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This piece is presented by the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship.
The path to growing a business doesn’t necessarily look like a straight line.
For Amos Kittelson, it veered, then turned and led him to a new model for his venture, Sidewalk Technologies.
He started the company in 2012, focused on products for video conferencing and then left entrepreneurship to take a full-time job last year.
“I had a lot of time to have discussions and look at the market, so when I ended that in December last year, it was a pretty easy pivot for us,” he said.
He and his wife, Heather, who is Sidewalk Technologies’ sales manager, refocused the business on providing services instead of physical products.
“We’re seeing businesses that invest in these (video conferencing) solutions, but they’re underutilized,” he said. “They don’t realize the ROI or aren’t seeing a reduction in travel or increase in relationships, and we think we know why and that we have the solution.”
In the past six months, they have focused on supporting businesses as they use their videoconferencing tools, helping run the meetings and troubleshoot when necessary.
“There’s a million ways a laptop can go wrong, and most people aren’t technical enough to fix it, so slowly but surely the trust in the system is eroded, and they stop using it,” Kittelson said. “We help people get over that videoconferencing anxiety.”
He also has expanded the business to offer livestreaming services from his office space at the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship.
“It’s great for Facebook livestreaming and for taking your webinars to a whole other level – one that’s engaging and interactive and not mind-numbing like most are,” he said.
“It’s been great. We recently did an event with a large construction agency in Sioux Falls, and rather than have 80 people drive in for an hour-and-a-half meeting, they only had 10 that needed to drive and the rest could participate online. It saved a lot of time and money.”
Sidewalk Technologies started at Zeal and returned as the model changed.
“We’ll be here as long as we can. I love Zeal,” Kittelson said. “It’s great, especially since the remodel and rebranding. There’s a night-and-day difference. The energy is much more positive, and the proximity to other entrepreneurs is so valuable.”
He participated in the accelerator program a few years ago and goes to networking events often.
“I’ve bumped elbows with the right people and absorbed wisdom and knowledge and made contacts. It’s something you can’t do from your home. It just doesn’t happen organically or if you have a standalone office.”
Zeal interim vice president Ryan Oines helped Kittelson with strategy sessions and has enjoyed watching the business evolve.
“I think Amos is so smart. He’s really trying to hone on in what their core product is,” Oines said. “I think streaming is working out well for him. And we’re a customer at Zeal. He did all our video displays and the rotation of the screens throughout our building. We always try to utilize our tenants. He set that all up for us and did a great job.”
As for leaving entrepreneurship again? Don’t expect that to happen, Kittelson said.
“I’m one of the proudly unemployable,” he laughed. “I’m never going back. You have to have the contrast to appreciate the contrast.”
The path to growing a business doesn’t necessarily look like a straight line. For Amos Kittelson, it veered, then turned and led him to a new model for his venture, Sidewalk Technologies.