Best Entrepreneurial Resources in Montana

You can feel the vibrant spirit of every entrepreneur you come into touch with in Montana. They’re excited to be representing Montana traditions, continuing legacies for upcoming Montana generations, or helping build the community that they grew up in. If you’re reading this, you’re probably either one of those entrepreneurs, or inspire to be. So you know what I mean when I say, there’s just something different about the Montana entrepreneur.

For the aspiring Montana entrepreneur, I’ve compiled a list of the best resources in Montana to use when starting a business, or for helping a business grow. All of the resources provided help in multiple categories of business, and are all Montana startups as well.

Montana High Tech Business Alliance

Photo of members at Bozeman reception 2014
Photo of members at Bozeman reception 2014

Greg Gianforte, a University of Montana distinguished entrepreneur, and founder of RightNow Technologies, founded the Montana High-Tech Alliance. The Montana High Tech Business Alliance is a non-profit organization that is “a business-led initiative helping high-tech companies create high-paying jobs in Montana.” This entrepreneurial initiative allows for young high-tech companies to get much needed support and recognition, while also serving more mature high-tech companies in Montana by creating events in which they can share difficulties their company is facing, meet other business owners and entrepreneurs from across the state, and even post job openings.

Christina Henderson, the executive director of the MHTBC, has helped grow this organization to over 180 high-tech and manufacturing members. A complete list of these members can be found here. Membership is free for companies with 5 employees or less. Ultimately, this organization can help entrepreneurs in Montana spur economic growth and provide high-paying jobs for hard-working Montanans.

Walker Milhoan, UM alumni, gives pitch for Ranchlogs to Blackstone Launchpad New York, New York.

Blackstone Launchpad – Bozeman and Missoula

The Blackstone Launchpad in Bozeman and Missoula, is helping to drive economic development in communities around partner universities and increase the likelihood that students and alumni remain in the region to pursue their passions or fix problems in their community. The state of Montana’s university network houses 2 of the 15 unique and rare spaces in the United States. These sites offer free consulting to students with an idea and connect new relationships with other helpful business areas like legal counsel, accounting, marketing, and finance. Paul Gladen and Les Craig, both of whom have a long list of successful start-ups and entrepreneurial endeavors, are directors and consultants to students.

There is no cost to joining, and the help given from these two entrepreneurs is directed to helping an entrepreneur in their journey, not doing the due diligence for them. The process taught in the Launchpad can help an entrepreneur pursue small business and entrepreneurship as a career. Signing up for the Blackstone Launchpad in Missoula or Bozeman takes only a couple minutes, and can create a lifelong journey.

MonTEC

MonTEC, home to: Rivertop Renewables, Mamalode, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance, and more.

Whether in need of interns, seed funding or business mentoring, MonTEC is the point of connection for entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to navigate the complex world of service providers and gain access to high quality resources. 1GB internet access, small and large conference rooms, common collaboration areas, and outstanding video conferencing are just a few of things that MonTEC offers to the companies within. The areas are meant to be inexpensive and act more as a business incubator, to help companies get on their feet. Some of the companies that are currently taking advantage of the great resources at MonTEC are the infamous Mamalode and Rivertop Renewables, and even the High Tech Alliance is located within the MonTEC building. The Blackstone Launchpad also is in close connection to this service and works hand-in-hand with companies that need some office space.

Joe Fanguy, one of the founders of MonTEC, has been working tirelessly with the companies within and has helped to raise over $30 million in funding from external resources to help these businesses thrive. The funding and the services the companies in MonTEC provide help Montana industries and companies in renewable chemistry, oil and gas analytical services, big data/e-discovery, pharmaceuticals, health care data analytics, publishing, and online video delivery.

Montana CDC – Bozeman and Missoula

Montana CDC entrepreneurs

The Montana CDC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide financing and consulting services that transform the lives of individuals and strengthen community prosperity. In the state of Montana, sometimes it can be difficult to get funding through local lenders. Especially for a company that’s a little off the beaten path or not considered “bankable.” The Montana CDC works to understand an entrepreneur’s ideas, and the entrepreneurs themselves, then works to improve financial healthiness through their consulting services to not only help start a company, but also to help its growth.

A lot of the inspiration for giving these Montana entrepreneurs their first chance may come from the CEO, Dave Glaser, who was formerly an environmental science consultant and COO for an environmental consulting firm. His company has given around 165 loans to companies around the state including a flower shop, an original jerky company, handcrafted wooden kitchen utensils, or even a one-of-a-kind Montessori school. More information about success stories can be found here, and what the Montana CDC can do for you can be found on their website.

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Benson the French Bulldog

Meet Benson, the little meatball of love. These are a few action shots of Benson’s first year. Here’s to many more.

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Reporting for duty 

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Nap time

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Straight outta Compton 

 

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Skateboarding lessons

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Deep in thought

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Air Bud 

 

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Your Guide to Montana Music Festivals: Summer 2015

Summer is finally here. School is winding down and plans are being made to fill in the long, gorgeous days ahead of us. There is a lot Montana has to offer during the summer but music festivals captures the heritage of Montana like few events can. If you have never been here is a few to check out:

 

Red Ants Pants Music Festival ~ July 23-26

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White Sulphur Springs is a quiet Montana town for about 360 days a year, but during the Red Ants Pants Music Festival brings over 16 bands and thousands of people. The festival started in 2011 and has been the source of fundraising for the Red Ants Pants Foundation. The non-profit foundation supports women’s leadership, working farms and ranches, and rural communities. You can enjoy your favorite bands and festivities while contributing to a great cause. It gives people the chance to enjoy a festival in true Montana fashion.

