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What pioneering Utah startups did the best during the pandemic

As the financial numbers for 2020 continue to come in, it’s clear that the Beehive State was thriving in ways that were unexpected despite the coronavirus and its effects.

One area that was clearly doing well was the start-up culture, as new companies continued to join the landscape in Utah while others that had started within the last five years found they made surprising progress despite the pandemic.

One fund that that did particularly well was Kickstart, and one of its investors, Curt Roberts, recently wrote in Utah Business magazine about his own experiences in the start-up world and how he finds investing in the state’s businesses “endlessly interesting and professionally rewarding.”

The look back at a topsy-turvy year may also be a good time for you to look at options to help your business thrive. One that’s offered by First Utah Bank is secure checking to help better keep track of your expenses.


Doing more with less becomes a motto

In the article in Utah Business, Roberts said that he’s been investing for just six years, but has seen a ton of fighting spirit not only in the state but throughout the Mountain West region. “I’m deeply grateful for the founders and teams that I have the opportunity to work with,” he writes. “They are humble, capable, driven people that embrace doing hard things. Let’s keep at it. Together we are building a start-up economy that is the envy of the world.”

While he doesn’t go into the specifics of what happened to everyone in 2020, he does believe that most venture-funded startups did well that year, and that even ones that had rollercoaster rides ended up gaining somewhat before the year ended. He said the reasoning behind the growing trend may be that Utah companies, more so that others, work on building their companies early and treating their investor money as if it is their own.

“These are teams that think of scarcity as a desirable, permanent state―where they want to do fewer things really, really well,” he writes. “Where they are comfortable saying no to shiny objects and interesting but tangential ideas. Basically, I mean the opposite of a company that’s a great idea for a moonshot that raises scads of money and presses on the gas before they know whether anyone will even pay for their product.”

Having the pulse of the customer is also a big part of why Roberts sees Utah companies earning more success than some peers. He believes that testing price, listening about the customer experience, and actively seeking out feedback have gone a long way to fostering more stability.

Determined to weather oncoming storms

Roberts also pointed out that the culture that’s ingrained in Utah may have also helped this attitude of scrappiness.

“After rough attempts to settle in other parts of the country, a group of pioneers decided to trek to a remote, sparsely populated, desolate place next to a big, salty, and unusable lake,” Roberts cheekily writes as his version of the state’s founding. “It only seemed to attract visitors from the east as they passed through en route to California. Now, it’s known as Salt Lake City.”

To that end, the isolation that the founders faces – or in Roberts’ view, sought out – led to more self-contained economics. “From scratch, they built businesses, learned new trades, created their own banking system, and built enviable infrastructure,” he writes. “What they built, in a shockingly short time, was pretty amazing. They embraced scarcity (what choice did they have?), relied on each other, and worked their tails off. So many attributes of this early Utah culture have carried through to the present. And it’s a really good thing.”

This idea of persevering through woes is something Roberts believes is ingrained in Utah business culture, and that it clearly continues today with this latest round of issues that businesses face.

“Remaining scrappy applies to any professional who needs to stay resolved and focused, despite the never-ending difficulties and distractions that their profession–and life–may throw at them,” Roberts writes. “Whether they’re a team director or a working parent, these are the professionals that back up our state’s reputation for the gritty and determined modern-day pioneers that drive Utah’s success forward.”

Several options for a business checking account for Utah businesses

Secure checking accounts for your business should also be a priority as you continue to strive for progress with your business. As your community financial resource, First Utah Bank has three different options for you when it comes to business checking accounts.

The free business checking option features unlimited deposits and Visa debit card transactions with no minimum balance requirement and free entertainment banking. This option is for those with 100 ACH debits and checks per month. There’s also a specialized checking account for registered non-profit organizations with no monthly service charges and no minimum balance requirements.

Our commercial checking option is great for those who do higher business volumes. There’s a competitive earnings credit rate that may offset monthly service feeds, and it also can be linked to other eligible checking accounts to increase available earning credits. Plus, it’s federally insured to the legal maximum.

To learn more about our services for businesses, go to our website.