Local Entrepreneurs

9 mins read

Reflecting on 2022, while looking ahead to 2023 and beyond.

Throughout 2022, we interviewed a wide variety of entrepreneurs and successful business owners alike as they elaborated on their journeys to success and what advice they would recommend to others. We reconnected with a handful of these recently-featured entrepreneurs to learn about their biggest successes and struggles from the past year, as well as what’s on the horizon for them professionally.

Gina Gordon & Eric Kubischta

Lucit CEO (Gina) and CTO (Eric), Co-Founders

What was your biggest business accomplishment in 2022?

Our biggest accomplishment in 2022 has been our growth. This includes strategic partnerships we have built across the country in this industry and also the wide range of industries that are choosing to use Lucit to control their billboards. HOW HAS YOUR BUSINESS GROWN IN 2022? We have added four employees, added another office space, and we’ve expanded into our 16th state actively using Lucit!

What has your business done for the Bis-Man Community in the past year?

We partnered with iDigital Outdoor Advertising and gave free promotion on digital billboards in Bismarck-Mandan on Mother’s Day so that anyone in the community could celebrate their mom in a big way.

What are your business goals for 2023?

2023 will be an exciting year for Lucit. On January 9, we launched our new product, Lucit XR, which is going to change the way that people are presented with billboards and the way that companies sell them. It is a huge step forward in this industry and Lucit is excited to launch this across the country.

What’s your biggest setback currently and how do you plan on overcoming it?

The biggest setback we have currently is the slow-moving pace of the out-of-home industry as a whole. We just continue to push out new features and better solutions and eventually, the industry will catch up.

Do you have any plans to further engage with the Bis-Man Community?

We look forward to enhancing our relationships with media owners in our own backyard.

Will you be making any significant changes or expansions in 2023?

No significant changes are planned in terms of operations or expansions in 2023 but stay tuned… a lot can happen in one year.

What is another business that Bis-Man community members should look out for and support in 2023?

We always recommend Gusaas Signs to others, as they’re doing amazing work in the Bismarck-Mandan community!

Contact Lucit

Phone | 701.415.3500
Website | lucit.cc
Email | [email protected]
Facebook | /LucitTech
Instagram | /company/lucit-tech
Address | 314 E Thayer Ave, Suite 220 Bismarck, ND 58501

Brian Jackson

Mighty Missouri Coffee Company Owner

What was your biggest business accomplishment in 2022?

I think that we, as a team, were able to do all of the things we set out to do this year, and do it with excellence. One specific standout was having been selected to attend the “Grow with Google Business Meetup” in Washington, D.C. Being hand-picked among a hundred or so other small businesses around the country was an honor and it provided a time to connect and learn from the team at Google and other entrepreneurs who are managing incredible companies throughout the states. We also were able to host the first-ever “Northern Coffee Sessions,” bringing in well-known podcast host and voice in the coffee industry Chris Deferio to speak to coffee professionals in the region. 2022 is the 10th year of business for Mighty Missouri, and I had some pretty cool opportunities to reflect on my entrepreneurial journey. I recognize we are a very small company, but when it began, I would say it was “super super small,” so the growth has been very humbling to see. We have a really great team.

How has your business grown in 2022?

In 2022, we expanded our roasting space to double our warehouse, added offices, and expanded our team. We were able to hire additional managers who have brought creative ideas to continue to innovate within our company. Online sales have increased and we have not seen a “post-COVID” slowdown in our storefront, which was a big fear in the coffee industry.

What has your business done for the Bis-Man Community in the past year?

Mighty Missouri Coffee is the host of the BISMAN Triathlon, a swim-bike-run race at McDowell Dam. It’s a race that has been going on for over 15 years, but over time leadership changed and eventually, the race was threatened to be canceled, due to a lack of a stable organization leading the effort. Mighty Missouri took it on, along with a really great leadership team of volunteers. It’s no small task, but we’ve seen the race grow to become the USA Triathlon State Age Group Qualifier. We’re committed to seeing it grow, and we’re also committed to the volunteer nature of the race. So while we’ve run it like a business, we’re donating profits to area charities that we believe in. It’s a fantastic community event and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.

