Sara Lum is the vice president of Startup Sioux Falls. She sat down with Sioux Falls Simplified to talk about Founders Day on March 6 and the inaugural "State of the Startups" event.

Answers are edited for length and clarity. All responses are quotes from Lum.

How did you get smart about startups? What prepared you for your job today?

My background is as an architect, and in 2017 when I became licensed, I asked myself the question, 'Do I want to do this for the rest of my life?' and the answer was no.

I went back to business school and then attended an event at the Zeal Center called Startup Weekend. I was like, these are my people.

That turned into a full-time job in December 2020.

We’re all about simplicity here, can you describe the purpose of “Founders Day” in 10 words or fewer? 

Celebrating entrepreneurs, their journey and the impact they have in our community.

The first-ever “State of the Startups” event is happening next week as part of Founder’s Day. What can you tell us about that event and Founders Day as a whole?

The day as a whole is about celebrating founders. We have 12 people – almost all founders themselves – scheduled to speak, and the State of the Startups keynote speaker is Jael Thorpe (founder of Gameday Social Apparel Company).

We're also going to be presenting some information that we collected from founders – really presenting the state of startups and what we've seen in the past year.

We're also celebrating the successes of people in our community and what the next year holds.

Any milestones in particular Startup Sioux Falls is celebrating?

We're coming up on the successful completion of the grant.

  • Just over two years ago we received a $1 million grant to expand the reach of Co.Starters business accelerator to underserved communities.
  • We have since served 284 participants directly through that support.

Internally, I think we're celebrating that we now have a suite of programs that serve people at different stages of business – Bootcamps, Co.Starters and Grow.Co.

  • We're better able to put people into positions that are the best fit for them.

What’s been the biggest obstacle Startup Sioux Falls has faced in your first year in the newly renovated downtown facility?

The biggest challenge has just been getting into the groove of operating a facility again and what that means as a small team. We're trying to make sure that we’re serving our community but then also members.

If you could snap your fingers and start a new business tomorrow, what would it be? 

I actually think it’s the business I’m starting, Palette Creative Co. It's something that innovates the architectural industry because I think it's ripe for innovation.

Is there anything else you’d like the good people of Sioux Falls to know about you, Startup Sioux Falls, or Founders Day? 

Hug a founder.

Take the time on founders day to see the entrepreneurs in your life and how hard it is to do what they’re doing, and just say thank you. Encourage them to keep going.

  • That's what Founders Day is all about.

It maybe feels a little bit fluffy, but for the founders we serve, we think about Founders Day as the day that's gonna give them a little pump of energy for the year ahead.