~ Tickets are available as a 3 day pass or individually and can be purchased online or at various outlets.

~ Lineup for 2015 includes the likes of The ‘Lil Smokies, Bus Driver Tour and Lucero.

 

Rockin The Rivers Music Festival ~ Aug 7-9

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Montana’s favorite rockfest, Rockin The Rivers is located in Three Forks, MT about 30 miles west of Bozeman. The 3 day festival lineup includes:

August 7 – Dee Snider, Quiet Riot, Autograph, Jack Russell’s Great White, Black N Blue and Blue Tattoo

August 8 – Theory of a Deadman, Skid Row, Puddle of Mudd, Saliva, Hell’s Belles and Shamans Harvest

August 9 – Little River Band, WAR, Chuck Negron and Whiskey River

~ Tickets and campsite information are available online here

 

Headwaters Country Jam ~ June 25-27

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Also located at The Bridge near Three Forks, Country Jam is one of the most popular festivals in Montana, and for good reason. The lineup for 2015 includes Trace Adkins, Austin Webb, Randy Rogers Band, Western Skies and Blackjack Billy. While the music is the highlight, festival goers can fill in the downtime between artists with horse shoe tournaments, dance contests and mechanical bull riding.

~ Tickets are available as a 3 day pass or individually and can be purchased online here.

 

Montana Folk Festival ~ July 10-12

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Butte, MT is home to the Montana Folk Festival. 2015 features a stellar lineup from bands and artists all across the country. Keep an eye out for Dale Ann Bradley, The Cambell Brothers, Preston Shannon Band and the Whitetop Mountaineers. From bluegrass to blues, Irish fiddle and oldtime, the Montana Folk Festival has something for everyone. Admission is free.

 

 

 

How Much Is Happine$$?

Dan Price

Dan Price of Gravity Payments recently announced that he raised his minimum wage for all his employees to a whopping $70k per year. At first, this move sounds like an over zealous CEO showing off his money in order to buy the best talent around, much like the New York Yankees, a strategy which has proven successful. However, he based his actions on a 2010 Princeton University study of income and its relationship to happiness. As a soon-to-be graduate looking for a job, I became more than a little interested in delving deeper into this study. I had heard of the study previously, but I didn’t really understand the basis of the study nor why it yielded the results it did.

The following is an extremely simplified overview of the study and its findings. Regardless of one’s own situation, one thing a person needs to keep in mind is that each individual is ultimately responsible for his and her own happiness.

The study looked at two different aspects of happiness: life evaluation and emotional well-being. Life evaluation refers to the overall satisfaction with one’s entire life. Emotional well-being refers to the emotions one experiences on a day-to-day basis. In other words, it refers to the stress, sadness, happiness, and other emotional responses that one tends to feel throughout the course of a day. While examining the study, and relative to my current situation, I found the aspect of emotional well-being to be the more relevant and more accurate gauge of happiness. Life evaluation can be subject to a phenomenon called fade-effect bias where humans tend to more easily forget negative experiences and better remember positive experiences.

In short, the study found that $75,000/year is the level at which people tend to stop experiencing any additional happiness relative to additional income. This study is also relative to the cost of living within the United States. “$75,000 is a threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals’ ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure”(Study). In other words, the stresses associated with making more that $75,000/year may counteract any additional happiness attributed to the additional income, essentially canceling each other out.

On the other hand, “less money is associated with emotional pain.” Essentially, as people increase their income they are more able to cover basic needs of living: food, shelter, living expenses, etc., which inversely decreases stress and worry that are associated with being unable to cover essential needs. As income continues to increase, comfort aspects can be addressed, up to being able to afford “luxury” items.

Ultimately, this is not a perfect science. Whether one makes more or less than $75,000/year, is not the tell-all sign of happiness. Many people with variously different income levels are perfectly content with the lives they live. But this study provides a good basis to better understand how income and happiness are related. Not that we don’t understand already a great deal about how that relationship works, but this is a particularly interesting study that suggests that, maybe, we all don’t need to win the lottery, or make a CEO’s salary, in order to be happy.

All time classic comedies from the 2000’s

Movies are something that everyone loves. They have an innate way of bringing people together. One well timed movie quote to a complete stranger could spark a friendship right then and there. The 2000’s were the glory days of comedy. It seems hard to believe that some of these movies are more than ten years old, but nonetheless hold a revered place in our hearts. As a 24 year old, these movies came out during the formidable years of my development into a young adult. They taught my friends and I what was funny, what certain words meant and how to see humor in an awkward situation. Here is a not so definitive list of classic comedies from the 2000’s,  I am eager to hear if you agree ~

 

Office Space (1999) – While technically not from the 2000’s, ’99 was close enough. Most of us have our own Lumberg to deal with, and Office Space perfectly tells the story of how a working man rose from the depths of everyday monotony to take matters into his own hands.

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Meet the Parents (2000) – Gaylord M. Focker still might be one of the funniest names I’ve seen in a movie. Ben Stiller and Robert de Niro capture lighting in a bottle and provided laughs all the way home.

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Saving Silverman (2001) – Most of us can relate to losing a friend to a relationship. Jack Black and Steve Zahn show us all how sometimes you have to fight for your friendships. A true story of love, loss and Neil Diamond.

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Old School (2003) – The “Frat Pack” as they are known. Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson create magic in this one. From Frank the Tank to “Blue” to Dean Prichard,  this culminates into one of the greatest comedies of the 2000’s.

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Grandma’s Boy (2006) – With an underrated cast, Grandma’s Boy over delivers and is one of those movies that we find ourselves quoting all the time. The ultimate stoner film/comedy, Grandma’s Boy is one of those movies you can watch again and again.

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