When you are a community leader, sometimes the most exciting projects you are working on can’t be discussed publicly because they aren’t quite ready for primetime or because all of the pieces necessary to complete the project haven’t fallen into place. You might find yourself working on an important project for months, sometimes even years, before you can share the fruit of your labor with the public. Working behind the scenes on big projects can make it seem like you are at a bit of a standstill, when in reality you are moving at 90 miles an hour.
This is a season of behind the scenes work for me. I am working on some of the most ambitious community and business projects that I have ever undertaken, unfortunately I can’t talk most of them until later this year or early next year. This quarterly update might seem a little bit on the quiet side for that reason, but there are some important projects that I am working on both individually and as part of non-profit organizations that will have a major positive community impact.
Fortunately, there are several things I can share in this quarterly update post. I like to write quarterly update posts because they serve as a professional journal of sorts. These posts help me understand the various roles that I serve in, how the have evolved overtime, and how they play together into creating a body of work. They are also a great way to let family, friend sand acquaintances know what I’m currently working on.
Here’s the latest:
Micah started third grade at Discovery Elementary last month and he also recently celebrated his ninth birthday. He was particularly excited to take his birthday money to the bank when he realized that the bank would give him money just for having his money in a bank account. Our friends at First Premier were kind enough to roll out the red carpet and have Micah sign his account paperwork on the top floor of the bank. He was also featured in an article on SiouxFalls.Business this summer, after “discovering” a ghost kitchen on DoorDash. Micah’s YouTube channel, Micah Gaming Squad, also recently hit 150 subscribers. He is his father’s son.
Adylin (Ady) started her final year of pre-school at Pettigrew Elementary. She will be starting Kindergarten at Discovery Elementary next year. While Ady’s speech is very limited, she continually finds creative ways to communicate with us using her speech device, pictures in magazines, and sign language. We don’t know exactly what her future will look like yet, but we are thrilled with the progress she is making. Ady’s favorite activities are going to the Kirby Science Museum, shopping for toys at Target, and going to the children’s area at Sanford Wellness. Karine has also gone above and beyond making sure that Ady has everything she needs to make progress, taking her both to therapy and preschool four days each week.
Startup Community Building
Startup Sioux Falls has settled into a new annual routine of programming, which involves 1 Million Cups on a weekly basis, rotating monthly events, and running Co-Starters cohorts throughout the year. Startup Sioux Falls has already had 50 companies complete its Co-Starters pre-accelerator program this year. We also have had more than 40 mentors join the mentor network that we launched earlier in the year. There has been more momentum in the Sioux Falls startup community in 2021 than in any year that I can remember.
We had a startup social event last Thursday (September 30th) at Queen City Bakery and the annual Innovation Expo event is happening this Thursday (October 7th). MarketBeat is this year’s diamond sponsor of Innovation Expo, which aims to connect investors and high-growth startups. We have a couple of smaller events later this month, including our annual Startup Horror Stories event. There will be one more cohort of Co-Starters that runs before the end of the year. There are also some other big projects in the works, but nothing that is fully baked and is ready to be discussed publicly just yet.
Early on in the year, it felt like we could do no wrong. The stock market entered unchartered territory with retail investors ganging up against hedge funds who were shorting AMC, GameStop, and other stocks. Between volatility in the market and stimulus checks that were being invested in stocks, we saw record highs across the board from January through May. Unfortunately, the stock market’s Spring sugar high did not last. Finance and investing websites across the board saw significant drops in traffic and engagement during the summer months. We weren’t immune to this either and saw a 36% decline in monthly revenue from our peak in April.
We took a back-to-basics approach over the summer months, launching several new features on the MarketBeat website. We launched a new homepage which better highlights our original news content. We added new filters across all of our stock list pages that allows users to identify stocks by country, sector, market capitalization, media sentiment, and analysts’ consensus rating. We launched several new tools that monitor stock sentiment on Reddit and other social media platforms. We are revamping our company profiles section, which provides a wealth of information about any publicly traded company. We started offering full earnings transcripts for S&P 500 companies in a partnership with AlphaStreet. We also have several more development projects in the works that we look forward to launching soon.
On the hiring front, I am happy to share that we have hired a new Vice President of Finance. Arin Gonseth, who most recently served as the Chief Financial Officer at Journey Group Construction, joined our team on September 20th. Over the next few months, she will be taking over our company’s accounting, finance, human resources, and legal functions. This is a critical role for our company because most of our financial processes were designed for a $1 million/year revenue company, not a $25 million/year revenue company. Arin will help professionalize our company’s financial processes and procedures so that we have everything in order if a serious acquirer ever knocks on our door. We are thrilled to have Arin join our growing team.
We also recently announced that we will be moving our office into Cherapa II, which will be tentatively completed in August 2023. Our new office will have approximately 7,500 square feet of space and will be on the 6th floor of the building. We expect to be able to accommodate up to 30 employees in that space (we are currently at 11). We love our current office, but it’s not very big and we will likely be bursting at the seams by the time Cherapa II is complete. We are hoping that our new office will accommodate our next ten years of growth. I am also personally investing in the Cherapa expansion project, so it makes a lot of sense for our office to be there.
