LABS Pre-Accelerator: Fall 2018


2017 Impact Report

Learn More!

You have an awesome idea – maybe you even have a few customers or the beginnings of a company ... what now?


We are now accepting applications for the first Duluth LABS cohort!

You might have an idea, a vision, a belief in what you can build. But how do get there? What are the first steps? How can you make sure you tackle startup challenges effectively -- so you reach your opportunity?

Creative Startups LABS Duluth is for Minnesota entrepreneurs taking their first steps in building a new creative venture. During the intensive four-week program, participants will focus on:

  • ensuring your product meets a market demand,
  • identifying a market entry strategy,
  • pursuing early customers,
  • creating a minimum viable product.

Concepts including customer discovery and development, business formation and structures, cash flow projections, and creating a sales pipeline are covered. Startups will meet in person to work with Creative Startups faculty, mentors, and market leaders.

Important Dates

  • Applications Close: November 4th, 2018 Deadline extented!  Open until November 6th at Midnight.
  • Onboarding: Week of November 19th
  • Classes: November 26th - December 19th, Monday and Wednesdays, 5:30-8pm

The participation fee for the LABS program in Duluth will be $125. This fee is waived if participants provide a 1-2 page letter of recommendation from a community leader, non-profit organization or business leader that is active in the creative economy. Letters of recommendation should be sent to Olaf at okuhlke@d.umn.edu.



Want to learn more?

Check our LABS page for more details on the program. Follow us at - Creative Startups Duluth to stay updated about upcoming informations sessions.


Duluth Partners - Leadership Team

Creative Startups was brought to Duluth through a dynamic cooperation between the University of Minnesota’s Duluth (UMD) and Minneapolis (UMTC) campuses and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. Dedicated to the vision of becoming a hub of creative and cultural entrepreneurship that drives economic development across Minnesota and the Midwest, the mission of the leadership team is to launch creative businesses that strengthen the economic diversity of Minnesota's community.

Community partners include the American Indian Community Housing Organization, the Family Freedom Center, Fathers Rise Together, Integrative Re-Sources, and the Northland and the McKnight Foundations.


ChaQuana McEntyre

Kami Norland

Lars Kuehnow

ChaQuana McEntyre - Fathers Rise Together

ChaQuana has dedicated her life to acquiring experience around passionate and purposeful people strategy which has accumulated in the launch of Fathers Rise Together. ChaQuana is an author, speaker, facilitator and entrepreneur.

ChaQuana obtained her bachelor's and master’s degree in social work with a focus on child protection services and clinical social work. She earned her Master's at University of Minnesota-Duluth. ChaQuana was also employed as a contract worker where she worked as a Cultural Specialist Family Group Decision Making Facilitator and Safety Planner. ChaQuana currently is employed full time as a child protection social worker.

ChaQuana is uniquely positioned to impact a community productivity and

long term success, with her powerful vision of bridging purpose into the father’s role to promote healthy, productive and meaningful relationships with their children and community.

Kami Norland - Integrative Re-Sources

Integrative Re-Sources CEO Kami Norland is a national and international speaker and facilitator. She has developed countless community engagement programs and wellness initiatives across the nation, has guided several state and federal health policies, and has contributed years of expertise in translating the biopsychosocial and cultural value of health into practical, economic strategies.Being intentional about our health and aligning our values with actions simply, makes -- cents. As a cultural entrepreneur herself, she understands how stressful it can be to start and grow a business. Her expertise will be shared to help this region’s creative entrepreneurs focus on their strongest asset- their health, and the health of their businesses. Integrative Re-Sources is proud to partner with Creative Startups and the fellow Duluth leadership team to enhance the vitality and economic strength of the region.

Lars Kuehnow - Duluth LISC

In my work, my passion is to see people and enterprises grow. Outside of work, my passion is all things creative with a particular passion for the visual arts. The crossover for me, is working with, helping creatives find an economically sustainable path. My job as a LISC Program Officer, is to help people find a path, working with others, to building their family income and wealth, and to help people build their enterprises. When I’m not working, my passion is visual art. Creative expression is very important to me, it helps me interpret the world. My medium is mixed media, generally not representative of anything other than my interpretation. I enjoy the freedom of creating without expectation, letting the process determine the outcome.

LeAnn Littlewolf

Olaf Kuhlke

Xavier Bell

LeAnn Littlewolf - AICHO

LeAnn Littlewolf, Economic Development Director, works at the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) to create social enterprise startups focused on Indigenous art, food, and housing. LeAnn has provided development expertise for regional and statewide organizations with over 25 years of nonprofit organizational experience. She designed and developed a start-up nonprofit organization focused on American Indian youth leadership and developed innovative programming for trafficked and homeless youth, Native community and policy advocacy. LeAnn is Anishinaabe from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. LeAnn holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education, a Master’s degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership, and a Master’s degree in Education. AICHO is a nonprofit agency that works to turn oppression into opportunity with a mission to honor the resiliency of Indigenous people by strengthening communities and centering Indigenous values in all aspects of our work.

Olaf Kuhlke - University of Minnesota Duluth

Dr. Olaf Kuhlke has been on the faculty of the University of Minnesota, on the Duluth campus, since 2002, and currently serves as the Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. As a geographer, he has done research on a diverse array of topics including international migration, cultural festivals and their economic significance for communities, the place of national identity in popular music and the role of religion in shaping our public spaces. More recently, he has become an advocate for entrepreneurship in the liberal arts. He is one of the founders of the B.A. Program in Cultural Entrepreneurship at UMD and has extensively written about the foundations of this new form of entrepreneurship emerging out of the liberal arts. In 2019, he will be spending time in the Canadian Arctic and Northern Alaska, working with a research team and Inuit communities to implement digital media training programs in remote Arctic Communities.

Xavier Bell - The Family Freedom Center

Xavier Bell is the Executive Director/ Founder of the Family Freedom Center. The Family Freedom Center seeks to Engage, Educate and Empower the Black community by reconstructing socio-cultural narratives and unapologetically embracing what it means to be Black, both historically and present day. Prior to the Family Freedom Center (X) worked for Community Action Duluth as Director of Community/Civic Engagement - Circles of Support Program Manager - Volunteer Coordinator. Other current and previous positions include: Stanislaus County Juvenile Hall Chaplain - Youth Guidance Director - Youth Outreach Director . Business Owner/General Contractor for SWAG: Race Awareness Workshop. Designer/Author:  Intersection of Poverty, Race and Class Community Initiatives Development. Minnesota Circles of Support Poverty Initiative Coordinator. Public Policy Advocate for Circles of Support - Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020. Community Advocate - Big View - Solutions to End Poverty Forums. Educational Background: Certification of Ordination - Non-Denominational Faith Tradition, Laney College-Oakland, CA. The Family Freedom Center is proud to partner with Creative Startups team!