MN Cup Update

MN Cup’s 2015 Grand Prize Winner goes head-to-head with design industry giant

By Melissa Kjolsing

Last September, local startup Astro HQ won the MN Cup Grand prize and walked away with $80K in cash. Its app Astropad turns the iPad into a professional graphics tablet for Mac, and the app has been gaining traction in the art community. Astropad 2.0 was recently unveiled — a sleek new software update available for free to existing Astropad users.

The update comes just in time, as Astropad has positioned itself head-on against design industry leader Wacom. Wacom makes and sells hardware for artists, including the Cintiq tablet that has been the graphics industry standard for years. But in the wake of Apple’s announcement of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil last fall, Astropad found a way to cut into Wacom’s market share and eliminate the need for expensive graphics hardware. Now, you can get the same creative experience using Astropad on an iPad Pro. All sorts of artists — from professional animators to entire creative agencies — are making the switch from Wacom tablets to Astropad.

The success has allowed Astro HQ to expand its team (hiring former MN Cup intern Savannah Reising for marketing) and explore foreign markets. Along with the release of Astropad 2.0, the company is also focusing efforts on Japan, where a growing number of manga and anime artists are using Astropad. The updated software is now available in Japanese to accommodate this market.

In the update, users can expect to notice a revamp of the system’s core technology, allowing it to run three times faster with massively reduced pixelation. Other features include a refined pressure curve and enhanced compatibility with other Mac software. For more information, check out Astropad’s official website.

MN Cup Team


Melissa Kjolsing is the director of the Minnesota Cup, an annual entrepreneur competition at the University of Minnesota.