Phil Soran, Tekne, the Tekne Awards, MHTA, the Minnesota High Tech Association The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) is pleased to announce it will honor Phil Soran, one of Minnesota’s most prolific technology entrepreneurs, with a special Lifetime Achievement Award at its 22nd annual Tekne Awards celebration on November 20 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Phil started his professional career as a junior high math teacher.  He soon joined IBM as a systems engineer in Colorado and later Branch Manager in Minneapolis, but then got the entrepreneurial bug.  It was in the basement of his Eden Prairie home where Phil and two other partners co-founded XIOtech Corporation in 1995, developing a plan for next-generation data storage systems.  With a little bit of angel money, venture capital funding, and Phil’s leadership as CEO, the company successfully launched its storage area network (SAN) product and less than five years after its founding, XIOtech was purchased by Seagate for $360 million in January 2000.

After his non-compete agreement expired in 2002, it was back to the same basement for Phil and his two co-founders.  Over the course of a few months, they architected plans for a new automated storage area network company, Compellent Technologies.  Under Phil’s guidance and leadership as CEO, Compellent raised $53 million in venture capital funding over several rounds and the company’s products gained significant market traction with mid-sized companies in need of easy-to-use, affordable, data storage systems.  Compellent went public on the NYSE in 2007 and was ultimately acquired by Dell in February of 2011 for $960 million.

Phil and his wife, Margie, then turned their attention back to public education as engaged philanthropists, with inner city education and mental health initiatives benefiting not only from their financial generosity, but from their wisdom, guidance, and support as active board members.

But Phil was not done starting companies.  With two new talented operating executives at his side, Phil co-founded an education technology company called Vidku in late 2015.  Remarkably, Vidku raised $17 million in Series A funding in just 17 days and spun the technology platform out of the University of Minnesota.  After a change in product focus and name change to Flipgrid, the company grew considerably and soon had 20 million users in 180 countries, leading to the company’s acquisition by Microsoft in June of 2018 for an undisclosed cash sum.

Many tech entrepreneurs dream of launching one highly successful start-up – Phil has had three.  But the impact Phil Soran has had on the Twin Cities tech community extends well beyond his own entrepreneurial successes, as many of the team members he hired and developed at XIOtech, Compellent, and Flipgrid, have gone on to start and lead companies of their own.  His mentoring of other entrepreneurs over the years has had immeasurable impact, as Phil inspires others to pay their own successes forward.

Phil currently serves on the boards of Piper Jaffray, SPS Commerce, Spineology, Foodsby, and Great Minnesota Schools.  In addition, Phil serves as a Trustee for the University of Minnesota Foundation, the University of St. Thomas, and he and Margie continue to support high-impact nonprofit organizations throughout the Twin Cities.

The MHTA is proud to honor the remarkable career of Phil Soran with its Tekne Lifetime Achievement Award.  We hope you can join us on November 20th for this year’s Tekne Awards celebration as we not only honor Phil, but also recognize the innovations of 36 Minnesota companies competing for Tekne Awards in 12 categories.  Learn more and register at