10 Finalists Named in $1 Million Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurs Challenge and $30,000 in Cash Prizes Awarded

Seven Minnesota Businesses Make it to the Final Round

ST. PAUL, Minn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#MedaMillionDollar–Ethnic minority business owners from across the country competed in a
speed pitching event in St. Paul on Wednesday night as part of Twin
Cities Startup Week. Ten companies were selected to advance to the final
round and two were singled out to receive a total of $30,000 in cash
prizes. The challenge is being held by the Metropolitan Economic
Development Association (Meda), the top-performing minority business
development agency in the nation, and the City of Saint Paul. Chase is
the presenting event sponsor.

Wednesday’s top scoring entrant, HabitAware received a $15,000 cash
prize. The top woman-owned entrant, also HabitAware, received an
additional $10,000 in cash and $5,000 was awarded to runner up, Cytilife
Inc. A panel of 16 judges evaluated each company on its potential for
growth and success.

In all, more than 200 businesses applied to participate, and 19
semi-finalists competed. The following 10 companies were named as

  • Cytilife, Minneapolis, MN, provides the Smart Campus platform
    to help students and college administrators make data-driven decisions
    to help reduce college dropouts.
  • HabitAware, St. Louis Park, MN, has wearable technology that
    helps people with body-focused repetitive behaviors, such as
    compulsive hair pulling or nail biting, take control of their
  • Ilerasoft, Chicago, IL, provides a software solution that aids
    hospitals in optimizing their medical equipment utilization by
    improving their capital planning and budgeting.
  • LegacyArmour, Minneapolis, MN, is a secure online asset
    protection platform to organize important information in encrypted
    vaults that is automatically delivered to designated recipients on a
    scheduled date or life event.
  • Mobility 4 All, St. Paul, MN, is a kinder, gentler ride hailing
    service for seniors and people with disabilities.
  • PopCom, Columbus, OH, makes vending machines and kiosks “smart”
    with unprecedented software and artificial intelligence capabilities
    at the point-of-sale.
  • SquarePac, Austell, GA, uses design and metal fabrication
    expertise to create solutions that help clients maximize space, reduce
    freight, save money, and promote safety.
  • THOR Companies, Minneapolis, MN, is a turnkey real estate
    management company that balances intuition and science to build,
    transform and sustain healthy communities.
  • Vemos, Minneapolis, MN, enables hospitality venues to manage,
    understand, and grow their business from a single dashboard.
  • Virtue Analytics Inc., Woodbury, MN, provides an eEnrollment
    Management platform allows educational institutions to leverage the
    power of machine learning and predictive modeling to make better
    decisions across the admissions process.

The finalists will now participate in a “boot camp” offering investor
and industry feedback, mentorship, exposure and professional
connections. These finalists will return to St, Paul in January for the
final round, which will award up to $1 million dollars in financing.

Minority business owners have historically found it difficult to gain
access to capital. This type of funding often plays a big part in
determining the success or failure of the business. Studies have shown
that financial, human, and social capital, as well as racial
discrimination, are primarily responsible for disparities between
non-minority and minority businesses. Achieving parity is key to
significant U.S. economic growth, creating new jobs and raising wages in
economically disadvantaged communities. To help solve this dilemma and
bring attention to this issue, Meda, the City of Saint Paul, and Chase
are hosting this first-ever ethnic-minority Million Dollar Challenge.

About Meda
Meda was founded by a group of Minnesota business
leaders who saw minority business ownership as a positive, long-term
response to rising economic inequity within minority communities in our
state. Meda provides business development services, access to capital
and corporate and governmental market support for minority
entrepreneurs. Over the years, Meda has helped launch more than 500
minority businesses and assisted more than 20,000 Minnesota minority
entrepreneurs. Today, Meda clients employ 6,000 Minnesotans and have a
combined annual revenue of $1 billion. Meda operates a growing Community
Development Fund Institution (CDFI) that provides needed capital for
minority businesses to become sustainable. Meda is also the host
organization for the Minneapolis Minority Business Development Agency
(MBDA) Business Center, which has been recognized by the MBDA as the top
performing center three consecutive years. For more information, visit meda.net.

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:
JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of
$2.5 trillion and operations worldwide. The firm is a leader in
investment banking, financial services for consumers and small
businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and
asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average,
JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States
and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and
government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information
about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.


Andrew O’Leary, 612-259-6581


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