Bird Dog Equity’s Chad Hatch weighs in on startup climate


Chad Hatch, co-founder and managing partner of Bird Dog Equity Partners, is one of several new board members at the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship.

He brings a wealth of experience working with small businesses, and we asked him to weigh in on today’s entrepreneurial climate in Sioux Falls.


You work with entrepreneurs every day. Are there are few key elements you look for in determining if someone has the qualities of a successful entrepreneur?

I would say the main attributes are work ethic, integrity, passion and grit. If you don’t have all of these elements, you probably won’t be successful because starting a business can be extremely taxing on all aspects of your life.

What are the one or two most common questions you get from entrepreneurs?

What does it take to be successful? How much money do I need to raise? Where can I find capital?

How would you assess the climate for startups in Sioux Falls? What do we do well and what might we be missing?

The climate for business is strong in Sioux Falls, but I wouldn’t say that we have a innovation/startup/incubator attitude generally.  The Midwest is a “prove it” culture, which is sometimes in conflict with folks investing in people with ideas.

I believe that in order to create a successful startup climate, we need the business community to invest in this mission. It can’t be funded like an offshoot of a government grant. Being undercapitalized as a innovation center is counterproductive when helping entrepreneurs. However, I believe that Sioux Falls is continuing to research innovative ideas to move to a more high- tech community. We want it, but we just don’t have the funding from the right sources yet.

Is there any particular sector you think is particularly ripe for disruption or new startups?

We are invested in agriculture sector. We think there could be major shifts in ag in the next 10 to 15 years. Solar/wind/battery technologies are very close to being extremely disruptive to the general power markets.

How do you see yourself personally becoming involved at Zeal?

As a board member, I see myself staying plugged in to help build a culture of investment in Sioux Falls.

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