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Brett Knutson recently debuted Sharing Startups, a new weekly web series designed to help entrepreneurs through the startup process. Episodes so far have included "The First Step," "Finding a Mentor" and "How to Build Your Startup Team." (Special to The Forum)

Startup strategies: Local entrepreneur launches new web series Sharing Startups

FARGO, N.D. -- When the Hive Social app is launched on college campuses this fall, it will be nearly three years since co-founders Brett Knutson and Gavriil Telkov came up with the idea for an app that would connect users through shared interests.

It's been a great journey, but Knutson admits that there have been "more downs than ups" along the way. He thinks television shows like "Shark Tank" sometimes make launching a startup appear easier than it actually is.

Knutson hopes his new video series, Sharing Startups, gives a more accurate portrayal of the process. In addition to his own story, he plans to share interviews he's done with other successful entrepreneurs.

"The idea is just for entrepreneurs to give back to other entrepreneurs. My hope is that it becomes a community where we all better each other and our collective experience helps us all increase our odds of success," Knutson said.

In an upcoming two-part episode, he talks with Steve McGarry, co-founder of LendLayer, a startup established in 2014 to help finance students' participation in coding or entrepreneurial bootcamps. The company was acquired last year by Affirm, a lending startup launched by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin.

McGarry said he took part because he agrees there is a lack of resources for young entrepreneurs.

"The questions Brett asked were from a broad range of subjects that entrepreneurs need to know, things I wish I would have known. I shared some of my lessons. Hopefully someone out there watches Sharing Startups and it helps them avoid a few punches here and there," he said.

Past episodes, which are still available on YouTube and the Sharing Startups website and Facebook page, have addressed the importance of being resourceful, securing a mentor and building a startup team.

One has already already garnered over 10,000 views, but Knutson expects the episode about fundraising later this month to beat that.

"I know that will be the most-watched episode we'll run because I've gotten so many requests for that. Even before I started the show, it was the No. 1 question people asked me," Knutson said.

He encourages viewers to submit ideas and questions in the comments section or by emailing

If there is one thing viewers learn from Sharing Startups, Knutson hopes it will be the importance of doing something that will benefit others.

He explained how he was motivated to develop the Hive Social app because his mom became disabled and was having trouble making new friends. Providing her a way to do that from the comforts of home has made the difficult times worth it in the end.

"The idea has to keep you awake at night. If you just think it's cool, don't do it."