A Med City startup took home the top prize of $50,000 on Monday night at Minnesota’s most popular business competition, the MN Cup.
Nanodropper, which makes and sells a precision eye drop bottle adapter, pitched and won first place at the largest statewide business pitch competition in the country. In the contest's 16 years, it is the first company from the student division to win the grand prize.
“We have learned so much throughout this process. Minnesota has been a strong supporter of Nanodropper since the day we moved our HQ to Rochester, but the MN Cup process has allowed us to gain an even stronger network to tap into within the Minnesota entrepreneurial community,” stated co-founder and CEO Allisa Song in the announcement of the victory.
Song is a Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine student, which is why the company competed in the student division. The $50,000 prize is in addition to the $25,000 Nanodropper was awarded for winning the student category.
The product, which fits most eye medicine bottles, started after Song read how eye droppers squirt more liquid that an eye can hold. That results in expensive waste and frustrated patients. Nanodropper allows patients to get more useful drops of medicine out of a bottle without waste.
Song founded the company in 2017 while at the University of Washington with Elias Baker, Jennifer Steger and Mackenzie Andrews. They developed the precision eye dropper and soon found success in several business start-up competitions, like Mayo Clinic’s Walleye Tank.
Rochester Economic Development, Inc. has supported Nanodropper through the Collider Coworking/Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator collaborative in the Minnesota BioBusiness Center. Nanodropper also is a Rochester Economic Development Fund investment recipient.
While the company moved to Rochester as Song pursued her education, she has voiced a commitment to the city. In June 2020, she replied to a question about the firm’s future growth by saying, “And we’ll do it from here. We like it here.”
Two other Rochester companies also won their divisions and competed for the grand prize. Canomiks won in the Food/Ag/Bev division and Shrpa took the High-Tech division. CASP Technologies also placed as a runner-up in the Youth division.
This is the second Rochester firm to win the top MN Cup prize. Muve, which made a wearable activity monitor, won the grand prize in 2007.