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Entrepreneur coaches others looking to grow business ideas

by SUMMER ZALESKY Daily Inter Lake
| August 21, 2023 12:00 AM

After his mother was diagnosed with cancer while he was in high school, Scot Chisholm was inspired to raise funds for cancer research. But he found the tools to do so to be clunky and outdated.

At the time in 2006, Chisholm was trying to raise money with his friends for the American Cancer Society. He never dreamed that his goal would turn into a multi-million dollar software company someday.

“It all started with charity events, and that snowballed into more and more charity events for more and more causes,” Chisholm explained. “Eventually we started working with nonprofits more closely and realized that the technology they were using was pretty old school so we decided to build a fundraising app for them to reach supporters.”

Chisholm served as the founder and CEO of what became Classy, a peer-to-peer crowdfunding software platform for 10 years. During that time, the company went from a few employees to over 300, and from $1,500 raised at their first event to billions of dollars raised annually on the platform. In 2020, Classy merged with GoFundMe, and Chisholm stepped down from his role as CEO to become a strategic advisor for the company.

At only 24 years old, Chisholm was thrust into the world of business management and entrepreneurship. And without many resources to help him along, Chisholm gained most of his CEO start-up experience through trial and error.

Now, with solid roots in the Flathead Valley, Chisholm hopes to pass his knowledge on to other budding entrepreneurs. Aside from business coaching, Chisholm owns Haskill Creek Farms, a holistic health store located in Whitefish.

“I always knew that after this journey, I would want to help other entrepreneurs with their own startups,” said Chisholm. “When people started reaching out and asking to be coached, I connected the dots and thought it would be cool to do free online content.”

Chisholm now provides information catered to entrepreneurs through LinkedIn and Instagram on topics such as leadership, startup operations, and personal growth. Chisholm is also hoping to tell the stories of other entrepreneurs that others may not have heard of to encourage aspiring business owners.

“I do meet with folks for free in the community and I'm coaching two other CEOs on an evergreen basis,” said Chisholm. “It's helping remind me of all the stuff that I went through.”

While Chisholm’s content is for everyone, many of his online followers come from the Flathead Valley, and with an already thriving community of entrepreneurs, Chisholm hopes to start an in-person leadership group.

“There's a lot of really amazing people in the Flathead and so many folks that grew up here doing cool stuff. The people who have moved here over the last 10 or 20 years are also doing amazing stuff. They don't all necessarily know each other so I hope to be someone that can bring everyone together so that the Flathead can become an even stronger entrepreneurial community,” said Chisholm.

Some of his follower’s biggest pain points include cash flow, learning how to manage a team, and mastering the art of sales, all of which Chisholm provides first-hand wisdom. His endeavors with Haskill Creek Farms are a by-product of his time as a burnt-out CEO.

“Haskill Creek Farms was very much inspired by a lot of the health issues that I was going through from entrepreneurship,” said Chisholm. “I figured out probably 75% of the way through my journey that I was not treating myself well and I was breaking from stress. You really need to think of yourself like a marathon runner because you're in this for a long haul and you have to really be deliberate about things like your diet, working out, sleep, alcohol intake, and handling stress.”

The store gives back to the nonprofit Save Farmland, also an initiative by Chisholm as he continues to involve himself in the nonprofit space. Save Farmland is actively acquiring and protecting farmland in the Flathead, and aims to help aspiring young farmers get started.

Whether in the tech, agriculture, nonprofit, or other business spaces, Chisholm hopes to help individuals in and out of Montana to build thriving businesses that can endure the changing economy.

“I get really excited for other entrepreneurs and it's super rewarding to see them pass a milestone or see some business success. Entrepreneurship is like the lifeblood of America and even though there's still a really thriving community of entrepreneurs across America, it needs to continue to grow for us to stay competitive in the world,” said Chisholm. “Montana has a great opportunity to cultivate the free entrepreneurial spirit here, especially where it relates to agriculture crossing over to tech. There's amazing entrepreneurs here, and there's an opportunity to have them all support each other and make each other stronger.”

Chisholm’s information and ideas on start-ups and entrepreneurship can be found on his Instagram page @ScotChisholm or on his LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/scotchisholm.

Reporter Summer Zalesky may be reached at szalesky@dailyinterlake.com.

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