In the aftermath of the first winter storm of the season, an overflow crowd of hearty Minnesotans packed into the community room at Common Roots Café in Minneapolis for the second installment of the Merge Meetup. With the temperature outside plummeting, the conversation inside was vigorous, the ideas were flowing, old friends reconnected, and many new connections were made. Warm thanks to all who joined the festivities!

The creative business energy was high among this group. Self proclaimed “marketing guy,” Jeff Coffey shared his new business concept for a web app designed to facilitate communication between classroom teachers and parents. Garrick Van Buren gave us an update on his many entrepreneurial ventures including the amazing Kernest, a tool which enables designers to use an array of typefaces for web design. Dan Carroll is on his way to the Small Business Administration this week to discuss funding for several new business concepts he is developing.

I was struck by the high number of attendees who had been laid off in the last 6-12 months, and their presence helped steer the conversation in the direction of redirecting and rebuilding a career as a creative professional. Many in the group were clearly looking to build their network and share their experiences.

Designer, Jennifer O’Brien, asked if anyone had experience in the area of product licensing (something I wrote about in this May 27 post). The obvious hunger for more information on this and other business topics may inspire the future evolution of the Merge Meetup.

I am continuing to consider how these gatherings of designers and creative professionals around the topic of entrepreneurship might happen. Stay tuned for more announcements soon. In the meantime, here is a list of links for networking ideas and resources taken from my notes from Merge Meetup, Volume 2:

Mastermind Groups were suggested by Wendy Ruyle of 5by5 Design
AIGA Minnesota
Minnesota Interactive Media Association (MIMA)
AdFed Minnesota
Social Media Breakfast: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Gail Rosenblum’s column about “co-working” at Crema Cafe
Twin Cities Startup Meetup
Likemind MIN (at Espresso Royale)
7 Degree Creativ networking group
Garrick Van Buren’s Cold Start podcast
SCORE Minneapolis
Women Venture
Small Business Administration Minnesota
University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business