Montana Ethic Project: How to nurture entrepreneurship


Joey and Libbie Early

Mark Solon, Highway 12 Ventures managing partner, talks about the merits of entrepreneurship in the Rocky Mountains.

This is the 14th chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features Mark Solon, managing partner of Highway 12 Ventures, speaking on “Creating an Intermountain West Startup Economy.”

You can watch the whole video below. Here is how it begins:

“My life’s work is spending time with entrepreneurs and startups in the Rockies: Boise, Salt Lake City, Bozeman, Helena, Boulder, Denver and a handful of others.

“My partners and I have invested and helped fund over 30 startups in the region over the last 10 years. We’ve spent time with thousands of entrepreneurs. I’ve had a front-row seat to the ongoing transformation in this region from an agrarian and natural resource based economy to the inevitable future of a knowledge based economy.

“That’s going to happen whether you like it or not.”

Here is another, edited excerpt from Beltrone’s presentation:

“So what about the 20-somethings in Montana, or Idaho, who are thinking about their career and what they are going to do next?

“Whatever you do, don’t get a job, start a company.

“Start a tiny company. Start a doughnut shop or start a local blog about the fly-fishing holes you’re fond of, or open up a ski rental shop. I guarantee you, you’ll thank me. You’ll learn more than getting a job. You’ll probably make more money than getting a job. And you’ll certainly have a lot more fun. And you’ll learn more in your failures than you will in your successes.

“During the failures is when you learn the lessons that will make your next startup successful.

“There are no excuses. It’s easier than ever for someone to start a company. Even if you don’t know how to code, it’s easy to learn. Pick up a book and pretty soon you’re building yourself a website. There’s not a lot of risk in starting a business today. And really, is there anything like job security anymore? There is no such thing as a golden parachute, or job loyalty, or the gold watch after 20 years on the assembly line.

“If you’re bright, you can start a company.”

PERC_Logo_MontanaEthicPERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife,visit

First week: Project introduction.

Second week: Richard Drake on “Terrorism and the Consolation of History.”

Third week: Mike Gear on “The Value of Athletics.”

Fourth week: Franke Wilmer on “Gender Equity.”

Fifth week: Gordon Brittan: “The Founding Fathers.”

Sixth week: Jim Posewitz: “Montana Sportsmen and the Hunter’s Ethic.”

Seventh week: The Rev. Jessica Crist: “Religion and Politics: Can They Co-exist?”

Eighth week: Chuck Tooley: “The Montana Character.”

Ninth week: Steve Bullock: “Citizens United v. Montana.”

10th week: Carol Williams: “The Imperative for Female Government Participation.”

11th week: Bob Rowe:  “Towards Technological Development.”

12th weekGeorge Metcalfe: “Economic Development in Africa and Its Relationship to Montana.”

13th weekBruce Smith: “Montana’s Food Economy.”

14th week: Peggy Beltrone: “Montana Wind Energy—Business and Politics.”

Next week: Bill Yellowtail: “Futuring and Native Leadership.”

Leave a Reply