Emerging Prairie hosted the Fourth Annual 1 Million Thanks at the Fargo Air Museum on January 25th, 2018. Gratitude and celebration filled the room as the Fargo entrepreneurial community reflected on 2017. “Year after year, it is exciting to see the culture of Fargo’s entrepreneurial ecosystem multiply… people are taking risks, businesses are started, and the community embraces their ventures. From the beginning, 1 Million Thanks has always been an event to celebrate a year within our ecosystem,” explained Greg Tehven, co-founder and executive director of Emerging Prairie.

Almost 300 attendees arrived to reflect on the successes of 2017. The atmosphere was vibrant as people mingled amongst the historic planes housed by the air museum awaiting the program to begin. Volunteers from the community, including the North Dakota International Pageant, were handing out appetizers while dressed as flight attendants. Live music from The Moody River Band and breakdancing from the Broadway Beatrockers kicked the night off into the main event of the evening, the awards.

A new face to the Emerging Prairie staff opened the program with a thank you to the
community. “There is an amazing community being developed here in Fargo. It is open to outsiders, full of love… Realize just how special you are,” said Chris Edgerley. Indeed, the culture of the entrepreneurial ecosystem was on display throughout the awards ceremony as start-ups of all sizes and stages honored the awards recipients. As host, Greg Tehven invited key community leaders and entrepreneurs to the stage to present the 2017 1 Million Thanks awards.

Rookie of the Year Award // OmniByte, Ray Berry

“I received an incredible response returning to Fargo. The existence of OmniByte is a credit to the passion ignited at 1 Million Cups and the community that has embraced me,” explained Ray Berry while accepting the award.

Social Impact Award // eFargo, Malini Srivastava

“We received a large grant for the work we accomplished as a team…. but we want to credit the Fargo community that allowed us to introduce our efforts to the community through their megaphone voices,” explained Malini Srivastava.

Team Player Award // HERE Technologies, Brian Carroll

“Tonight is a continuation of the gratitude of three things about HERE Technologies…. a great team, shared experiences, and the support from the community from when we launched to when we closed our doors,” said Brian Carroll.

Kickass Award // Julie Peterson Klein

“I am humbled to receive this award… We are taking action to ensure that we have a safe and thriving community… Continue to surround your self with people who believe that they can change the world by one good deed at a time,” explained Julie Peterson Klein, as she held back passion-filled tears.

Dr. David Wells Belief Award // Jim Gartin

“This award is not about me, it is about the man who used his time, finance, programs, and the incredible successes of his students. He was a dedicated professor, dreamer, and opportunistic schemer to bring out the best in others… We are grateful for Dr. Wells and his model of excellence left in this entrepreneurial community,” explained Jim Gartin.

Startup of the Year Award // Myriad Mobile, Jake Joraanstad and Ryan Raguse

“As a start-up, you think about the day you will not be known as a start-up, but as a company… We are making progress, growing, and expanding our reach and it is a tribute to the community support from raising funds, hiring talented team members, and living in the best city and state in the nation,” said Jake Joraanstad.

After the last award, Greg Tehven took to the stage while everyone in attendance anticipated the annual champagne and golden marshmallow toast. “Tonight we raise the glass to Dr. Wells who challenged me to do more and to dream bigger. We can do so much more together… I think we can do more collaboration with more energy.”

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Brent McNeal