T’were the days before Christmas, and all through the land,
Not a startup was known. No co-founder, no man.
“We must counteract!” Exclaimed the Emerging Prairie crew.
And so they made a plan, and said “Here’s what we’ll do.”
They schemed and they called, soliciting entrepreneurs by night.
“We must tell your story,” they said, “And we must get it right!”
Now to save you from grief, we will cease this petty rhyme.
Please enjoy all our findings, and have a happy holiday time.

While reading that stanza may pain some of our readers, the idea it represents is genuine: Emerging Prairie is meant to be more than a media outlet for describing startups. Behind each quirky company name is a founder and team with personalities and real thoughts – and around this time of year, some even have wish lists! So, with a yuletide deviation from standard startup activity reporting, the Emerging Prairie team thought it prudent to highlight our area’s favorite community participants in a new context.

Below is a smattering of survey responses from startup founders in the Fargo-Moorhead area at large. Although these individuals are the ones making things happen in the entrepreneurial sphere, they are also the ones looking forward to Christmas carols and the overall camaraderie of the holiday season. Take a moment to get to know these people on a more meaningful level!

For those stuck in Secret Santa gatherings without ideas, perhaps the following will spur some inspiration. Technology was high on a number of wish lists this year, with Heat Transfer Warehouse CEO Kirk Anton hoping for an Apple Watch.

Jake Joraanstad Christmas

Photo credit: Marisa Jackels

Apart from the – likely – obligatory time-with-wife-and-family response, Myriad Mobile’s man at the helm Jake Joraanstad is in the market for a new GoPro “to record all the dumb things” he does. Let it be noted to his wife and family that they came first on his list, which is true testament of devotion coming from someone who has made technology (and backyard knighting ceremonies) his life.

With the winter holiday season come more traditions than you can stuff in a stocking, and our startup survey participants were kind enough to share some of their favorite recurring experiences. If your playlist is getting stale, it appears as though 9 Clouds’ Scott Meyer can soon assist in a revitalization. Scott is in the process of developing his top 12 songs of the year which he will then swap with family members to mutually enjoy each other’s top picks during the new year. Giving us a sneak peek, Scott mentioned two inclusions this year are alt-J (Hunger of the Pine) and Kishi Bashi (Philosophize It, Chemicalize It) – a Googling break for these two during your day wouldn’t hurt. Reach out soon for more of this South Dakotan partner’s 2014 chart-toppers.

In a similar vein, Beach Interactive’s CEO Sarah English knows the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. Sarah’s looking forward to joining the carolers of St. Mary’s Cathedral in a night of downtown music-making and general frivolity.

Christmas Carolers

Photo credit: Edward Pavek

And our outdoors aficionado startup founder award – if such an award were bestowed – would go to dogIDs Pack Leader Clint Howitz. Undeterred by wind chill and unforgiving singular degree temperatures, Clint is looking forward to anything outdoors this season, from pheasant hunting with his brother to slicing through snow piles on a new snowmobile, wish list-pending. The cold may bother others in Fargo*, but Clint & Co. are embracing the experiences that come with living in such a biting climate.

Reading about the events, activities, and desires surrounding the lives of those representing our community is a great way to deepen your roots, but don’t stop there! This all-too-abrupt summary is just a taste from a select group of individuals. Find people with similar interests and make connections for a stronger and happier community as we continue through this season.

Many thanks to those mentioned in this article and to the rest of our representatives for making Fargo such a great place to create a company. As far as Emerging Prairie’s wish list is concerned, your commitment to making our area great is the gift we’ve always wanted.

And don’t forget to wish your favorite startup founders – and everyone else in your life – a happy holiday season!


*Jake Joraanstad’s self-proclaimed unique winter holiday tradition: “Hmm…Sprinting everywhere when I’m outside?”

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Matt Gantz