As I have gotten a little bit older, I have come to realize that the most effective people in the world do just a handful of things and do them extremely well. MarketBeat continues to grow, and I am entering what is likely to be the most demanding phase of my career. To be a present father and husband and put my best effort in at MarketBeat and Homegrown Capital, my commitments will need to continue to simplify to the only roles I can uniquely fulfill.
Many people can start businesses, serve in volunteer roles, and sit on boards of directors, but nobody else can be the husband to my wife Karine or the father of Micah and Ady. Nobody else can be the founder and first CEO of MarketBeat. Nobody else can offer my unique perspective on philanthropy and community leadership in the city of Sioux Falls. These are the roles that I can uniquely fulfill, and they are my primary focus.
Consequently, 2023 has been a year of simplification for me and my family. Many of my existing volunteer commitments, such as Startup Sioux Falls and Sioux Falls Seminary, are wrapping up due to the conclusion of my board terms. Some church volunteer roles have concluded for the time being. I am stepping away from the business mastermind group I have been in for the last eight years. The hope is to create some margin in my life so that I can be more effective at the “uniquely Matt” roles in my life.
That said, here is my quarterly update for the 4th quarter of 2023.
Work and Family Travel
Our family has had an opportunity to travel quite a bit this summer. Karine and I spent a week in Las Vegas in June while Micah and Ady stayed with Grandma. As a family, we traveled to the Wisconsin Dells in July to spend a few days at the Kalahari Water Park. Micah and I were able to go to a Vikings pre-season game. The absolute highlight of our summer was spending several days in Manhattan. Micah and Ady have been asking to see the Statue of Liberty for over a year, so we decided to make their dream come true. We had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the New York Stock Exchange, and several other sights. MarketBeat employee Laycee Kluin and her husband Jared joined us for our New York trip, and they were a big help with Ady and Micah.
For work travel, I spent a night in Kansas City for a Prismatic board meeting. Will Bushee and I traveled to Baltimore to meet with several of our advertisers in September. This week, I am in Las Vegas for Rhodium Weekend, a digital entrepreneurship conference I have attended annually for the last ten years. I will also be traveling to Fargo next week for Prairie Capital Summit and Rapid City the following week for Innovation Expo West. My travel schedule should slow down after that for the rest of the year.
After a slower 2022, 2023 has been a strong growth year for MarketBeat. We are forecasting to end the year with 4 million email subscribers and $30 million in top-line revenue. I attribute the growth to positive momentum in the stock market, increasing our advertising spend, and being more effective in showing the right advertisements to the right person at the right time. Big wins for the year include launching two partner newsletters, StockReport and AfterMarkets, repositioning MarketBeat All Access, revamping our stock screening tools, and offering new types of data on MarketBeat.
MarketBeat also made the Inc. 5000 list for the 8th consecutive year, which is no small feat. Making the Inc. 5000 list requires about 30% annual growth for three consecutive years, meaning that MarketBeat has had at least 30% annual growth for the last 11 consecutive years. We believe we have a shot of making the list next year, given our strong business performance this year, but may struggle to continue to make the list after that due to the sheer amount of growth required to continue to make the list.
Our team is continuing to grow as well. We recently brought on Alix Andal as our new Senior Web and Graphic Designer. Alix was a student of mine when I taught web programming classes at Dakota State University a decade ago. She had taught at University Center for several years and most recently did freelance graphic and web design work. We are excited to have Alix join our team, and we plan to grow our team steadily over the next year.
I was hoping to be able to share more details about our new office during this monthly update, but the project is two months behind schedule. We are currently expecting to move into the new office around Thanksgiving. Our new space will be great when it’s done, but planning and construction meetings have consumed a substantial amount of our staff’s time. I often tell people it’s like building two or three houses at once. There’s a lot of coordination required between our construction company, architectural firm, interior designer, office furniture company, and other vendors. I will hopefully be able to show off our completed office in my next quarterly update.
Startup Sioux Falls
After six years of serving on the Zeal/Startup Sioux Falls board of directors, I will be terming off the board at the end of the year. I am a big believer in non-profit board term limits so that organizations can regularly benefit from new leadership and new ideas. While my official involvement with Startup Sioux Falls is concluding for the time being, we have a great slate of board members lined up to carry the torch of the startup ecosystem. New board members include Kim Burma (Midco), Arin Gonseth (MarketBeat), Scott Petersen (HireClick), Cindy Peterson (Maximizing Excellence), and Chez Tschetter (Solarity). Paul Tschetter (Boyce Law Firm) will be our new board chair and John Meyer (Leadership South Dakota) will be our new vice chair.
At our most recent board meeting, we passed our budget for the next fiscal year which includes some new and innovative programming. A group of volunteers is working on launching a high-growth technology Co-Starters cohort. Brienne and her team are working on a growth accelerator program called GrowCo. The spiritual successor to 1 Million Cups, called Startup Sunrise, has also been launched. Startup Sioux Falls also has a new fall Co-Starters Cohort, periodic member meetups, mentor matchmaking events, and other programming.
