M&M Photography

April 30, 2012
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska
First Ponca Financial
c/o Rebecca White
P.O. 288 Niobrara, NE 68760

To Whom It May Concern:

I have always wanted to become a photographer and because of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, First Ponca Financial, Pete Upton and his associates and connections in the community, my dreams are becoming a reality. My sister and I have been taking the Entrepreneurship class and I was hesitant of going out on my own and opening my own business. Thoughts in the back of my mind… did I have the skills, the knowledge and the ability to do it. I even thought about skipping the class thinking it might be a waste of my time. Looking back now, I am so happy my sister pushed me to go. Pete’s knowledge of the business world is amazing. I will never forget the pyramid he drew for us on the first day of class. The bottom layer starts with what we don’t know we don’t know, then grows to now we know what we don’t know and finally to what we need to do to know. I left class that first day thinking wow. Every class thereafter was even more of an eye-opener to all that I didn’t know was out there. Pete makes you think and opens your eyes about the business world. Pete’s personal experiences and his knowledge of business are amazing and he’s truly an asset to your company.

Pete introduced us to a local photographer in his hometown. Troy was so excited to meet us and show us his business. He answered questions and gave us an insight to the photography world. We toured their studio, gave us hands-on experience with his photography equipment and showed us the behind the scenes ups and downs of photography. He was so helpful and he was excited to become mentors for us.

Pete also helped us produce a website for the start of our business. I can’t tell you how excited my sister and I were to find out we were a “.com”. It was a step closer to our dreams becoming true.

The Ponce Tribe of Nebraska and First Ponca Financial Inc. have given my sister and I the biggest opportunity in the world and for that I am truly grateful. Thank you.

Melissa A. Jones
Ponca Tribe Member


East River Treats

Mark Severson
East River Treats
6200 N Cliff Ave.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

September 15, 2012

James LaPointe
First Ponca Financial Inc.
941 O Street
Suite 107
Lincoln, NE 68508

Dear James

Hi my name is Mark Severson, I am an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, and I grew up in Wagner, SD on the Yankton Sioux Reservation and currently reside in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In 2008 I graduated Southeast Technical Institute as a Phlebotomist/ Patient Care Tech. with plans of pursuing a career as a Medical Lab Technician. The summer of 2008 was also the downfall of our countries economy and increasing unemployment rate. So being fresh out of school and on my way to starting a new and exciting career, I really felt I had an advantage in the job market. I applied at both major hospitals for positions that I was qualified for. I did have a few interviews but was always overlooked because I was lacking experience. I start applying for entry level jobs at the hospital hoping to get my foot in the door. I began to get very discouraged with my career path and felt truly grateful when I landed a part time job at a cleaning agency.

Early 2009 I had an idea of purchasing a food truck and being a vendor on the POW WOW trail, where I would have the opportunity to sell beadwork my wife and best friend makes. After a lot of research we knew a food truck was out of our price range, however we did find an ice cream truck that was at a more affordable price. We took our income tax refund check and went to talk to our local banker about financing the difference. We did get approved for a loan, bought our truck and East River Treats was born. We took our truck to one POW WOW that year; our truck was nice but a very rough ride and not safe to travel out of town. We decided to get our peddlers license and sell ice cream curbside in Sioux Falls. It was a great feeling starting a family owned business.

In 2010 we made a goal of trying to buy a second truck so it would be possible to travel out of town to POW WOWS and special events. At this time Avera Hospital contacted me and asked if I could deliver ice cream to two of their campuses, I was so excited but thought how ironic it was that I’m going to be the ice cream man for the hospital that I tried so desperately to get a job at. We did have a few more businesses contact us for company picnics as yearly events.

In 2011 we decided to invest our income tax check and expand our business by adding inflatable bounce house rental. We wanted to be a birthday party on wheels, we developed our slogan “Let us be your party people”. A different branch from Avera contacted us and asked if we could service another two campuses. It was clear our name was getting out by word of mouth because we provide excellent customer service. In May I contacted Pete Upton your Executive Director of First Ponca Financial Inc. in regards to financing a second truck. I met with Mr. Upton on several occasions throughout the year, presenting my business plan discussing my goals and ways to reach them. Mr. Upton was very supportive throughout the loan process.

This year we added Sound System Rental and a slushy machine to our business. We also met our goal for purchasing another ice-cream truck, thanks to financing from First Ponca Financial lnc., we bought it from our competition he was goiing out of business. We used our second truck to go to a few POW WOWS and out of town events. I was able to provide ice cream in two places simultaneously! Throughout the years we realized how irnportant it is to team up with small businesses in our area. We advertise with Sunny Radio every summer so I offered to donate our inflatable bounce houses to any event they sponsor. The idea at hand was to get some free advertising, for East River Treats. Sunny Radio took us up on our offer and in return they let us be a vendor for free at an event where only a few vendors were handpicked. This event only lasted five hours but turned out to be the most fun and profitable get together we ever had the pleasure ofbeing a part of. I would like to thank my wife and two daughters for help making East River Treats a success, without them we couldn’t trade treats for smiles. An extra special thanks to Pete Upton and First Ponca Financial Inc. for making our expansion possible.

Mark Severson
East River Treats


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