Startup Sioux Falls kicked off its third CO.STARTERS program on November 2 with a group of 12 entrepreneurs. When this class graduates at the end of January 2022, we will be able to celebrate a successful first year of facilitating this impactful program. Our team plans to continue hosting three cohorts per year and expanding opportunities for underrepresented communities in our city. 

This third cohort will be facilitated by Larry Young, the owner and president of Boiling Frog Development. Young is an author and speaker, but he spends most of his time consulting successful businesses—primarily in the professional services industry—that are seeking growth opportunities. 

Larry Young, owner and president of Boiling Frog Development and facilitator for CO.STARTERS Cohort 3

For early-stage companies, like those who are coming through CO.STARTERS, Young believes the value of the program is the guidance and mentorship that can help them avoid costly mistakes. 

“Back when I was getting started, I wish I would have asked for help and gotten a coach or gone through a cohort program to minimize the impact of my mistakes,” he said. “I know I still would have done it because I believed in what I was going to do, but I could have saved myself some financial mistakes. I also would have niched down right away and been ultra-focused.” 

Because of Young’s banking background and his current business development expertise, he says much of what he brings to the table for this group is guidance on marketing and sales, finances, and how to balance time. Young hopes to lead CO.STARTERS participants to successful outcomes, which may look different for each of them.

“A lot of times, we think of success as somebody who graduates and goes on to have a successful business, but success can also mean that you realize that your idea isn’t going to work, and you don’t invest time and capital into it,” he said. 

“Success is the exercise of going through the process of learning about yourself as an entrepreneur and the viability of your business. I never wake up and see myself as a finished product, nor do I see my business as that.”

Meet the entrepreneurs

As with every cohort, these entrepreneurs represent a diverse array of industries and backgrounds. We invite you to read through the Q&A below to learn more about their businesses and why you, the startup community, should be paying attention to these rising stars.  

Please note, some of the entrepreneurs participating in CO.STARTERS have asked that their names or the names of their companies remain anonymous for the time being.

Check them out!

Entrepreneurs: Marcela Salas & co-founder, Patricia Burbine

Business venture: Salas Salsas

Tell us about yourself and your business.

We are a mother-daughter business offering quality and authenticity at its finest, with salsas and tamales, along with a colorful variety of food and services. I (Marcela) was born in Veracruz, Mexico and came to the United States with my mom and sisters in 1999. I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and studied at the The Institute of Culinary Arts in Omaha where I was immersed in cuisines of all different kinds and was part of the Student Culinary Competition Team. After graduating, I moved to Sioux Falls to pursue my passion for aviation. After a summer in the Aviation Program at SDSU, I earned my Private Pilot’s License and have been flying recreationally since. I began my business in the summer of 2020 amidst the pandemic. Salas Salsas was started by my mother, Patricia, and I as an homage to the strong line of amazing cooks we come from. We work hard for the opportunities that they never had the option to even take. 

We have seen growth in the Farmers Market of Brandon, and now we are stocked seasonally at Cherry Rock Farms, as well as the Sioux Falls Food Co-op. We buy our produce locally as the seasons allow, and we have partnered with Tillford Rye Farms, Prairie Fresh Produce, Dayton Avenue Orchard, and Lanoe Gardens for produce, as well as BOS Beef for all of our beef tamales. Currently, we are building out a food truck, and we have plans to grow with the community of Sioux Falls and the surrounding areas.

Why did you apply to CO.STARTERS?

I was inspired to apply for CO.STARTERS to better myself as a business owner and help my business grow within the Sioux Falls community. I hope to learn everything, or try to at least. In aviation, we have a saying, “A good pilot is always learning.” This carries into every aspect of life—it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to learn more and be better everyday.

What should the Startup Sioux Falls community know about your venture?

We come from humble beginnings, but I know we have potential to go far.  I hope to be a voice for the Latinx business community in Sioux Falls.

Find Salas Salsas on social media:

Entrepreneurs: Albert and Kayla Huizing

Business venture: Huizing Properties LLC

Tell us about yourself and your business.

We launched Huizing Properties, LLC in February 2021. What began as housing guests in our basement transformed into a full-service co-hosting business for Airbnb properties. We enjoy working with property owners to help make their short term rentals successful through daily operations, turnover management, and creative pricing and marketing strategies.

Why did you apply to CO.STARTERS?

Though we started our business earlier this year, we knew that we needed some assistance and mentorship to help make the business grow. We have had many friends go through the program and they’ve had great results, so we knew it would be well worth the time. 

What should the Startup Sioux Falls community know about your venture?

