Our Intern Answers the Question: Why Workup?

Betsy Bonnema Stories, Uncategorized

by Steve Brindis, Ridgewater Student & 2019 Summer Intern at Workup & Redstar

Everything started on October 3rd of 2017 at the Taste of Workup. Our instructor, Jessie Boike, invited a group of students to represent Ridgewater’s Marketing and Sales Management program at the Workup event. To be honest, I wasn’t excited to go because at that point, I’d only been in the USA for 6 months and my English wasn’t the best (I mean – it’s not the best right now but it is much better). I figured I had two options – call one of the members of my group and say that I was sick or get out of my comfort zone, go to the event, and meet more some new people. Of course, I decided to go to the Taste of WorkUp.

When I came into the Workup building I was like Woooooooooow!!! What is all this? (Yeah, there was a reason why I was so surprised. Graphic design, photography, connections, and marketing have always gotten my attention). Then I found Lindsey Donner, who I knew from CrossFit Attila and asked her about Workup. She gave me the tour and explained a little bit about the purpose of Workup. At that point, I thought, “Steve, you need too to start pushing more yourself if you want to work in a place like this!”

Weeks later our instructor gave us the assignment to interview someone that works in the marketing, sales or management industry. The first person that came to my mind was Lindsey. So I got in contact with Lindsey, we scheduled the day, and everything went good! Knowing more about Lindsey and Workup made me say to myself again, “Steve, YOU NEED TO START PUSHING MORE YOURSELF if you want to work in a place like this, and you should start taking some communication classes.”

In my sophomore year at Ridgewater, one of the biggest requirements was an internship. I knew where I wanted to do it but I didn’t know how to get into Workup. Again, I contacted Lindsey and asked her if they had any internships at Workup and she said, “Yes, let me talk with Betsy and I will let you know.” A week later she told me, “We have one but somebody else got it.” I was mentally prepared for an answer like that, so I replied, “Okay Lindsey, here is the thing – I don’t need to get paid for my internship, I just want to learn from everybody there, get out of my comfort zone and help in whatever I can.” Apparently, that changed everything because I got onto the WorkUp team!

During my time here at Workup I learned a lot about marketing and social media from the people here and had the chance to get out of my comfort zone and practice more of my English. Most importantly, I learned that there are always people willing to listen to you, help you and understand you at Workup. I demonstrated to myself that I can be good at everything I want to do; that every day and every opportunity is a challenge; and that it is up to me to take the risk and show the best part of me. Just because my English isn’t good doesn’t mean I will not be able to do stuff or be part of something important. I’m better than I thought.

So Workup, thank you so much for letting me be part of this incredible family. Thank you for showing me that marketing is not as easy as everybody says and that it’s not just about solving problems for our clients. It’s more than that.

What is next for me? Well, I still have one more semester at Ridgewater and then I will finally graduate with my AAS degree in Marketing and Sales Management. Then I’m planning to transfer to North Central University in Minneapolis next fall.

Special thanks to Lindsey Donner for connecting me with Workup and special thanks to Betsy Bonnema for letting me be part of the Workup team.

Sewn Edge Opens Second Location

Steve Brindis Stories, Uncategorized

Sewn Edge Offers “Equal Access to Beauty” in Walnut Grove & Willmar

Sean Yang and his wife,Sao, opened Sewn Edge in Walnut Grove, Minnesota in 2018 and have recently expanded to Willmar’s Kandi Mall. They offer sewing and creative clothing alterations. We got to know them during our Startup Bootcamp for entrepreneurs earlier this year.

Sean came to the United States from Laos with his family in 1989 when he was just 7 years old. Once they got settled, his parents started business doing all kinds of small business such as craft and vendor shows, food booth at grand events and finally settling down to clothing alterations 10 years ago.  Growing up, Sean spent lots of time helping and working in their businesses. 

Sean says, “I come from a community that is very family-oriented in their ceremonies, traditions and food. We all work together to make things happen and small family businesses are common.”

Eventually, both Sean and his wife were helping out with the family business which inspired them to start their own. That’s when “Sewn Edge” was born.

