Twentytehvenbrd years ago, the world was introduced to Fargo, North Dakota through the lens of the Coen Brothers in what has become one of the most iconic movies of all time.  When people hear the name Fargo, oftentimes, they’re first thoughts go to the movie, but as my guest reveals, there’s a lot more to Fargo than accents, woodchippers and ice scrapers, especially today.

Greg Tehven is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Emerging Prairie, an organization that connects and celebrates the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Fargo-Moorehead.  In recent years, Fargo has developed a reputation as a strong, drone start-up community, often described as the Silicon Valley for drones.  In this episode of the Drone Radio Show, Greg talks about Fargo’s drone culture, the role that Emerging Prairie plays in pushing entrepreneurial activity forward and how Fargo is redefining itself as a contemporary, hip, 21st Century City.

In This Episode

  • [01:55] Introduction.  Meet Greg Tehven, Executive Director of Emerging Prairie of Fargo, North Dakota.
  • [02:15] About Emerging Prairie.  Emerging Prairie is a city-building organization located in downtown Fargo.  The organization connects and celebrates the startup ecosystem.  Emerging Prairie has a co-working space that is used by start-up businesses.
  • [05:15] Benefits of the Co-Working Space.  Greg discusses the benefits that startups and emerging companies get being a part of the co-working space, which can include access to peers and exchange of ideas.
  • [06:51] About Greg Tehven.  Greg chronicles his path from college, to a technology content blog to sponsoring special events that promote the technology sector, which ultimately led to Emerging Prairie.
  • [08:22] Fargo Success Stories.  Greg gives a couple of examples of the how Fargo’s collaborative and supportive ecosystem brings the right people together that can support new companies.  One Million Cups, TEDx Fargo and other events create a platform for interaction.  Fargo’s start-up community is characterized by medical software, precision and value agriculture, e-commerce and the drone industry.  Emerging Prairie supports these sectors by sponsoring networking events, peer group exchanges and promoting positive stories of the community.
  • [11:26] Drone Focus. Greg talks about the annual Drone Focus event, how it got started and the results of this year’s event.  Drone Focus grew out of a small event called “Let’s Talk Drones”, which led to a monthly discussion on drones.  After several months, Emerging Prairie sponsored the first annual Drone Focus conference.  The conference brings companies and individuals from a broad spectrum and geography to Fargo.
  • [14:05] Why Fargo?  Greg cites the historical role that North Dakota plays in aerospace, the Grand Forks test site, commitment of elected officials and the quality and growth of the Universities as prime reasons why state is a strong drone technology center.  Fargo is well positioned within this culture, as it has a growing university, a high level of interest in downtown living and development and a need to diversify the economy through technology.  There is a real spirit of belief.
  • [17:00] Next Steps for Emerging Prairie.  Greg will be working to solidify the content of next year’s Drone Focus for May 31 2017, exploring the consumer role in drones, inviting companies to do product launches in Fargo and conducting demos of the technology.
  • [17:59] Advice to Others.  Greg shares his advice to others who are involved in creating similar organizations in other cities.
  • [18:59] Fargo Community and Drones.  Greg talks about the Fargo community and its acceptance of drones.
  • [21:43] The Future.  Emerging Prairie is planning next year’s Drone Focus event and preparing for the fall series of monthly membership meetings. The monthly meetings draw a diverse group of business owners, investors and officials from the North Dakota ecosystem.
  • [25:21] Lasting Impressions.  Greg welcomes visitors to Fargo and hopes they feel welcome, see the possibility of creating things and meet people that can help them get to where they want to go.
  • [26:26] Closing

Mentioned Links

Drone Focus 2016

Drone Focus 2016

Drone Focus 2016

Drone Focus 2016

Downtown Fargo At Night

Downtown Fargo At Night (Source: NDTourism.com)