pioneer in making the internet part of everyday life.

Over the next four years, I was inspired by the team’s mission to invest in and grow startups outside of Silicon Valley. I joined the Revolution team in 2018 as an investment partner of a seed fund that champions entrepreneurs in regions often overlooked by coastal investors.

At that time in 2018, more than 75 percent of venture capital went to just three states: New York, California, and Massachusetts. Startups are the principal job creators in this country. The top-performing one percent of startups are responsible for roughly 40 percent of job creation each year.

My commitment with Revolution is to invest in entrepreneurs outside of traditional tech hubs.

In Minnesota, the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem has tremendous strengths — a concentration of Fortune 500 companies, strong universities that generate talent of all types, a major airport hub, a supportive community with a pay-it-forward mentality. These are all crucial ingredients for startup founders if they are to successfully scale their companies.

Currently Revolution backs six Minnesota-based companies through a program called Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund: 75F, Dispatch, Kidizen, POPS! Diabetes, Structural, and Vemos.

How to Strengthen Minnesota Entrepreneurs

  • If you are in government, advocate for policies and programs that support entrepreneurs and incentivize the  creation of new businesses.
  • If you are part of a large corporation, support up-and-coming startups through partnerships.
  • If you are in media, spotlight innovation happening in your region.
  • If you are making purchases, buy products that are locally made by the vast array of consumer startups in Minnesota. Every successful consumer business begins with a base of devoted customers, most of them local — many who know the founders personally, with a business that grows because of positive word of mouth.
  • If you are a budding entrepreneur, but uncertain about how to get started, start exploring the wealth of founder support services that exist in our backyard. The community tends to be welcoming, supportive, and experienced. Many founders remember what it was like when they were getting started and are eager to assist newcomers as they navigate the challenges of pitching, hiring, and funding.

I believe Minnesota’s supportive community is a key factor in the startup successes we see in the state today, and will continue to be instrumental in building the next big companies of tomorrow. As a Minneapolis-based investor, I am proud to be part of that story.

Mary Grove is the co-founder of Silicon North Stars, a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire young Minnesotans from economically underserved communities toward futures in technology. She earned her BA and MA from Stanford University, and lives in Minneapolis with her husband Steve and their two-year-old twins.

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