After 2 years operating their Walnut Grove location, Sean and his wife recently made the brave and strategic decision to add a second location in Willmar’s Kandi Mall. Walnut Grove is a small community and they wanted to be in a higher traffic area, yet, still conveniently located near home to Walnut Grove. They considered Worthington and Marshall, but eventually decided on Willmar.

More from Sean…

How did Sewn Edge come to be?

“My wife comes from a really conservative family that believes in repairing and repurposing clothes – so she’s really creative and experienced at sewing! I grew up on the business operations side, which is the part I love. We realized that those two things make a great combination.”

What inspires your work at Sewn Edge?

“We believe that everyone deserves equal access to beauty – so we make beauty accessible by creatively redesigning and modifying existing clothing to give it new life. Our customers can bring in used or thrift store garments and we’ll transform them into beautiful, customized pieces. They end up spending significantly less than buying new clothes at retail prices. We can also modify clothing purchased online or in retail stores that doesn’t fit quite right.”

Who is your typical customer?

“We can help anyone, particularly customers preparing for special occasions such as weddings. Brides can bring in off-the-rack dresses in to get modified or bring their whole bridal party in to get alterations done. We want our customers to feel comfortable and confident in the clothes they wear, especial during those important moments!”

What have been some of your biggest challenges?

“Renovating our new space in the Kandi Mall while getting used to a 90-minute commute has been the toughest and most recent challenge. I also made the difficult decision to leave my full-time job in order to make this new location

What’s next for Sewn Edge?

“Well, I have five kids and one is already interested in the business. So, a third location is probably coming someday!

Overall, our vision has always been to give something back. We hope to do that by giving everyone the opportunity to look and feel beautiful at prices they can afford.”

Creating Opportunities for Entrepreneurs: A Student Perspective on Startups

Chloe Stories

Succulents and KCEO

A passion for plants. Who knew that could be the foundation for a startup?

Plant centered purpose, drive, and motivation has sparked joy and an entrepreneurial spirit in Stella Depuydt, who is a junior at New London-Spicer High School and a member of this years Kandiyohi CEO class.

CEO, which stands for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities, provides high school juniors and seniors with the opportunity to build relationships, rediscover their community, and start their own businesses. As a result of the class, we welcome 23 new startups to Kandiyohi County this year. These businesses range from marketing and videography to docks and decor to scrunchies and succulents.

Stella Depuydt’s love of plants led her to start a business called Stella’s Succulents. She showcased her new business at this years 5th annual KCEO Trade Show.

At her trade show booth, she spoke confidently and excitedly. She explained that she purchases wholesale succulents from California, because propagating plants wouldn’t be as efficient. She re-pots them with her very own soil mixture. The mixture supports healthy drainage, so plants don’t die as a result of root rot. According to Stella, root rot is the leading cause of plant death and likely the reason many of our plants have died!

As a junior in high school, you wouldn’t expect Stella to explain the fundamentals of hydroponics or own and operate her own business. Her well spoken and personable nature wouldn’t lead you to think she previously considered herself shy. Yet Stella can confidently talk about plants and root rot and owns her own business.

KCEO has taught Stella to “Take more risks. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Something that held me back was thinking I was shy and couldn’t talk to people. I’ve met so many cool people that wanna know what I’m doing.”

Plants have pushed Stella to find her voice. She has found comfortability in public speaking and selling. She has taken her passion for potted plants and growing things and transformed it into an opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Finding Where You Fit Through Hands-on Learning

Unlike many high school classes, students in Kandiyohi CEO don’t study a textbook. Learning happens outside of the classroom.

Tyler Gehrking, facilitator of the program and entrepreneur, doesn’t tell the students how to start a business or run a startup. Yes, it is a class for school, but he is more than their teacher. He is a mentor. He doesn’t give them all the answers, he guides them on their journey of learning. By being a part of KCEO, “They learn about the world. They learn about themselves. And they start the process of figuring out where they fit.”

There isn’t one right path of learning. Blake Thomas, a senior in Willmar, believes students should do CEO because “It shows you what the real world is like. A lot of kids don’t know what they wanna do, and they can try and figure it out by learning about all kinds of jobs.”

If you don’t try and experience new things, you’ll never know what you like and dislike. That’s precisely what KCEO students were able to do. Blake said, “{I liked} being out of school. I got perspective on what I want to do later in life. I wanna keep our hat business going or keep owning my own businesses in the area.”

