Ben Sinclair has been a master at software development since the beginning of time on the Internet, but he had always wanted to tap into his interests in smart hardware and electronic engineering. FliteBrite’s beautiful balance between intuitive software and interactive hardware was a perfect fit! FliteBrite truly came to life when Sinclair blended his tech-savvy skills with the innovative mind of Ben McDougal and the manufacturing expertise of Ethan Davidson. Sinclair puts the "SMART" into the company's tag line, Smart Flights. Thanks to his wizardly work in the workshop, FliteBrite is now serving the world's first smart beer flights nationwide!
Justin spends days (and lots of nights) ensuring that and frontend and backend are running smoothly for both customers and brand partners. With his extensive knowledge of affiliate marketing he also contributes awesome ideas for subscriber acquisition. In just a year Justin has automated and improved the Bulu Box website, IT and warehouse operations, creating efficient and superior solutions for his teammates.
Router Ventures is a true collaborative force that leverages authentic, strategic relationships to advance driven founders and their audacious goals beyond their communities. We are not bound by geography – nor their partners. Seeking partners (not clients), Router connects companies and their founders to resources, talent, and expertise. Think transformative business strategy and investors, national marketing, and public relations support.
The Nelnet Innovation Hub, founded in 2013, exists to discover, validate, create traction and scale new businesses that build on the wide-range of competencies within Nelnet's 3 business units. We are a small but mighty core of ideators and intraprenuers that represents the “Build” within Nelnet’s innovation portfolio. Our job is to continually refine our process for quickly launching and learning from new startup ventures. We host regular shark tank pitches and an annual innovation summit to keep the pipeline fully stocked with new ideas brought in from all levels of our organization. 2016 was a very exciting year, with the successful launch of two new businesses: BenefitEd, an employer-funded student loan repayment program and RemindCare, a pastoral care app. We also continue to accelerate growth of ClassBundl, a school supplies and apparel ecommence offering and Propelr, our community philanthropic rewards program. With the application of our stringent (but always flexible) design process and proper capital resources, we believe we can generate meaningful value to our customers and diversified growth for our shareholders.
Dale Eesly is the head of the Entrepreneurship department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a major member of the Omaha Startup Community. Some of his projects include: Entrepreneurial Living and Learning Community (ELLC) Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO) Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference (MWEC) Big Idea Pitch Contest (UNO) Community Startup Events
AgriSync's focus is on the people in agriculture and the way they collaborate. Farmers today connect with their local, trusted agribusiness consultants for help adopting and implementing new technologies, practices, and biological advancements – a network of support resulting from our evolving agriculture industry. AgriSync thinks those support relationships matter, and wants to help them reach their full potential. AgriSync works to ensure the most important piece of modern agribusiness — the human piece — has its greatest impact.
The co-founder of Social Assurance, Ben consulted for banks, brokerages and financial firms in the area of IT management and software prior to forming Social Assurance. He led sales and marketing efforts for hyper growth on the Inc 500 list of Fastest Growing Companies for Five Nines Technology Group as the Director of Business Development and is a 2012 Pipeline Entrepreneur Fellow. Ben’s background in enterprise security and software bring a unique perspective to social media solutions. Ben’s thought leadership in enterprise technology has been featured in publications such as the Financial Brand, CRN, Credit Union Times, Omaha World Herald and the Midlands Business Journal and he frequently speaks on the use of technology in the enterprise. Ben studied Business and Computer Science at Nebraska Wesleyan University completing his Bachelor’s degree.
While at the University of Missouri, and specifically, Mizzou’s Entrepreneurship Alliance, Bea has managed to apply the appropriate balance between entrepreneurial endeavors and scholarly activities. Bea launched AstronoBEAds on Earth Day 2016. AstronoBEAds is an online boutique with astronomy-themed jewelry. Her company currently sells six stellar products to both men and women. The venture is based on Bea’s interest in science, astronomy, and entrepreneurship. Within 8 months of operation Bea had $50,000 in products sold in 31 countries. Bea is active in the regional entrepreneurship scene that AstronoBEAds has been featured on Fox2NEWS, Star Talk Radio, Mizzou Magazine, Missouri Business Alert, the Missourian, Saint Louis Swap Meet, The STARtorialist (where science meets fashion blog), and the Columbia Tribune.
