Brian Stark

In many ways, starting a business is like creating a piece of art: building a company often involves bringing together different “materials,” then honing and crafting them to meet the vision of what the entrepreneur wants the business to be.

An artist will first sketch a thumbnail of their project, much like an entrepreneur creating a business plan. An artist will then compose the basic elements needed to get the project going, much like a start up securing financing, a location, employees. Then the artist will start creating, one step at a time, adding detail and sometimes going in a different direction than the original sketch, much like a business owner finding the perfect niche for them.

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Exclusively Diamonds

After 38 years in business, Exclusively Diamonds continues to grow prompting a move to a bigger space at 1601 Adams Street in Mankato. “The larger showroom has a more extensive Rolex buildout, increases our bridal/engagement ring space, and provides ample space for us to host our annual Holiday Party and Ladies’ Night complete with live music and catering,” says Maria Person, Vice President of Exclusively Diamonds.

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Betty Ouren

Betty Ouren: mom, community leader and powerful professional. Ouren is Vice President of Human Resources and Marketing for MinnStar Bank. She is responsible for staffing administration, marketing and bank philanthropy. She has been with MinnStar for 22 years…and counting! Ouren was also the 2017 recipient of Greater Mankato Growth’s Hap Halligan Award for leadership, an honor Ouren has certainly earned through her involvement in many civic-minded projects.

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Wu Lin, Tokyo Sushi & Hibachi

According to an old Chinese proverb, “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” The life of Wu Lin, born in Fuzhou, China 34 years ago, certainly reflects that teaching. From learning the art of sushi, to learning English, to learning how to run a business: Lin says his constant yearning for learning got him where is today. Where he is today, is a long, long way from his birthplace. For Lin that single step was discovering his true passion in the kitchen: sushi. A passion that led him on a journey from China to Japan and eventually the United States.

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Nathan Stolt, Tech Connect Plus

For Nathan Stolt, being a successful entrepreneur means knowing how to use mistakes to identify your strengths. It means asking questions of those that came before you. And it means offering a helping hand to others. “We’ve been fortunate because we get to meet a lot of other small businesses of all types,” says Stolt. “We get to interact with so many different types so we can start introducing them to each other which is fantastic to see.”

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Mayo Clinic’s Dr. James Hebl

For James Hebl, medicine and a positive patient experience are not only professional pursuits, but are very personal as well. “When I was a sophomore in high school, my youngest brother was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus at age 5. I saw the impact diabetes had on not only my brother – but the entire family. The pediatrician caring for my brother was so kind, patient and knowledgeable when describing the condition and what we needed to do as a family. This life event, in addition to my passion for pharmacology and the biologic sciences, played a major role in my decision to enter medicine,” he reflects.

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