Leaving the nest: Small businesses move from Zeal to their own offices

Sept. 2, 2019

Graduation day has arrived for two small businesses that incubated their companies at the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship.

Trisha Dohn started her corporate wellness business, Well 365, out of the center at 2329 N. Career Ave. three years ago.

“It was exactly what I needed at that time,” she said. “I never thought I’d be a business owner. I thought I had corporate wellness figured out day-to-day but not running a company. I needed those resources. Now, I’m at a point in my business where I’ve grown so much from a staffing perspective that I needed to find a different spot.”

She’s moving to a new office at 5000 S. Minnesota Ave. Her 17-person team includes four full-time staff and a growing number of nurses contracted to provide services in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.

“It’s just an ongoing demand from organizations looking to do something to help their culture, help their health care costs,” she said. “I think more and more companies like the idea that there’s a local resource that can accommodate them.”

While others offer virtual services, Well 365 finds an advantage in being able to work with clients face-to-face, she said.

“That’s been a big advantage. We’re local, and there’s a human touch, and we can be on-site.”

Her company also has a platform that allows clients to connect employees’ insurance contributions to their wellness initiative.

“There’s a lot of legality behind that, and our platform is able to house and manage that for companies, to make sure they’re meeting criteria and staying appropriate from a legal standpoint,” Dohn said.

“The other big push is more companies are really wanting to make this part of their benefit package. They’re wanting to tie this to their benefits and motivate employees to own their own health.”

The business is putting more focus on mental health and emotional well-being, she added. A mental health counselor and social worker recently have joined Well 365.

“I’ve been blessed,” Dohn said. “I’ve not spent any money marketing. It’s all been word of mouth, referrals. I feel like I haven’t even hit the surface.”

A former neighbor at Zeal, Throne Publishing Group, also is moving to its own space.

“We were in downtown Sioux Falls for five years and then went to Zeal for four, and it really helped us have a good, safe community to be in,” owner Jeremy Brown said.

“One of the staff (at Zeal) really helped me with some acute things in the business right away, and it was a really easy place for us with flexible leasing options to be able to experiment with space.”

Throne experimented with potential ways to scale the business while at Zeal and settled on focusing on creating legacy books for individuals and businesses as well as training others to do the same in different markets.

They have had two training sessions, drawing 14 people from five states, and expect 50 at their next one – LegacyCon – Dec 7.

“Zeal was like a lab for us. We just experimented,” Brown said.

“We found our key to scale after many different experiments with it, and now that we’ve found it, we are growing at a fast trajectory.  But it took time, experimentation, failure, repetition and tons of investment. Zeal gave us good office space, flexibility with our space and a community to give us time and learning.”

There are three people working full time in the business and about 20 contractors who help with writing.

The new office is at 212 S. Main Ave.

Brown said the downtown location is convenient for showing out-of-town clients around Sioux Falls.

It also includes a small studio.

“We made it so efficient I’ll have one space in the corner of the new space that I can make into a podcast and video studio,” he said.

Other new additions created while at Zeal include a 70-video do-it-yourself product to help anyone write and publish a family book or archive interviews, a free 19-video online course for writers and the online Certified Legacy Guide, which includes more than 25 hours of training along with a workbook.

The Well 365 and Throne Publishing offices are available to rent at Zeal, which otherwise is almost fully occupied.

Zeal will hold a “graduation party” for the departing businesses from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday.

“This is what we’re supposed to do. We’re here to incubate, and we’re excited to celebrate,” executive director Brienne Maner said.

“They’re both perfect examples of what Zeal is trying to attract into our space because they are lean startup businesses that truly utilized the resources of the Zeal Center to build up their business. It’s not Zeal’s goal to find permanent tenants. We want to turn them over. We want to see them grow and thrive in our city, and that’s exactly what these two businesses are doing.”

Sometimes, people think of Zeal or other incubators as strictly for tech companies, which isn’t the case, she added. As a wellness business and a publisher, the graduating businesses are good examples.

“So we’re trying to break down those barriers and be more approachable to those in the community who don’t feel like they have a place at the table at an entrepreneurial center,” Maner said. “We can help those ground-level businesses but also find those next startups ready for incubation and ready to be partnered with mentors and peer networks. We’re more than a one-track organization.”

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Leaving the nest: Small businesses move from Zeal to their own offices

Graduation day has arrived for two small businesses that incubated their companies at the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship.

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