Have you ever thought about starting your own business? We caught up with Brienne Maner, executive director of Startup Sioux Falls to talk about what it takes to start a business, Startup Sioux Falls' upcoming downtown move and Sesame Street Live.
All responses are quotes from Maner. Answers have been edited for length.
How did you ‘get smart’ about startups? – i.e. what in your background or in your own research/activities prepared you for your job today?
I started my career at Sesame Street Live in Minneapolis, so I guess you could say I learned from the best? In all seriousness, when I moved back to Sioux Falls from Minneapolis I worked for several startup companies; Electric Pulp and Datasync in particular.
- I learned a ton about what it’s like to work for a lean team that is constantly pivoting and growing while also staying relevant. I didn’t realize it at the time, but working for those two companies would prepare me for a unique understanding of the entrepreneurial journey as I literally went along for the ride, twice.
Additionally, my time at Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. (DTSF) opened my eyes to the diversity in industry that needs support from the startup community.
We’re all about simplicity here. Can you describe what Startup Sioux Falls does in 10 words or less?
We empower founders through resources to network, launch and grow.
What’s something people most often misunderstand about starting a business here? (And, if you could politely correct them, what would you say?)
That they need to start with a loan or physical space/land.
- Most come to us with little to no understanding of a strong financial model and an overabundance of passion with no real plan, which is completely fine; we cast no judgements.
This is where we typically guide them toward a free business planning session with our partners at the SBDC and also to apply for our 10-week CO.STARTERS accelerator program.
- When they have a better idea of what their immediate needs are and a forecasted revenue model, we can then more confidently connect them with a lender to secure funding and also a business mentor to help them through the next steps.
If you could snap your fingers and a new business would appear in Sioux Falls, what would you like it to be?
Snap! A Native American art gallery. Snap! Year-round community farmers market. Snap! Private room karaoke bar. Snap! A Sioux Falls/South Dakota maker fair trade boutique. Snap! A community commercial kitchen.
You guys are moving into a new building downtown soon – what feature in the new building are you most excited about?
While the interior is going to be incredible, the outdoor deck gets me really excited.
- The way that our building is situated, there will be ample opportunity to work/relax outdoors and for our team to activate the exterior of our space, further connecting us to the downtown community which we are so excited to be a part of.
What’s your advice for someone who wants to learn more about Startup Sioux Falls – or maybe even start a business of their own?
We offer several ways to connect and interact because we know each founder is in a different phase of their entrepreneurial journey.
- You can start by joining our Facebook Group and signing up for our weekly emails.
- You can also attend one of our free networking/educational events.
- And when you’re ready to take it to the next level, reach out to the team and we’ll assess where you’re at to ensure we connect you with the right resources.
How do you spend your time when you’re not working with startups?
Playing and laughing with my effervescent 4-year-old daughter, my wonderful husband, and all of our incredible family and friends – enjoying all that Sioux Falls has to offer.
Anything else you want the people of Sioux Falls to know about you, your job or Startup Sioux Falls?
I want you to know that no matter who you are, where you came from, or how scared you might be to take the leap, there are absolutely no judgments here.
- We are here to help and empower individuals to realize their dreams through entrepreneurship. I want our community to keep dreaming, thinking innovatively, and lifting each other up in support along the way.
I love my job because we encompass all of these values and then some.