10 Minutes With Neal Tovsen, CTO, Consultant And Tech Community Supporter

Neal Tovsen

“10 Minutes With…” is a blog series where I get to promote old friends, friends of friends, new people I have met and those who are doing cool and interesting things in Minneapolis and St Paul, Minnesota and the Midwest. The title of the series originates from me being well known notorious for asking, “Hey, do you have 10 minutes for a quick call?” It’s never 10 minutes. It’s never a short call.

This edition is with Neal Tovsen… he is a long time coder, advisor, entrepreneur and volunteer. We briefly bumped into each other at Minnedemo during Twin Cities Startup Week but didn’t get a chance to get fully caught up. I start with some background (for you) questions and then to what I was wondering about with what he is doing now, learning more about “Fractional CTO” and where he has been hanging out.

What were your early days in technology like? Were you playing games, writing code?

I’ve always been fascinated by technology. My mother was a software engineer, and she taught me how to program in BASIC on an Apple III when I was about seven years old. But though I played games on computers and consoles, I really wasn’t particularly interested in computers through high school.

I went to Hamline University for physics and engineering, and I’d been using the early tools on the Internet for various things. But when the first Web browsers came out, I was hooked. I worked with the school to develop a new major around how people use technology, weaving elements of traditional computer science with things like mass/interpersonal communications, information technology, and other relevant majors. And the rest is history.

Tell me about your career so far… where have you been and what have you worked on?

The first dozen years or so of my career were in “enterprise” software engineering. I built software for companies like 3M, GE Power, Siemens, and other large corporations, both as an employee and as a consultant. My experience spans many industries, but much of what I did revolved round either industrial machine data networks (i.e. power grids, trucking fleets, etc) or how companies buy things (payments, procurement, supply chain, expense management, etc).

In 2009, I decided I wanted to try building my own product/company, and started what became TelemetryWeb, a cloud platform for industrial machine data and the Internet of Things. We had customers and revenue, but after three years we made the tough decision to shut it down. Even though we failed, it was an amazing experience. The tech start-up community taught me a ton about how products/businesses are created, changed the way I look at the world at a fundamental level, and connected me to a network of amazing people that I love to work with.

Almost immediately after we shut down TelemetryWeb, I co-founded Apruve, a payment platform for B2B e-commerce. I stepped away from the company in 2015 to focus on my family, but this was another amazing experience. I’m very grateful that my friends still work there and the company continues to grow.

My favorite part about being a tech nerd is that my skills are applicable to almost any company in almost any industry. So while I’ve developed deep subject matter expertise in some key industries, I’ve had the opportunity to gain experience across dozens of industries.

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10 Minutes With Nick Roseth, Tech Leader And Evangelist

I am very thankful for those who have been willing to take time to chat with me and this might be the one I have most looked forward to as I think this is a big moment for the Minnesota tech scene.

Nick Roseth has been working on a project called DocuMNtary and it debuts during Twin Cities Startup Week. We can’t seem to remember when we first met but have spent a good chunk of time together the past year on the Make It MSP regional tech hiring initiative, talking about DocuMNtary and sharing our thoughts on the Minneapolis tech and business scene.

One of our conversations we had 12 or whatever months ago included Nick asking me what I thought this project should look like and specifically how it could help recruiters. I gave a long rambling answer on the different things he could do.

Last week he gave me a sneak peek (and I should note I am a sponsor of the project and make a couple of brief appearances) and I sent him this text:

This… this is exactly what I was hoping for

Nick and his team nailed it.

I will post a link to the video here and likely do another blog post about how recruiters, hiring managers, CEO’s and others interested in promoting the Minnesota tech scene can use it.

Hey Nick… you are The Man.

And thank you for taking this on.

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10 Minutes With Nels Pederson, Co Founder And Coordinator Of Twin Cities Startup Week And Startup Entrepreneur

Next up on my series of chats is Nels Pederson who coordinates Twin Cities Startup Week. We are halfway through the week and I wanted to chat with him to talk about the growth of the Twin Cities tech community and Startup Week.

If you’re wondering about what this series is about click Ten Minutes With.

In part what we spoke about:

  • How Twin Cities Startup Week started
  • The growth from year 1 to year 3
  • The major events of the week
  • What it is like coordinating a lot of moving parts
  • Who some of the volunteers are
  • Fly In program (I am a sponsor)
  • Target Techstars
  • What’s next for Startup Week
  • How Nels sees the Minneapolis tech scene

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10 Minutes with Shannon Pritchett, Editor of SourceCon, Sourcer And Speaker

Next up on my series of chats is Shannon Pritchett, a long time sourcing and recruiting friend. Shannon is currently the Editor of SourceCon where I am speaking at in Anaheim in a few days (Fall 2016).