Hands-on learning opportunities give us the chance to apply and engage what we’ve learned. To find out what works and what doesn’t. Whether it’s testing a theory or trying something new or starting a business, the KCEO entrepreneurs are going for it.

Building Connections

There is value in building connections and relationships in your community. Connecting over coffee, learning a new skill, and sharing stories. These are all things KCEO students have been doing, and will continue to do to make connections.

KCEO student entrepreneurs Blake Thomas and Bryan Weidemann co-founded Clutch Hats. The two have sold tons of hats that feature fun designs and their logo, but what has a hat business taught them? Weidemann was able to discover what opportunities are available to him in Kandiyohi County. Blake learned the importance of networking. His biggest piece of advice for students his age is to not be afraid to talk to people and network. He thinks you should get to know as many people as you can. Building connections is how you become successful. Hats off to that!

Understanding Culture

The culture of an organization isn’t something you can explain to another person. It’s something you must feel for yourself. Being a part of KCEO is an experience that can’t truly be captured in the words of an article, because learning doesn’t happen on paper. Culture is something you create and experience.

What Stella enjoyed most about the program was “Getting to see different businesses in the area and their work cultures.” She realized that the culture of each organization was different. “It’s not something I had thought about before. Every business needs an accountant and an HR manager, but what is unique to each company is the attitudes and culture of the organization. In the future that is something I will take into account when looking for jobs.” She’s eager to find a company with an awesome culture that she fits into.

Culture impacts the communication style, work environment, and daily operations of a business. It’s important to consider the impact of culture and how it affects our work, something Stella is already thinking about.

Kandiyohi CEO cultivates an innovative and entrepreneurial culture. It encourages ideas and hands-on learning. Opportunities for growth and learning from failure. The culture that KCEO has built in 5 years draws people to their annual trade show to pick the brains of young entrepreneurs and explore months of hard work on display. It even brings back past KCEO students to support fellow entrepreneurs and learn from a younger, possibly even more eager group of students.

KCEO brings students together, and pushes them to go outside of their comfort zones; it pushes people to make connections and find out where they fit best.

What It Means to Be an Entrepreneur

The meaning of entrepreneurship may seem as simple as a dictionary definition. Reality is it represents different things to different people. Sometimes it starts with purpose and passion, and other times it begins with solving a problem.

Bryan Weidemann found something that he loves to do: sell hats. “Entrepreneur means to me someone who wants to run something of their own. They see a problem, and they build solutions. It means that they don’t necessarily care about the money, but they care about the life they are living.”

Entrepreneurship doesn’t look a certain way. Students in the Kandiyohi CEO class have certainly taught us that. Skills and creativity can make a splash on your screen, like Sufyan Harbi and Siraji Yare’s videos for Hyper Marketing. Ivy Bolle creates scrunchies, so your hair won’t be in your face while you innovate. Stella Debuydt’s growth started with a terracotta pot and love of plants. Bryan and Blake want their business to be more than a way to make money. They want to do something that solves problems and makes a positive difference.

Words of Wisdom from Student Entrepreneurs

How can we learn from students with startups? What challenges do they face? Why should we listen to them?

To Blake Thomas, an entrepreneur is “somebody who goes out and tries to make the world a better place with their business.” Entrepreneurship is what you make it. All entrepreneurs encounter obstacles and face challenges. The key is “Being able to find ways around making mistakes and being discouraged.” Blake soon realized that “Everybody makes mistakes, and you just have to move past them.”

“{Stella’s} biggest takeaway is you don’t have to conform to peoples’ impressions or expectations. You can start your own business and do things people don’t think you’re capable of. If you decide to do it and have the motivation, there’s not much that can stop you.”

Students encounter the same or similar problems that the average business professional or business would face. What we can learn from these students is to approach each challenge as a learning opportunity. Each mistake as an opportunity for improvement. Areas of improvement as areas for growth.

By listening to students, we can learn to go for it. To be an entrepreneur. Have a startup. Create entrepreneurial opportunities, whatever or wherever they may be.

