Bushel: An entrepreneur who never left
When Jake Joraanstad was studying computer engineering at North Dakota State University, he imagined he’d graduate and leave town for a position at Google or Microsoft.
Then the Rolla, N.D., native embarked on the journey of entrepreneurship and realized he could pursue it in Fargo.
“I never left,” said the CEO and co-founder of Bushel. “Now I’m proud to say I’m glad I never did.”
As a college senior in 2011, he and Ryan Raguse (now Bushel’s president) founded Myriad Mobile, segued into a mobile tool called mAgri and then transitioned into Bushel, a “provider of software technology solutions for growers, grain buyers, ag retailers, protein producers and food companies.”
When they embarked on their entrepreneurial journey, Joraanstad says, the Fargo-Moorhead area lacked a place for entrepreneurs to spend time together. But, he says, as they worked with John Machacek at the EDC and with Emerging Prairie, he got the sense that together they could make the situation better.
“It’s part of the reason why we stayed here,” he said.
Over the years, Joraanstad’s companies have found many opportunities that have helped grow their business.
“John has helped us navigate everything from the North Dakota New Jobs program all the way to helping us find new capital and access more growth programs and navigate the Bank of North Dakota,” he said.
Now Bushel invests in Fargo instead of somewhere else. Joraanstad said he’s seeing more people do the same—staying in Fargo, building great companies, and enjoying the relatively low cost of living and attractive lifestyle. And Bushel is now also investing back into the GFMEDC by being one of their private sector investors.
One thing he especially appreciates about the GFMEDC is that it not only uses the traditional attract-and-retain model, but their strategy includes the high-touch ecosystem work of helping create and grow startups.
“It’s probably pretty unique, their approach,” he said.
Joraanstad’s entrepreneurial friends around the country rarely talk about their economic development organizations. But he does.
“John’s been one of the most consistent voices in this community for entrepreneurs,” he said. “Whenever my entrepreneur friends visit or express an interest in setting up a business in the Fargo area, the easy answer is to get them in front of people like John.”