If your new to this series click Ten Minutes With to learn how this came about.

While most of the chats are going 45 - 60 minutes this one keeps with the name, 12:35 to be exact, as Shannon was busy getting SourceCon set up and I was off to another Twin Cities Startup Week event.

So with a few minutes to talk fast here is what we cover:

  • SourceCon setup
  • The origin of the SourceCon purple squirrel
  • Girls Who Code
  • SourceCon “welcome wagon”
  • Biggest SourceCon ever
  • Spring 2017 event => We Control The Robots
  • My lobbying for SourceCon Minneapolis
  • What new SourceCon attendees can expect
  • Shannon’s love of aviation

NOTE: for those attending the conference I mention my session is Thursday at 4 pm and it is at 3 pm. Let me say that again my session is Thursday at 3 pm.

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10 Minutes With Casey Allen, Startup Advisor And Investor

Years ago… oh damn it’s already 10 years ago (click Ten Minutes With), I had an idea that I wanted to “interview” people who are smart, have cool ideas, are people I know (or are friends of friends) that my other friends should get to know. One part share ideas and one part introduce friends to friends.

Think hanging out at a coffee shop with a friend and being able to record the conversation. Because so many times I have walked away from such a conversation and thought, damn… I wish I had written “that thing” down.

I mentioned this to Casey Allen a couple of months ago and he said:

Great, when are you going to start doing this?

I said:


A couple of weeks went by and he asked again. And then a couple of weeks ago he asked again.

I was getting annoyed with him but angry with me for not doing it.

So I asked Casey if he would be willing to be the first one and he said yes.

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Ten Minutes With Julia Strom










As a student at the University of Minnesota to today as a recruiter and entrepreneur I have been very fortunate to meet some very smart people. They may be in academia, public service, business, or politics. Some of them have been street smart. Some have just figured it out by themselves, trial and error.


But there is one person that has made a huge impact on who I am as a person and she had never been in the headlines, never went to college, did not go to high school, or rarely ventured from her small town in west central Minnesota.


Julia Strom is my Grandma. By far one of if not the coolest, smartest, warmest, and funny, caring person I have ever known. A star to a lot of people.


All I want for Christmas this year is ten more minutes with her.


Grandma would have turned 87 last week. She passed away September 10th with my mom, brother, and many of my cousins at her side. She passed peacefully that evening. In the days prior to her passing she was speaking of her brothers and sister, her mom and dad. How she wanted to go home.


I had seen her the weekend before. She knew I was there. I told her I loved her. But I wanted one more chance.


Unfortunately I was on my way back to Minneapolis from the weekend in San Francisco and the Gopher game. That whole weekend I kept asking that she hold on just a little longer. I wanted to see her one last time. 10 more minutes, that’s all I wanted.


What kind of impact did Grandma have? Well for starters she had 3 children, 10 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren, and 2 great great grandchildren. Two of who carry her name, Julia.


She had a thing, a gift, for being one of those people you wanted to be around. Everyone she came in contact with was fond of her. After being around her you felt better.


She loved to laugh and tell stories. She spent many hours with her gardens and flowers. She made the best apple pie. She tried a few times to teach me. It did not go well. Fortunately for me my mom has the knack for it too so maybe one day I can learn the fine art.


A few years ago I said, “Grandma, you sure have seen a lot”. This started a long conversation about how for better and worse the world has changed, about technology changing how we do things, how we do our daily lives.


“Except”, she said, “at the end of the day it’s all about people. That never changes. Taking care of those important to you.”


Best bit of advice I have ever heard.


I look forward to using this “Ten Minutes With” and interviewing leaders in our community about the things they are working on and topics of the day.


But I dearly miss the smartest person I have ever known.

Ten Minutes With

With 2007 right around the corner it is time for me to start this initiative. I am going to be asking questions of entrepreneurs, politicians, nonprofit leaders, and those in the business community about things that impact employment, educating the labor force, new initiatives, and growing the regional economy.


Spotlights on entrepreneurs will be a big part of this too. The new things they are working. Small companies that are growing too.


Bloggers in our area that are writing interesting content as well as the recruiting bloggers from around the country.


For the most part asking questions that I wish someone else would have and to introduce those who have not yet been written about in more mainstream media.


If you have a person, company, topic, or blogger you find interesting or would like to know more about please send me an email, paul@mnheadhunter.com.