January was just the warm-up. February hit like the snow that is finally coating Fargo’s streets, bringing with it a series of successful events and big announcements – both good and bittersweet. But first, of course, the good.
Weekly 1 Million Cups events continue to thrive, with an audience generally around 200 people. This month we officially had our youngest presenter, a 12-year-old named Josh Boen who presented his new sports app iCoach. (After that, Josh’s story took off and he went on to appear on WDAY, and Minneapolis’ KSTP!)
He took a selfie on stage:
The UAS industry is alive and well in North Dakota as well. A California startup that uses drones for precision agriculture is looking to expand to Fargo. For North Dakota’s annual UAS industry day, government officials and leaders in the UAS private sector gathered to share how the state is leading the nation as “the drone state” (full re-cap of the event here).
The biggest announcement came from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who announced on February 11 that two-thirds of North Dakota would be open for legal drone test flying – giving the state the biggest drone test site in the U.S.
This is good news for SkyHawk, the team of mechanical engineering students who won the Product track of the NDSU Innovation Challenge with their design for a multi-axial rotor for drones. They joined two other winning teams, along with a multitude of student innovators for this annual competition, in which a total of $20,000 was awarded to the winners. You can read about the various projects, and the winners, here.
February also featured a series of Fargo gems right in our backyard, perhaps unbeknownst to the naked eye. Gems like the Fargo Machine, an old vending machine that two guys at Myriad Mobile have turned into a wi-fi connected candy and art shop.
Or the Fargo 3D printing guys who are rapidly expanding their business to educate the public on how 3D printing works, while designing innovative repair parts for printers that no one else is developing.
Or a local non-profit that has a vision for using virtual reality in a potentially life-changing way.
Two big announcements from this month continue to illustrate the wide reach for work in North Dakota. Bismarck-startup Coschedule was selected to present at Google Demo Days (yes, at the Googleplex) in April.
Spotlight interviews from this month featured two influential leaders; Tristan Pollock, a 23-year-old NDSU grad who is now running a successful startup in Silicon Valley, and Terri Zimmerman, the CEO of Packet Digital who is now heading up projects like an endless energy drone.
Bittersweet news came when Emerging Prairie co-founder Greg Tehven announced he will be joining Vidku, a Minneapolis based startup (that is blowing up!), and although he will still live in Fargo, he’ll also be spending more time in the Twin Cities.
But the exciting news for Emerging Prairie is that we are hiring our first Executive Director! For more information, please check out our job board.
Lots of change, lots of growth. March, bring it on.