From a Coworking Space to a Startup Scene

Jayme Journey, Stories

When we opened our doors three and a half years ago, we set out to accomplish few things…

Original WORKUP goals:

  1. To build a community of cool, open minded people who were looking to do their daily, independent work alongside others with different perspectives and talents.
  2. To be an example for how collaboration can truly make things better – from the work we do, to the events we host, and the space we share.
  3. To support entrepreneurs and their big ideas.

About a year into this coworking journey, we launched a program called startup bootcamp, which was really focused on achieving goal three. But more importantly, bootcamp was the answer to a problem we quickly discovered after our coworking space opened and we actually got to work alongside some of the entrepreneurs we set out to help.

The problem sounds a little bit like this:

  • I have a business idea, but don’t know where to start or who to talk to.
  • I don’t know where to begin when it comes to marketing? I think I need a website…
  • I feel excited, overwhelmed and alone all at the same.

(Looking back on it now, I think this was what they refer to as a lightbulb moment – that moment of clarity when you realize how you can give back to the world and solve a real problem for the people you care about.)

In a nutshell, startup bootcamp is a hands-on, collaborative marketing workshop. But it’s so much more than that. It helps business owners understand how closely integrated business and marketing really are. It helps them understand that they aren’t in it alone; that as entrepreneurs, we’re all struggling with a lot of the same things. Lastly, it helps them begin to understand this thing called a brand. That it’s so much bigger than a website, a logo or Facebook ad. And at the core of a brand, is a real person with real passion to make a difference.

We dig into all of these things together. Remember what we said about collaboration? There’s a magic that happens when we get three or four companies in the same room – who are willing to let their guard down and just air out all of the highs and lows of their business. Without fail, startup bootcamp leads to some of the most creative and meaningful marketing. And, usually some really cool business collaborations and friendships.

By the end of 2018, we’ll have had 47 companies of all different ages and sizes go through startup bootcamp. Some came with just an idea, some came to reinvent their existing business, some with a new product to introduce, some just needed to re-energize their marketing – but all of them have an inspiring personal mission that fuels the important work they’re doing.

We recently hit the road and traveled all across West Central Minnesota to visit some of our alumni and find out what is new and what has happened since they attended bootcamp. Although we couldn’t make it to them all, this video includes a good sample of the incredible entrepreneurs that make up our area’s startup scene. We can’t wait to share more of their stories in the coming months!

Our Favorite Things of 2017

Jayme Stories

This year, the redstar/WORKUP team grew… and so did our list of favorite things! We’re excited to share with you some of the simple things that keep us inspired, bring us joy and make life more fun. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Bombas Socks: Luke

Bombas first caught my eye on a little known TV show called Shark Tank. Maybe you’ve heard of it. But, what really got my attention is for every pair purchased they donate a pair to someone in need. To date, over 5 million pairs have been donated!

Cuticle Cream: Lindsey

I spend most of my free time at Crossfit Attila lifting heavy weights. It’s a fun hobby, but it leaves my hands looking & feeling like sandpaper. A friend gave me a not-so-subtle hint by gifting me my first tub of special cuticle cream. I like it because it lasts all day, has a nice light scent, and really does the job. Although I’ve lost all chances of becoming a hand model, it helps my hands look & feel a little more normal.

Subconscious Worlds: team choice

Our newest team member, Mike Bregel is a man of many talents. Just this month, he released his second coloring book full of unique and beautiful designs he drew from scratch. In case you haven’t heard, coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. These books are great for clearing the mind, relieving stress and potentially triggering a bit of nostalgia – who says that’s a bad thing!

Talking Waters Gift Card: Jayme

Because no good story starts with you eating a salad.

Matt Liebl, a former WU member and good friend of mine is the Assistant Brewer at Talking Waters in Montevideo. We got to know the founder, Nick Patton and his vision for TWBC when Nick & Matt went through STARTUP Bootcamp this past summer. The two of them pour an incredible amount of passion into the work they do every day at the brewery. Not to mention they know how to have fun, and make some damn good beer. Now you have no excuse to stop in and sample some!

Haribo Gummy Bears: Betsy

Do I really need to explain why these are my favorite? Just try one. Don’t buy the off brands. They will disappoint.

