Innovation Blooms on the Plains: How South Dakota is Cultivating Tech Startups

If you want to establish a tech startup business, then South Dakota is a great place to do so. With the growing infrastructure, incentive schemes and training programs that are available, you’ll find immense support for your fledgling business.

Tech businesses use technology, right? It really is all in the name. That means that your tech startup in South Dakota is definitely going to be working online. You will need to make sure all your systems are protected from hacking, viruses and malware, especially as they will be connected. 

A surefire way to make sure all your devices, as well as firewalls and WiFi networks are protected is to get access to the Meraki dashboard, by using a Cisco Meraki Systems Manager. For this, you will need to buy a license. With your tech systems protected, your tech startup will be secure.

What is a tech startup?

A startup is a business that begins small, with the aim of producing just one, focused product or service for the customers.

A tech startup is the same as any startup, but the product or service on offer is focused on using technology – usually new and emerging, but also often innovative.

Initiatives and programs to support tech startups

University of South Dakota 

The ‘Tech to Launch’ program offered by the University of South Dakota teaches students about the strategies and financial planning necessary to plan and launch a business. They also learn what support frameworks to put in place, including access to legal counsel. The course is the result of a collaboration between business, politics and education.

South Dakota State University

At South Dakota State University, students can major in Entrepreneurial Studies, which focuses on teaching students to think as an innovator and entrepreneur. They learn the relevant knowledge and skills, but also gain experience.

Students exiting the program move into starting new businesses, using their innovative ideas along with the education in the area.

Innovation District in Rapid City

In 2016, big players in Rapid City, South Dakota, put into play the mechanisms for the development of an ‘Innovation District corridor’ that would run between Downtown and South Dakota Mines. The aim was to create a literal space for startup tech businesses to establish themselves and then grow. 

The businesses that now thrive in the corridor include those pursuing engineering, design and project solutions. By 2023, more than 100 jobs had been created in the tech industry and over 150 housing units erected. 

Startup Sioux Falls

Forward Sioux Falls is a collaboration between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation formed with the specific aim of helping startups and other small businesses. In 1999, the organization established an initiative to focus on tech startups. In 2002, the South Technology Business Center was opened in downtown Sioux Falls. 

In 2019, Startup Sioux Falls was born, which is a community of business people with experience of bringing ideas to fruition. The aim is to support startups, as entrepreneurs are encouraged to reach out to established businesses for advice and guidance. 

Governors’ office of economic development tax incentives

The governor’s office of economic development has a program that offers tax incentives to startups and other small businesses. If the business has project costs that are less than $20,000,000, then they are eligible for this program. Of course, this includes the majority of startup tech businesses.

South Dakota Governor’s Giant Vision Competition

The South Dakota Chamber holds regular entrepreneurial events, specifically aimed at encouraging people to begin startup businesses. One event is the Grand Vision competition, where individuals submit a business proposal. 

The aim of the competition is to help to grow small businesses. By offering this type of event, the standard of entries is raised, because the winners see real results that will help them to establish their startup.

Success stories

Farm Logs (now Bushel Farm)

Jesse Vollmar spent his childhood on a farm in South Dakota, but moved into the technology space when began working. In 2011, he and Brad Koch founded Farm Logs, producing software that helps farmers keep track of the details of their businesses.


DocuTAP began in 1999, with founder, Eric McDonald, working on codes and programs that would enable urgent care clinics streamline their medical record-keeping and manage their practice more efficiently.

Over the years, McDonald slowly grew the company to serve urgent care clinics internationally. The headquarters are still located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Finding the best tech startup support in South Dakota

From teaching programs to growing, dedicated infrastructure to government incentives, South Dakota is definitely a place that supports tech startups. If you want to expand in that direction, it really seems that this is the place to be.

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