Spotlight on Entrepreneurship: Todd Carnes of Traxter

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Name: Todd Carnes
Company: Traxter LLC
Title: Owner

Email: ToddC.traxter@gmail.com
Website: https://s3.amazonaws.com/traxterLandPage/Traxter/landingPage.html

Give us a short description of your business:
Traxter LLC markets a full tracking solution coupled with a free electronic hour logging application to insurance companies. We market to insurance companies, because then we get their client base, they receive data, and the truckers all get the electronic hour logging application that is going to be mandatory in a little over a year. It is an all-around win.

What motivated you to start your business?
I started Traxter LLC to bring a cost effective solution to an upcoming government mandate. Our solution is designed and priced for the little guy that is going to be searching for help when it goes into effect.

What’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome as your business has grown?
Getting the application developed before the mandate goes into effect. We are still in the works and that is why we are seeking funding. We can easily get it done with just one developer going full time.

What’s unique about your business?
Businesses that are already doing something SIMILAR are selling a tracking solution. Then for about the same monthly premium they are selling you the electronic logging application. We are selling it together. And for 50% or more of the price. Simply a dollar a day gets you the hardware and access and support to our entire solution.

How can the Startup Sioux City community help your business?
Getting our name out to someone that might be interested in funding us or helping us find funding. The sooner we can go full time with this, the faster it gets done and we can start marketing to the smaller insurance companies.

Spotlight on Entrepreneurship: Jamie Vondrak of Concierge Services of Siouxland

jamie vondrak

 

Name: Jamie Vondrak
Company: Concierge Services of Siouxland, LLC
Title: Owner/Personal Concierge
Website: www.siouxlandconcierge.com
Facebook: siouxlandconcierge
LinkedIn: Jamie Vondrak


Give us a short description of your business:

Concierge Services of Siouxland is a “do it all” organization. I complete jobs ranging from personal errands like banking and grocery shopping, to business services like setting up online accounts, planning corporate events, or acting as a personal assistant, to relocation assistance for homeowners and realtors.

What motivated you to start your business?
This business was born out of necessity. Many surrounding cities like Sioux Falls and Omaha have concierge service companies, but Sioux City doesn’t have anything like it. With the amount of large corporations and busy working families here, this is a much needed service.

What’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome as your business has grown?
The biggest challenge I have faced is getting people to understand what it is that I do. This is a relatively new concept here, so it takes some convincing for some people to get on board with what I do.

What’s unique about your business?
Everything about my business is unique. I’m a jack of all trades! Where else can you get your utilities transferred to a new address, get your groceries picked up, have your dog walked, and have a payroll tax account set up with one phone call?

What are you doing to actively promote the startup community in Sioux City? Why is that important to you?
The small business and start up community in Sioux City has had a major influence on me, particularly because entrepreneurship is in my blood. I make it a point to frequent local startup businesses for our needs whenever possible.

Are there any people or experiences that were particularly influential in that regard?
My grandmother started her own business over 30 years ago in the Riverside area, and then purchased another location in North Sioux City, which she eventually handed over to my mother. My grandmother was fiercely independent, and a very smart business woman. Watching her grow her business gave me the confidence that I needed to know I can do the same.

How can the Startup Sioux City community help your business?
I feel that the Startup Sioux City community has proven itself to be a very valuable resource for local start-ups, not only because of the marketing exposure, but also because of the tremendous networking potential. Knowing there is a resource like Startup Sioux City available gives start-ups more confidence in their ability to succeed.

Spotlight on Entrepreneurship: Alex Fuller of Saviral

alex fuller

Founder: Alex Fuller
Company:  LegitDesigns, LLC / Saviral Marketing
Location:  Sioux City, Iowa
Website:  http://Saviral.com and http://legitdesigns.com
Twitter: @SaviralOnline
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/saviralmarketing

Give us a short description of your business?
LegitDesigns is an all-encompassing creative digital agency, providing custom creative, web, and now introducing our online marketing solutions with SAVIRAL (Savvy-Viral). With Saviral we assist our clients with social, search, and other brand awareness methods.

What motivated you to start this business?
I found my calling in life while at a young age; some tell me I was lucky. I started researching things I had questions to, like how a website serviced thousands of customers from a singular location. I became actively involved in forums, learning, and teaching things as I became skillful at them. I knew this was something I wanted to do, and I wanted to be the best at it.