Kickstarter Projects: Betsy

Nomad Notebooks: I supported this project because it was created by two designers who were looking for a more inspiring tool to carry around and capture ideas. Each pocket sized notebook is unique.

Vertellis: I supported this Kickstarter game because it was designed by a group of those hippie “digital nomads” out of the Netherlands. They wanted a way to get people off technology and connecting in person again. Try using it at your next get together!

Osmia Soap: Abby

I stumbled across Osmia after many failed attempts to find products that worked for my suddenly hypersensitive skin (one of the fun perks I had while pregnant with Owen). I was initially drawn in by their customer’s rave reviews, but it was their story and branding that won me over – Beautiful imagery, products free of harsh chemicals, a handwritten note in every order, clean and simple product packaging. The marketer in me was so giddy to find a product that was branded as wonderfully as it worked. I’ve been hooked ever since!

Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil: Mike

Two years ago my wife and I got thrown into the world of parenting, welcoming our beloved “oops baby” into the world with a crazy & draining 17 day tour of the St. Cloud Neonatal ICU. We made it out of there with a healthy (barely 5 lb) baby but struggled the next year to keep our lives afloat. I tried many things to keep me energized & performing at max each day, but none of them came close to the impact of Brain Octane! This stuff boosted my energy, helped me to think better and simply put me in good mood each day. I blend it together in my “bulletproof” coffee in the morning, otherwise you can just drizzle it over a meal, salad or even take straight!

Tribe of Mentors: Betsy

I have become a huge Tim Ferris fan after wearing out the pages of his book “Tools of Titans” with dog ears and highlighter. Both of his recent books, including his latest “Tribe of Mentors,” are jam packed with unique, inspiring and insightful advice and information. Plus they have a business theme, which I love.

BAI Tea: Abby & Luke

This ones for the non-coffee drinkers, or maybe the “I need more caffeine, but have drank too much coffee today” folks. BAI uses coffeefruit (the superfruit around a coffee bean) to add a boost of caffeine to their drinks. They come in many different flavors and can be found just about anywhere.

Flyleaf Gift Certificate: team choice

Christmas came early this year at WORKUP! This past Fall, our coffee bar transformed into the new satellite Flyleaf Bookshop. All of the books have been curated (just to fit our WU culture) by Heather Westberg King – Flyleaf Founder. You can find a huge selection of inspiring, creative and insightful reads at ridiculously good prices – all while sipping on some complimentary Goodness coffee. How can it get any better?

Merry Christmas!
– the WU team

Connecting to the bigger world… all because of coworking.

Jayme Stories


In my role at WORKUP, I’m always looking to other coworking spaces to inspire me with new ideas for community events, marketing tips, and even little things that will simply bring energy to our space. This means that I follow a ton of coworking blogs, sign up for a lot of other spaces e-newsletters, and even hit the road to visit other coworking communities.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from one of my favorite community building gurus, Alex Hillman, at Indy Hall in Philadelphia. Some of their Indy Hall team members were creative enough to put together a private group/professional club for community builders called Braintrust. Basically, the email was inviting me to participate. I read through the Braintrust webpage which explained what it was all about (okay, I’ll be honest, I read it top to bottom about 5 times) and finally decided, “I have to be a part of this!” It seemed like the perfect opportunity to get connected with even more coworking spaces, collaborate with other industry leaders and bring new perspective to everything I do without having to actually leave WORKUP. (Technology is a life saver sometimes.) So, I thoughtfully filled out the application – they were only accepting 10 people out of who knows how many – crossed my fingers and waited for a response.

A couple days later, I found out that I had been accepted! Flash forward a few weeks, and we’ve already had our first 90-minute introductory session. I can’t even begin to describe how cool it was to chat with these people and feel a sense of comradery right off the bat. It immediately reassured me that I had made the right decision.

In case you’re interested, here’s the list of coworking spaces I to get to learn from over the course of the next 3 months:

Needless to say, I’m incredibly excited to see where Braintrust takes me. But more importantly, I can’t wait to see where it will take WORKUP. Stay tuned.



What is coworking?

Jayme Stories


What is coworking?

I can’t count how many times I’ve had to answer this question – at work, out in the community, over the phone, through email. Up until very recently, I realized that most of the time, I was answering this question wrong. And to be totally honest, I never felt like I was doing it justice.