Finally, our saltwater aquarium has been installed in the office. Our 450-gallon salt-water aquarium was custom-designed by our friends over at Sioux Falls Aquatics. It currently has some clownfish, blue tang, crabs, and some other small fish. As the ecosystem becomes mature, we hope to add live coral to the aquarium. Why put a giant aquarium in the office? I just think they’re cool, and I don’t think Karine would go for me installing a giant salt-water aquarium at home.
Commercial Real Estate Activity
Over the last two years, I have developed a strong partnership with Kevin Tupy and his team at Cresten Capital Holdings. We are currently invested in 16 separate real-estate projects together, including six Starbucks buildings, eight apartment complexes, and two other retail properties. In addition to the projects that we have closed on, there are another six projects we have in late-stage due diligence that we expect to close on before the end of the year. When all of our projects that are in development are complete, we expect to be operating more than 1,500 apartment units in Sioux Falls, Des Moines, and Rapid City.
The partnership that Kevin and I have has developed quicker than either of us thought it might, but we both have capital to deploy and the properties we are investing in are great long-term assets. He and I share the belief that we are going to see sustained inflation for the next several years, which makes real estate an especially attractive investment asset. Of course, there are other ways to invest in real-estate, such as REITs, crowdfunding sites, and syndication deals, but the unique partnership that Kevin and I have allows us to purchase and develop Sioux Falls real estate without paying fees that are common to syndicated deals.
Two specific projects that are worth highlighting are City’s Edge and Edgewater Villas. City’s Edge is a new apartment complex near 69th and Southeastern, and our first units are going online in November. Our expansion project at Edgewater Villas is also well underway with new units expected to go online early next year. We think our apartments are the best managed and best maintained in town. If you or someone you know is looking for an apartment, checkout www.crestenproperties.com or call the Cresten office at 605-271-7893.
Falls Angel Fund II wrapped up this summer, making its final investment in Fomeno. Falls Angel Fund is currently in between funds, but we want to continue to hear from high-growth companies in the region that are looking for seed-stage venture capital.
Community Projects and Philanthropy
2021 has been a banner year of community projects for MarketBeat. In January, we launched the MarketBeat Burger which raised $31,000 for Call to Freedom in support of its Marissa’s House project. Soon after, we launched a limited-run craft beer called MarketBrew that raised $25,000 for two local animal rescues. This summer, we helped form a new non-profit called Sioux Falls Fireworks and Community Events, which is now responsible for putting on Sioux Falls’ community fireworks show on Independence Day. MarketBeat and Cresten Properties were the two major sponsors of this year’s community fireworks show as well.
Earlier this fall, the Paulson Center at DSU had its grand opening. The Paulson Center offers educational programming (for all of the people of South Dakota – students of all ages, faculty, staff, community entrepreneurs, rural entrepreneurs), workshops, boot camps, conferences, competitions, camps, internships, and more. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with DSU on this facility and create new resources in the state to help entrepreneurs launch their businesses. You can read the write-up that the Madison Daily Leader did here.
To close out the year, MarketBeat is launching one more project to benefit the community in partnership with Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. More details will be announced soon, but we will be creating a downtown holiday plaza that will feature larger-than-life ornaments and decorations, a family photo spot, a mailbox for letters to Santa, and life-size holiday statues. The goal of the plaza is to draw people downtown during the holidays to support our downtown small businesses during their most important sales months of the year. We look forward to showing off the final product to the community sometime next month.
The next Sioux Falls municipal election is just six short months away. Last cycle, I played a very active role in helping get Alex Jensen elected to his city council seat. Since then, I launched a political action committee called Falls Community Growth PAC, which exists to help get candidates that are focused on community growth and development into state and local office.
I have two city council races that I’ll be focusing on during the April municipal election, and at least one legislative race I’ll be focusing on next Fall. One city council candidate that I am getting behind is Dave Barranco, who is running for the Southeast district city council seat. The other candidate I plan on helping has not yet publicly announced their candidacy but should be sometime soon. It will be energizing to dust off my campaign skills and help a new crop of candidates get into office.
Faith Baptist Fellowship West
After worshipping in a 6,000 square foot facility for the last three years, our new sanctuary is complete. We have been able to consolidate down to one Sunday service and regularly have 160 to 180 people attend church at Faith Baptist West each week. We are in the process of repurposing our old sanctuary space as classroom and kitchenette space. When the project is complete, we will have over 13,000 useable square feet that will allow us to offer a comprehensive Sunday school program that will take place after Sunday worship services. We begin a new seven-year lease in October, which will give us time to understand who we are as a church before seeking out a permanent church home.
Our elders have also determined that it is time for us to start thinking and praying about what it looks like for Faith Baptist West to become a standalone church. This means Faith Baptist West will eventually have its own legal entity, leadership (elders), volunteer base, membership, bylaws, finances, website, and everything else you need to be a standalone church. It will be a heavy lift for key volunteers to get us from here to there over the next couple of years, but we have great volunteer leaders that will manage this process thoughtfully and deliberately. I have mixed feelings about the timing of this transition, but it ultimately makes a lot of sense for Faith Baptist West to become an independent church plant.
That covers pretty much everything that I can talk about publicly today. There are a couple of big projects going on behind the scenes, but I unfortunately can’t really talk about them yet. I hope to be able to share more about them soon.