Our Community Leader Highlight this month is with Katherine Roth from Jamestown, North Dakota.
She serves as the Executive Director of the Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center, which is hosting this year’s Techstars Startup Weekend Jamestown for the second time. The Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center supports the creation of rural startups in North Dakota by providing technical assistance, customized training, entrepreneur-led discussions, and entrepreneur-focused networking and training events. She have a passion for empowering individuals and organizations in achieving strategic goals.
Prior to working with the Entrepreneur Center, Katherine served as a consultant to the University of Jamestown and wrote the USDA Rural Development grant to secure project funding. As well, I worked in the federal government with much of this time at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Working in a capacity that serves others and the greater community is personally very meaningful. In my free time I am running for the North Dakota State Senate in District 29 with the Dem-NPL party and would like to serve as a proponent for family farming, youth STEM experiential education initiatives, and small businesses in the state legislature.
Why do you do what you do?
I live in Jamestown, North Dakota, which is a rural community in the south central region of the state. One key way to ensure rural sustainability and community livability is through supporting local entrepreneurs. Our center aims to support the economic vitality of our region.
What’s new for the Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center?
Techstars Startup Weekend is still very new to us! We participated last year in late 2017 and we are excited to deliver this program within the regional community again in 2018. North Dakota has great access to the internet and the cost of living is reasonable. This combination makes it a great place to start up.
In Jamestown, as throughout most of North Dakota, the commutes are short. The regional and statewide resources available to support new business ventures are impressive. The Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center welcomes public inquiries to learn more about business opportunities!
Every month, we do a Community Leader Highlight in Europe. For October, we had the chance to ask Maaike, from the Netherlands, about her Startup Weekend involvement. This is what she said.
I work part-time as a graphic designer at Kr8werk. Besides that I am the founder of the startups Baguru and Surprise Dinner and I organize events that are all startup (community) related.
My first Startup Weekend as a participant was in 2013 in Groningen. Wout Laban and Matthijs Menses convinced me to join that edition. I was still a student and one of my biggest fears was pitching. The next year Nick Stevens convinced me to grab the microphone, and I did! My project got enough votes and at the end of the weekend we won the second price. After this edition, I was hooked. In 2014 I participated in three Startup Weekends in Groningen and Amsterdam. Baguru and Surprise Dinner are still on their way to become real companies, I just had to find the right people to get them off the ground. And I found them!
After participating in five Startup Weekends it was time for me to join the organizing team. Last year I was the lead organizer of Startup Weekend Groningen together with David Hamoen. It was a great experience and I was able to work on my own skills and at the same time inspire and connect others. I really like the way startup weekend can make a change in the participants’ mindset.
That is also why a mini-startup weekend with kids is so valuable. It is important to show them that you don’t need to come from a wealthy family or join the highest education to become a successful entrepreneur. In the end, everyone can create their own future.
There are also smaller cities where there is no startup community yet. With Startup Weekend we can create a spark and make a real difference. Our community in the North of the Netherlands will make its next big step by introducing Startup Weekend Friesland. The challenge is to spread the Startup Weekend mentality and grow a community that spans across the several small cities in the province.
We expect that this will be a very different challenge compared to the one in Groningen, but it will be awesome!