The truth is, there isn’t one answer. There are hundreds of answers. That’s the magic of coworking. But I promise I’m writing this blog for a purpose; to try and explain in a nutshell, what it is. Because you wouldn’t have clicked on this link if you didn’t want to know the answer, right?

Choose the situation below that best relates to you. Or better yet, read them all. Because you might see a little bit of yourself in each of them.

Have you ever worked from home? Yeah, I have too. Who doesn’t appreciate working in their pj’s from time to time? But after a while, it can get awfully unproductive. Before you know it, you find yourself walking to the fridge for no reason, having conversations with your pet, or yelling at your kids to “keep it down in there.” The biggest downside is that it actually limits your potential. Because the best ideas don’t happen in your basement, living room, or (insert your home office environment here). They happen when you’re able to share them with someone else, who can provide their unique input to make them even better. Coworking is your second office… the one that requires pants.

Have you ever held a meeting at a coffeeshop or restaurant? It might seem like fun the first few times, but after that, these environments end up being distracting, unreliable, or even unprofessional. Coworking spaces offer the same fun and energizing elements as other local hangouts, but in a business-professional setting. Bonus, we also brew the best local coffee. Coworking is a space full of people working just as hard as you.

Have you ever started a business? Congrats, you must be brave. They say true entrepreneurs will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40. And it’s true. Coworking spaces provide a home for ambitious startups that recognize the value of NOT working in isolation. Entrepreneurs who understand that it’s necessary (and to their advantage) to spend some of those “80 hours” talking to other humans, getting feedback and gaining perspective around their business. Coworking is a supportive community.

Have you ever felt “stuck” creatively? Wouldn’t it be great to have a spot to escape to that’s completely different from your everyday work environment? Now you do! Our space is filled with funky furnishings and infused with creativity down to the smallest of details. Not to mention, the people here are full of ideas. Coworking is a home for inspiration.

Do you love your work? Then I promise you’ll be in good company here. WORKUP is a community founded on the idea that everyone should be able to love the work that they do. And I’ll tell you what, that love, energy and passion is so contagious.

If you’re ready to give coworking a try, then your first day is on us. Just click here!


my STARTUP experience…

Jayme Events, Stories

Last week, I participated in STARTUP. A collaborative, week-long workshop unlike any other that was launched by WORKUP and the MinnWest Technology Campus this past spring. Up until last Monday, my role has been to help organize and facilitate the workshop, but like any other startup out there, we (WORKUP) needed clarity and fresh perspective just as bad as the next guy. Since it ended, my head has been spinning with ideas, in the best way possible. Rather than talk about all of the cool things we’re hoping to add to WORKUP in 2017 🙂 – I wanted to get my thoughts on paper about my overall experience going through STARTUP. Here are just a few key takeaways I felt compelled to share:

This is for everyone. The workshop might be called STARTUP, but it’s not just for startups. In fact, now that I’ve been a participant and experienced first-hand how it so positively impacted a 55-year-old corporation, I can genuinely recommend it to every company regardless of their age or size. It’s called STARTUP not because of who it’s for, but because of what it provides – a fresh start.

Ask & Listen. Too often we think we know exactly what our customers, clients, employees, or in our case, members want, but how many times do we actually come straight out and ask them? It’s not always easy to swallow your pride and ask for help or feedback. But if you do, I’d be willing to bet that you’ll develop a product, service, or experience that’s much more aligned with your end user’s expectations.

Aha moments actually happen. We run a coworking space, but we’re not selling space? It even sounds confusing when I type it. If there’s one thing I learned about WORKUP throughout this process, it’s that we’re providing community. People don’t need a place to work. Let’s be real, they have access to a desk, wifi and coffee without ever leaving their home or corporate office. What they need are conversations. They want a place to freely exchange ideas, find inspiration, and gain new perspective through conversations with people of all of trades. That’s why our members come to WORKUP and that’s what we need to start focusing on “selling.”

Be willing. The best thing you can do for your business or self is to be willing; this means having a willingness to change, willingness to be agile, willingness to take initiative. The comments, feedback and ideas I received from the three other companies in STARTUP are invaluable. At the end of the day, I have to be willing to not only hear their ideas, but also be the champion for them. Coming into this workshop with an open mind was what truly made it a game changer for me.

