If the rest of 2015 is like this first month, we are in for an extraordinary year. January was a month of breaking records, getting connected, and celebration- often with all three woven into one.

1 Million Cups Fargo celebrated its first birthday on Wednesday, January 29 (I’m sure you heard about it because we decided to blow up social media.) There were cupcakes, there was Twenty Below coffee, and there was a record-breaking 363 people in attendance. Previously, Fargo already held the largest attendance record at 350 people – and this past week, we broke our own record for biggest 1 Million Cups in the nation. That’s what’s up.


This month also saw tFullSizeRender_2he debut of Emerging Prairie’s newest event, 1 Million Thanks. This idea, organized largely by Emerging Prairie event planner extraordinaire Annika Nynas, was purely a celebration of our community and a grand, open-armed thank you to our supporters.

There was champagne topped with marshmallows, live percussion, a slide show, a video from the team, and an awards ceremony (full re-cap here.) For the start of a new year, it seems fitting to begin with gratitude. We had a great time, and we hope you did too.


1M Thanks
Now for the fun stuff: Notably, this month, it seems Fargo’s game design industry got a major booster pack – or else we’re just starting to take more notice! We covered CJ Schnase’s exciting news that he is now developing a game for the Nintendo Wii U, and the story took hold; Fargo Forum, WDAY, and Prairie Business ran stories as well, prompting Schnase to write a big thank you post on Facebook.

“Thank you all for your support. I read every one of your likes, comments, and shares. It means a lot to me,” he wrote, giving a shout out to Emerging Prairie, and the Fargo Game-Makers meetup that got him involved (without his participation with that meet-up, I never would have heard his story!)

CJ Schnase

CJ Schnase

Kyle Weik and Chad Close also released their wilderness survival game On My Own at the beginning of January, which rocketed to over 25,000 users in almost every country in less than a month. The game industry in Fargo is definitely not holding back, and they’re ready to claim North Dakota as a game design hub.

On My Own

Chad Close and Kyle Weik

Another field that has really taken flight here in North Dakota is the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry. We’re talkin’ drones. And so is everybody else; just a few days ago, President Obama himself was responding to the fact that a small drone was found on the White House lawn, calling for more industry regulations.


Drones take the stage at 1 Million Cups.

And right here in our own backyard we have a team of experienced engineers, pilots and developers at Botlink, nearly ready to launch a platform that would do just that- increase a way to regulate drone flying, while allowing pilots to use drones in resourceful ways (see Vine Rangers). All the drone talk culminated into Botlink CEO Shawn Muehler gathering prominent figures in North Dakota’s UAS industry for a meet-up two weeks ago, to explore how this state can own the soon-to-be billion dollar drone industry. Things are moving fast!

Already, Botlink is making their mark in the industry; just yesterday UAS Magazine released an article outlining how this software could provide the safety net that drone pilots desperatley need. Check it out here.

In similar fashion, two other collaborative meet-ups were held this month that are worth noting: Social Tilt brought together both national and international community builders for a weekend of relaxation and brainstorming on what the heck “community-building” really looks like; and, as TEDx events sweep the midwest, regional planners from nearby cities and states gathered here in Fargo to brainstorm on how to create a phenomenal event.

Looks like a pretty successful event...

Social Tilt

Locally, planning for both TEDxFargo and Startup Weekend is at full throttle. Teams are working hard to ensure we uphold our reputation for hosting mind-blowing events. Startup Weekend is on March 27-29, and sign ups are going quick – if you haven’t already, sign up here! And TEDxFargo is going to be BIG. Right now, we’re hoping for at least 2,500 people.

TEDx 2015 funny


January also saw some big announcements from the local community. The Fargo Startup House officially has two active entrepreneurs working hard while enjoying the benefits of free lodging; Dante Battocchi left his old job to join the startup he has with his wife full-time; and dogIDs won a Happiest Company award.

Startup House

Sarah English and Trent Cahoon in front of their new home.

Lastly, this month proved that the energy from 2014 has not dwindled one bit. Fargo is still seeing new residents, new stores and restaurants, and new job openings. At the last 1 Million Cups, we held an internship fair and 30 companies announced they were looking for interns (full list, here).

Next Wednesday we’ll have a job board, where companies can present positions they are looking to fill, and anyone searching for a job can present him or herself as well. These methods have proven themselves successful; we’ve seen many hirings happen after a connection made at 1 Million Cups, or other networking events. Be sure not to miss it.

What are other people saying about Fargo? On Twitter, the hashtag #ilovefargo was used 41 times. Keep spreadin’ that love.

All in all, a celebratory month. Full speed ahead!

Photos courtesy of Rick Abbott, Eric Kim, Annika Nynas, and Marisa Jackels

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Marisa Jackels