We know that building relationships is crucial in a thriving entrepreneurial community. While we want our business to grow, we also want to be a resource to others in this community. When Sioux Falls wins, we all win.

Find Huizing Properties on social media:

Entrepreneur: Russell Mendenhall

Business venture: Robin Royal 

Tell us about yourself and your business.

Growing up the youngest of four farm-raised South Dakota boys, adventures were always part of my childhood. From an early age thanks to my family’s generosity and a kind first mentor, Paul Mavity, I developed my love of the arts. Years later and many different adventures experienced around the world, my art has developed. I attended SDSU and am in the South Dakota Army National Guard as well.

Robin Royal creates breathtaking oil-finished art of that which is most precious to you, your family. These near-to-life and life-size art pieces immortalize a special moment of love forever for your family to enjoy in your home. Their presence in your home makes you feel as if you could reach out and hug your family.

Why did you apply to CO.STARTERS?

I heard Matt Paulson discussing the program and had a refreshingly straightforward conversation with Eric Weisser on how CO.STARTERS works with you to achieve your goals. I desire to move the needle dramatically forward in the amount of clients served over the next 365 days.

What should the Startup Sioux Falls community know about your venture?

Time passes by, day after day, without fail. That’s why it is important for us to create our art. One day, the loved ones in our portraits won’t be around, but with our portraits we can experience a magical moment with them again.

Find Robin Royal on social media:

Entrepreneur: Rachel Stroschein

Business venture: Undisclosed

Tell us about yourself.

Entrepreneurship has always been something that has drawn me in. I never thought of it as something I “should” be doing, but as the only way of life that makes sense to me. As I started getting older, I realized that where my money goes is so much bigger than convenience—that supporting local businesses and people brave enough to step out of the norm is an essential part of a growing and thriving society. I want to be a part of that—not only with where I spend my money, but also as someone who can contribute their ideas to make Sioux Falls an amazing place for the people and community to thrive.

Why did you apply to CO.STARTERS?

I have been sitting with my business idea for a few months now, and it was love at first sight. Everything that the CO.STARTERS program offers is the structure I need in order to lift my idea off the ground to see if it has wings. I hope to learn the functional tools to actually take an idea and make it real. Whether it succeeds or fails, I want to learn the process so I can keep trying.

Entrepreneur: Peter Hauck

Business venture: Rink Rabbit

Tell us about yourself and your business.

I’m the community manager for Startup Sioux Falls and founder of Rink Rabbit—a sporting goods company that designs and distributes high-performance gear for figure skating athletes. Rink Rabbit’s flagship product, a patent-pending practice bag, is expected to hit stores in December 2021.

Why did you apply to CO.STARTERS?

I know the program helps founders gain traction in their business, and I wanted to give my young venture the best shot at success that I possibly could. By the end, I hope to have the skills necessary to build a lasting and sustainable business. I also hope to use the course to develop an action plan for expanding Rink Rabbit from a single product into a trusted brand for figure skating families around the world.

What should the Startup Sioux Falls community know about your venture?

Figure skating is a sport that takes real athleticism, countless hours of practice, and intense determination. Rink Rabbit aims to provide figure skaters with thoughtfully designed, high-performance gear that matches the expectations that they set for themselves.

Find Rink Rabbit on social media: 

Entrepreneur: Carly Kewley

Business venture: CK Design 

Tell us about yourself and your business.

My name is Carly, and I own CK Design. My focus is brand design and brand strategy—helping entrepreneurs from the DIY phase, to outsourcing a few things, to the business owner looking for a full brand package. 

Why did you apply to CO.STARTERS?

I’m always looking for ways to scale and better my business. How to fine tune systems, workflows, implement new ideas and how to keep my client experience bomb. My business right now is in a little growth stage, which is awesome, so by the end of this, I hope to have a more solid grasp on where I’m at, along with insight on how to get to where I want my business to be: outsourcing, hiring, growing/scaling, and solidifying systems and services, as well as some digital products.

What should the Startup Sioux Falls community know about your venture?

I help small business owners build a brand they love. I believe the ideas I have for my business and the services I’m starting to offer are approachable for business owners at each stage in their branding and business journey, which is pretty dang exciting, in my opinion.

Find CK Design on social media: 

Entrepreneurs: Kevin Forshey & co-founder, Sami Pitts

Business venture: MyndTek 

Tell us about yourself and your business.