For many reasons, I couldn’t be happier that Betsy and I had the crazy idea to take our own workshop. I think I’m starting to realize that often times the best ideas are the “crazy” ones.



STARTUP STORY: Fladeboe Land of Willmar, Minneapolis & Detroit Lakes, MN

Betsy Bonnema Stories

FladeboeFor 38 years, Fladeboe Auctions and Land Company has sold just about anything you can think of. The family-owned company began as Fladeboe Auctions in 1978 when patriarch, Dale Fladeboe went to auction school. All three of his children have followed in his footsteps to become auctioneers and join the family business, which is an institution in Southwest Minnesota.

Fast forward three decades, and the auction business has changed immensely. “When my dad started, you could be a jack-of-all-trades and basically sell anything,” says Kristine Fladeboe Duininck, Dale Fladeboe’s daughter and business partner. “About ten or fifteen years ago, we made a conscious decision that instead of trying to be good at everything, we wanted to focus on farmland sales and nonprofit fundraising auctions. Our goal in the farmland division is to bring top dollar to the seller, but we also want the experience to be great for the seller.” In addition to selling thousands of acres of farmland, the company has raised millions of dollars over the years for various nonprofit organizations all over the world.

While not a new company, the STARTUP workshop series was the perfect fit for Fladeboe. “I’m a big believer that if you work hard, your company will go on. If you treat people right, it will be hard to fail in the long run, but at the same time, in the short-term, we need to go the extra mile to make things successful,” Fladeboe Duininck explains. “This started when we decided we needed a new web site. We want people to know that we study land and specialize in land.” Fladeboe Auctions approached REDstar about a new web site, and owner Betsy Bonnema encouraged them to go through the STARTUP series first, so the company could really hone in on what its message was, and what it should be.

Kristi Block is the Marketing/Sales and Relationship Director for Fladeboe Auctions Land Company. The ‘Relationship Director’ part of her title says a lot about what she does in a given day. “There is a lot of psychology involved in what we do,” Block says. “Selling farmland that’s been in the family for a hundred years is very emotional. If people aren’t ready to sell, we don’t think they should sell and we don’t push them into it.” After talking through this aspect of the business at the STARTUP Workshop, Block has added a new service to their marketing efforts; Second Generation Consulting. It’s something the company was already doing, but realized through STARTUP that it is a very important part of their business. “We use our professionalism and knowledge to help people through the process. Sadly, the majority of families don’t always get along and we understand and address the emotional aspect of these transactions. If we can help put things in place for second generation owners to avoid some of these pitfalls, we want to do that.”

Going through the STARTUP workshop was exactly what Fladeboe Auctions needed to move forward with their message for the future. “I absolutely loved the environment and collaboration that was present during the STARTUP seminar,” Block says. “Every morning, I was excited to come, share, and learn from Betsy and the others participating.”

Fladeboe Duininck agrees. “I would highly suggest this program to both new and established companies.” She says the program has helped them focus on what their goal is for every customer. “At the end of the day, we want to get you the best result possible and feel good while you’re going through the process.”

The Story of QUP & MEETUP

Jayme Journey

WORKUP began as a dream to bring people together. A place where people could go to think differently, get inspired and most importantly, connect with others. When we opened in May of 2015, we knew that we wanted to offer a full schedule of programming. Events that would not only serve as opportunities for continuous learning, but also encourage those moments of serendipity that spontaneously occur when a diverse group of people gets together.

Two months later (July of 2015), with the help of our Founding Members, Ridgewater College, Heritage Bank and the Kandiyohi County & City of Willmar EDC, we were able to launch two unique learning tracks that encourage entrepreneurial thinking and networking. Both are offered one time per month and have the same casual, roundtable format. QUP allows attendees the chance to ask questions and learn more about a particular topic. We brainstorm a new topic each month and bring in an area expert to answer the questions that are submitted by attendees when they register. MEETUP is an opportunity to highlight, network and learn from entrepreneurs in our community. Each month, we get to hear a new startup journey which always involves a unique perspective on the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur, as well as the lessons learned along the way. The past year of offering QUP and MEETUP has been such a great experience. We’ve learned A LOT, met many new faces, reconnected with others, and most of all, been inspired — and hopefully given others a chance to do the same!

