Success Stories

John "brofounded" 9 Clouds with his brother Scott in 2009 when Scott came home from Norway and John was back for the weekend from Minneapolis.  It was when they decided to have pizza and noticed their mother reaching for the phone book to find a number.  It was at that point the “bros” decided to launch their business and use this opportunity to move back to their home state of South Dakota.  Together they connect businesses with customers by using the Internet and adding personality to a brand. 9 Clouds excels at social media marketing, market research, blog development & strategy, search engine optimization and paid search campaign management.  They are also co-founders of, a visual marketing firm that is on a mission to make the world an easier place to understand.   That company specializes in infographics and data viz, and works with clients in South Dakota such as Purity Seeds in Raymond and the Kuchen Man in Rapid City and around the country including Toyota,... Read More

When Melissa Johnson, owner and operator of Oh My Cupcakes! in Sioux Falls,   began telling people her dream of owning a cupcake shop, people would ask, “cupcakes?  Just cupcakes?”  Yes, just cupcakes.  After spending hours researching cupcake shops in other states and other cities, Melissa did one more thing to find out if her dream could become a reality.  She attended the Sioux Falls SCORE Chapter’s “How to Really Start Your Own Business” workshop where she learned how to put together a business plan, what licenses and permits were needed and how to understand the sometimes confusing tax laws.  The workshop was also a great start in helping her meet and form a relationship with a business banker who understood and cared about her needs as a new business owner.   Johnson admits the workshop was very useful, but working one-on-one with a SCORE mentor, Truman Phelan, was a great next step.

Since that workshop and meeting with a SCORE counselor, Melisssa opened her store on... Read More

La Minestra, Inc. is a popular Italian/American cuisine restaurant located in a historic building in downtown Pierre that opened in 1998.  Owners Mark and Stacey Mancuso are both Army veterans—in fact they met in the Army.  When Stacey dragged her husband “kicking and screaming” to her home state of South Dakota, he loved everything about it except the food so they decided to open the restaurant.  Mark is a graduate of a culinary school in Seattle and prepares all of La Minestra’s pastas, sauces, sausages and dressings from scratch.  Stacey admits she’s not a great cook, but does everything from accounts receivable to payroll and anything else that needs to be done.  Their three oldest sons, Matt, Nick and Michael are also involved in the business and despite working together all week long, the Mancuso family still gathers and cooks together on Sundays — their day.

Mark and Stacey have been SBA borrowers multiple times (most recently in 2012) using the program for both... Read More

2013 Small Business Exporters of the Year

What started in 1997 in Daniel and Katrina Dressen’s garage has grown into a company that has buyers in all 50 states, over 30 countries and is the nation’s third largest pet-grooming supply business.  Senproco, Inc. manufactures and distributes eight brands of products, including three brands of coat care supplies.  The company has expanded its product line to include pet bathing systems, grooming wear, grooming shears, decorative pet ribbon and additional shampoo and conditioning products.  In 2010, the business introduced Green Groom, a new line of shampoos and conditioners, which is natural, biodegradable and packaged in recyclable containers that are silk-screened with safe inks rather than plastic labels.  Green Groom has already become the company’s second largest selling item.  
Senproco, Inc. and the Dressen’s have used the services of the Small Business Administration beginning in 1999 with their first guaranteed loan.  Over the years they have taken... Read More