I realized there was a huge opportunity, and at the time, we didn’t have any push for this. I valued my hometown of Sioux City, and I wanted to be that digital agency that started and stayed here.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as you’ve grown your business?
The biggest challenge in the early stages was balancing school (which at the time I was just in High School), work, my personal values with my goals and who I wanted to be. I knew I needed to align everything and put effort in them all in order to get me to where I wanted to be.

What sets business aside from others in the field?
Our agency is down to earth; we’ll speak to you in ways that make sense. I won’t try to impress you with my knowledge to get your business, but I will educate you with things I can do. I think that is something clients really value. We are open, honest, and upfront and do the best we can to explain the complicated world of online media and marketing to you. We educate all of our customers on what methods will work best and what won’t.

Why should a customer choose your business?
For the last 6 years LegitDesigns has been servicing customers worldwide; from Australia to Finland. America to U.K. Our main focus was empowering people’s vision on how a website “should” work, and breaking down the barrier of cliché and bore.

Our solutions are not run-of-the-mill. We provide strategic, in depth and customizable solution to fit any business. We do it all with our client’s best interest in mind.

What keeps your customers coming back?
For most it’s the quality of work they receive. For others it’s our communication, and how we go the extra mile to explain things and pick up that phone no matter if it’s after hours or not. In today’s world if you miss my call I assume you’ll call back when you can, and I do the same for all of our customers.

What geographic region do you serve?
Today we focus on our grass roots and our hometown businesses. Thanks to the push from our startup communities, we’ve grown to know so many locals that need help getting off the ground with their business online. We want to do the best we can do make sure their launch is the best it can be. However we still have active clients all across the United States and the World.

What about your business makes you the most proud?
I’m extremely proud of our team and how well we collectively work on things. I know this is something most agencies struggle with, is finding the right balance of work and synchronizing core concepts with their client’s projects. I’m also very passionate about the quality of designs I do for backend UI and front-end styling. A lot of work I see from competitors are just 1-click styling options, rather than tweaking and taking it many steps further.

What are some future goals for your company?
With our business and our recent ventures we provide so many different things. My biggest goal is to get the awareness out about what we do and help recycle our energy to creative a more positive culture here in Siouxland. We want Siouxland to become another tech location. One that draws others here like it did when Gateway was in North Sioux City. Anyway we can help a company would be fantastic, whether that be Web Design, or through our awesome Online Marketing.

What does this mean to your community as well as the Startup Sioux City community?
I think it means a lot. It creates jobs, it creates a buzz, and fuels the drive that I think a lot of former Gateway employees lost. To this day you still find guys in their 40-50’s talking about how Gateway was such a great company to work for. How sad they were to know they soon had to see it go.

Creating that safe neutral environment for tech gurus is crucial for Sioux City. It allows them to collaborate closely, and help achieve success here in the mid-west.

What can the Startup Sioux City community help you with?
I believe Startup SIoux City is helping  by allowing this article to be posted, and being in existence; helps local startups or small business owners seek hope. Knowing that even though we’re not Silicon Valley, they can still grow their business and be successful in Siouxland. Even if that’s not with my company, I tip my hat knowing they stayed in Siouxland. and that I too am here to lend my hand out if they need it.

UNI to Launch Regional Entrepreneurship Project in Western Iowa

UNI to launch entrepreneurship region in western Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa’s Business & Community Services (BCS) will collaborate with regional economic development groups in Iowa’s Monona, Plymouth and Woodbury counties to launch a new initiative to support and encourage entrepreneurship and start-up businesses. The Regional Entrepreneurship Project is provided through a grant to UNI as part of the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center Program.

A number of economic development groups in the three-county area are assisting UNI to organize this initiative, which was announced at Western Iowa Tech on Tuesday, Oct. 7.

This collaboration includes the LeMars Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Sioux City Economic Development Dept., The Siouxland Initiative, the Woodbury County Dept. of Rural Economic Development, the Monona County Economic Development Partnership, Western Iowa Power Cooperative, Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council and other service providers from across the region.

“The goal of this project is to build upon the interest and passion for entrepreneurship already apparent in the region. The process will develop a shared focus and direction to encourage and support existing small businesses and new start-ups,” said LaDene Bowen, Director of the UNI-EDA University Center.

