SDTBC graduates add to local economy
Forward Sioux Falls, through the South Dakota Technology Business Center (SDTBC), assists entrepreneurs with technology-based businesses by creating an ecosystem that supports and maximizes the impact of research adn innovation in the Sioux Falls area. These companies are "incubated" for up to three years in the SDTBC.
Startup education technology company Stem Fuse recently graduated from the SDTBC moved to an office in Brandon. They are the 19th company to graduate from the SDTBC since it opened in 2004.
Entrepreneur Carter Tatge started Stem Fuse two years ago as way to get students more interested in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math. Stem Fuse designs and sells digital curriculum for students in kindergarten through high school that teaches technology through building computer games. The company’s products also include Health:IT, which examines how technology is used in record keeping in hospitals and physicians’ offices.
The new office is as 314 Splitrock Blvd. in Brandon near the Funding Farm, which has become an investor in the growing company.
Peppermint Energy spent one year at the SDTBC and graduated in April, moving to an office in southern Sioux Falls. The company has grown from concept to setting up an international distribution network in two years and along the way has generated positive buzz in the entrepreneurial community.
The startup developed portable utility boxes, called Forty2, that it considers to have life-changing potential for people around the world, especially those outside established power grids in underdeveloped countries. The personal-sized energy sources also can be used in advanced countries for recreational purposes, such as outdoor excursions.
Large-scale production of Peppermint's Forty2, its initial product, has begun, and a global distribution network is being set up. Distribution arrangements have been made in about 35 countries. The Forty2, which is about the size of a large suitcase, looks like an oversized laptop computer. Opening it exposes solar panels that generate and store energy in a battery. The device generates enough power during daylight to power an appliance such a small refrigerator 24 hours a day. Sencore Inc. in Sioux Falls has started making Forty2s, which will sell for between $1,500-$2,500, depending on power level. Peppermint has also developed a smaller model, the Milo 10, which is the size of a tablet computer. It is designed to power smaller appliances, such as a mobile phone.
Peppermint was the first SDTBC tenant to use a crowd-funding vehicle. In the fall of 2012, Peppermint set a goal of raising $25,000 in an online campaign through Kickstarter.com to help gauge interest in the Forty2. The company reached the goal in five days and went on to raise $83,286 from 284 donors before the campaign ended.