As a writer for Emerging Prairie, I’ve interviewed and interacted with a lot of different startups and entrepreneurs. And throughout these past six months of exploring the local startup community, there seem to be a few reccurring trends.
Entrepreneurs love Fargo but…
The first, is that entrepreneurs love Fargo. When I ask about the advantages of starting up a company in Fargo, the responses are almost always unanimous: great energy, a collaborative spirit, and a wealth of support for entrepreneurs via events like 1 Million Cups, Startup Drinks, E-Commerce Breakfast, etc.
But when I inquire about any disadvantages, it seems the problem is also unanimous. Talent. It’s hard to find talent, especially Fargo’s tech talent. That challenge is widespread and not unique to Fargo – the demand for developers and designers is high across the nation and even the world (so to any students reading this, as a recent college grad I highly suggest learning a bit of code).
How to find Fargo’s tech talent?
It seems one of the main problems for Fargo in particular, is that there are developers out there – there’s just no effective way to find them.
Kari Peterson and Amy McKinnon ran into this problem as they searched for developers a few months ago, while getting their startup Sky Blue Technology off the ground. They were looking specifically for developers who could work with Microsoft Azure, and they wanted to hire a team from Fargo. However, their search was unsuccessful.
“We didn’t have a space where we could announce, and say we need developers and this is the skillset we are looking for,” Peterson said. “We just wanted some kind of forum where we could put some work out there.”
Peterson said she talked to a group at 1 Million Cups about a site called Elance, a platform where freelancers can post their portfolios and businesses can post work opportunities. Something like Elance in Fargo would be the perfect way to connect with local resources, Peterson said.
A Fargo startup job board
What would a Fargo Elance look like? It’s food for conversation. What we at Emerging Prairie can offer, as an organization whose sole mission is to boost the startup community, is a page on our website called the Startup Job Board.
It’s always been there, and perhaps you were one of those frustrated persons who clicked on it before only to find it empty. Well, it’s not empty anymore, and local companies are actively posting their job opportunities. If you are interested in making such a post, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, it does not include a space for freelancers or developers to post their portfolios and get their names out there. In that regard, the best opportunity would be to attend a Live Job Board at 1 Million Cups. This is where employers showcase job opportunities and prospective employees can present their portfolios and resumes to those employers. Connections and hires have been made following this event, so it’s a valuable place to be when job searching. Live Job Boards are held the first Wednesday of every month at 1 Million Cups Fargo (9:15 am at the Stage at Island Park).
This is what exists now. But better solutions are always out there.
I spoke briefly about the issue with Andy Christensen, Emerging Prairie co-founder and an Associate at Arthur Ventures. He agreed that this gap, the talent gap, is the biggest hole that needs to be filled in this community. This means both spreading the word about job opportunities in Fargo, while also reaching Fargo’s tech talent that already exists, but is hidden.
“At Startup Weekend last year there were tons of developers, and I knew less than half,” Christensen said. “There are people here.”
Hooray for Fargo’s tech talent…now make yourself known!
Oh and if you’re wondering about the cover photo and the one above – yes, that is Vince Vaughn and his co-stars. To market the upcoming film Unfinished Business they made a bunch of campy stock photos that were too hilarious not to use in some way. Photos courtesy of iStock.