Start Dakota Episode 13: A Real Estate Entrepreneur’s Journey

start dakota episode 13

On the latest episode of Start Dakota, Startup Sioux Falls’ president, Brienne Maner, sits down with Saugat Pradhan, an ambitious young entrepreneur juggling both college and a career in real estate.

Pradhan is also a recent graduate of Startup Sioux Falls’ CO.STARTERS program, which he says proved instrumental in helping him define his ideal real estate customer.

At the beginning of the episode, he shares his experience growing up in a refugee camp in Nepal and moving to Sioux Falls in 2011. While it was challenging to relocate to a place where everything was unknown, from the people to the language and customs, Pradhan says he loves being in Sioux Falls.

“We didn’t have much in Nepal — we really depended on the government for food and basic needs,” he said. 

He goes on to talk about his family’s experience as refugees and how that inspired him to pursue entrepreneurship. 

“My parents came to America to give us a better life because they loved me and cared for me. I wanted to give back to my parents, and after I got here, I really liked the idea of owning your own business, working for yourself and not really depending on someone else to give you money or feed you,” he said.

an entrepreneurial realtor

Pradhan had part-time jobs as a teenager, but even then, he says he hated working for someone else. He began buying items at thrift stores and reselling them online. He would then take the money he earned and invest it into other ventures. 

At just 21 years old, he is finishing up a degree in business administration online through the University of South Dakota, but he also has his real estate license with eXp Realty. He discovered the world of real estate investing online and quickly became intrigued by the possibilities.

“I met with other realtors in town, and they encouraged me to get my license so I could learn about the industry and then invest. As I started selling properties, I was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing. I can help people while I learn about what I want to do?’” he said. 

He especially enjoys helping people from his community and from other countries who don’t understand English or need assistance navigating the world of real estate. He has been dedicated to meeting potential customers using tactics like cold-calling and networking all over town.

pradhan and maner on podcast

“Anywhere I go, I introduce myself to people,” he said. 

In fact, that’s how he first heard about CO.STARTERS. He met one of our facilitators, Terry Liggins, at a Toastmasters event, and he encouraged him to apply to the program.

“The most important thing I learned in CO.STARTERS was figuring out your customer base … what kind of customer fits your business and marketing to those customers to build and expand your business,” he said. 

He shares the following advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. 

“Business is a hard field to get into, and you're not going to get results right away. It's going to take months, or even years. My advice would be to just learn about the business. What do you want to start, or what kind of field do you want to get into? Find a mentor or someone that knows about that field, and learn from them.” 

There’s so much more to hear from this episode. Tune in today, wherever you listen to podcasts!

Show Notes:

CO.STARTERS Challenge:

Complete your “fieldwork” before the next episode:

  • Identify your revenue streams.
  • Add it to your business model canvas.
  • Track and identify trends and opportunities.

CO.STARTERS Challenge: Revenue Complete your “fieldwork” before the next episode:

  • Identify your revenue streams.
  • Add it to your business model canvas.
  • Track and identify trends and opportunities.

Business Minute: Learn more about the Community Navigator Program at

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.