Get to know the entrepreneurs in Zeal’s first CO.STARTERS cohort

Jan. 12, 2021

This paid piece is sponsored by the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship. 

CO.STARTERS begins today, and our team at Zeal couldn’t be more excited about the group we have assembled.

These entrepreneurs are tackling real-world problems, handcrafting products and solutions, and looking to improve the community around them.

Some of them are just starting out, and others are a bit further in their journey, but they’re all coming into the program eager to learn, grow their businesses and make new connections along the way.

Over the next 10 weeks, they’re going to learn more about themselves and their businesses than they ever thought possible in a short amount of time, thanks to our wonderful facilitator, Eric Weisser, and the other talented community members who are giving their time to this program.

Additionally, CO.STARTERS would not be possible without the generous support of sponsors Boyce Law Firm, Eide Bailly and The First National Bank in Sioux Falls.

Check back with us over the next few months for updates on the cohort’s progress and to learn how you can get involved in the future. Keep reading to learn more about this diverse group of entrepreneurs in their own words.

Nate Boscaljon

The business: Tailored Woodwork is a custom woodworking shop that helps design and make one-of-a-kind pieces for households and businesses.

Team size: One.

Why CO.STARTERS: I was inspired to apply to CO.STARTERS with the intent to connect and learn from other aspiring entrepreneurs and growing business owners in the area. Community is everything. I’m confident I’ll create new relationships and learn the ins and outs of foundational business practices. My business is woodworking. But what I really enjoy is taking an idea that someone has in their head and making it real. It’s music to my ears to hear “It’s exactly as I imagined.”

Learn more: Find and follow Tailored Woodwork online at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Ben Whitley

The business: BoothOrTable exists to help restaurant operators enhance their guests’ experience and maximize revenue. We are building a solution that allows restaurants to publish their live wait times to their website for guests to check in online.

Team size: Two. Whitley has a co-founder, Matthew Watt.

Why CO.STARTERS: CO.STARTERS offers the ability to bounce questions off other founders and successful entrepreneurs and the opportunity to learn about things very applicable to startups. I hope to gain a road map of how to proceed with marketing, scaling and funding, and I want to ensure that I’m doing the most correct action at the right time.

Learn more: We will be launching a beta version of our application at a local Sioux Falls restaurant in February 2021. We are interested in finding one or two additional beta restaurants in Sioux Falls. Please visit for more information.

Jake Conover

The business: We are a veteran-owned company that manufactures all of our products in South Dakota. Prohmtect manufactures and distributes electrically and thermally conductive pastes that protect and increase connectivity at the critical point of connection.

Team size: Five. Conover is the director of sales and marketing.

Why CO.STARTERS: I was inspired to apply to CO.STARTERS to continue the growth of Prohmtect and take advantage of the mentorship opportunity from Eric Weisser.

Megan Raposa

The business: Sioux Falls Simplified is a regular email newsletter that cuts through the clutter and delivers the bite-sized news you need to know in the Sioux Falls metro area. It’s sort of like having a smart co-worker to fill you in on what happened at City Council last night or how the school board voted on raising teacher pay. I wanted to create a locally owned news option for people in Sioux Falls. Reading the news doesn’t have to be exhausting, and Sioux Falls Simplified aims to deliver what you need to know in simple, straightforward language with no unnecessary jargon or opinion content.

Team size: One.

Why CO.STARTERS: I saw it as an opportunity to engage more intimately with the entrepreneurial community in Sioux Falls, learn from the experts and gain practical tips to launch and grow my business. I hope to have a better understanding of how I can make Sioux Falls more aware of my business and the work I’m aspiring to do.

Learn more: Follow Sioux Falls Simplified on Facebook for updates.

Dakotah Jordan

The business: Dakotah Yoga is a pop-up studio helping you disconnect from the busyness of life and reconnecting with yourself, community and nature. By taking the practices and philosophies of yoga outside the four walls of a traditional studio, we hope to help more students find and learn the tools to bring more wholeness into their everyday lives. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I have gleaned wisdom from the things I have been through, and I teach from there. I’ve found wellness, wholeness and joy, and I just want to share it with others, so they can find it within themselves.

Team size: One.

Why CO.STARTERS: I think it takes a village to be successful. There’s so much I don’t know about operating a business because I haven’t done it before, and there are hard questions that need to be asked of this business I am trying to build. I know I need to be challenged and supported to take my brand to the next level, and CO.STARTERS seems like the place to give me what I need to do that.

