Montana Public Radio

Can Do: Essential Business Lessons

  • Hosted by Arnie Sherman

Can Do, MTPR's podcast on business and entrepreneurship hosted by Arnie Sherman is in its fourth season, and we’re expanding. This season will feature the same informative interviews and the lessons Montana business owners and entrepreneurs have to share. But times are changing. There’s a major election in November and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change how business is done.

The main focus this season is on the here & now. How does a business survive in today’s volatile economy? How can you transition your business or start a new one? What can you do to make sure your finances are in order? We’ll be asking these questions to business experts in Montana and around the country.

Listen to Can Do at www.mtpr.org or wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes are published every other Monday.

Ways to Connect

Over the past five years, Montana has seen exponential growth in venture capital investment. From 2015 to 2020, the state attracted over $500 million in early-stage funding. In the previous 20 years, that figure had been just $144 million.

Next Frontier Capital has played a central role in this growth. Founded in 2015 in Bozeman, Montana and focusing on the tech sector in Colorado, Utah and Montana, the fund invests in scaling companies up from concept to exit. In Montana alone, an infusion of $28.4 million from NFC has attracted an additional $174 million in outside funding.

Dr. Michael Braun
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For more than a year, all types of territorial borders have been shut down due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. International trade and commerce have been throttled, and industry experts predict that business travel will never return to pre-pandemic levels. Global business has long been reliant on building personal relationships; relationships that now must be cultivated and maintained digitally.

Ben Morris discovered the utility of three-wheeled cargo trikes, or pedicabs, during a stint in San Diego. After finishing his business degree at Northeastern University in 2005, he secured a small loan, bought five pedicabs, and launched Coaster Cycles. Soon, Ben had expanded beyond Boston to other cities, and he'd begun to incorporate outdoor advertising into his bike fleet.

Megan Harrington
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The ninth of 11 children, Megan Harrington grew up understanding the value of competition and how to tell a great story. In the third grade, Megan wrote a poem that included the prophetic line: “When I grow up, I want to be a Lady Griz basketball player at the University of Montana.”

Megan did attend the University of Montana to attain a communications degree, an MBA, and play for the Lady Griz. As a Lady Griz, Megan played for legendary head coach, Robin Selvig.

Montana isn't all cattle herds and fields of waving grain. This sprawling state is also full of food deserts — places without many affordable, healthy food options. The lack of access to healthy food for residents of many of the state's Indian reservations contributes to some horrible demographic statistics. The life expectancy for Native American women is 62, a full 20 years less than for non-Native women. For Montana's Native American men, it's 56. One 27-year-old woman of Blackfeet and Cherokee heritage is on a mission to improve Native people's lives through healthy diet and a return of indigenous food systems.

The agriculture landscape has changed dramatically due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Concerns about food security, health and safety measures, and product availability have continued to evolve. A dramatic shift to online purchasing has challenged the traditional standard of consumers personally selecting products.

Today on Can Do we will discuss these trends and their effects on two family-run Montana businesses.

Chris Walch is COO of LifeScore music
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While LifeScore COO Chris Walch is based in Bozeman, Montana, LifeScore is a fully remote company that produces its music at the iconic Abbey Roads Studio in London. LifeScore creates unique, real-time, and interactive music experiences with their adaptive AI music platforms. They start with world-class composers and musicians composing and performing sound that is organized as composable building blocks. Their proprietary technology then weaves these materials into music that suits a purpose, helping the listener have a completely unique experience.

The outdoor recreation economy is the second largest sector of Montana’s economy, generating $7.1B in annual consumer spending. 71,000 Montanans are employed in the sector, making its performance essential to the state’s full economic recovery. 

What has been the impact of COVID-19 on outdoor recreation and tourism? What response within the industry has been successful? What does 2021 look like for this essential part of the Montana economy? Learn more now on Can Do.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage our country and vaccine relief is slow in coming, sound advice is as good as gold. Montana businesses experienced an exhausting 2020, and the new year promises to be just as unpredictable. Joining me today are two guests experiencing the economic impact from two very different perspectives.

The American restaurant industry is in freefall. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 110,000 restaurants have closed nationwide. That’s one out of every six, and there are likely more to come. Those restaurants that remain open are struggling with financial sustainability, as they face an industry-wide loss of $240 billion in sales for 2020. Listen now on Can Do as we will explore this subject with two industry pros in two very different positions.

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