July seemed to ride on a constant high, starting with the Prairie Den’s first birthday and ending with TEDxFargo drawing a crowd of over 1,800 people. Here’s all that and then some in our monthly review.
The Rise of the Pokémon
Now before you cringe, or get excited, can we just take a step back and acknowledge how whether you play or not, Pokémon Go has changed the world? That’s a broad statement, but in the very least, it has changed downtown Fargo. Anyone who walks around downtown or Island Park can see that in the hordes of people on corners, bikes, in alleys and coffee shops, all swiping at their phone to catch ’em all.
Within 48 hours it was clear that Pokémon GO was taking over, and we wrote an article about it here. Within a day it was one of our most viewed articles of all time. Later, we took a look at how local businesses responded by using Pokémon GO to lure customers (and, of course, Pokemon). Will this phenomenon continue to liven up the streets of Fargo and cities across the world, or has it already peaked? Time will tell.
The Prairie Den Turns One
Festivities were high as the Prairie Den celebrated its first birthday on July 6. Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of CoCo, the coworking space that pulled out in under a year, the Prairie Den faced a plenty of skepticism and started out as a room of mismatched furniture. Today it is a thriving coworking space infused with local art, home to over 140 members and 4 full time teams…and, as we found at the Prairie Den’s first birthday party, a pretty well-loved part of the community. Fargo local Michael Olsen eluded to it being “the room where it happens.” (Hamilton fans?)
We covered a lot of new local tech startups in Fargo through 1 Million Cups this month as well. One startup, Creative Wagering, is based in Florida but opening up their first gaming platform in downtown Fargo’s Sidestreet bar: it’s a virtual way to bet on live horse-racing.
Mukai Selekwa, a recent highschool graduate, also shared his work from the stage with Webblen, a software for social media management. Who says you’re ever too young to start a company? (No one, that’s who.)
The Fargo Game-makers held their second 48 hour Game Jam, which resulted in a host of games being developed at the Prairie Den around the themes ‘arctic’ and ‘literature’. The winner was announced just this week; a game about a viking that eats books, and players have to unscramble famous literary quotes. Brilliant!
The Startup Dish
In a Willy Wonka-esque tour, we looked behind-the-scenes of Heat Transfer Warehouse. The local e-commerce startup that sells heat transfer materials has grown from Kirk Anton running the company solo to 33 employees and $12 million in revenue…and it continues to grow. Take the tour!
Transition continues at local drone startup Botlink, where creative director Adam Wiedman left to start his own company. While Wiedman is one of a few major leadership changes, Botlink continues to grow, with the announcement of Botlink Everywhere: a technology that allows Botlink users to save images and data to an SD card when outside of cellular network.
We looked at startup activity nationwide with a wider lens as well, highlighting five cities that have been transformed by earlier startup successes. Similarly, Professor Josh Marineau received a grant from the Kauffman Foundation to conduct research on entrepreneurial growth in Fargo. Yes, it’s a phenomenon.
As for investment activity, how about AngelList? We took a look at the pros and cons to the investment platform, here. In a nutshell: it’s worth a shot.
Fargo Code School
Fargo native Adam Vareberg, a Davies grad currently studying engineering at Harvard (and a rockstar intern with Emerging Prairie), is working on his summer project: launching a code school in Fargo. Currently the project is in the preliminary stages, such putting together a committee and rallying support; but his 1 Million Cups presentation garnered a very positive response and already the ball is on the roll.
Fargo made a few headlines as well, including a two page feature in Entrepreneur as one of the top 50 best cities to have a startup. The article featured the Fargo Startup House, and the free housing it offers entrepreneurs (thanks Miguel Danielson!)
The national spotlight of TEDxFargo
Leading up to TEDxFargo, we also took a look at the ripples left from past events and in the lives of past speakers. Former speaker Brian Lee is now working on the design for Kilbourne Group’s Block 9 project.
And of course, after a very full day of speakers, food, entertainment, learning and meeting new people, we condensed it into a 2-minute article. Read it here!
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Compared to July, August may seem relatively calm. Perhaps that’s how it should be. Time to relish the summer that is quickly, as much as we hate to say it, flying by. Or, in the words of an intern who recently taught us how to put that more eloquently: tempus Fugit. Shout out to Maneesh.