Launching and Growing Impact-Driven Businesses: With Connie Rutledge, CEO of FINNOVATION Labs

Dec 03, 2020

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

James Baldwin

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There has been a growing ecosystem to support social entrepreneurs and social businesses in the U.S and beyond.  What does this support system look like?  What resources are available for those who are wanting to launch or scale their social enterprise?  Today we talk with Connie Rutledge, CEO of FINNOVATION Lab. FINNOVATION Lab launched in 2017 to empower and support professionals and entrepreneurs who use business to address environmental, economic, and social issues.   It champions changemakers in the community who believe in solving systemic social problems through the power of business.

 In our conversation we:

  • Learn about Connie’s experience in the entrepreneurial, venture capital and social business spaces.  And how she brings her lens on the world to try to understand our inequalities between gender, race and class.  How can we harness the power of the market to be a positive force for change?
  • Hear about how FINNOVATION Lab began as the brainchild of Jackie Berglund, founder of Finnegans Brewery, one of the longest running social enterprises in the state of Minnesota.  She developed FINNOVATION Lab out of the desire to create the resources and support for social entrepreneurs that she wished she had 20 years ago.
  • Understand the goals of the 9-month  FINNOVATION fellowship program geared towards social entrepreneurs in the idea phase of a social venture.
  • Learn about the new mastermind program launching in January 2021 for impact-driven CEOS that want to scale; Social Business Collective.  Stephanie (Genuine Impact) is teaming up with FINNOVATION Lab to provide this program for social impact businesses that are growing with leaders that want to connect with peers, get advice, and learn more on important topics.  
  • Hear about how a mastermind group can be a key ingredient to build accountability, community and be a catalyst for growth. 


Finnovation Lab

Social Business Collective


About Connie:

Connie Rutledge is a leader in the Twin Cities community of entrepreneurs. With over 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship and business management, her expertise ranges from concept design, market analysis, and fundraising to product development, operations, and strategic partnerships. Her passion is supporting innovators with practical advice and strategic analysis so they can recognize their vision in a socially and financially sustainable way.

Connie has developed and taught courses in entrepreneurship for the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the University of Minnesota. She also coordinated the Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire, attracting over 5000 makers, artists, and curious families every year.  She holds a BA in sociology from the University of Tulsa and an MPA from the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota.

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