Meda $1 Million Challenge

Meda’s CEO Gary Cunningham (front row middle) and Pat Mahoney of Chase (to the left of Cunningham) with the winners of Meda’s $1 Million Challenge Powered by Chase. 

Nine ethnic-minority business owners from across the country competed in the finals event for Meda’s $1 Million Challenge Powered by Chase at the Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) Studios in St. Paul.

A total of $1.475 million in financing was awarded to HabitAware, St. Louis Park, Ilerasoft, Chicago, Vemos, Minneapolis, Cytilife, Minneapolis, Mobility 4 All, St. Paul, PopCom, Columbus, Ohio, LegacyArmour, Minneapolis, SquarePac, Austell, Ga. And Virtue Analytics Inc., Woodbury.

HabitAware offers wearable technology that helps people with body-focused repetitive behaviors, such as compulsive hair pulling or nail biting, take control of their condition. It was awarded $400,000 in financing.

Ilerasoft provides a software solution that aids hospitals in optimizing their medical equipment utilization by improving their capital planning and budgeting. It was awarded $200,000 in financing.

Vemos enables hospitality venues to manage, understand, and grow their business from a single dashboard. It was awarded $200,000 in financing.

Cytilife provides the Smart Campus platform to help students and college administrators make data-driven decisions to help reduce college dropouts. It was awarded $125,000 in financing.

Mobility 4 All is a ride hailing service for seniors and people with disabilities. It was awarded $125,000 in financing.

PopCom, makes vending machines and kiosks "smart" with software and artificial intelligence capabilities at the point-of-sale. It was awarded $125,000 in financing.

LegacyArmour is a secure online asset protection platform to organize information in encrypted vaults that is automatically delivered to designated recipients on a scheduled date or life event. It was awarded $100,000 in financing.

SquarePac uses design and metal fabrication expertise to create solutions that help clients maximize space, reduce freight, save money and promote safety. It was awarded $100,000 in financing.

Virtue Analytics Inc. provides an eEnrollment Management platform that allows educational institutions to leverage the power of machine learning and predictive modeling to make better decisions across the admissions process. It was awarded $100,000 in financing.

The challenge was held by the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda), one of the nation’s top minority business development agencies and headquartered in North Minneapolis, and the City of Saint Paul. Chase was the presenting event sponsor.

“We are very excited to award more than a million dollars in financing to all nine companies,” said Gary Cunningham, president and CEO of Meda. “The competition was stiff for the top prizes, but these companies rose to the challenge, and we look forward to seeing how they all leverage this investment in their businesses.”

Coinciding with the finals event, Chase announced an additional $250,000 investment to the initial $1 million Program Related Investment from the NEXT Fund for Innovation. After the judging, an additional $225,000 investment from Meda was announced, bringing the total amount of financing awarded to $1.475 million.

“We know the importance of investing in minority-owned small businesses, so increasing Chase’s commitment in this program was the easy decision,” said Gavin Borowiak, managing director at Chase. “Selecting the top winners from among these creative, innovative, passionate entrepreneurs – now that was hard. We congratulate all the participants and can’t wait to see the positive impact their work will have on their lives, business, and communities.”

In all, more than 200 businesses across the country applied to participate, and 19 semi-finalists competed.

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