Great Start-ups Come from Rural Montana

AMT Logo (3)Rural Innovation Initiative


We elevate creators, innovators, small, rural and indigenous business owners across Montana.

AMRII provides free one-on-one coaching, training, and resources to grow ideas into what you imagine them to be. We believe that many of the issues facing Montanans can be solved by rural and indigenous problem-solvers whose ideas re-imagine the future of their communities.

How We Can Help:

We develop, support, and deliver programming that supports rural and Indigenous problem solvers, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

  • Free coaching and tools to test your businesses idea
  • Community-to-community networking to connect talent and resources to grow ideas to plans and plans to businesses
  • Activities for idea generation (e.g. Pitch nights, Startup Weekends, networking events, workshops and webinars)
  • One on one startup coaching using Lean Startup tools
  • Access to expertise and mentoring

Want Some Help With Your Idea?


Our Team

If you have an innovative or entrepreneurial idea that you would like to take to the next step, book a consultation with our team

Book a Time to Meet

paul gladen

Paul Gladen

Director of Accelerate Montana

Paul is the Director of Accelerate Montana, the University of Montana’s portfolio of economic development programs and Director of the Blackstone LaunchPad. Paul is a founding team member of the Montana Code School and co-founder of the Hellgate Venture Network, a networking group for Montana entrepreneurs. He also serves on the Board of the Missoula Economic Partnership and MonTEC. Paul was the 2017 Montana Ambassador Educator of the Year. A native of England, Paul has a MA in Mathematics from Oxford University and an MBA from Manchester Business School. He moved to Missoula in 2008 and has been helping to shape the MT entrepreneurial ecosystem since.

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Karl Unterschuetz

Outreach and Engagement Manager

Karl has over 20 years of experience in entrepreneurial ecosystems, growing up in his family’s organic agriculture supply business in the burgeoning organic industry of the late 1980's. Karl also managed the Northwest Biofuels Working Group and created the Sustainability Award during the inaugural year of the PNW Clean Tech Open. As the Outreach and Engagement Manager at AMRII, Karl is supporting the development of the Accelerate Montana’s Rural Innovation Initiative and the mission to foster lasting “start-up” successes for rural communities in Montana. Karl earned a BA in ecological science from Western Washington University and a MS in business management and leadership from Antioch Seattle.

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Zita Ottersbach

Rural Outreach Ambassador

Zita, from Browning Montana on the Blackfeet Reservation, is currently a sophomore at the University of Montana, studyingCommunication with a focus on Rhetoric and Public Discourse, and minoring in Political Science. Zita has 2 children, Carlee and Pierce, and enjoys camping, swimming, and spending time with friends and family. After Zita is done with her bachelor’s degree, she plans on continuing her higher education by attending graduate school with a focus on Corporate Communication. Zita is a small business owner, entrepreneur, and currently an Indigenous/Rural Outreach Ambassador with AMRII.


Sarah Grissom

Americorps Vista

Sarah is an Americorps Vista working with AMRII. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, she recently graduated from Beloit College with a degree in anthropology. Outside of work, Sarah enjoys spending time with family and friends and being outdoors. She is working with AMRII to expand the accessibility of start-up tools and the business community for rural and indigenous Montanans.


Shiena Medrano

Rural Outreach Ambassador

Shiena “Shin'' Medrano is a current junior at the University of Montana, majoring in Accounting and Management Information Systems. Shin works as AMRII’s Outreach Ambassador and is our resident graphic designer. From Manila in the Philippines, Shin moved to Phillipsburg, Montana as a junior in high school. In her free time, Shin enjoys painting and playing her violin, piano, and guitar. Her interests in art and entrepreneurship inspired Shin to help rural and indigenous artists gain recognition and pursue their goals.

Book a Time to Meet

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Our Partners

We have several in-kind partners in the program

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Accelerate Montana's Rural Innovation Initiative acknowledges that we are in the aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispel people. We honor the path they have always shown us in caring for this place for the generations to come.

Program Funded Through the Economic Development Agency (EDA), University Center Program.
The AMRII program is being funded by the EDA's University Center program following a successful application that UM submitted in response to their 2018 NOFO

The University Center (UC) program is specifically designed to marshal the resource located within colleges and universities to support regional economic development strategies in regions of chronic and acute economic distress. As the EDA notes, "Institutions of higher education have extensive resource, including specialized research, outreach, technology transfer, and commercialization capabilities, as well as recognized faculty expertise and sophisticated laboratories.