Editor’s Note: The following article was written by Paul Gladen, Director at Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana.
Who do you think of when someone says entrepreneur? Steve Jobs? Oprah Winfrey? Elon Musk? Mark Zuckerberg?
These are certainly the kind of folks Wall Street and the media like to lionize for changing the world on a massive scale. But these entrepreneurs and their businesses can perhaps seem at odds with the Montana way of life, especially in light of recent controversies at corporations like Facebook.
All of this raises the question of what a Montana entrepreneur and a Montana startup might look like. What kind of startup activity is achievable AND desirable in Montana?
To begin to answer these questions let me tell you about some of Montana’s latest cohort of emerging entrepreneurs: Jenny Sheets, Ari Ronick, and Sara Boughner.
“A New Frontier: Entrepreneurship Ecosystems in Bozeman and Missoula, Montana” is the first major study of entrepreneurship in Montana, funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Index has ranked Montana the #1 state for startup activity for four straight years, and this case study helps explain why.
Based on 42 first-person interviews with Montana entrepreneurs and support organizations, surveys, and public data, the report sheds new light on Montana’s ecosystem – our high level of entrepreneurship, dense networks of support, global businesses, high quality workforce, and high quality of life.