Zeal’s Top 10 of 2019

Celebrating another great year!

Zeal team poses with Seth Tibbott of Tofurky at a panel discussion held at Augustana University during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November 2019

2019 was a busy year for the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship. From new hires to new partnerships and a host of other events and developments, the team worked hard to support Sioux Falls’ vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Below are Zeal’s top ten highlights of 2019.

10. Welcoming a new team

In April, Zeal hired a new executive director, Brienne Maner, to lead its staff and promote Sioux Falls’ entrepreneurial community. Brienne transitioned from Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc., where she previously served as vice-president.

During the last four months of the year, Manaal Ali has served as the campus’ Engagement and Community intern. Manaal is a student at Augustana University, where she studies government and international affairs, sociology, and biology.

Zeal also hired Kate Flemming in November to serve as its new community manager. Kate moved to Sioux Falls from Decatur, Illinois, where she worked as the program coordinator for Millikin University’s Center for Entrepreneurship.

None of the year’s successes would have been possible without the leadership and support of our incredible Board of Directors as well!

9. Tofurky founder visits during Global Entrepreneurship Week

Just before Thanksgiving, Zeal hosted Seth Tibbott of Tofurky during Global Entrepreneurship Week. Seth is the founder of the international vegan brand, Tofurky, and he spoke to the community at 1 Million Cups, several news outlets such as SDPB and KSFY, as well as at a panel discussion to discuss plant based protein initiatives with local industry leaders at Augustana University.

8. Forging creative partnerships

Local artist, Jillian Gunlicks, created a beautiful mural in Zeal’s common space, as part of the Ideas Take Flight initiative which added to the vibrancy of the space and helped to promote and celebrate local artist entrepreneurs.

In 2019, the organization highlighted the impact of art by forging new partnerships with local artists and creatives, including Jillian and The Good Night Theatre Collective.

7. Businesses graduate from Zeal’s incubator program

Zeal celebrated two business graduates this year, Well365 & Throne Publishing.

Founded by Trisha Dohn, Well365 is a corporate wellness firm with a 17-person team. Dohn started the company three years ago, and they have now grown out of the space at Zeal and into a new office space in southern Sioux Falls.

Throne Publishing, founded by Jeremy Brown, creates legacy books for both families and businesses. The company officed out of Zeal for four years and will now be moving to downtown Sioux Falls.

Jeremy and Trisha will continue to work with Zeal as associate business members and mentors.

6. Welcoming new business tenants

Snapfon, a big-button cell phone company for seniors, joined Zeal as a business tenant, as well as Oxenham Group, an executive recruiting agency founded by Bill McGuckin.

5. Startup Sioux Falls Merger

The announcement came in October, but the merger between Zeal and the local entrepreneurial umbrella organization, Startup Sioux Falls, has now officially taken place. Founded by Matt Paulson, Startup Sioux Falls exists to connect entrepreneurs and provide information about the plethora of resources available in this community.

Matt Paulson & Brienne Maner announce merger at Sioux Falls Innovation Expo in October 2019

The organizations made a big splash in 2019, collaborating on a big social event, marketing and networking workshops, and launched the first ever Failure Fest, set for January 9. The collaboration was recognized by 605 Magazine as one of 2019’s 605 Best. Startup Sioux Falls’ content and activities will continue to run as usual, but with the operation and mission of Zeal behind it.

4. Zeal opens its doors to displaced businesses

In September, the Sioux Falls community underwent a significant natural disaster in the form of three tornadoes which tore through residential and commercial areas. Numerous businesses suffered damage or displacement because of the storm.

Fortunately, Zeal’s campus was not damaged, and during the first week after the storms, we made our space available at no charge to businesses who needed a place to work or hold a meeting. It’s during those types of situations that the strength of Sioux Falls’ business community shines, and Zeal was proud to offer their support during a difficult time.

3. Mayor declares Entrepreneurship Day in Sioux Falls

Mayor Paul TenHaken declared March 6 Entrepreneurship Day in Sioux Falls, also marking the five-year anniversary of the local 1 Million Cups chapter’s first event.

TenHaken, an entrepreneur in his own right as the founder of Click Rain, spoke about the need for more cohesiveness within the business and entrepreneurial community in Sioux Falls. He cited events like 1 Million Cups and organizations like Zeal as powerful opportunities for growth and deserving of the community’s support.

2. Hey Sioux Falls event a second-year success

In November, the community celebrated the second annual Hey Sioux Falls awards show, which recognizes the trials and triumphs of entrepreneurship.

The event is a collaboration between Zeal, the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, 1 Million Cups and Startup Sioux Falls. Event organizers include: Jennie Doyen, Addie Graham-Kramer, Brienne Maner, John Meyer, Matt Paulson and Valerie Wilson.

2019 Governor’s Giant Vision award winner and one of Zeal’s startup tenants, Advanced Remote Sensing Inc., was awarded New Startup of the Year.

1. Celebrating strong community partnerships

Zeal makes an effort to foster strong community partnerships, with Forward Sioux Falls, Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and several chamber member businesses leading the charge.

Zeal has also pursued a variety of non-profit partnerships and event sponsorships this year, including The Good Night Theatre Collective, Think 3D’s CultureCon, Sioux Falls Innovation Expo, and its first Re:Boot Sioux Falls technology donation drive for area non-profits, in collaboration with DRACO and Secure Enterprise Asset Management, Inc.

If you or your company are interested in supporting Zeal in 2020, please contact us or become a Patreon supporter! Here’s to an exciting new decade filled with promise and the entrepreneurial spirit.

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