Learn more: Follow along with Dakotah Yoga on Facebook and Instagram.

Corri Poore

The business: Little Tykes University is a day care and preschool based on hands-on learning and social emotional development.

Team size: Four.

Why CO.STARTERS: Little Tykes University is currently experiencing growth, and CO.STARTERS seems to be a great way to organize the nuts and bolts needed to establish a solid foundation. This includes drawing from the lessons and wisdom of other small businesses. I hope to have an accurate five-year road map completed with benchmarks. As our city grows, I would like to establish Little Tykes University as a cornerstone of our child care landscape.

Learn more: Follow Little Tykes University on Facebook.

Sanaa Abourezk

The business: Sanaa’s Gourmet Mediterranean is a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant located in downtown Sioux Falls at the 8th and Railroad Center.

Team size: Six.

Why CO.STARTERS: I think a person or business needs to keep learning in order to succeed. I would like to learn how to improve my business and learn the necessary steps to move my restaurant to the next level.

Learn more: Keep an eye on Sanaa’s on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and check out the website as well.

Andrea Van Essen

The business: I provide freelance writing and editing services for businesses. My sweet spot has been feature stories, but I also offer blogging, website copy and social media writing. To me, the purpose of quality writing is to tell an important story. I appreciate every opportunity I have to hear and share someone’s story — it’s what I love most about my work.

Team size: One.

Why CO.STARTERS: I’ve been working as a freelancer for two years now, but I haven’t had much in the way of direction or a plan. I hope to lock down the strategy and vision that I wish I would have had going into this two years ago. I want to refine the niche and purpose of my business, so I can develop a realistic plan for growth, and I’m also looking for any basic business practices and principles that could make my operation smarter and simpler.

Learn more: Visit Andrea’s website at

Taylor Hoekstra

The business: At popFLY we hope to showcase just how delightful shopping local can be while using technology to elevate the experience around how it is done.

Team size: Two. Hoekstra has a co-founder, Jaclyn Hoekstra.

Why CO.STARTERS: It’s so great to see our city hosting an accelerator like this, and I knew I wanted our business to be a part of it. Having a facilitator like Eric Weisser is going to bring an excellent and intriguing dynamic. We hope to accelerate the concept into MVP timeline while growing alongside and encouraging other local entrepreneurs to keep moving forward.

Walter Portz

The business: Helen’s Plan is an online resource for organizing all of life’s logistical responsibilities, with the aim of sharing that information with loved ones in case of emergency or tragedy. Helen’s Plan is a labor of love. We need to be thoughtful, organized and thorough when it comes to planning for our loved ones. Helen’s Plan is a tool to do just that.

Team size: Three. Portz has two co-founders, Chris Hintz and Chris Wasmund.

Why CO.STARTERS: We’re looking for guidance to make the business a success. We hope to dial in on understanding our market and pinpointing messaging, as well as connecting with potential partners.

Learn more: Check out Helen’s Plan on Facebook and Instagram.

Naomi Blank

The business: Ubwiza Boutique is an online women’s clothing boutique with a style that combines African and American fashion. Sioux Falls has a large and growing population of immigrants. We want to show off parts of our Rwandan culture and, in doing so, help to create a community that is welcoming for immigrants.

Team size: Two. Blank has a co-founder, Eric Blank.

Why CO.STARTERS: As new business owners, we are very much learning as we go. Any opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals and learn from others that are successful business owners can only help us at this stage. We hope to refine our vision, create and implement a strategy for email marketing and social media advertising, and create a plan for opening a brick-and-mortar store.

Learn more: Visit Ubwiza Boutique on Facebook and Instagram.

Ben Reznicek

The business: RezBats, is a “patent pending” custom wood bat company located in Sioux Falls. We have revolutionized the way to finish a wood bat with a process that makes a wood bat overall more durable.

Team size: Two, which includes his father and co-founder, Dave Reznicek.

Why CO.STARTERS: Eric Weisser inspired me to join CO.STARTERS. I would like to strengthen the overall business structure of my company. I would also like to open up avenues to raise money to continue growing this business. I want everyone to know this is essentially the “new age” of wood bats. There is always a better way, and I’m confident we achieved that within this industry. We have figured out a way to make a wood bat simply better without using the age-old technique of bone rubbing/steel hardening. Also, everything is manufactured right here in Sioux Falls.

Learn more: Find RezBats on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using @rezbats or visit

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