What are your business goals for 2023?

Truthfully, Mighty Missouri Coffee Company has been a journey of faith. I’m fortunate that things have grown over the years, but every new decision is a scary jump. We’re still small enough that a lot of decisions tend to be “make or break.” Over 2022, those decisions involved investing in our employees. I’m confident that we will see growth in 2023 as a result of those team-building decisions—so we can move as a cohesive unit. We’re also starting a podcast, but that’s more fun and less risky (unless I say something stupid. Come to think of it, pretty risky).

What’s your biggest setback currently and how do you plan om overcoming it?

I think our biggest setback is getting the word out. We’re roasting incredible coffee with a lot of sales channels to communities across the Northern Plains. Reaching our audience and discovering new customers is a little tricky, especially from more of a grassroots perspective. We’ve always been doing videos and publishing content in new ways. We’ll do a lot more of that in 2023.

Do you have any plans to further engage with the Bis-Man Community?

We’re very excited to continue to grow the BISMAN Triathlon and encourage first-time athletes to accomplish their goals in a positive and uplifting atmosphere! The Northern Coffee Sessions was a great way to bring different coffee shop owners and managers together, ask questions, and learn from reputable voices in the coffee industry. We’d love to do more of that. We’re always looking for ways to give back to the community that has given us so much.

Will you be making any significant expansions in 2023?

Our most recent significant expansion was back in January of 2022, but we’re always airing out opportunities as they arise. Hopefully, something significant happens in 2023, but not overly significant. We’d like to see the appropriate level of significant change for a healthy, growing company!

What is another business that Bis-Man community members should look out for and support in 2023?

I always recommend that people in our community support Goalrobber Hockey Schools and Solid Rock Music. They’re great businesses that are run by great people!

Contact Mighty Missouri Coffee Company

Phone | 701.251.0785
Website | mightymissouri.com
Email | [email protected]
Facebook | /MightyMissouriCoffee
Instagram | @MightyMissouri
Address | 3307 Hamilton St, Suite H Bismarck, ND 58503

John Bollinger

Funatix Entertainment Owner & CEO

What was your biggest business accomplishment in 2022

Our biggest accomplishment as a business was selling out our Flock Memberships. These family and corporate memberships make up over half the seats in the ballpark each season. They provide members with the best seats to the best Larks games and include free food and drink, ticket flexibility, discounts to other local events, quarterly magazines, and so much more.

We’ve made it our goal to provide entertainment value for businesses and families locally and statewide. Our Flock Members are the core of our business and we want to help them put FUN first by prioritizing quality time with those they care about. Our team worked hard all summer to provide the best experience possible to our fans, and this was reflected by our Flock Member renewal rate. Over 85% of Flock Members have already renewed their memberships for 2023.

How has your business grown in 2022?

In 2022, we took the processes and experiences we have developed and expanded our footprint into the event planning industry through our event company, Funatix Events. Funatix Events assisted numerous local businesses and organizations to maximize their event experience and reach their revenue goals.

We’ve had the privilege of working with the Bismarck Marathon since 2019 and the Bismarck Santa Run since 2020. In 2022, we formed relationships with the Mandan Rodeo and Designer Genes Walk for Down Syndrome for the first time. In addition, Funatix Events assisted some of our community’s major employers in hosting their employee summer picnics, including Sanford Health, North American Coal and Bobcat/Doosan. Our team is grateful to work with these amazing organizations and their supporters, staff, and sponsors.

What has your business for the Bis-Man Community in the past year?

Our mission is to use FUN to make a difference in people’s lives and that includes the community as a whole. We take pride in spending locally, providing local jobs and internships, and giving back to our local communities.

