Fargo's tech renaissance lured native son Miguel Danielson back to North Dakota in 2014, and the attorney wasted no time lending a hand, cofounding the startup resource group Emerging Prairie and launching Fargo's very own (and rent-free!) startup house.
Home, a loan
Funded by Danielson and a small grant from the state of North Dakota, the Fargo Startup House is based on the idea that “working and living with people who have common goals and problems can help solve them,” Danielson says. In addition to covering rent and utilities, Danielson provides mentorship, meeting with the entrepreneurs once a month over dinner to review goals. The house can support four entrepreneurs at a time; when we visited in June, there was one bed available.
In the driver's seat
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Minnesota native Matthew Sullivan moved into the house in April to work on his ride-sharing app, Jumpr. “Jumpr connects drivers with riders headed in the same direction for long-distance ride sharing,” explains Sullivan. “Drivers have the opportunity to make money, and riders receive rides that are cheaper than buses, trains and airplanes while still being faster and more direct than buses and trains.” Sullivan has already launched a beta version.
Bake it till she makes it
Danielson aims to admit one nontech entrepreneur each year. Enter Emily Swedberg, founder of the vegan sweet shop Lucid Bakery. (She rents a commercial kitchen and sells her treats to wholesalers.) “Hosting community events and dinner parties at the Startup House allows me to share my love of food and connect with passionate people,” says Swedberg, whose ultimate goal is to open a brick-and-mortar outfit in Fargo.
The roving entrepreneur
Ask the house's newest tenant, Michael Ryan Norton, about what he's working on and, well, the answer is a little harder to pin down. He's been traveling across the country facilitating Startup Weekends, in which entrepreneurs attempt to launch a business in 72 hours. But his plans for the house are many and varied -- everything from drone marketing to songwriting. “I have a hundred ideas,” he admits. “The Startup House provides a stable environment, access to a mentor network and the very real sense that people are rallying around me.”