With the total train wreck that 2020 was behind us, there is a lot of reason for optimism in the air. More and more people are getting the COVID vaccine every day. Business has been good at MarketBeat and the Sioux Falls economy seems well despite the pandemic. Karine and I find great joy in parenting our children. Things are good right now, and we have little to complain about. While we are still in the middle of winter, it does feel like a season of “Spring” in our lives. There are also a lot of fun and exciting projects coming to fruition in Q1 of this year that I have had the opportunity to be involved with.
This post is my quarterly update for the first quarter of 2021. Here is what has been going on (in no particular order):
The Paulson Cyber Incubator at DSU
Karine and I have agreed to be the named sponsors for Dakota State University’s cyber incubator and entrepreneurial center. We have made a significant financial commitment to help this project become a reality and are excited to see the startups that come out of DSU over the next 5-10 years. DSU recently hired Katherine Cota as its director of economic development, who will run the center. The project is still in the very early stages but expect to hear more about it later in 2021.
The MarketBeat Burger
We designed a cheeseburger! Actually, we partnered with Lance and Jenny White from Chef Lance’s on Philips to enter DTSF’s annual burger battle. This project might seem a little bit off brand for me, but (A) it was a fun idea (B) who would not want to design their own cheeseburger given the opportunity? and (C) we’re raising money for Call to Freedom as part of the project.
The MarketBeat burger is available at Chef Lance’s through January 31st. They are open Tuesday-Saturday from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM for lunch and 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM for supper. Chef Lance’s is closed on Sundays and Mondays. When ordering the burger, you will be provided a link and a code that allows you to vote for the MarketBeat Burger in the 2021 burger battle. (Please be kind when voting?)
Leadership Sioux Falls
After being encouraged to apply for Leadership Sioux Falls nearly ten years ago, I decided 2020 was finally the time to participate in Leadership Sioux Falls. With every conference I would normally attend cancelled this year, I had no schedule conflicts that overlapped with Leadership Sioux Falls. It has been a great experience so far. I have had the opportunity to meet numerous upcoming leaders in our community and learn more about the city as well.
As part of the class, we have to complete a community service project. As a group, we decided to raise $100,000 for new playground equipment at Hayward Park. I was made aware of the opportunity by Steve Hildebrand, who runs a non-profit called the Promising Futures Fund. Steve will also be doing additional fundraising for other projects in the park. It sounds like there may be a great opportunity for a public-private partnership between the City of Sioux Falls and private donors to completely renovate the park. If we can pull it off, it will be a huge win for that neighborhood.
Startup Community Leadership
Startup Sioux Falls ended the year with two successful events. We held an office hours event that connected experienced business owners as mentors and new business owners as mentees. It was the type of thing that required a lot of coordinating and did not have that many people involved with it, but it was very impactful for those participating. We also held a non-profit pitch night and had more than 130 people on a Zoom call at 8:30 PM. We gave away $3,000 to the non-profits, with The Hurdle Life Foundation coming in first and The Transformation Project coming in second. We have yet to plan any Startup Sioux Falls events in the Spring just yet, but Zeal is starting their CoStarters accelerator program this month.
On another front, I have been helping Emerging Prairie and the Enterprise Institute organize a Founder’s Town Hall with Rep. Dusty Johnson (SD) and Rep. Kelly Armstrong (ND). The idea is to have a cross-ecosystem event where our two congressmen talk about the latest stimulus bill and answer questions from small business owners and startup founders. We’re still working on the final details, but you should expect to hear more about that event soon.
I have also agreed to participate on the cabinet for Forward Sioux Falls 2026. Forward Sioux Falls is essentially a volunteer tax for the Sioux Falls business community to fund economic development projects in our city. Some past projects that have come out of Forward Sioux Falls includes the Zeal Center, Foundation Park, and the USD Discovery District. Forward Sioux Falls fundraising will pick up in the Spring, so you may want to avoid my phone calls and emails during that time!
Finally, we are in the midst of planning our spring season for 1 Million Cups. We kick off with Prismatic, Michael Zuercher’s new startup, on January 27th. We will be meeting through the end of February online, but hope to move it back to being an in-person event as soon as it’s feasible.
Cresten Properties / Commercial Real Estate Investing
It has been a busy year for the team at Cresten Properties. We now own five apartment complexes in Sioux Falls and are planning on starting construction on two or three more this year. I purchased 50% of the Savers’ building on 41st street from Kevin Tupy. He and I purchased the David’s Bridal building in front of Savers in December. While we have long-term tenants in those two buildings now, it will create a redevelopment opportunity for 5 acres of prime land on 41st Street in Sioux Falls about a decade from now. Our new strip mall on 69th and Louise is under construction with Starbucks and Capriotti’s set to move in this Spring. We have a bunch of other projects in the works, but it is too early to talk about them. We plan on making a big dent in the Sioux Falls commercial real estate market, and you will start to see that in 2021.
There is not much new to report at MarketBeat, but business has been good. Really good. Like other online media businesses, 2020 was a banner year for MarketBeat. Between renewed interest in the stock market as a result of the pandemic and internal growth initiatives, MarketBeat’s gross revenue increased by more than 90% compared to 2019. I finally achieved my long-term goal of running a $10+ million/year business with fewer than 10 people (we have nine employees). We do have a few expansion projects in the works, but it is mostly business as usual.
Faith Baptist Fellowship West
In my last quarterly update, I reported that our church had voted to pursue an expansion project for our west campus that will more than double the size of our small facility. I was put in charge of negotiating our lease, which has since been signed. Peska Construction has started dirt work on our expansion. We hope to have our expanded facility completed by September 1st of 2021, which will allow us to offer Sunday School classes and expand ministry in a variety of other ways. I cannot say enough good things about Peska Construction. They have been a fantastic partner to work with for our church facility.
Falls Angel Fund II
We continue to hear pitches from startups for Falls Angel Fund II, but we haven’t done any new deals this quarter. The portfolio of Falls Angel Fund II includes Cytotheryx, Omnia Fishing, JourneyTellr and Trigger Interactive. I personally made an additional investment in Prairie Aquatech, which members of our fund previously invested $1 million into through an entity called FAF Aquatech Investors, LLC. Any company interested in pitching Falls Angel Fund II or its sister funds in Aberdeen, Brookings, Rapid City and Watertown can reach out to the South Dakota Enterprise Institute.
I think that covers pretty much everything. It is a busy season of life, but I have had the opportunity to be involved with a lot of great projects that are good for my family and my community.