Operated out of the top floor of an old Duluth mansion, startup MC-Cubed is juggling numerous projects.
CEO Nathan Lipinski started the company just a few years ago. Now, the company is developing and launching various community-based technology projects — all to better connect people.
One of these apps is for an assisted living facility in the Twin Cities. Residents will use the app to make payments, receive notifications for packages and more.
There’s potential for the app to spread to other facilities, as the code that runs the app can be copied and altered to fit new communities.
Another app, one of its first ventures called Platonic, may be implemented in the University of Minnesota system.
It’s an activity-driven app, where people can connect with others to partake in an activity — with the goal of forming friendships.
On campuses, users can make their own events. They plan to target freshmen, as most have recently moved away from home and are focusing on making relationships.
They’re also in contact with people on the West Coast who may fund the app, said Josh Helmer, an account executive with MC-Cubed.
“That could potentially be a game changer in the development of (that) application,” he said.
MC-Cubed is also working on a fashion app. Users upload photos of their outfit, and, much like Tinder, others can swipe to show approval or disapproval. This gives users instant feedback on how their outfit looks, Lipinski said,
But the app’s use goes beyond fashion feedback. MC-Cubed will build a database of clothing styles that can be used to target advertisements to its users.
Recently, the startup launched the Rainbow Rain clothing brand. RBR highlights inclusion and acceptance through its rainbow-styled apparel.
It sought to fund the new brand though Kickstarter, which failed a few weeks back. The funding, all $15,000 of it, would have supported the production of the shirts.
“Being an entrepreneur, I feel like failure is built into your DNA. But … as an entrepreneur, you just kind of learn to manage that,” he said. “If anything ... it's the sting of failure ... (that) motivates you.”
The RBR brand will be on the backburner for now, he said. Many projects take several years to get off the ground.
Lipinski’s been working on projects like these for several years. He first gained attention for developing StarShip, a device that monitors whether shipped items, like vaccines, are being stored at the proper temperatures. The project won him first place at the University of Minnesota Duluth's "Shark Tank" competition, according to News Tribune reporting.
There are only a few other startups in Duluth, which makes financing difficult as investors aren’t familiar with startup operations, Lipinski said. He often goes to bigger cities to pitch projects and obtain funding.
“We're persistent,” he said. “It's not all about the money. Being an entrepreneur, to me, is ... the pursuit of freedom and purpose.”
But being in a smaller city also presents opportunities, he said. He often gives guest lectures at UMD, during which he can recruit potential staff members and educate students on startups.
“In Minneapolis, I think it'd be a lot harder to get a startup recognized at a university level,” Lipinski said.
During Helmer’s 10 months at the company, he said he’s seen the business shift its focus to health care. The company has a medical background, as Lipinski was a former University of Minnesota medical school student.
He said the health care industry is very lucrative.
“Duluth right now is going through a big renovation in infrastructure advancement," Helmer said. "And the technology is going to have to scale as well.”