We are now just under six months into operations of Startup Sioux Falls. During that time, our primary efforts have been around content creation and building an online community for small business owners and startup founders in the Sioux Falls area. We’ve highlighted the stories of 16 ecosystem organizations and community groups. We’ve published 9 episodes of the Sioux Falls Startup Stories podcast and interviewed numerous community members live on Facebook. We have developed a media partnership with the Sioux Falls Business Journal and an events partnership with the Enterprise Institute. We’ve grown our online community of business owners to more than 6,200 people and our email list to more than 2,000 people.
I truly believe that Startup Sioux Falls can become an Emerging Prairie-like ecosystem organization that serves as the hub for entrepreneurial activity in our city. When someone asks, “How do I connect with entrepreneurs in our city?” The first answer will be “go and check out Startup Sioux Falls.” I don’t know exactly what the long-term vision of Startup Sioux Falls looks like, whether it becomes a standalone non-profit independent of MarketBeat or if it becomes part of the Chamber and the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship, but we’ve developed a healthy rhythm of content and community over the summer and now it’s time for us to do more.
Introducing the September Startup Social
Startup Sioux Falls is planning two major events this fall. The first event, our September Startup Social, will be a community gathering for small business owners and entrepreneurs at Queen City Bakery on Tuesday, September 17th at 4:00 PM. We’ll be doing a rapid-fire highlight of five ecosystem organizations that serve entrepreneurs in our community. We’ll have heavy appetizers and drinks at the event. The event is free to attend, but we do request that you register in advance on Eventbrite.
One of my goals for this event is to reach business owners that aren’t already engaged in other events like 1 Million Cups so that we can grow the size of our community and help more people achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. We’ll be doing some broadly-targeted Facebook ads and possibly some direct mail to reach a broader base of business owners and entrepreneurs for this event.
Startup Sioux Falls to Co-Host Innovation Expo
Startup Sioux Falls has also developed a new partnership with the Enterprise Institute on its annual Innovation Expo conference. Startup Sioux Falls is now a co-host of the event, and Innovation Expo will be the annual conference for Startup Sioux Falls moving forward. Tim Weelborg and I developed this partnership over the summer, and I’ve been working closely with him to select speakers and develop a schedule for the event. We’ll be looking at developing a new brand for the event next year and really rethinking the event from the ground up.
I do believe this will be a banner year from Innovation Expo because of the quality speaker line up we’ve developed. Some of our speakers regularly speak at large national startup conferences across the country, and I’m certain they will “deliver the goods.” Our venture capital speakers include Rob Walling from TinySeed, Thomas Smale from FE International and Kodee Furst from Annie Capital. Peter Chamberlain from WalkWise and Eric Weisser from Weisser Distributing will be speaking about their businesses as well. I’ll be leading a finance and venture capital panel as well.
Startup Sioux Falls Live
The other major development since my last update blog post was the launch of a live interview show on Facebook called Startup Sioux Falls Live. This isn’t a project that I initiated, but Startup Sioux Falls aims to be a “big tent” for the business community in Sioux Falls. If someone wants to do a project that helps small business owners in our community under the Startup Sioux Falls banner, I’m all for it. In this case, Clint Brown asked if he could interview members of our Facebook group, broadcast it on Facebook live, then publish the interviews as a podcast after the fact. Clint does two or three interviews each week over the noon hour in his downtown podcast studio. You can catch the latest episode of Startup Sioux Falls live on our Facebook group.
Other Future Plans
The mission of Startup Sioux Falls continues to be welcoming, encouraging and empowering people to take the next step toward financial freedom through the power of entrepreneurship. Since we are an organization that exists for the benefit and betterment of early-stage business owners, my hope is that everything we do will be in response to the needs of the community. I currently see educational needs around the steps of forming a new business entity, identifying venture capital sources, and developing scalable marketing strategies. I don’t know exactly how Startup Sioux Falls can address these needs, but they are topics of ongoing interest for my team and I.
Otherwise, I’ve been very happy with the quality and quantity of content we have produced so far and with the overall growth of the community. We’ll probably plan a couple more high-quality in-person events in the Spring and evaluate whether Startup Sioux Falls should continue to operate as part of MarketBeat for the foreseeable future or become a standalone non-profit.