Not so long ago, the typical Montana State University student would complete a chosen course of study in order to prepare for a career as a full-time employee with a salary and benefits, often outside Bozeman, or Montana for that matter.
But recent years have seen a progressive shift among young career seekers, who put a sense of purpose and independence front and center, setting the stage for an entrepreneurship boom right here in our backyard.
Enter the Blackstone LaunchPad, an entrepreneurship program for students, alumni, faculty, and staff on college campuses worldwide, including Montana State University, with a membership that includes more than 500,000 startup businesses. Blackstone provides a community for young entrepreneurs to bounce their ideas off others to get feedback and to create workable, real-world strategies for success. The program offers services including coaching, tools, and grants.
And unlike the generations of MSU students that preceded them, today’s young entrepreneurs don’t have to leave the state once they acquire their skills. Les Craig, director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Montana State University, explains that in a global economy, isolated geography and small populations just aren’t the business barriers they once were. “A Montana artisan business can sell to a consumer in Tokyo, and a Bozeman tech company can support a marquee customer in London,” says Craig. Young Montanan entrepreneurs can therefore thrive in business and still enjoy the high quality of life Montana uniquely provides.
The Content Trifecta
The Blackstone LaunchPad at Montana State University is a small-business incubator playing a huge role in making these changes possible. It was recently awarded a Jumpstart partnership with the leading inbound-marketing platform HubSpot, and is now able to provide inbound optimizing software to its members. Normally this software would be too expensive for a company in its infancy. Hubspot saw the need within the growing entrepreneurial movement and addressed it in a way that gives these companies a robust piece of software early and affordably, allowing them to put practices in place for more intelligent and responsive marketing and growth. The pricing is structured to increase gradually as startups grow and build a revenue stream.
Total BS Media is a Bozeman-based marketing firm that specializes in content marketing and public relations. As a certified HubSpot agency, Total BS Media provides an intensive 3-month hands-on training curriculum, followed by monthly check-ins and marketing assessments for a whole year. These services are available to qualified members of the Blackstone Launchpad at Montana State University, adding to the suite of features and services The Blackstone Launchpad already provides.
Craig says that Total BS Media was chosen because of its commitment to fostering Montanan innovation. “Total BS Media is unconventional and disruptive,” Craig says. “They understand what it takes to attract buyers, and their ability to work with early-stage entrepreneurs is unparalleled. They are a tremendous resource for our Blackstone LaunchPad companies at MSU, and a tremendous resource for our business community in Bozeman.”
HubSpot is well known as a leading evangelist of inbound marketing, the strategy of engaging potential customers though content such as blogs and videos and techniques such as search engine optimization that get eyes on what a company has to offer. With its software, templates, and strategies, HubSpot promises to take startups from square one to substantial brand recognition within two years. Tools include software for implementing various inbound platforms, templates for blogs and landing pages, mentoring in strategy and planning, and quarterly review services.
According to Craig, the decision to offer the HubSpot program is a response to popular demand. Students and entrepreneurs were either requesting general help with inbound marketing, or were asking for HubSpot by name.
“HubSpot is a best-in-class inbound marketing tool that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close business,” says Craig. “Their program is a powerful tool to help early-stage ventures grow their businesses and compete not only in the state and not only nationally, but in the global economy.”
But while HubSpot promises greatness in two years, its powerful tools are reliant on content creation and publishing, which is the unique element provided by Total BS media. If HubSpot’s program is the how in content marketing, Total BS Media will help businesses figure out the what. “Having the best available marketing tools but lacking the necessary content would be like buying a kick-ass sports car, but not having the gas to get it off the lot,” says Brit Booth (Also known as the B), co-owner of Total BS Media.
For Total BS Media, working with HubSpot and the Blackstone Launchpad at MSU was an irresistible opportunity. “We are honored to be the chosen partner for this training,” says Booth. “We like to do things differently at Total BS Media and having a group of entrepreneurs and a college that embraces not only technology, but also wild ideas and irreverent thinking, is pretty great.”
Total BS Media cofounder Sarah Hunter (the S) adds, “We love working with startups and helping them build a solid marketing foundation that is scalable and trackable, as well as fun and interesting to execute. Emphasis on the fun and interesting.”
With the resources developed by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Montana State University and HubSpot in place, Total BS Media hopes to be the piece that completes the marketing puzzle for MSU entrepreneurs. Establishing a content marketing practice can dramatically change a brand's trajectory, but it can also be a hard thing both to produce at a high quality and distribute at a high quantity.
After the three months of hands-on training, users from each startup will know how to set up and use the HubSpot dashboard, develop buyer personas, and implement an SEO strategy. The program then helps identify and create content that will work, based on the buyer’s behaviors and relevant keywords. Finally, the program covers publishing and distribution, analytics and reports, and planning for any modifications that become necessary.
Compelling content doesn’t come easily and venturing into the global marketplace takes courage. But with support services from Blackstone LaunchPad at Montana State University, inbound marketing tools from HubSpot, and content training from Total BS Media, the path for entrepreneurs is wide open and exciting.
The Four Brave Companies Working with Total BS Media, Bozeman Marketing
Led by Matt Kline, this startup is changing the way people think about good clean fun by creating the world's sexiest soap.
- Boondock Waterfowl
Created by Jason Trueblood, this startup sells an innovation in decoy rigging products that make for an unforgettable waterfowl hunting experience.
- Damsel Fly Fishing
The dynamic duo made up of Kara Tripp and Lynae Axelson is on a mission to make stylish, yet best-in-class fly fishing gear for women across the globe.
- URSA Outdoor
Creator Sam Lucas owns a digital platform focused on the climbing community. Athletes, brands, and lovers of nature can come together to learn about the products, places, and people driving the sport.