Innovation Expo to shine light on Sioux Falls startup ecosystem

Innovation Expo

The annual Innovation Expo returns to the downtown Hilton Garden Inn on Thursday, October 13.

The conference, “where suits and shirts connect,” brings together entrepreneurs, innovators, angel investors, venture capitalists and others across the startup ecosystem for an afternoon of speakers, breakout sessions and networking.

Hosted by the Enterprise Institute and Startup Sioux Falls, the expo features both local and national speakers, as well as two panel discussions. This year’s lineup includes:

  • Alisha Vincent, Founder, Easy Saturdays
  • Mark Daoust, Founder, Quiet Light Brokerage
  • Scott Petersen, Co-Founder, HireClick
  • John T. Meyer, Entrepreneur, Web3, NFT Advocate

This year's theme at Innovation Expo is focusing on the different stages of a business: startup, growth and exit. From years past, we know audience members are in these different stages, and it's important to have a diverse speaker lineup that can speak to making that first sale, the hurdles of growing and the landscape of buying or selling a business,” said Nick Fickbohm, business consultant at the Enterprise Institute. 

“This year also features a very regional speaker panel. With so many innovative businesses and founders in the Upper Midwest, it's a great opportunity to showcase what's going on around us that the community may not be aware of.”

Fickbohm emphasizes the value that the Innovation Expo brings to the startup ecosystem.

“The impact that Expo has had over the last 19 years is bringing more curious minds to the innovation, ideation and progress this entrepreneurial community has made. Whether that's college students from USD, DSU or SDSU or founders from across South Dakota who we see at Expo every year, Expo provides a place to hear new perspectives, celebrate each other, and make connections,” he said.

For Startup Sioux Falls’ president, Brienne Maner, it serves as an excellent opportunity to lift up entrepreneurs, no matter their stage of growth.

“Startup Sioux Falls values the partnership and expertise provided by the Enterprise Institute and our team looks forward to lifting up members of the startup ecosystem at the annual Innovation Expo event,” she said. 

At Startup Sioux Falls, innovation has been a key theme over the last year as the team prepares to move downtown and provide new offerings for local entrepreneurs.

“As the needs of today's entrepreneurs continue to evolve, so must our offerings, and we are thrilled to shine a light on the impact made and insights found through the SBA Community Navigator grant as we head into the second half of the grant cycle,” Maner said.

Ultimately, the expo is for anyone looking for education, inspiration or a new connection to help move their business idea or existing business forward. 

“We hope every attendee walks away with a few new ideas, a fresh perspective,and maybe a coffee meeting with someone they met at Expo,” said Fickbohm.

Speaker sneak peek: Alisha Vincent

We chatted with Alisha Vincent, founder of Easy Saturdays and one of the Innovation Expo speakers. Keep reading to hear what she has to say!


What should people look forward to hearing from you? 

I will provide a short overview of what Easy Saturdays is all about and then give the audience an inside look into my experience as a founder over the last year, which hasn't always been easy. 

Why do you think events like the Innovation Expo are important for entrepreneurial communities?

This work can be hard, especially in the early stages of a start-up. It's important to recognize that there is a community of people who are either right where you're at, or who have been where you're at, and how supportive they are. Just being in the same space as other entrepreneurs who can empathize is a lift that a lot of us need.

What are you hoping to contribute to the space? 

 I hope I can bring a little inspiration fuzed with honesty and good humor. I am an educator by nature, and for most of my career, and I am grateful for opportunities like this to learn and to invite others to learn from my experience.

Attend the Innovation Expo!

There’s still time to register for the Innovation Expo! Get your tickets today.