It seems odd that it’s been only one month, and odd that it’s already been a month. Lots to talk about. As we look back at January, a few themes emerge. Here’s a breakdown:
1 Million Cups, 2 years strong
This month we celebrated the birthday of 1 Million Cups Fargo. What started as an experimental six week trial is now on its third year of weekly Wednesday meetings, featuring local entrepreneurs and piping hot java.
January 2016 started the year with a wide variety of speakers. We kicked off by featuring Howard Dahl, a local legend who’s grandfather started Bobcat and who was himself one of the first people to do business in Russia post-Soviet Union.
We also featured Myriad Mobile founder Jake Joraanstad, who told of the ups and downs of their startup rollercoaster. Joey Schmit, a Fargo local, shared how he took took the plunge this month and started Flight Pros, a business doing drone inspection for real estate and construction.
The founder of Prime Digital Academy, a coding school that’s tackling the tech talent crunch in Minneapolis, shared his story at the end of the month in conjunction with a very successful Intern Day (check out the 30 companies that are looking to hire.)
(The event also has a claim to fame after being featured in KVRR News!)
We’re not biased towards any particular school (Editor’s Note: I’m a Cobber) but NDSU has really been chugging out some winners recently. Not only did they take home their fivepeat in football, but two students in prosthetic and biomedical research are making strides to radically change their industry – and people’s lives.
Andy Dalman, a grad student in engineering at NDSU, was named in Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for his work with Advanced Bone Technology (they’re researching how to make 3D printed material that replicates human bone…read more here, it’s fascinating.)
Cooper Bierscheid, another engineering student, flew to Haiti this month on a medical trip to deliver a prosthetic arm. The patient, a man who lost his arm as a child, is now able to perform jobs like carrying wood and picking up objects with both hands. The story was featured on WDAY and 3DPrint.com (one of the top websites about 3D printing).
Let’s Get Political
Just kidding, we’re not getting political; but recently, there’s been quite a bit of activity in the realm of politics that has an effect on Fargo’s entrepreneurial community.
For one, Emerging Prairie executive director Greg Tehven attended President Obama’s final State of the Union address as Senator John Hoeven’s guest.
Fargo entrepreneur and former Microsoft executive Doug Burgum also announced that he is running for Governor of North Dakota.
STEM in education is getting stronger in this area as well, an exciting step for companies looking to train the world’s future tech leaders. Here’s 5 examples, just from this month:
- Code.org’s worldwide Hour of Code program, wherein students are taught the basics of coding, had its biggest success in North Dakota yet with over 900 students participating.
- At South Fargo Highschool, three girls in the DECA program also bridged the gap between students and the startup world with their second annual Be Bold conference.
- Younger students from around the region also built and competed with Lego-made robots for the FIRST Lego League robotics competition – a practice for the state competition happening in February.
- Fargo’s Outstanding Teen, 16-year-old Ashlen Wright, recognizes that the Miss America pageants and the world of STEM don’t always go hand-in-hand, and she’s hoping to change that. Her platform Mining for GEMS, Girls in Engineering, Math and Science, aims to get more women interested in the tech world through speaking gigs, and the occasional rocket ship birthday party experiment.
- Six sixth graders from Liberty Middle School won ‘Best in State’ in the Verizon Mobile App Challenge for their app that helps students get their homework done.
This past month we featured some startups that are doing pretty neat stuff. Revel Digital, for example, is a startup that keeps on the down low but has their digital signage software used all over the world.
Intelligent InSites (which, okay, is a little too old for a startup but is in high-growth mode nevertheless), also made the game-changer announcement that they signed an enterprise contract with Hospitals Corporation of America. That’s only the world’s largest for-profit healthcare facilities operator.
Myriad Mobile co-founder Ryan Raguse was also able to announce (after a while of waiting) that his app Virtual Farm Manager, which allows farmers to organize data, was acquired by Minneapolis-based Conservis Corp. Success!
Cap it with a toast
Of course, we capped off the month – and really, the year of 2015 – with our annual 1 Million Thanks event. In it we awarded six people/companies doing exceptional work for this community, which you can read about here.
Aaaand… Fargo was named by NerdWallet as one of the top 10 cities for young entrepreneurs. The story was picked up by Inc. and Forbes as well.
The year, it seems, is off to a decent start.