During my time on the board, I’ve tried to push the organization towards offering programming that helps founders succeed in the core aspects of running a business: developing a product offering, understanding the customer, marketing and sales, product fulfillment, and developing business partnerships. I am thrilled with the volume and type of programming happening through Startup Sioux Falls. I truly believe we have built an organization that meets the needs of today’s startup founders and small business owners.
YPN Crossroads Summit Keynote
I had the privilege of being a keynote speaker at the YPN Crossroads Summit, a biennial event put on by the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce for young professionals, in August. My keynote discussed the unwritten core values of the Sioux Falls business community: philanthropy, collaboration, institutional leadership, expert knowledge, and integrity. The goal was to help young business leaders understand how the city works and how to be successful as a business leader in the community. The Chamber was kind enough to record my presentation and you can watch the full video on YouTube here.
Joining the Chamber Board
Speaking of the Sioux Falls Chamber, I am happy to share that I am now serving on the Board of Directors for the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber serves an important role in the business community, including facilitating networking events, political advocacy, highlighting new businesses that are opening in the community. As of this update, I have only attended one Chamber board meeting so far. I look forward to finding ways to plugin to this new role in the coming weeks and months.
Commercial Real Estate Investing
The commercial real estate market has slowed down significantly. After starting a substantial number of projects in 2021 and 2022, we closed on just four new deals in 2023. We financed the second phase of an apartment project in Rapid City. We are working on a two-building strip mall on the Tea exit. We purchased some land near Benson and Marion for the third phase of an apartment project. Finally, I purchased a 50% interest in a strip mall that my business partner Kevin Tupy owns at 57th and Louise.
We have many projects that were started in 2021 and 2022 that are under construction and near completion which were financed when interest rates were much lower. We do not foresee many new commercial and multi-family real estate projects starting in 2023 and 2024 in Sioux Falls simply due to the current interest rate environment. There have also been very few secondary transactions in the commercial real estate market because buyers can’t finance projects at interest rates that make sense and sellers are not yet willing to accept lower prices. This will likely change in 2025 and 2026 as deals that were financed in 2020 and 2021 have their interest rates reset.
The changing real estate market has caused me to shift my investing priorities toward other asset classes. I have been doing more private equity investing this year and have been leaving more money in money market accounts and CD’s as well. Notably, I participated in a private equity round for ConvertKit, an email marketing platform for creators. With the Federal Reserve recently signaling that rates will remain high for an extended period of time, my investment strategy will likely focus on fixed income and equities through at least the end of 2024.
MarketBeat Philanthropy Updates
Our philanthropy committee continues to make community investments in the Sioux Falls area. Last quarter, we received requests from 21 unique organizations in the Sioux Falls area. We made donations to EmBe’s dress for success program, B-Squad Dog Rescue, Harmony South Dakota, SculptureWalk Sioux Falls, Bread Break, and The Foster Network. We also have a major new partnership with a non-profit that we will hopefully be able to announce early next year.
Overall, we feel the establishment of our philanthropy committee has been a big success. It’s created a process for non-profit organizations to understand MarketBeat’s philanthropic objectives and to apply for grants using a standardized process. Our committee has enabled us to make better philanthropic investment decisions. It’s saved me a lot of time personally. It’s also allowed us to support a broader range of organizations than we would have otherwise. We still have some internal process stuff that could be smoother, but overall, we feel we are on the right path.
Next year, MarketBeat will likely bring on a full-time Director of Community Relations that will serve as the point person for our work in the community. Given the number of community partnerships, projects, and initiatives we have, it will be helpful to have an executive dedicated to leading these efforts.
Rotary Way Initiative
This summer, I had the opportunity to co-lead a capital campaign along with Cindy Peterson to raise $250,000 for an all-abilities playground at Jacobson Plaza in downtown Sioux Falls. This is the third capital campaign that I have either chaired or co-chaired. I am happy to share that our fundraising efforts have been successful and that we have reached our goal. As of the publication of this update, we don’t have a final fundraising total yet but should have the final number next week.
Downtown Parking Ramp Mural
Finally, MarketBeat had the opportunity to sponsor a mural on the side of the unfinished downtown parking ramp. The mural is a somewhat abstract design featuring elements of the city of Sioux Falls. Local artist Walter Portz painted the mural. We chose to sponsor it because it aligns with our commitment to make downtown a better and more vibrant place and to find unique ways to support local art and music in the city. We think the mural is a great addition to downtown Sioux Falls and look forward to supporting more art projects in the future.
That concludes this quarterly update. If you have made it this far and are still reading, consider connecting with me on LinkedIn. I am working to grow my presence on LinkedIn and plan to post more professional content there in the weeks and months to come.