Pillsbury pancakes
Nov 15, 2013 • By

Tasty new division spices up Minnesota Cup competition

Minneapolis’ Mill City Museum – near the banks of the Mississippi, where the history of Minnesota’s flour milling industry began – was a fitting backdrop for last night’s announcement of a new Food, Agriculture and Beverage division for the 2014 Minnesota Cup competition.

The annual Minnesota Cup is the largest statewide new venture competition in the nation and was created ten years ago to support and accelerate the development of the best breakthrough ideas from across Minnesota.

Minnesota Cup

Minnesota Cup also announced a bigger pot of total prize money – $300,000 – for the 2014 winners.

The competition will open for entries in March 2014 and last night’s kick-off party brought together past and future Minnesota Cup participants to network and experience fun and engaging exhibits (with samples!) from local food, agriculture and beverage entrepreneurs.

301, Inc., a new business development division at General Mills, is the lead sponsor for the newly created Food, Agriculture and Beverage division.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Minnesota Cup to create this new division and to generate even greater opportunities for entrepreneurial discovery and advancement in the strong local food, agriculture and beverage industries,” said John Haugen, vice president of new business development for General Mills.

John Haugen

“This competition gives us an opportunity to create deeper connections and relationships with the rich network of local food and business entrepreneurs who participate in the Minnesota Cup,” John said.

Here’s a portion of Haugen’s remarks at last night’s event:



Pete Speranza, operations business manager for 301, Inc., noted, “We’re working together with Minnesota Cup to recruit local judges, sponsors, and mentors to strengthen the network and ecosystem supporting the entrepreneurial community in Minnesota.”

Created in 2012, the 301, Inc. new business development division works to accelerate General Mills’ learning and innovation in new categories and business models outside our core business through partnerships with emerging businesses.

The 301, Inc. team attended the event to announce the new division and showcase Pillsbury Pancake Batter – an example of 301, Inc.’s work in action. Available in select stores across the Midwest, this refrigerated batter comes in a bottle and allows consumers to simply pour, flip and serve pancakes hot off the griddle.


301, Inc. functions similarly to a start-up company within General Mills and can build, launch and operate new businesses – such as the new Pillsbury Pancake Batter.

The name 301, Inc. is a nod to birthplace of innovation for Pillsbury – the original Pillsbury A Mill, which was located at 301 Main St. in Minneapolis.

The Food, Agriculture and Beverage division joins six other Minnesota Cup divisions: Energy/Clean Tech/Water; General; High Tech; Life Science/Health IT; Social Entrepreneur; and Student.

In the past, entrepreneurs with food ideas would have submitted them in the General category.

General Mills has been a general supporter of the Minnesota Cup competition for the past three years. Learn more about the Minnesota Cup at Breakthroughideas.org.