Episode 8: CO.STARTERS FEATURE – A Starter’s Origin Story

Amy Pokela and Brienne Maner speaking

On Episode 8 of the Start Dakota podcast, Startup Sioux Falls’ president Brienne Maner sits down with CO.STARTERS graduate and AMPO founder, Amy Pokela. 

The two discuss Pokela’s vision for her business and the supportive environment created by the CO.STARTERS program. 

AMPO is a tech-based business with a goal of creating solutions for nonprofits. 

“I’m really working on building a web ecosystem where small and mid-sized nonprofits will be able to go in and get their tools, products and services right there on the web without having to contract with anyone,” she said.

Amy Pokela speaking

“A lot of times, people say, ‘We need to be teaching people how to fish.’ Sometimes, you just need the fish. So with my business and what I'm doing, I just want to give people fish, and then that might help them at some point in time where they’re like, ‘Okay, now I want to learn a little bit more, and I want to read more about the strategy.’”

Maner asks Pokela what drove her to go out on her own after spending the majority of her career in the corporate world.

Brienne Maner speaking

“I just reached the point in time where I was like, ‘I have knowledge, and I'm not scared to take risks, and I was sick of other people not really being willing to jump off the cliff with me, so I decided to do it by myself,” she said.

Having the confidence to go out on your own doesn’t mean you automatically have it all together though. The CO.STARTERS Canvas provides a structure for entrepreneurs to assess their business or concept and identify the gaps and challenges that are in their way.

During her CO.STARTERS experience, Pokela dug into the barriers she faces when it comes to building a tech business. She was able to pinpoint three primary needs: web development, content creation and customer acquisition.

Additionally, Pokela says she deeply valued the community that CO.STARTERS provided during a time when she was looking for answers and confidence as an entrepreneur. 

“I really can’t say how invaluable the experience was. I’d be lost without it.”

That’s just a taste of this fantastic conversation between Maner and Pokela. Tune in to hear more about Pokela’s business journey and how CO.STARTERS provides a supportive, collaborative environment for entrepreneurs to move forward with their businesses.

Show Notes:

    • Learn more about AMPO here.
    • Learn more about Startup Sioux Falls membership here.
    • Submit an interest form for CO.STARTERS.
  • CO.STARTERS Challenge: 
  • Complete your “fieldwork” before the next episode
  • Business Minute: Learn more about the South Dakota SBDC here.

This project is made possible through a partnership with Startup Sioux Falls and grant funding provided through the Community Navigator Pilot Program, powered by the SBA. More information can be found here.