Over the last six months, my colleagues and I at Treedome worked together to compete in WSU’s WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge. The challenge was an entrepreneurial competition where students work to create a concept, outline, and business plan for a potential company. Over the course of three rounds, each group of students competes with one another to be chosen as one of the final winners of a $5,000 grant.

To get everyone up to speed, Treedome is an art and music collective based in downtown Winona. We offer a large swath of services for local artists who otherwise wouldn’t have the options, including recording, practice space, show booking, production, videography, photography and others. We also have a group of individual musicians and artists who collaborate and create new pieces for the Winona area and beyond.

The main goal for our company is to foster growth in the local music industry, and try to connect all the various artistic threads scattered throughout the region. With the WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge, we had hoped to build our reputation and get some funding to push our resources to the next level.

Luckily, we pulled it off.

Right to left: Michael Pelley, me, Ben Strand and Vice President of University Advancement Ron Dempsey at the winner reveal after the challenge. (Photo by Brian Waldbillig)

Right to left: Michael Pelley, me, Ben Strand and Vice President of University Advancement Ron Dempsey at the reveal of the WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge winners. (Photo by Brian Waldbillig)

Treedome was chosen as the winner for the product/service venture option, and the winner for nonprofit was an organization for Children of Incarcerated Parents. All of our fellow competitors did spectacularly, whether they won or not, and we’re excited to see what they all do next.

It took months, but myself and a group of fellow students worked ourselves to the bone creating and perfecting a wide-reaching plan to invigorate the community and start bringing new tunes to town.

That $5,000 grant will be going directly toward our infrastructure. We’ll be upgrading our video gear and our recording studio, creating shirts for fans, starting an ad campaign, and bringing in a few new designers.

Our hope for these upgrades isn’t just to increase the quality of our work, but also to open up new opportunities for Winona artists. In any other community, this level of production is either non existent or completely out of reach. What we’re trying to do here is to be approachable and give the artistic community the opportunity to do things they would’ve never been able to.

For artists and by artists, we hope that this win will put us, and the Winona music and art community, on the road to success. Here’s to Winona’s artistic future!