It wouldn’t have been possible without all of the wonderful QUP and MEETUP speakers that have graciously volunteered their time to share their wisdom and passion with us. So, we want to say one huuuuge THANK YOU to all of them for making year one of WORKUP programming a success!


10 Things We Learned in our First Year of Coworking

Jayme Journey


  1.     The goal is about believers, not bank accounts:

I’ve learned that when you start a new coworking space, it can’t be about making money. At least, not for a while. It has to be about making believers of your team, your members and your community – whatever that takes. I’ve learned that it’s the believers who build the value into your idea. Without that, you have nothing. I think this applies to a lot of startups!

  1.     Everyone appreciates candy:

I’ve learned that a large jar filled with Dots, Tootsie Rolls, Kit Kats, Milk Duds and Rollos can brighten almost anyone’s day. There’s something about a room full of focused business people munching on Tootsie Pops that keeps everything in perspective.

  1.     Big ideas are built on a thousand small details:

I’ve learned that the success of a big idea like coworking is measured by how well you can execute the endless list of small details along the way: meet with the electrician, pick the bathroom paint color (red), plan an open house menu, build a desk prototype, post updates on Facebook, give a tour, give another tour, build a presentation, fill out the loan application, call the accountant back, find an event speaker… you get the idea. Details add up. Details matter – every single one of them.

  1.     You should find the funny:

Here’s what I’ve learned about people – they all have a sense of humor, no matter what their personality. They all have topics that will make them smile as they talk or laugh out loud. If you take time to figure out what those things are for each person in your gang, you’ve gained some invaluable insight. Pay attention to what makes them light up and build those topics or values into your community.

  1.     It takes more courage to decide than to do:

I’ve learned that deciding to pursue a dream is scary. That’s because in the deciding, you have to talk about your dream out loud, sound convincing and have (or fake) confidence.  You have to survive your skeptics and deflect the prickly but well-intentioned comments of your friends and family. Now that takes courage! But once the decision is made, courage takes a back seat to grit. You don’t need courage to work your ass off. You just need a good alarm clock, strong coffee and stubborn determination.

  1.     People are mostly good:

This is the universal truth behind coworking, and while I knew it before, it’s been humbling to learn it over and over again each day at WORKUP. Given the opportunity, people are almost always good, kind and generous. True story.

  1.      How to be patient and proactive (at the same time):

I’ve gotten enough deer in the headlights looks to know that coworking is a relatively new concept for greater MN. An extra challenge has been trying to explain coworking to someone when they’re not physically standing in the space. So, you could say it’s been critical for us to get people in our door by hosting all sorts of networking events, classes and workshops. Once people see and experience the coworking culture for themselves, then they can start to understand exactly how it all works. It’s like the age old saying, “All good things take time.”

  1.    Everyday’s an adventure:

This is actually a quote from one of our WORKUP members that I think perfectly describes coworking. Aside from planned events, scheduled meetings (and snowstorms), it’s hard to anticipate the daily activity of a coworking space. Some days are quiet, some are crazy busy, but the uncertainty of not knowing who you might run into while coworking or what conversations you’ll happen to have is what makes each day exciting.

  1.    Facebook < face-to-face networking:

Social media is a wonderful marketing tool and we use it every single day at WORKUP to share stories, news, photos and inspiration, but there’s no substitute for in person conversation. You know, people connecting with people – the old fashioned way! It’s absolutely essential to growing a business. So, get out from behind the computer screen and seek out opportunities that allow those connections to be made.

  1. Work doesn’t have to feel like work:

We all have deadlines that need to be met, certain job tasks we may not necessarily look forward to, or feel like things are out of control, but when you’re surrounded by intelligent, inspiring people in a relaxing work space, it helps make work feel less like…work. The word “work” too often holds negative connotations (ever feel like “work” and “stress” mean the same thing to some people?) Coworking, in Willmar and all around the world, has helped millions of people reverse these negative associations and better understand that with the right mindset, work can actually be, believe it or not, fun.