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Matthews talks business, inspiration and superpowers

Mitch Matthews - google your brain

Business coach, author and entrepreneur Mitch Matthews will give a talk titled “Google Your Brain” at Business for Breakfast on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 7:30 a.m.

We got a chance to ask him 5 questions today about his talk, who inspired him and even his superpower.

What does it mean to Google your brain?

“Google your brain” is a metaphor to help us remember that our brain functions a lot like a search engine. If you ask a search engine a good question you’ll get better search results. If you ask your brain a better question you’ll get better solutions.

So then it comes down to how do you ask yourself or those around you better questions to uncover those better solutions? That’s what we’re going to dig into on Tuesday.

Name three people who have inspired you.

Great question. Oh and the list is long. But I’ll just go with the top three that come to mind today.

The first is Marty Doane. He owned the bike shop in my hometown of Newton, Iowa. He saw potential in me at 13 and hired me. That changed my life forever. That’s also where the entrepreneurial bug bit me hard.

I’ll also throw out Henry Ford. He got a little sideways in his later years but he truly was a business person who changed the world by bringing it something it didn’t even know it needed. Plus I’ll share a little-known story on Tuesday that makes him a true “solution-based thinking” hero to me. Continue reading →

Sioux City’s Launch Week Events Announced

The 2nd annual Launch Week aims to inspire, motivate, and promote collaboration among professionals, as well as encourage people to be innovative and explore their own entrepreneurial ideas. Join us for a week of creativity beginning September 5th!

SW_2Startup Weekend is a hands-on experience where entrepreneurs, business professionals, and anyone interested in building a business can come together over the course of a weekend to share ideas, form teams, and launch a startup. Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday at the Ho-Chunk Centre, attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams will work from Springboard Coworking and focus on building a business through business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts at the Orpheum Theatre. The final presentations start at 5pm at the Orpheum and are open to the public. Register for Startup Weekend here!

 

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Join Mitch Matthews as he presents “How to Google Your Brain” at Business for Breakfast at the Sioux City Convention Center. Mitch Matthews is a leading authority on innovative thinking, goal achievement and work-place engagement. In working with leaders from organizations like NASA, Disney, and the Principal Financial Group, Mitch has helped them to increase sales, improve customer satisfaction, develop new products, increase employee engagement and innovate key systems. Attendees will learn how to ask better questions that will produce better search results to motivate and inspire new ideas and solutions.

 

LNL_2US Bank will sponsor a Lunch & Learn with attorney Ryan Ross presenting the various types of legal structures that an entrepreneur will have to consider when starting a business. US Bank President, Darin Daby, will also provide information on local lending options in our community.

 

BizBrew_2

Startup Sioux City will host a casual night of networking for entrepreneurs, small business owners, community leaders, and anyone interested in innovation, growing small business or starting their own business. Biz Brew gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their network by making connections with key influencers and building relationships, as well as allow businesses to share information, recruit talent, and increase visibility. Attendees will also learn about what resources are available and what innovative things are happening in Sioux City. Live music and pizza will be provided thanks to our sponsor, Downtown Partners.

 

FFC_3

First Friday Coffee brings entrepreneurs, local business owners, city representatives, and business professionals together to listen to one entrepreneur tell us about themselves and their business over coffee. After a 6 minute presentation from the startup or small business owner, the attendees are able to ask questions, as well as provide feedback and advice to help the business overcome challenges and grow. Join us on September 12th as we hear from Jean Gill of Four Paws Fitness and Rehab about how her business can improve your canine’s quality of life.

Launch Week kicks off in Sioux City September 5th

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We know that entrepreneurs start companies that create jobs, invest in the community, and generate economic growth. In Sioux City, we want to encourage people to be innovative and explore their own entrepreneurial ideas, and the 2nd annual Launch Week will do just that! With speakers, startup presentations and plenty of networking, Launch Week aims to inspire, motivate, and promote collaboration among professionals.

startup-weekend

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Entrepreneurship tour to end 6-city stop in Sioux City

On Aug. 6-7, Think 29, a group of entrepreneurs with the goal to see technology and innovation thrive along the I-29 corridor, will launch the first Think 29 Tour with the goal of getting startup community leaders talking and supporting each others’ efforts regionally.

The tour will travel from Fargo to Sioux City over two days, making stops in Watertown, Brookings, Sioux Falls and Yankton along the way.

