In Episode 14 of Start Dakota, Startup Sioux Falls’ president, Brienne Maner, sits down with Brad Edwards of ParaUX Design to hear about his journey from the corporate world to entrepreneurship.
Born and raised in Sioux Falls, Edwards describes himself as a “forever tinkerer.” While in college at Mankato State University in the late 1990s, he began playing around with websites and building sites for his friends’ bands.
“I kind of got hooked. I built a couple websites and realized, ‘This isn’t permanent, this is a living thing. It’s pretty awesome.’”
From there, he says he never looked back. He knew he wanted to “build digital things.”
Though his education was in networking, Edwards realized he didn’t want to go to work as a network administrator — he “wanted to build things that people could use.”
His corporate career started at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown and then brought him to Paulsen, where he says he learned a ton from the agency world.
“You really get to work with some talented folks in agencies. That’s their product — their talent,” he said.
After Paulsen, he spent time with Vision Video Interactive, followed by Sanford Profile, where he had the opportunity to build the company’s app that connects to scales in users’ homes. He then transitioned to corporate innovation for the Good Samaritan Society, which eventually led him back to Sanford after their merger.
“Corporate innovation is so fun in the way that you get to build, play, and really act as an entrepreneur, but you are in a vortex. You’re in a system that has guides and rules,” he said.
Eventually, he knew he needed to get out of that system. After several years of hustling and picking up freelance UX design gigs in his free time, he sat down with his wife, ran the numbers, and quit his job to go full-time with ParaUX Design in 2021.
“I’m never looking back. I don’t think I can have a job again.”
As he’s navigated entrepreneurship over the last few years, Edwards says one of the main challenges has been wearing multiple hats.
“There are things you find that you’re not good at or not passionate about, and those still need to be done,” he said.
Tackling those tasks comes down to finding the right people and the right resources you can tap into for outsourcing.
Another obstacle has been figuring out how to move ideas forward. That’s where CO.STARTERS came in.
“I came to CO.STARTERS because I knew I needed the focus and accountability it offers,” he said. “I’ve got 100 ideas a week, but what are you doing with the ideas? What are you carrying forward?”
Connecting with his fellow cohort members and developing accountability with one another has been one of the most valuable takeaways for Edwards as he works through new business ideas.
To hear even more about his journey and how CO.STARTERS has been an asset to him, tune into the full episode.
CO.STARTERS Challenge: Setting your price.
Complete your “fieldwork” before the next episode:
- Talk to at least 5 potential or current customers.
- Interact in person or virtually to see non-verbal cues.
- Ask what they would value your product or service at.
Business Minute: Learn more about the South Dakota SBDC at https://sdbusinesshelp.com/.
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.