Josh Teigen may only be in his mid-20s, but he’s already a seasoned entrepreneur with a number of successful business ventures under his belt, earning him the title of this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
His business journey started at age 14 when he began working as a diesel mechanic. By high school, he took that income and began investing in the stock market during classes. This caught the attention of his schoolmates and teachers, and soon he capitalized on his day trading expertise by starting an email newsletter. One of those who ended up on Teigen’s email list was none other than Doug Burgum, who took note and eventually hired him at Kilbourne Group.
While working for Burgum, Teigen used the opportunity to observe others he viewed as successful in business. It rubbed off, because by Teigen’s freshman year of college, he was already acting as CEO of a startup in Pittsburgh from his dorm room in Grand Forks. After that, he started his own consulting firm, Crossfox Innovation.
But once he met a man named Cooper Bierscheid, a new idea flourished. Both men realized they could be stronger together than alone, and they teamed up to run what is now known as Protosthetics, an innovative startup that designs, manufactures and distributes 3-D printed devices.
Teigen maintains that Bierscheid is the engineering brain behind the operations, and he handles the sales and marketing, strategy and finance. Teigen says that the Protosthetics business model has two functions: to manufacture products for the clinics they serve, and R&D for new products. “These feed into each other, and it’s cool because we can leverage state-of-the-art technology and bring that innovation to an industry that has done things the same way since the ‘50s,” he said. 3-D printing is able to provide mass customization versus mass production, which had been the norm.
Their hard work paid off, and Teigen has lead Protosthetics onto a national and worldwide stage, not to mention, has doubled revenues every year since its inception. The company even had an offer for a reality TV show for a time.
“Being able to be a disrupting force is really fun,” he said. Referring to what Uber did to the taxi industry, his goal is to do the same for their market and grow the company as big as they can.
Teigen’s work ethic is unmatched, and his drive for success is undeniable. One of his own guiding principles is to outwork everyone. By balancing this with treating others with respect and leading by example, it’s no wonder so many look up to him.
Protosthetics employs about 15 people, many of them interns from NDSU’s engineering department. “I’ve learned that you don’t build a business; you build people, and people build the business for you,” he said. “Invest in developing your team. Get the right people on the bus, and then all you have to do is steer.”
Teigen gives back by serving as instructor for our own Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!). One of the pieces of advice he gives to budding entrepreneurs is to pursue something you’re relentlessly passionate about. He also serves on the board of directors for Mind Shift, an organization that partners with businesses to recruit, assess, train and employ skilled and motivated people on the autism spectrum.
When he’s not busy saving the world, you might find Teigen outdoors, most likely fishing, hunting, skiing or spending time at the lake.
Teigen stays humble in the fact that Fargo is his roots. He says North Dakota is the best place in the world to start a business. “You’re only as successful as the community you’re in,” he said.
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