Sioux Falls is a Midwestern city that demonstrates beautiful integration of their natural environment. The Big Sioux River runs through downtown, culminating in the namesake falls that lie at the edge of the city center. But there is something else running through the city these days too--entrepreneurial energy. Matt Paulson, founder of Startup Sioux Falls, is working hard to integrate resources for startups into one organization, capture that energy, and build out the Sioux Falls ecosystem.
The coastal city of Beaufort, South Carolina might not seem like your typical hub of startup activity, but the Beaufort Digital Corridor is working to make the city a destination for those who work in and around the tech industry. Modeled after the successful Charleston Digital Corridor established about 90 miles north of Beaufort, the BDC is working to drive further tech-related business growth across the Lowcountry region. BDC Board Chairman Kevin Klingler and Program Manager Shelley Barratt are focused on creating a nurturing startup community by building out networking and training opportunities, as well as a business incubator, to help spur the local tech industry.
Mount Desert Island is known for its natural beauty. Home to Acadia National Park, the island of 10,000 hosts more than three million visitors each year. The seasonality of the tourism economy imposes unique challenges for the island’s permanent residential population, but Mount Desert 365 is a community organization based in the village of Northeast Harbor working to promote year-round economic vitality through a focus on business incubation and infrastructure development.
Gaining patent protection for an invention is difficult, but the journey can be well worth the effort. Sarah Fletcher, Co-Founder of Stylaquin, is using her recently patented software tool to merge the convenience of digital browsing with the enjoyment of paging through a catalog. Stylaquin also adds tools that appeal to women. Despite the long and drawn out patent approval process, Fletcher is excited about her company’s potential to revolutionize online shopping and envisions a future full of innovative opportunities.
The Pine Tree State might be best known for its lobsters and coastal shorelines, but the state’s entrepreneurs and lawmakers are working diligently to expand opportunities for startups. One of the groups working to build out these support networks is Startup Maine, an organization which has hosted a yearly conference since 2014 that brings together leaders from across the state. Appropriately, the theme of this year’s upcoming June 19-21 conference--which will be held in Portland--focuses on building stronger connections between startups, policymakers, and communities.
The Atlanta metropolitan area, with its population of over 5.9 million people, may be considered the focal point of innovation and growth in Georgia, but the city of Augusta is also transforming into a hub of tech and startup activity. Part of that is due to the tireless efforts of Eric Parker, who has been working to help startups thrive in the Augusta area through theClubhou.se, a design research lab focused on facilitating the growth of healthy entrepreneur ecosystems. Eric has also expanded his model to help increase startup development through Make Startups, which also works to empower startup ecosystems across the country.
Utah, known for its picturesque natural beauty and the Great Salt Lake, is also becoming known as a thriving hub of startup activity and innovation. Kiln, a coworking space with two locations in the state--one in Lehi and a second in Salt Lake City--is one of the companies fueling Utah’s ongoing tech goldrush by providing startups with a modern and sleek community-focused environment in which to grow.
When it comes to startups and small businesses across Wyoming, Jerad Stack wears a lot of hats--as an angel investor, startup founder, and ecosystem builder. As a member of the state’s ENDOW Executive Council, Jerad also has unique insights into efforts to attract and grow business opportunities across the state.
Many people think of Las Vegas as the entertainment capital of the world, but policymakers in Nevada are increasingly viewing the vibrant city as a growing hub of innovation for the state’s startup community. In downtown Las Vegas, entrepreneurs are increasingly flocking to coworking space Work in Progress (WIP) to put their creative talents, innovative ideas, and business acumen into action.
Based in the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center works to connect startups and entrepreneurs across the state with the resources they need to innovate and expand. Zetdi Runyan Sloan, director of the center’s accelerator programs, uses her own entrepreneurial spirit to help startups--particularly those operated by underserved entrepreneurs--grow through mentorship programs and networking opportunities.
Brandon Davenport, business development manager for Servato, said the firm’s active battery management systems are critical for helping to increase broadband access and reliability in often overlooked corners of the country. Increasing application-based funding for rural broadband access is one of the issues at the top of Brandon’s policy wishlist.
Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Interapt—led by CEO Ankur Gopal—develops technology tools to solve business problems and training programs to create a new generation of developers.
Following the collapse of the coal industry in parts of Kentucky, Interapt worked with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and local policymakers to train students in traditionally overlooked rural and urban communities, and their work has been recognized by the White House and the Department of Labor. Looking forward, Interapt is working to navigate regulations around training former members of the military and hopes to see incentives to bring venture capital funding to diverse geographical areas, including through the new Opportunity Zone program.
Kim Lane, the Conductor’s CEO and all-around ecosystem builder, has seen the region change dramatically with the help of the public and private sectors. Kim and her team work closely with policymakers to develop policies that encourage entrepreneurship. Healthcare and education are top on her policy wishlist.
We met with Thuc Vu, cofounder and CEO of OhmniLabs, a startup that produces home robots that help people communicate at a distance. Vu and his team have partnered with policymakers to help communities in their healthcare and workforce development efforts. As OhmniLabs continues to grow, Vu hopes policymakers look for solutions to immigration reform and incentivizing research and development.
Memphis has served as the epicenter of music for great stars from Elvis Presley to B.B. King. The city has also become an epicenter for the region’s ecosystem, led by Leslie Smith, the president and CEO of Epicenter. Leslie and her team work to identify gaps in the ecosystem and work collectively to fill those for gaps for the region’s growing population of innovators.
Beth Zimmer has worked to grow the ecosystem into the powerhouse it is today as the managing director and co-founder of Innovation Collaborative. Bringing together all members of the ecosystem, Beth and her team have gone as far to map out all of Erie’s assets. Beth would like to see more emphasis put on entrepreneurial ecosystem building from a policy level, including tax credits and additional resources.
In celebration of National Veterans Small Business Week (November 5-9), we met with Donald Coolidge, co-founder of Elemental Path (EP). Thanks to his experience in the military Donald learned leadership, critical thinking, planning and most importantly, cutting edge technology. Looking at government, Donald hopes policymakers develop more resources to help educate veterans in how to translate their skills, educate them on entrepreneurship (with real entrepreneurs).
Sonya Dunn, founder and CEO of JEMH Enterprises, and military spouse for over 20 years, will be on the panel, to discuss ways in which active military/military families/veterans can utilize tech and entrepreneurship for opportunity. Sonya is excited by recent legislation, such as the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018, to better support military families and is hopeful lawmakers will continue to partner with military spouses to create for more entrepreneurial opportunities.