The Larks are proud to work with dozens of local suppliers from Mandan’s Cloverdale Foods and M&W Beef Packers to Bismarck’s Image Printing and Mann Signs. Also, we employed more than 115 seasonal employees in 2022. Over 21% of our staff were new to the North Dakota workforce and chose the Larks to be their first job this year. I think my favorite part of the Larks experience is bringing people together to give back to the community. Through 50/50 raffles, Miracle Minutes, Jersey Auctions, silent auctions, and charity events, our fans and sponsors helped raise over $100,000 for local charities this year.

We also ran the largest single-day food drive in North Dakota, donating over 3,800 pounds of food (nearly 3,200 meals) in 3 hours, and organized a Reading Program for local schools that impacted 689 classrooms and over 12,500 students. Finally, while we love baseball, we hosted 10 community events throughout the year that, courtesy of our amazing sponsors, were completely free to the public—everything from a Kids STEM Day and fishing safety event, to a new wacky way to play baseball called “Flock Fest” and a Carnival Day.

What are your business goals for 2023?

The Larks want to continue providing exceptional value and service for fans, groups, and sponsors. Big initiatives this year to do that include:

• Being more competitive on the field.

• Grow and foster a fun, new in-state rivalry. with the Minot Hot Tots.

• Celebrate the 2023 Northwoods League All-Star Game in Bismarck with our Flock Members in a big way on July 31 – August 1.

Internally, I’m really focused on empowering the next batch of leaders within our organization to keep taking us to new heights. We have an amazing group of 16 full-time employees. We strive to make working for the Larks as fun and meaningful as being a fan.

What’s your biggest setback currently and how do you plan on overcoming it?

Managing the price of inflation this past year was a challenge. For a company that thrives on all-inclusive value to fans, the cost of everything increased more than our business. This year, our front office is focused on value innovation—how can we provide maximum entertainment value for our fans and sponsors while ensuring we’re more conscious of inflationary pressures? We have an incredible front office that is dedicated to this challenge and we’re already seeing amazing innovation and ideas heading into 2023.

Do you have any plans to further engage with the Bis-Man Community?

One project I’m particularly passionate about is the beginning of a separate 501(c)(3), the Larks Community FUNd. We created this nonprofit because we saw a need to further impact underprivileged families and youth in our communities through access to sports, scholarships, and positive life experiences. Modeled closely after the Twins Community FUNd, we are fortunate to have an amazing board of community leaders and an exciting vision to use FUN to make a larger difference in people’s lives. I’m eager to begin bringing these initiatives to life in 2023 and beyond.

Will you be making any significant expansions in 20213?

The Larks are extremely fortunate to have a great partner in Bismarck Parks and Recreation. Bismarck Municipal Ballpark, home of Dakota Community Bank and Trust Field, has been a gathering place in our community for over 100 years and, fortunately for us, Bismarck Parks continues to find ways to invest and make it the best place to experience a baseball game.

This summer, courtesy of a matching grant between the State of North Dakota and Bismarck Parks and Recreation, fans will get to experience the largest video board in the Northwoods League. We’re so excited about the potential this board will bring to our experience!

Also—after feedback from fans last summer, we are trying to further accommodate smaller groups with additional, private areas where they can sit and enjoy a game together. The NEW Dugout Club and Larks Suite will begin booking dates in the New Year and I believe groups will love the amenities and exclusivity included with these areas.

What is another business that Bis-Man Community members should look out for and support in 2023?

Keep supporting Bis-Man events overall—big and small. It not only means the world to the events and their cause when you and your family come out, but it also is good for you too!

Ok, I’m kind of a dork, but Robert Waldinger, a leading psychologist on happiness and the director of the longest study on happiness, found that people who are more socially connected to their families, friends, and community are happier, physically healthier, and live longer than people who are less connected. Events bring families, friends, and the community together. Whether it’s a Larks game, Holiday Lights on Main, Downtown Street Fair, or the Mandan Rodeo—support more local events and spend more quality time with those you love in 2023.

Contact Funatix Entertainment / Bismark Larks

Phone | 701.557.7600
Website | northwoodsleague.com/bismarcklarks/funatix-events
Email | [email protected]
Facebook | /BismarckLarks
Twitter | @BismarckLarks
Address | 201 W Front Ave Bismarck, ND 58504