Nate Boscaljon, founder of Boscaljon Design Co.Nate Boscaljon, founder of Boscaljon Design Co.
Starter Stories

Nate Boscaljon // Boscaljon Design Co.

"CO.STARTERS really helped me to vet my idea and be confident in my decision to go full-time."

What's the story behind your entrepreneurship journey?

Boscaljon Design Co. was really birthed out of our own need. When we were just married, my wife and I didn’t have the money to furnish our home with designs from big box furniture stores. Instead of spending money we didn’t have to acquire nice furniture, we decided to try making it ourselves. 

My wife found some DIY Pinterest articles about how to build a coffee table, and her dad lent me some tools. Before I knew it, I had a coffee table in my living room that looked halfway decent. So we built a TV stand next, and then a dining room table.

Eventually we were able to host friends and family at our new home, and they all asked about our furniture. That led to a couple requests from family members and friends, which led to a choice: Do I do this as a passion project where I just bill my friends for the materials? Or do I try to turn this into a business?

We decided to take the plunge and go the business route, first as a side-hustle in 2018 and then full-time in 2021.

What problem are you trying to solve for your customers?

Have you ever wanted an article of furniture for your home, but with a really hazy vision of what it would be? Maybe you find something in a store that scratches your itch halfway, and maybe a different piece in a different store that gets the other half?

That’s where I come in. I turn your vision into reality. Most of my work is one-off, highly custom-built furniture. We also sell more mass-produced stuff like cutting boards and kids’ toys, but the chief focus is on custom-tailored furniture.

"CO.STARTERS really helped me to vet my idea and be confident in my decision to go full-time. Without CO.STARTERS, there's a decent chance I'd still be at my day job."

What led you to CO.STARTERS?

Back in 2020, I was trying to decide whether I could really take the business full-time. For the first few years of the project, I kept my day job as a financial advisor. I knew that giving that up was a huge decision, and I wanted to experiment with structuring the business in different ways to see what could work. 

CO.STARTERS really helped me to vet the idea and be confident in my decision to go full-time. Without CO.STARTERS, there’s a decent chance I’d still be at my day job today.

What lessons from your CO.STARTERS experience have stayed with you as you operate a small business?

A core practice that CO.STARTERS ingrained within me is focusing on who our customer is, what their problem is, and defining how my business can solve that precise problem for that specific customer.

I could say that I just build furniture for whoever wants it. But by focusing on the customer and listening to clients, I’ve really carved out a niche market that I can create effective messaging for. Knowing that your customer is a constant moving target, it requires a continued focus on what the actual target is and what the customer wants. 

How has CO.STARTERS changed your relationship with your community?

I’m definitely more plugged into the wider Startup Sioux Falls network now, and I have access to the wider business community through the other entrepreneurs in my CO.STARTERS cohort. 

I remember telling them about my social media post announcing our full-time launch, knowing they would like and share it with their circles. It’s invaluable knowing that these other business owners have my back, and that they know I have theirs. It brought me closer to the community as a whole.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are facing the same challenges you faced a couple years ago?

It’s really important to seek out more experienced business owners for two reasons. 

First, finding a mentor can be really helpful, just to gain context. Oftentimes, the entrepreneur you perceive as way more successful than you, the one you place on a pedestal, is actually thinking and worrying about the exact same things you are. Finding that out firsthand is a really grounding experience.

Secondly, you need other business owners to help you vet your ideas. People who have been in your shoes long enough to tell you how they would have done things differently, or who can validate what you’re currently doing.

That’s the magic of the CO.STARTERS cohort, too. You have a designated group with whom you can workshop ideas in a safe space, knowing you’re going to bring value to someone else. At the end of the day, the people supporting you are your biggest advantage.

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