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Justin Walsh, left, and Garrett Moon, cofounders of CoSchedule, at the company's office in Bismarck. IMAGE: Kyle Martin

Mark your calendar for CoSchedule, a North Dakota startup whose web app already is in use worldwide

BISMARCK, N.D. – Garrett Moon sounds confident as well as hopeful when he talks about the future of his growing, technology-based company.

“I think we’re writing one of the next big success stories in North Dakota,” he said. “We’re writing another chapter of technology success.”

Moon is the CEO and co-founder of CoSchedule, a North Dakota company that sells businesses access to a web app that helps marketers collaborate, schedule, organize workflow and automate activities such as social media campaigns.

The marketing calendar company, which is emerging as a leader in its niche, was founded in 2013 by Moon and Chief Technology Officer Justin Walsh, who leads product engineering.

CoSchedule started in Bismarck and also has offices in Fargo. It recently expanded its space in Bismarck and is relocating and expanding its space in Fargo. The company has about 45 employees and plans to add about 50 more during the next 18 months.

The company serves about 8,500 clients in more than 100 countries and is experiencing steady growth. An injection of $2.2 million in investment financing earlier this year has helped move the company into a higher level of planned expansion.

About $600,000 in the recent investment came from the North Dakota Development Fund, and $400,000 came from the Bank of North Dakota’s New Venture Capital Program. The Development Fund is a nonprofit within the North Dakota Department of Commerce. The Development Fund staff also administers the state bank’s New Venture Capital Program.

CoSchedule “is a great success story for the North Dakota Development Fund, the Bank of North Dakota and the state of North Dakota,” said Scot Long, vice president of the Development Fund.

The investment entities want to help primary sector businesses bring new wealth into the state, Long said.

“We really see some big opportunities in the market,” Moon said.

CoSchedule brashly promotes itself on its website as “the tiger” of startups.  “Hustle isn’t just a saying here. We work hard, fast, and at a level of excellence our competition only dreams of,” according to the website.

Eric Piela, head of public relations and community management, said CoSchedule’s drag-and-drop calendar software is an easy-to-use, centralized hub for marketing projects. “We see it as one consolidated platform for marketers to go to stay organized and get things done,” he said.

CoSchedule opened in Bismarck in August 2013 and launched its calendar service in September 2013. The company had 5,000 customers within two years. The company expanded business operations to Fargo in October 2015.

CoSchedule only recently put a sales team in place. “The product sold itself, for the most part.  Customers came to us by word of mouth,” Moon said.

The startup has been successful because it provides a service that customers want and because the company listens to customer feedback to make products better, Moon said. “It’s common for us to release a feature and revise it after launch,” he said.

Customers pay a monthly or annual fee for using the unique software. A blogger or solo businessperson pays $30 per month for access to a marketing calendar, for example. A professional marketing firm with up to 25 users would pay $300 a month. Rates scale up to as much as $1,600 a month for the most advanced, multi-calendar option.

The company’s customers include some big-name businesses, including Microsoft, The Home Depot, Uber and eBay.

Discovery Benefits, another North Dakota-based company, has been a client since the end of 2016, said Abby Boggs-Johnson, director of marketing and creative services at Discovery. Discovery administers employee benefits for other companies. Most of Discovery’s 700 employees are based in Fargo, but about 100 of its workers are based in Brookings, S.D., and 100 others work remotely.

Discovery uses CoSchedule’s calendar to manage social media accounts, Boggs-Johnson said.

“It’s nice for us. We like to work ahead,” Boggs-Johnson said.

One reason why Moon and Walsh started CoSchedule was because they couldn’t find the right jobs, Moon said. “It was partly to scratch our itch and partly because we saw an opportunity for clients,” he said.

The company takes great pride in being North Dakota-based. Moon sees the location as an advantage and differentiator for CoSchedule. Any business location presents advantages as well as challenges; but for entrepreneurial companies such as CoSchedule, the main challenge is to solve customers’ problems, he said.

CoSchedule wants to provide work opportunities for people who want to live in North Dakota and stay at the leading edge of development, Moon said.

“In North Dakota, we have the potential to be one the best gigs in town,” he said. “We want to be a world-class startup. There is nothing stopping us.”

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Rob Swenson

Special to Prairie Business