Fresh face, fresh vision: Callie Klinkmueller’s top five priorities at the NDSU Research & Tech Park

Written by: Fargo Inc Staff

After falling out of love with her job at a trendy tech startup in Boston early last year, Callie Klinkmueller decided she wanted something a little more interpersonal.

“It was great,” says Klinkmueller, who relocated to Fargo in September 2016. “The people were amazing and it was a great environment to work in, but I didn’t really get to do a lot of communicating with people. It was pretty much just me and my computer and it bummed me out.”

That’ll be a non-issue at her new gig as the communications and program coordinator for the NDSU Research & Technology Park (RTP), where she’ll split her time about 50-50 between serving as a one-woman marketing department for the Park and coordinating and promoting the Innovation Challenge, a yearly event that allows NDSU students to showcase their innovative ideas and entrepreneurial skills.

She’ll also be the lead contributor for the soon-to-launch Tech Park blog where she’ll be “telling (NDSU Technology Incubator) client stories and helping students succeed in their education and entrepreneurial endeavors.”

We asked Klinkmueller what she’s most looking forward to working on in her new role, and this is what she came up with.

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First Priority
Create an easy process through which Innovation Challenge students can start companies in our Tech Incubator

The Innovation Challenge is designed to help NDSU students learn the value of innovative thinking and how to successfully pitch an idea. Even though the Innovation Challenge is an idea competition rather than a business-plan competition, we have seen some amazing companies develop out of Innovation Challenge in the past few years.

I would like to think of the Innovation Challenge Awards Banquet as the starting point of our interaction with the students rather than just the finish line for Innovation Challenge. If students are interested in starting a company, we want to provide them with the tools they need to succeed, hopefully beginning with space in the Tech Incubator.

Get to know Callie
• From just outside Boston, Mass.
• Had never been to North Dakota before accepting a position working in tourism in Medora, N.D., from May – October 2015
• Graduated in 2015 with a degree in strategic communication from High Point University, a private, liberal arts university in central North Carolina
• Is an avid photographer and singer. She even auditioned for the Fargo-Moorhead Choral Artists before she got a job here.
• Loves exploring the culinary scene in new cities (She asks that you send her your FM recommendations.)

Second Priority
Get the Fargo entrepreneurial community more involved with the Innovation Challenge

Fresh face fresh vision_innovation challenge

As a Fargo newbie, I really didn’t know what to expect when it came to entrepreneurship, but it is really thrilling what is happening here. There is such a wide variety of organizations working toward the same goal of helping fledgling companies in the area, and the best part is that we all work together.

The collaboration is what I think makes Fargo the best place to start a business because you are sure to get access to what you need, no matter who you meet with first. That being said, I want to get this wonderful community more involved in Innovation Challenge. These innovative students are the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and I want to help integrate them into the community and vice-versa.

Third Priority
Focus on creating culture and connections within the Incubator

The RTP (Research & Technology Park) Tech Incubator is home to brilliant and innovative people, and I want to help those people connect. Because so many of these startups are in different stages of development, there is a great opportunity to share experiences, advice, and passion with each other, and we want to help create more opportunities to bring these people together to socialize, learn, and create a real sense of place and belonging within the Incubator community.

The Startup Game
Do you ever hear the name of a startup and think, “Well that sounds made up.”?

Us, too.

That’s why we created the Startup Game, where we read a lucky contestant the names of 10 startups—some that are real FM companies and others that are fake—and ask them to figure out which is which.

Klinkmueller was our inaugural contestant, and boy, did she knock it out of the park. Despite being a Fargoan for all of three months, she went 8/10. See if you can beat her!

1) SmartRot
2) PasteMe
3) Myriad Mobile
4) FoodLink
5) Folkways
6) Klink
7) Peanut Buttr
8) Black Benefit
9) Protosthetics
10) Rock

Answers: 1. fake 2. fake 3. real 4. fake 5. real 6. real 7. real 8. fake 9. real 10. fake

Fourth Priority
Develop a communications and marketing strategy for the RTP

I adore social media and telling stories so I am so excited to be diving into the process of creating a marketing strategy for the RTP. It is challenging to me to have great conversations with interesting people and to learn more and more about my new community. As of now, the goal is to share the amazing work that is being done within and in conjunction with the RTP and how it relates to the community as a whole. I have already enjoyed writing for the RTP blog and I’m looking forward to applying an academic approach to the rest of the content I develop for 2017.

Callie Klinkmueller’s “Top 3 Reasons I Chose Fargo”
1. Big city variety with a small-town feel
I am overwhelmed by the variety of arts organizations, restaurants and communities to participate in. Fargo offers a lot of options while maintaining the small-town community feeling that drew me to North Dakota in the first place.

2. Energy and support for startups and small business
Fargo is home to a thriving variety of startups and small businesses, and it is inspiring to see the community so involved in supporting these entrepreneurial efforts. Events such as 1 Million Cups, Startup Drinks, and Innovation Challenge allow for businesses and ideas to form and grow while getting valuable feedback from their biggest fans and supporters. You can feel the energy here. It’s an electric environment to walk into.

3. The opportunity to work with smart students and a great team
Every time I meet with a student about their Innovation Challenge idea, I feel like I am getting a glimpse into the future. They are seeking out innovative solutions to a wide range of issues facing the Fargo community, as well as the global community. The team here at the Research Park has been so wonderful in helping me to settle in and navigate my new home. I am very excited to work alongside such smart and innovative people.

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Fifth Priority
Create more awareness and collaboration between NDSU students and faculty and the RTP

Lastly, I want to help strengthen the collaboration among the companies in the RTP and NDSU students and faculty. We want our companies to collaborate with NDSU in research and technology and want to provide faculty and students with educational opportunities in their field with our companies. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this partnership because it has endless opportunities for success for our companies and for NDSU.

NDSU Research & Technology Park
1854 NDSU Research Circle N, Fargo



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