Beautiful Signs for a Better Planet

Green Dot Sign® is NOT a 2020 MN Cup Finalist, Bummer

But we learned a lot!

Green Dot Sign is not a MN Cup finalist. Not going to lie, it’s a bummer. A start-up grant would have gone a long way to accelerate our marketing, direct sales, and product development.

If you’re considering applying for next year’s competition for start-up businesses in Minnesota, you may be asking if it is worth the time and effort. Despite not being a finalist, we believe the MN Cup is worth it.  Below are three reasons we are glad Green Dot Sign competed in the 2020 MN Cup.

1. Our business plan and marketing strategy needed an overhaul

As Green Dot Sign® launched, in 2019, we wrote a (mediocre) business plan. Pieces of this version were used for our initial MN Cup submission.  However, upon making it to the General Division semi-finalist round, plan enhancements were needed. 

We realized that our marketing and sales were not working in the COVID environment or leading to significant revenue quickly enough.  To develop a new approach, we quantified the ADA office sign market by segment and analyzed opportunities and risks by target market. We then documented a comprehensive multi-pronged marketing approach.

Our revised business plan directly ties our marketing tactics to our financial plan. It is based on what we’ve learned in the last year, MN Cup mentor suggestions, and the current pandemic environment.  In the second half of 2020 we are confident that Green Dot Sign can execute our better business strategy and increase sales faster.  

The MN Cup process forced us to slow down, ignore the noise and really think through the steps needed for both short and long term growth. 

2. We got over our aversion to videos

Starting a small business involves early mornings and long nights, especially when focused on getting a task just right.  While we’ve known that YouTube videos could help Green Dot Sign® gain awareness, perfectionist tendencies got in the way. Prior to MN Cup creating videos, even short ones, seemed too daunting.

For the semi-finalist round, Green Dot Sign was required to submit a one minute video.  A summer intern worked on our video and it turned out great.  In just the few weeks since our MN Cup video was finalized, we have made several more videos and posted them on multiple social media channels.  We’ve been thrilled that our Pinterest impressions have tripled through our videos.

Being required to make a video for the MN Cup, forced us to get comfortable with this powerful format and post videos that are “good enough”.

3. In 2021 we’ll be stronger 

We anticipate Green Dot Sign will break-even in 2020. Even if our top line were twice as much we’d still just break even.  Launching a business and achieving our goal of making sustainable signage the product of choice for architects, interior designers, brands and building owners takes a lot of investment. 

Receiving a grant would really help, and in 2021 we plan to re-apply to be a part of the MN Cup.  Our experience this year, and forthcoming General Division judges’ feedback, will make our next application better.  

Reminded of the tough realities of competition, Green Dot Sign® will be better able to compete for start-up funding in the future.

Apply to be a part of the 2021 MN Cup

By participating in the MN Cup, you’ll evaluate your business plan, expand your comfort zone, and receive valuable support.  We were paired with two amazing mentors who focused Green Dot Sign’s marketing approach and provided connections. Additionally, MN Cup staff were insightful guides who explained competition expectations well and facilitated start-up networking.  Finally, we’ve had the opportunity to attend entrepreneur-focused webinars and received financial advice from qualified experts who donated their time.  

Register the for the on-line Final Award Ceremony on September 22, 2020 to learn more about start-ups and innovation in Minnesota.

If you are considering applying for the MN Cup, we recommend it. 

Chances are 1/1000 that you will win the grand prize, but 1/1 that you’ll get a return on your time investment. And, you’ll never know if you don’t try.