Written by Austin Sandmeyer
The power of the Midwest and more specifically the Upper-Midwest came through in a multitude this week at the Prairie Capital Summit. This first ever collective get-together of eager and supportive founders, investors, and entrepreneurs (or want-reprenuers as Scott Bintz would say) signaled a massive flux of innovation, technology, and strong business building in the region. From hearing from some amazing community resources like the ND Development Fund to Founders that have raised 17 Million in 17 days the Summit was jam-packed with excitement, learning, and an overall love for this amazing area to build a business and the ripe opportunity to be incredibly successful.
The Silicon Prairie is Ripe
The Midwest is powerful and the Silicon Prairie is the shooting star of within it. James Burgum Co-Founder of Arthur Ventures, Dusty Davidson Founder of Flywheel, and Scott Bintz Founder of RealTruck.com brought this narrative to life with their mutual understanding of why and how in the prairie. From the investment side, James Burgum highlighted why Arthur Ventures invests heavily in the Midwest. (Hint: it’s not because they understand a casserole is really a hotdish) It’s because they believe in the core values that align with the Midwest and the ability for founders and teams to build great businesses anywhere, not just in Silicon Valley. Dusty Davidson shared his story of why Flywheel wouldn’t be Flywheel if it were anywhere else. From the environment to the funding and operational side Flywheel wouldn’t be where it is today if it was grown anywhere but the Silicon Prairie. Following Dusty’s lead Scott Bintz, serial entrepreneur, took the components of Silicon Prairie and played them out passionately with his story of building, vetting offers, and ultimately selling his company.
The Community IS the Support
From fundraising to testing your product and idea, that community is there. The summit highlighted over 8 different local resource organizations specifically designed to help kick-start your company. These resources ranged from the NDSU Research & Tech Park to the student-led Dakota Venture Group that has developed two funds equaling over 1.8 Million. Dean Resse of the ND Development Fund showcased his passion to push success in the region in every way possible. From funding tech companies to funding feature-length movies in the area, the fund is passionate about moving the needle not just for North Dakota but for each organization and the community. This excitement and activation of the community goes much deeper with the roots being in relationship and growing.
The ability to grow is everywhere
Learning and growing are everywhere. More specifically growing relationships was a key point to success for nearly everyone attending. Jim Leslie of Flipgrid and Garrett Moon of CoSchedule both emphasized their mutual passion and understanding of the long-tail development in relationships and people cannot be understated. Jim Leslie told his story about pitching and his keys to success in his 17 Million in 17 days fundraising round; the core of which came from long-tail relationships and his ability to connect and grow with the local community. Garrett Moon shared his story of growth at his company and the power of meeting with over 150 companies from all over the country while at the same time finding his round of funding necessary from his home-grown North Dakota community.
The Power Pitch
To wrap-up the Prairie Capital Summit a lightning round, hard-stop, pitch-off brought 17 companies to the main stage for 2-minutes each. The cumulating of which was an amazing opportunity to get your product and company in front of some of the region’s top investors and provide an ask. Take a look at the company’s that pitched and dive into their amazing stories.
- Token of Trust — Token of Trust protects people from cyber criminals, fraudsters, and unruly users lurking on websites and apps that connect people.
- mAgri — This mobile app platform provides real-time harvest information for elevators and cooperatives, to better serve growers.
- Auto-Pilot Medical Technologies — The developers of WalkSmart brings the personalized data revolution to Eldercare & Physical Therapy professionals.
- Montessorium, Inc. — Bringing the highly recognized Montessori philosophy to the app world for children and parents.
- Uniqarta, Inc. — Developing Ultra-thin/Flexible electronic integrated circuits for the massive healthcare, defense, IoT industries.
- PHR Plus — Connecting Health and Medical solutions to better improve the patient outcomes on one single platform.
- Podyum, LLC — Connecting coaches and players with top football organizations from networking to recruiting.
- Profit Pros — Finding you hidden profits through developing a business revenue software system that focuses on uncovering the uncommon.
- Holiday Light Rail — The advanced Holiday Lighting system that will make your neighbors jealous while saving you hours with an easy and effective professional lighting system.
- Aerēz by MCP Networks — Super-powered WiFi with Hack-Free Parent Controls.
- Sunshine Aerial Systems — Mapping the dark of underground unmanned aviation with drones.
- Advanced Bone Technology — Making real bones with artificial material and developing the SimuBone platform.
- c2sensor — Creating degradable soil-based sensors that bring real data from “set in and forget it” circuit sensors.
- SkySkopes — Providing unique and actionable aerial data specializing in UAS automated inspections.
- Elinor Specialty Coatings — Developing High-Performance specialty coatings for advanced corrosion protection on everything from aircraft to marine vessels.
- Connect Labs — Systematically and predictably connecting you with your customers through hyper-local and offline/online advertising.
- 3DomFuel — Creating and Manufacturing performance sensitive 3D material for mass production with their 3DFuel product line.
When you look at this line-up of companies you can begin to understand that this is only the tip of the iceberg that has developed in the Silicon Prairie. There is so much more to explore and the Prairie Capital Summit spearheaded the connection between the investor and founder networks. This is only the beginning.