The “Fargo” startup community strategy – a community choosing to actively engage and support the success of a local entrepreneur and their startup that would have a positive and potentially strategy impact on the community and economy. I learned this from Katherine Jernstrom after one of her Startup Champions trips (maybe even from Fargo…). What she shared helped me learn that startup community success is not a passive, backseat, arm-chair quarterbacking game – our community success is built by actively, honestly helping the entrepreneur succeed. What can that look like?
In addition to the coffees, networking, board meetings, startup event organizing; I choose to be an active part of the business’s customer engagement. I buy the shoes, I buy the packaroons every single place I see them (orange vanilla), when I go Christmas shopping I’m looking for Alaskan fishing products, local books, local company promo hoodies, when I go to a Startup Weekend I always want to be someone’s first paying customer, I buy the brew pub beer/glasses, the cookies (booze infused are the best), delivery service… I’m waiting for my XL mens-cut base layer (just sayin’ Jennifer). If I like what someone is doing and their product, I buy it, even if I don’t have to or there are other options that might even be my past go-to favorites, (or if I already have plenty of books to read.) If I can’t find someone’s product on a shelf, I ask the sales person where it is or explain why I’m looking for it, and tell the entrepreneur the store is out of stock or the store is interested in learning more about stocking. If I like the product I write a review about it. If I don’t like something, or its just not for me.. I share that with the entrepreneur. (I”m still trying to save up for the boat, but I am planning on a heated walkway at my house.)
I’m not waiting and wondering if someone will be successful. I’m doing what I can to insure they are. You can too.
Want to support a scaling business teaching grant writing (and solving maintenance problems in the water and wastewater industry), then try this book and visit the website? https://www.amazon.com/How-Write-Grant-Writing-Unicorn/dp/1733395709/
Want to support a startup that is already managing an international supply chain MANUFACTURING shoes from Anchorage that distributes product in the US, then check out these comfy pair of shoes for your tired and perhaps swelling feet when you would rather wear some flexible running shoes but you have to dress up for business. https://www.pandereshoes.com/
Interested in supporting our emerging outdoor adventure product industry, then check out this new base layer MANUFACTURING company’s unique new design (that I hope will be available in mens XL soon…) https://alpinefit.co/
My point here is not to suggest I’m doing something special, it is that if all of us do something to actively engage and support our startups, we will collectively do something special. In Fargo, the “Emerging Praire” was based on the following principles created by entrepreneurs who wanted to make a difference in their community: (This has since turned in to an ongoing Emerging Prairie organization we might want to build in Alaska. ).
- “Educate Our City – By bringing ideas to Fargo and challenging the status quo, we can move our community forward. Through events, programming, and using our influence to convene leaders, we are able to move ideas to action and impact.”
- “Infuse the Arts – We create opportunities for the arts / artists to be incorporated into all of our events and programs. We believe artists are the vital culture creators in a community; culture is a key factor in what makes people choose to build a life in a city.”
- “Build on Our Brightspots – We are cheerleaders and champions of the people who are doing great things in our community. Working from the idea of “a rising tide lifts all boats,” we celebrate those that are making progress and positively impacting our community.”
- “Practice Radical Inclusivity – As the fabric of our community becomes richer, we need to create an environment to welcome people from a variety of backgrounds, faith traditions, lifestyles, etc. We do this through actions such as participating in Welcoming Week, celebrating New American Entrepreneurs, providing gender neutral restrooms at events, utilizing “pay what you can” methods and offering vegan food at our events.”
Item 3 is what I’ve referring to here as the “Fargo Strategy” As I understand it, the approach doesn’t mean blind support for every single wild idea startup. Its a bit more discerning, looking for those that have potential and could have strategic impact on the community and then doing everything possible to ensure their success. We have some great entrepreneurs and new startups that could be around for a long time defining a new Alaskan economy. Don’t sit back, wait, heckle and wonder whether someone will be successful – be a cheerleader and champion of the startups that you see working hard to build our future economy in Alaska and #BuildTheFutureYouWant.