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Minnestar: How it all began - with co-founders Ben Edwards and Luke Francl

by Maria Ploessl, Luke Francl, and Ben Edwards | 2:50 – 3:35 in Challenge | View Schedule

Join Minnestar Executive Director Maria Ploessl, Minnestar Co-Founders Ben Edwards and Luke Francl, and old friends as we take a deep dive into the nostalgia of the early years of Minnestar, Minnebar, and Minnedemo.

Whether you are new to Minnestar, or you were one of the 135 attendees at the first Minnebar in 2006, this will be a fun and exciting look at the last 13 years of this great community.

Can't wait for your nostalgia fix? Get started here: https://minnestar.org/vault-11-crowd-favorites-11-years-minnedemo/

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Maria Ploessl

Maria Ploessl serves as the first Executive Director of Minnestar, a nonprofit organization committed to building, nurturing and engaging those interested in technology through meaningful connection. In her role, she works to promote the strategic vision and growth of the organization, while developing events and experiences that bring the MN tech community together.

She is the Operations Chair for the TechnovationMN board of directors, supporting the great work in inspiring girls and nonbinary youth to make an impact in their community using technology. She also serves as a member of the Tech Steering Committee for Make. It. MSP, working on attraction and retention of tech talent to the region, and served as the Interim Board Co-Chair for Forge North, a coalition dedicated to making MN the problem-solving capital of the new economy.

She has over 10 years of program management, administration, and community engagement experience in the nonprofit and education sector. She is a former educator with Minneapolis Public Schools, and was selected as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Bragança, Brazil where she developed university-level educational programming and events.

Luke Francl

Luke was one of the co-founders of minnestar, the organization behind MinneBar and MinneDemo. He now lives in San Francisco, where he is a software engineer at GitHub, which makes software you hopefully use.

Ben Edwards

Ben is a catalyst to the various tech, design, and entrepreneur communities of which he is a part. He currently serves as Head of Community at Misty Robotics and was formerly Co-Founder of SmartThings, Minnestar, and Refactr. In addition, Ben is currently an Advisor at Great North Labs and a Board Member at Goodfolio, a non-profit based on the principles of effective giving.

Ben is particularly proud of his role in the genesis of the non-profit, Minnestar—fostering technology and startup activity in Minnesota since 2006.