Each city will host an event promoting entrepreneurship. With Sioux City as the final destination, Startup Sioux City will host a Biz Brew networking event at 5 p.m. on Aug. 7 on the patio of The Chesterfield on 4th Street.

There will be live music, local food trucks, and outdoor entertainment, as well as information and giveaways from the Think 29 team.

Startup Weekend coming to Sioux City on Sept. 5

Startup Weekend Sioux City Sean Richardson of RXA Technology announced that Startup Weekend is coming to Sioux City on Sept. 5.

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour challenge to create a startup. It is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with more than 1,800 past events in 120 countries around the world in 2014.

The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend-long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation.

The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback. Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5 gig, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic, but fun, world of startups.

If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, if only for a weekend, register now. Hurry! Early bird ticket prices end soon!

Or if you have a question for the organizer, e-mail Sean Richardson.

Base 3 features 3 national speakers on July 17

Base 3 entrepreneurship event. Rick Knudtson of Flywheel, an Omaha hosting company for WordPress websites, talks at Base 3 in January 2014. Photo by Thomas Ritchie

RXA Technology is hosting a night of entrepreneurship on July 17, welcoming three national speakers to Base 3. The night will begin with a Biz Brew networking mixer sponsored by Startup Sioux City.

The event will feature speakers Alex Altomare, Co Founder of BetaBlox, Founder of The Lean Lab, and Techstars Mentor; Scott Conley, Managing Partner of Flipstone Technology Partners; and Tina Beal, Owner, Creative Director & Client Relations at Social Bug. Their talks will focus on entrepreneurship, branding, creating a makerspace, female entrepreneurship, accelerators, and the benefits of being a mentor.

The night begins at 5 p.m. on the 8th floor of the Ho Chunk Centre, 600 4th St., and will kick off with the Biz Brew, an informal gathering aimed at promoting new and emerging businesses in Sioux City.

Tickets are free and available at http://www.rxatechnology.com/base3.

Base 3 is sponsored by the Security National Bank, SEDC, MyEntre.net, AdvanceIowa, Siouxland Chamber of Commerce/The Siouxland Initiative, Silicon Prairie News, U.S. Bank, Sioux City Ford Lincoln, Iowa Small Business Development Center, Western Iowa Tech Community College, Brownbox.com, Sunnybrook Flowershop and Greenhouse, StickerMule.com, Springboard Coworking, Startup Weekend Sioux City, Team Creative Fire and Startup Sioux City.

SPEAKER BIOS

Alex Altomare

Alex loves solving big problems and has launched several companies to address challenges in education, private equity, policy, healthcare, and tech. Most recently, he co-founded BetaBlox, a business accelerator which has invested in over 70 high growth startups. Today, Alex is an investor, Techstars mentor, and board member for several nonprofits including the Lean Lab – an education incubator dedicated to pioneering radical solutions to challenges urban core education.

Scott Conely

Scott Conley is a seasoned technology executive and strategist, contributing vision, leadership and drive to enterprises large and small worldwide. Scott’s mix
of technological and business talent has delivered higher performing teams, stronger delivery mechanics and millions in product yields. While Chief Strategy Officer for ThoughtWorks, Inc., his expertise was for nearly a decade injected into many of the Fortune 500’s primary lines of business, across an array of industries: financial services, high technology, telecommunications, software engineering and utilities.

Scott’s current work is focused on startup projects at Flipstone Technology and his not-for-profit hackerspace in Boynton Beach, Florida. Scott earned a BSBA
(CompSci) from the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business and is a lifelong Florida Gator.

Tina Beal

Known for her enthusiasm and never-give-up attitude, Tina has passionately worked through the up’s and down’s of “finding the exciting career ” as well as functioning as an “open book” of entrepreneurship honesty.

Tina holds back no secrets on what has worked well and what has miserably failed. Tina shared, “If I am not honest about my flaws and mistakes, how could I share the lessons learned out of those trails? All I have done (good and bad) make me better, smarter and more efficient business owner (and service provider).”

Tina’s level of knowledge and inquisitive marketing nature has been years in the making. Marketing (all platforms) require a plethora of skills and experience (andsometimes a really big gut feeling); it also requires the desire to never stoplearning. Fortunately, skills and experience have been accumulating through previous places of employment, volunteer projects, and an overall healthy addiction to marketing.