Breckenridge/Wahpeton’s Jay Schuler Gets UND Entrepreneur Residency


News this afternoon from Bruce Gjovig at the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation:

Jay Schuler — a standout agribusiness entrepreneur from the Breckenridge, Minn./Wahpeton, N.D., community, has been named first Lynn Holaday Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

Here is what Gjovig says about it: The Lynn Holaday Entrepreneur in Residence program was established by an endowment from  Bart Holaday of Grand Forks and Colorado Springs to honor and remember his late wife, Lynn Buckingham Villella Holaday.   Jay Schuler of Wahpeton has been named the first Holaday Entrepreneur-in-Residence.  Schuler is a serial entrepreneur with a strong track record of success, a passion for the next generation of entrepreneurs,  and a commitment to students and entrepreneurial education.  He has been involved in 15 start-ups, the first venture, a hybrid seed company, started while in college in 1973.   On this venture, he teamed up with one of his college professors Dr. Gerhardt Fick.  Two of his companies failed and Schuler believes with better insight, better business practices and maybe an entrepreneur coach they would have made it. Five of his companies have been sold to publicly-traded companies.   In the last year, Jay and his partners sold SEEDS 2000 to a large international hybrid seed company, NuSeed, a wholly owned subsidiary of NuFarm, a publically-traded company in Australia for $55 million.   Jay still has ownership and board involvement in GIANT Sunflower seeds, Richland Organics, The Blue Corn Company, Ag America, and farming.  His sons Robert and Jason are alumni of the UND Entrepreneur Program and are leaders in GIANT Sunflower Seeds, significantly growing the venture since their UND days.  Jay respects the Center and the Entrepreneur program very much and is thankful for what inspiration and education it has provided to his sons. Schuler is an active marathon runner, running his tenth marathon on his birthday in St. Petersburg Russia. He will run one in Antarctica in March 2013. This will complete his “bucket list” of running one marathon on each of the 7 continents. Schuler ran his first marathon at the age of 50. Jay Schuler says, “I believe that for rural communities to survive and prosper, they need to create  an environment for startups to form and thrive. Every year because of regulations it is more difficult to start a new business. Progressive communities have business incubators where entrepreneurs can get help, overcome the hurdles and gain assistance in growing the businesses.” He added, “Large companies don’t move to rural areas. Jobs are home grown. For the good of our rural communities we need to keep the pipeline of new businesses growing. In my opinion, the UND Entrepreneur program is cutting edge in new business, innovation and new job development.  I look forward to continual engagement with the entrepreneur students at UND. I have done some advising and coaching of new business owners the past five years.” He concluded,  “This UND gig is a new and a more focused challenge. I look forward to giving back to the next generation of entrepreneurs.  I want to be of value to the Center, the entrepreneur program and most import the students. I believe in what UND is doing!”  Since 2001 Bart and Lynn Holaday have supported numerous hands-on learning programs with the Center for Innovation Foundation including establishing the nation’s first fully student run venture fund, the Dakota Venture Group. Thus students could learn venture capital investing through building a venture fund portfolio  The Holadays believe in learning by doing and learning from those who are experienced and successful.  The EIR endowment supports an experienced entrepreneur to reside part-time with the UND Center for Innovation to work with entrepreneur-minded students and emerging entrepreneurs.   Lynn Holaday passed away at Oct. 1, 2010 in Colorado Springs from ALS at age 68.  On New Year’s Eve 1998, she married A. Bart Holaday at Las Placitas, NM.  This was the culmination of a romance begun in the mid-1960s when Lynn was in college and Bart was a junior at the U.S. Air Force Academy.  During their marriage the couple maintained homes in Placitas, NM in Colorado Springs and in Grand Forks, while they traveled the world: all seven continents and more than 90 countries.   From the founding of their family foundation, the Dakota Foundation, Lynn served as executive director and joined Bart in support of the foundation’s mission to promote entrepreneurship and job creation in North Dakota and New Mexico, and to sponsor scholarships at Bart’s alma mater, Exeter College of England’s Oxford University..  The Air Force Academy received a $5-million contribution in 2010 through the USAFA Endowment from 1965 graduate Bart Holaday and his wife, Lynn, to construct a new indoor athletic training facility. Ground breaking was held the day of her death on Oct 1, 2010.   Bart Holaday served as Chair of the UND Center for Innovation Foundation from 2004 to 2012, and has served the Foundation since 2002. He remains on the Foundation board to support innovation, entrepreneurship, and private investment for new ventures.   He currently the president and owner of Dakota Renewable Energy Fund  which invests in early stage ventures in North Dakota. He is on the board of directors of Adams Street Partners, a private equity investment firm; Alerus Financial of Grand Forks; MDU Resources, Inc.; the United States Air Force Academy Endowment (former-chair); the Falcon Foundation (former vice president); Jamestown College, UND Foundation and is chairman and CEO of the Dakota Foundation. He is a past member of the board of directors of the National Venture Capital Association and  Walden University.  Holaday has a bachelor’s degree in engineering sciences from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was a Rhodes Scholar, earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Oxford University. He also earned a law degree from George Washington Law School and is a Chartered Financial Analyst. In 2005, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of North Dakota.