A chance meeting at the weekly event One Million Cups led two entrepreneurs to bring a North Dakota-based app development company to Sioux Falls. Jake Joraanstad, who co-founded Myriad Mobile while still in college five years ago at North Dakota State University, came to Sioux Falls to speak at the event for entrepreneurs late last year.
One Million Cups got its name from the premise that if entrepreneurs connected over 1 million cups of coffee, it could change the face of a startup community. In this case, the resulting conversation was between Joraanstad and Austin Hanson, who grew up in Sioux Falls and returned after working in California on an app for Amazon Music.
Hanson was considering starting a business, and when he heard Joraanstad talk about Myriad, he arranged to go see the Fargo office.
“It kind of spiraled from there,” said Hanson, who then learned Myriad also had a Minneapolis office. “I thought, if they have an office in Minneapolis, why not have one in Sioux Falls?”
He asked the question. Joraanstad paused, then convened his leadership team. One week later Hanson was working for Myriad. “I think it’s a good fit for Sioux Falls,” Hanson said. “Myriad is a huge proponent of increasing the technical aptitude of the community, and it think it will do very well here. And Myriad definitely exemplifies the concept of ‘Fargo nice’ and I think that will mirror well in Sioux Falls.”
Hanson leads a two-person team that is subleasing space in the Lemonly office at 230 S. Main Ave.
If Myriad’s growth so far is any indication, though, the Sioux Falls office will be expanding. Joraanstad and a few others started the business in 2011 and grew to a 15-person part-time team of mostly college students by the end of 2012. That’s when many of them graduated and made it a full-time job. There now are nearly 40 employees.
“It’s been crazy,” Joraanstad said. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes but also stayed alive and it’s been fun. These last couple years have been great growth years in terms of new clients, but we’re also keeping a lot of customers year-over-year, which says more than new customers do.”
One client is Midco, which used Myriad to develop two apps. Its Midco My Account app launched mid-June and allow residential customers to control their Midco account from a tablet or smartphone, including paying bills.
“We’re at nearly 21,000 downloads on that now,” Midco vice president of information systems Gary Shawd said. “People love their smartphones and apps present better than even a responsive design through a website. It always seems to be a user preference to go with apps.”
Midco recently launched a second Myriad-developed app for MidcoSN, which supplies high school football scores for North Dakota and South Dakota. The plan is add basketball this winter, Shawd said.
“We decided we wanted to get updated sports scores to parents and fans at the games, to know what’s going on across town as well as in the gym as they’re sitting there,” he said, estimating there have been about 1,400 downloads in the first few weeks.
“People like it. And the school administrators and (athletic directors) really like the concept. It’s just trying to get people keeping the states to get them out there and click the right buttons so we get the feeds updated.”
Myriad’s in-depth up-front design process has helped make the app development run smoothly, Shawd added. “The fact that they seem to be getting them right the first time is what’s really been impressing me. They’re very good to work with, and once you launch the app the customer loves them. That’s the big test for me.”
The company sees other business opportunities in the Sioux Falls market, Joraanstad said, including in financial services. He also believes there is untapped talent in the city.
“If you’re interested in mobile app development and design around new technology, there aren’t a lot of opportunities in Sioux Falls specific like that,” he said. “So we think we have an opportunity to bring on the right talent. We’re here to stay. We think Sioux Falls is fun. We’re excited about it. We want to get involved in the community and see if we can grow the team next year.”
Note: Article was originally published on October 25, 2016, in the Sioux Fall Business Journal.