Start Dakota, Episode 17: The Nuances of Building A Tech Company

In Episode 17 of Start Dakota, Amos Buelow, Startup Sioux Falls’ community coordinator, sits down with founders Scott Petersen and Alisha Vincent, who share their experiences building tech companies and getting involved with the upcoming software business accelerator. 

Scott Petersen, founder of Hireclick and a facilitator for the accelerator, reflects on his business journey since 2007. Though he initially focused on building job boards, a pivotal moment occurred in 2017 when major industry names, Indeed and ZipRecruiter, approached him with what was, essentially, a blueprint for a software solution they wanted him to build.

This marked a shift, allowing Hireclick to build a product that not only addresses client issues but also fosters stronger relationships. With a focus on clients in the Upper Midwest, the company now boasts around 3,000 accounts, about 1,700 of which are currently active.

Regarding his success, Petersen says listening is a crucial element.

Building Tech Companies

“I like to talk, but you need to learn how to listen really well. Our clients came to us with this idea, and it would have been really easy to say, ‘Well, that feature that you’re asking for is too big, or it’s too much technical debt to take on for the early version of the product.’” 

Thankfully, Petersen says, they listened to the client’s needs instead.

He also expresses enthusiasm for the software accelerator, which adapts the principles of CO.STARTERS into a framework focused on tech.

“I really want to dive into it because I would have loved to have had this in the early stages of our company,” he said.

The accelerator aims to provide resources specific to the software industry, while working with the participants’ diversity in business stages and goals. The focus is on discovery — unlocking knowledge that will propel scalability and address the unique challenges of each participant.

Alisha, co-founder of travel tech company, Desty, shares her experience as a "startup again" business. A few years back, her initial foray into entrepreneurship had left her feeling isolated and frustrated.

Challenges of Building Tech Companies

“I come from the nonprofit and education sector and had this idea, and I said ‘This would make a really cool product,’ but I knew nothing about software or SaaS companies. I was asking everyone I could think of for help, but it was like crickets. I felt defeated many times because I couldn't find a mentor, and I couldn’t make connections. I had a hard time trying to learn this new language I knew nothing about, and I ended up falling hard,” she said.


Now, with a new co-founder, a strong product, and the accelerator ahead of her, Vincent has regained traction. The accelerator offers an opportunity to learn from others and emphasizes important elements like perseverance, product-market fit, understanding your audience and timing.

“I’m excited to be able to learn and get feedback from mentors and peers in the group as well, to help us get to the next stage in the life of Desty to move forward,” she said. 

Startup Sioux Falls anticipates that the software accelerator will be a prime opportunity for tech entrepreneurs who are ready to start their journey.

Show Notes:

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.