We have all seen the famous New Yorker cover of the Saul Steinberg illustration of the View of the World. This cover was on the March 29, 1976 issue of the magazine. This cover has been parodied by multiple magazines.
And in 1986 by Kirby Scudder created his own take on the Saul Steinberg’s cover.
While the above posters have some truth to them. They do not tell the whole story. In 2020, Twin Cities Public Television and the Minnesota High Tech Association produced Solid State about founding of the technology industry in Minnesota. It is worth the hour to watch this and how major parts of the high technology industry were started in the Upper Midwest (not Silicon Valley). As we are over fifty years removed from some these companies, we can trace the work that we are doing at Secured2 to these companies. We have been blessed with having some of these people as friends and mentors who have been able to help us in our careers and companies that we have worked on before Secured2.
Starting our careers in the 90s in the Upper Midwest, when the internet boom was just beginning, you could read in magazines like the Red Herring, Upside and Forbes ASAP and learn about all the new opportunities that were being created. The pull of moving to Silicon Valley was strong, but we stayed here to start businesses and work with those who had an idea that could create the New New Thing. As we started to work on Secured2, we heard those calls and we stayed here in the Upper Midwest. Why did we do that.
- We are from here and we like it here. The Scandinavian and Northern European settlers to the Upper Midwest set down deep roots. Yes, it is cold. But when you can run your business all day, but then within a short drive or walk from you house, be at a lake enjoying the summer weather and for some heartier ones, the winter as well.
- We can find the talent we need. We have built our business on data storage and security and have been able to source the talent we will need to build, sell, and support our company as we look to grow.
- We were able to raise capital here. Raising capital is hard whether your business is here or in Silicon Valley. Through hard work, we were able to find investors here to help Secured2 get started. Over time, we have expanded our fundraising outside of Minnesota, but it all started with the capital raised here.
So, having us tell you our anecdotal evidence may make you feel good about one company. And based on one companies’ history, why should you think about the Upper Midwest as a place where you can build your business?
On August 20th, Joel Kotkin published an article in American Affairs, called the Heartland’s Revival. I have been reading Joel Kotkin’s work since he published his 2010 book, The Next Hundred Million America in 2050. At the time, I was working on early stage investing and this book along with Rich Karlgaard’s book, Life 2.0, helped formed my opinions that opportunities where available outside of the areas of Silicon Valley, New York, Austin.
In Kotkin’s American Affairs article, Kotkin states that the Heartland, defined as the twenty states between the Appalachians and the Rockies generated $5 trillion in goods and services in 2016. The people moving to these areas are younger and entrepreneurial. Des Moines with its metro population of nearly 700,000 today has 15 percent of its population between the ages 25-34 and with 53% of those having at least a two-year degree. If you look at Fargo, Minneapolis, Omaha, Kansas City, you should see similar trends.
With the advent of the hybrid workforce in the aftermath of the Corona virus, workers will be working from home and not being needed to be in the office. These workers are going to be looking for housing that can have workspaces and spaces for learning with any children. The Heartland has plenty of cities that can meet these needs.
While having reasonable housing costs and good schools is helpful, the Heartland needs to provide jobs that can touch the new information economy but still leverage the legacy industries of the heartland. You can see that in Fargo, where Microsoft has a large development office build off its acquisition of Great Plains Software, but it has growing technology sectors in ag tech, drone technology and health and wellness. Des Moines is another example with its financial and insurance services as well as being the hub for healthcare in the state. While we are technology company and we focus on it, we also need to recognize that there are high-technology companies that work in “legacy” industries.
Daktronics in Brookings, South Dakota is the premier electronic signage company in the world. Their scoreboards have been used at many major stadiums globally and in Las Vegas, Times, Square and Piccadilly Circus.
In Rochester, Michigan, Prefix Corporation creates prototypes, mock-up, and full-scale concept vehicles for the automotive, transportation and aviation industries. If you are on the highway today, you will see the Prefix design work in the cars you pass.
Tying all these points together, Secured2 is continuing the legacy of the Minnesota technology industry. As we create our industry leading quantum safe security, we hope to build on the legacy of the innovations made by Control Data, Cray, and others. Being in the Heartland, we look to benefit for the demographic changes outlined where we can find talent and customers. And with the demographic growth in the Heartland, we look forward to working with companies that need our security and collaboration products as they continue to develop new products and markets.
In the next few weeks, we are excited to announce new product developments, partnerships, staff, and additional exciting changes. As we move into the remainder of 2020 and into 2021, Secured2 will have all the components in place to grow.