Business Profile: Muzeview Research (Part Three)

By JEFF MANGAN, mtbusiness.com

Make it Missoula is excited to collaborate with our good friend, Jeff Mangan of mtbusiness.com, on a new series of interviews and profiles on Missoula-based businesses. This is the third part of Jeff’s interview with Paul Gladen and Todd Taylor of Muzeview Research. Read part one here and part two here.

Jeff Mangan, mtbusiness.com

Paul, one of your local business projects has been the Hellgate Venture Network. Can you explain what it is and how it was initiated?

Paul Gladen, Muzeview Research

It’s very informal. I think it was probably spring of 2009, Todd and I were discussing whether we were at a point where we wanted to perhaps raise money to help us grow. I then came across a workshop in at the Missoula Holiday Inn on raising capital. At the workshop I began a conversation with Dawn McGee, who runs Goodworks Ventures, and we were both surprised there were nearly a hundred people in the room.

Well, if there are 100 people here from the Missoula area and they were looking to the seminar, at the very least, to learn how to raise capital, then they were interested in creating or growing their business.

When I moved here, I didn’t necessarily get a sense of whether there was much of an entrepreneurial community, particularly in terms of businesses that might have aspirations for growing beyond Missoula and Montana.

The turn-out at the seminar answered that question for me. This was, in fact, such a community. Dawn and I said we need to figure out how to tap into this entrepreneurial spirit and network!

We set up a LinkedIn group and invited individuals interested in growing and creating businesses, who had interesting ideas and passion, who would meet for drinks and discussion once a month. We set a date for the first meeting down the Holiday Inn, and it has grown from there. I think there are now close to 200 members of the group. The group includes members of the economic development community and the business school.

They are not all entrepreneurs themselves, but they are all people that have an interest in entrepreneurial activity in Missoula and the surrounding area. We continue to meet roughly once a month and usually have a guest speaker and Q&A. The group helps facilitate networking and provides visibility of who is here, who is doing what, and what we can do to help each other.

Jeff Mangan, mtbusiness.com

Is the Hellgate Venture Network looking at financial endeavors, such as an angel fund?

Paul Gladen, Muzeview Research

It’s strictly a resource network for business networking. With hindsight, the venture piece in the title is little misleading.

People choose to interpret venture as relating to venture capital. I think of venture as relating to the entrepreneurial activity. That said, we have participation from and connections with angel investors and other sources of funding.

Jeff Mangan, mtbusiness.com

So the focus is primarily on human capital.

Paul Gladen, Muzeview Research

Right. This is the network for people who are running and growing their businesses and exploring new ideas, as well as people that may be interested in funding, but it is not an angel fund or a group intended to be there primarily for the purpose of helping businesses financially.

It can be as simple as, “We are looking to expand in a such-and-such market – do you know someone who can help us?”, or “We are looking for a web designer, could you recommend someone?”. Or people could come just for the brainstorming.

Simply having that network of support, the peer-to-peer relationship of other entrepreneurs, is extremely valuable. It provides a fresh perspective on what they are doing that might help move them in the right direction.

Jeff Mangan, mtbusiness.com

We certainly need more peer-to-peer networks, particularly for new businesses and entrepreneurs that really don’t necessarily know the first step to take.

Paul Gladen, Muzeview Research

Right. I was reflecting on a conversation between three of us at an event. Myself, running a research business in the professional services industry, another who buys and develops websites, and another who is setting up a compound butter business. Completely random and different businesses, but all having an interesting and fruitful conversation, all based in Missoula.

Jeff Mangan, mtbusiness.com

One last question. What advice about growing businesses and doing business in Montana would you have for folks starting out, for folks wanting to start a business in Missoula area or anywhere in Montana? What would you tell them?

Paul Gladen, Muzeview Research

Good question. People shouldn’t be put off by any perception that somehow Montana is remote and rural and, therefore, you can’t build a credible business to engage the broader business world.

Our location is an asset to us from a quality of life perspective, and it’s definitely not a barrier from the perspective of doing business with companies around the world.

Jeff Mangan, mtbusiness.com

Thank you for that. Your advice, Todd?

Todd Taylor, Muzeview Research

Montana is a great place if you’re willing to start slow and think big. There are many good resources and people in Montana. 

The big challenge is having a clear vision of what it is you want to accomplish, as within any business, staying steady and focused on your goals, and aligning yourself with good people and organizations.

For me, meeting Paul was a great, great plus. The fact that he started the Hellgate Venture Network is a great plus for people like me and for other members of the community.

 

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Read part one and part two of Jeff’s interview with Paul and Todd. Find Muzeview Research at muzeview.com, facebook/Muzeview, twitter @Muzeview,and LinkedIn.

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Since 2005, mtbusiness.com had served as Montana’s premier business news and resource portal. Passionate about #mtbiz, Jeff Mangan is the Managing Partner at Fatmoose Media, LP, and the founder of mtbusiness.com, your resource for Montana small business and entrepreneurs. Much success!