Almost 20 years ago, I made a significant life pivot and relocated my family from the comfortable suburbs of sunny Winston-Salem, North Carolina to Whitefish, Montana.
From Winston-Salem to Whitefish
I left a job I loved running Public Policy and Communication for a 2000-member Chamber of Commerce and Fortune 100 companies. I was a regular columnist for the Triad Business Journal, very involved in the community, my 5,000-member church, my three girls were in good private schools and I had a lot of great friends.
Something was missing.
It was an exciting week for Montana in the high-tech sector and for students across the state. Here are this week’s Friday Five, the five stories you should know about this week.
1. Blackfoot Communications Launches Innovation Lab in Missoula
On Tuesday, Blackfoot Communications in Missoula announced the opening of its innovation lab called C2M.
“We’re continuing our decades-long commitment to deliver cutting-edge products and services to our customers.”
C2M beta will give startup companies access to Blackfoot’s technology infrastructure, expertise and 16-state customer base in a push to accelerate the delivery of products and services. This is the second technology campus in Montana.
“As part of Blackfoot’s Smart Growth strategy, we’re continuing our decades-long commitment to deliver cutting-edge products and services to our customers,” said Blackfoot CEO Jason Williams in a Tuesday story for the Missoula Current. “With the launch of C2M beta, we’re now proactively partnering with startups to drive innovation, attract strategic partnerships, and further support Montana’s thriving tech economy.”
2. MSU Hires Entrepreneur as Business College Dean
This week, Montana State University announced it hired Mark Ranalli as the new dean of its Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship.
Every week we highlight five stories from around Montana and the country that highlight the Treasure State or entrepreneurs. Here are five stories that stood out to us this week.
1. Venture Capital Firm Opens Missoula Office
In a story from the Missoulian, the paper detailed recent changes and additions in the high tech sector in Missoula.
Like on March 19 when Next Frontier Capital, which is based in Bozeman, opened a Missoula office. This venture capital powerhouse has invested in companies such as onXmaps and Submittable. Next Frontier Capital has participated in more than million worth of investment in companies with a Montana presence over the past three years.
“In the last three years, our investments have confirmed that Montana is home to quality entrepreneurs previously ignored by the broader VC market, and great investment opportunities exist to source and lead venture class deals,” said NFC managing partner Richard Harjes in the Missoulian article. “Missoula is helping lead the way in validating both of these hypotheses.”
The story also touched on Blackfoot Telecommunications plans to launch a high tech innovation program and how the University of Montana plans to build an Innovation Corridor.
2. New App to Help Bees
A story from The Economist highlighted an app that helps beekeepers and was created at the University of Montana.
Although Will Price was born in Germany and lived overseas until college, Price roots go deep into Montana history. So it was no surprise that Price and his family fell in love with Bozeman and Montana.
“It was a combination of my children’s athletics and my wife and I’s love of Bozeman,” he said. “It was also this corny sense of destiny. Coming home to Montana all these years after my dad left felt like destiny.”
Bringing Venture Capital to Montana
Price’s passion for Montana and venture capital investment knowledge has helped increase awareness about the opportunities companies have in Montana.