I am a creative, diversified, and talented software developer with over 10 years of experience in multiple disciplines. I have developed countless applications in a variety of technologies while developing an expert-level command of developing in Microsoft Technologies. I started MyndTek in early 2020 with the goal of improving the lives of those who suffer from mental health and optimizing mental health diagnosis and treatment through the use of data analytics and machine learning. MyndTek develops software to help mental health care providers partner with patients to optimize and manage mental health issues including, but not limited to: bipolar disorder, depression, borderline personality disorder, and suicide risks.

Why did you apply to CO.STARTERS?

I first heard about Co.Starters last year when the closest program was in Fargo. I did a significant amount of research and felt that it would be incredibly valuable to add those skills to my business. I am primarily a developer, so my main focus has been on developing my product (MyndHak) and I have not been as focused on the business and promotion side.

What should the Startup Sioux Falls community know about your venture?

Our aim is to make people’s lives better. It would be great to make a bunch of money in the process,  but we are focusing on making meaning. I am hypothesizing that when our machine learning model is complete, we will be able to prevent potential suicides and suicide attempts with the technology that we’re working on, and this software will change the way that mental health care is done moving forward.

Find MyndTek on social media:

Entrepreneur: Erica Locke, IIDA, NCIDQ

Business venture: Articulate, LLC

Tell us about yourself and your business.

I founded Articulate, LLC in January 2020. I have over 11 years of experience in commercial interior design and specialize in healthcare, corporate, education, and historic preservation projects. I launched my design career in Nashville and have worked in the regional market since 2012. Articulate, LLC is a full-service interior design studio dedicated to great design from start to finish. Whether I’m creating full construction sets and specs or collaborating with the architect and consultants on board, every aspect is equally important to me.

Why did you apply to CO.STARTERS?

I have some creative ideas that keep me up at night on how I can make the design process easier for clients, contractors, and developers. I hope to learn how to bring my ideas to life in a way that I exceed expectations and am still passionate about what I get to do every day.

Find Articulate on social media: 

Entrepreneur: Jesús González

Business venture: A Moment Forever Studios

Tell us about yourself and your business.

After graduating from the University of South Dakota in 2006, I moved to what would be my forever home, Sioux Falls, SD. I’m a professional videographer, photographer, and audio engineer. I was recently an advocate for the Latino community through the nonprofit, Que Pasa Sioux Falls, as its vice president and co-founder. In July of this year, I started working on my own company as a videographer and photographer. 

Why did you apply to CO.STARTERS?

A conversation at 1 Million Cups sparked my application, and I’m a firm believer in education. I know how to do what I do professionally, yet I lack many of the basic skills to run a business.

What should the Startup Sioux Falls community know about your venture?

Going above and beyond the client’s expectations is my number one goal.

Entrepreneur: Elsa Posey

Business venture: Solar Xpress

Tell us about yourself and your business.

Solar Xpress was established in June 2021. Over the last five years, I have been deeply involved in the renewable energy industry in a variety of projects, including commercial, industrial and residential. One of the company’s main objectives is to offer options such as “Solar Power” to save customers money, support “New Technologies”, and the “Economic Growth” within our communities. Solar Xpress will begin by utilizing our available source of energy to accomplish this, by starting with: our Sun.

As a (“Minority Women-Owned Small Business”) in South Dakota, we are seeking to provide solar energy within our communities. Our mission is to meet our customers expectations by going above and beyond.

Why did you apply to CO.STARTERS?

We are new to the community, and we need guidance and mentorship. Being part of this great program will help us improve on many levels, including more knowledge, relationships, and building the structures we need for success.

What should the Startup Sioux Falls community know about your venture?

Our core values are to demonstrate accountability, character, commitment, along with a professionalism that leaves our customers with a sense of satisfaction in the services provided. 

Entrepreneur: Jamie Sterk

Business venture: Company name undisclosed

Tell us about yourself and your business.

I am known by many titles, but mom is by far the best. Other titles that I wear with pride are recovering addict, cancer survivor, trauma survivor, and domestic abuse survivor, to name a few. Before the pandemic, I had committed to a 200 RYT training, through which I was introduced to reiki and many other spiritual tools. My ultimate life passion is to create a recovery community by teaching the healing elements of reiki and yoga to those wanting to find their healing path. I am so excited to continue on this journey connecting my mind, body, and spirit and cannot wait to be able to share it with the world.

Why did you apply to CO.STARTERS?

I have the idea and the passion, I just need the direction to bring my dream to life. 

What should the Startup Sioux Falls community know about your venture?

Never in a million years would I have thought I would be doing this, but I am. We need more options like this in our community, and I am excited to share it with everyone.

Learn more about CO.STARTERS!