Message to AK Startups

The following is a message that Juliet and I wrote for the 3/14/16 Alaska Startup Digest (with a few minor edits). The digest is a weekly curated email of events in Alaska related to startups, innovation and entrepreneurship.  To sign up or add events to the calendar, visit 


March 15, 2016

Hello, Alaska Startup Community!

What an amazing weekend of fun and sun in Alaska… this is why we live here!
While returning from a stunningly awesome excursion down the highway this weekend, a harsh reality really struck me:  If we, the people of Alaska, want to be able to continue to live here in this amazing state, it is necessary to become an active part of building the future Alaska we want to live in.

Startups, take note: This is a really different mindset from having a sure-thing pipeline of milk-and-honey flowing, meeting all of your basic needs (and then some), and leaving decision making about funneling an abundance of dollars into well-established channels to oil interests and politicians in Juneau. This is no longer “business as usual” for Alaskans.

The good news is: startups matter in changing economies. A lot.

In fact, Alaska’s “local” business (“local” defined as businesses headquartered within the state) are the state’s net job producers. (Ref. Recreate and innovate: Staying relevant in a changing economy, Daily News Miner, Feb 21, 2016.) The entrepreneur community plays a major role in helping create the climate for new businesses to successfully launch, and for existing businesses to grow in innovative new ways. That’s right, a diverse economy depends upon a healthy startup ecosystem.

So, if you haven’t already done so, please add your voice to the budget discussions in Juneau. Contact your legislator directly or go to your local Legislative Information Office (LIO) during the next Public Comment period and take your two minutes to tell legislators about how startups are investing in creating a vibrant community for innovation and a home for the next generation of Alaskans. Tell them what is important to you, as a startup in Alaska, and why.  It’s a good idea to get your thoughts down in writing to take with you.  Keep it to one major point, with supporting examples and a clear actionable ask. (Want to know how to track legislation or how to be the most effective in your efforts to reach legislators? Click here and get your tickets for the upcoming Fairbanks PRSA event, “Building Relationships with Legislators”, March 23rd, at the Westmark Hotel, in Downtown Fairbanks, and find out.)

Each generation gets to sacrifice to build something for the next generation. Some fight wars, some build bridges; some explore the atom and some go to the moon. The last generation in Alaska built a pipeline. What is our legacy going to be?

After you’ve pondered that for a while, click here to find out about the 2016 Alaska Business Plan Competition to help make your startup a reality. April 3rd is the deadline for this year’s submissions. If you need help, please contact one us for help in finding a student or SBDC contact for business plan assistance.

We’ll look for your submission. 😉

Now, spring forward – and STARTUP!

Alaska Startup Digest is curated by:
Ky Holland Ky Holland – Assistant Professor – Alaska Pacific University

Contact Ky Holland at

Juliet Shepherd Juliet Shepherd – Tech Led Development Project Manager, Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation

Contact Juliet Shepherd at

Gianna Foltz Gianna Foltz – Entrepreneur

Contact Gianna Foltz at



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