Julianne started and is running a company, Bugeater Foods, while getting her masters in Food Science and Technology. Along with that she was awarded a phase 1 USDA SBIR grant for the company while doing masters research for her degree. She is also board member for the North American Edible Insect Coalition as a food industry adviser. Julianne has pending patents for cutting edge food products and has created a product available in the market, all done while in school.
A place where startups can gain capital, mentoring, co-working space and other resources, then emerge as standalone companies — that's the vision leaders of Wichita's Entrepreneurship Task Force have for an innovation accelerator they plan to open by the end of 2015. Founded the Wichita e2e in the last year to further this mission in measurable ways and serve as the local center of gravity for entrepreneurship.
Based in Kansas City, Firebrand Ventures is a new kind of Midwest venture fund. We combine a vast network, deep experience, and strong brand to invest in exceptional early stage entrepreneurs. We believe founders need investors who are visible, responsive, and transparent - these are key elements of our approach.
ScoreVision is an Omaha-based technology company that provides schools and sports facilities with scalable, affordable jumbotrons that enhance the game-time experience for athletes and fans. The system is powered by ScoreVision Apps built with students in mind. It can benefit a wide variety of curriculums, bridging the gap between the gymnasium and classroom. The system also supports a wide variety of alternative uses - quickly converting your gym into a multimedia presentation area.
For over 100 years, Grinnell Mutual has been a trusted source of quality insurance. Grinnell offers auto, home, farm, and business to cover whatever you need to protect. Everything we do serves a single purpose — to keep our promise to take care of our customers, agents, mutuals, and employees, no matter what tomorrow may bring.
Flyover Capital's purpose is to create the next generation of technology success stories in the Flyover region. Flyover provides exceptional entrepreneurs hard-to-find funding when they need it the most and partner with them to accelerate their path to success. Companies include Bulu Box and Eyeverify.
The Capital Innovators® startup accelerator program was created by Judy Sindecuse in 2010. After extensive research on entrepreneurship in St. Louis, Judy concluded that the region’s early stage IT companies required better access to funding and mentorship in order to flourish. St. Louis already possessed a high quality talent pool, world class universities, and an incredible roster of global corporations. By bringing these resources together, she founded the region’s first seed accelerator program, Capital Innovators. ​ Capital Innovators provides startups with the resources and connections they need to get to the next level. Through proprietary processes and techniques developed and iterated on over the fund's 5 year history, the Accelerator Program has consistently been ranked in the top 5% of programs across the country.
Tony has grown the engineering team at Flywheel almost doubling the size year over year. One of the original founders of Flywheel, Tony has created processes and collaboration between Product and Engineering, and created teams within the Engineering chapter where engineers are dedicated to customer problems. He's on a mission to inject more collaboration into the team and is always trying to continue the engineering process.
Anne came up with the idea for Helping Oats while playing Division 1 Volleyball at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Eating oatmeal with giant scoops of peanut butter three times a day, she wondered why more people weren’t able enjoy her creative, healthy snack. Anne moved to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and soon founded her gourmet oatmeal company, Helping Oats. Gaining a big local following in farmer's markets and coffee shops, Anne is now focused on bringing her oats to a larger audience with a packaged product to be sold on shelves. Anne continues to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she where she balances school work with running a business, and has served as President of the Collegiate Entrepreneur's Organization at UNL.
Jocelyn is a founder and owner of Mobile Car Tune, a technology startup and mobile mechanic service provider in the Wichita Area. She is an Entrepreneurship - Real Estate major at Wichita State University where she serves as the president of Shocker Startup and a University Innovation Fellow. She has won five entrepreneurship awards, such as the Jabara Scholarship and Don Debolt Scholarship. Jocelyn is also an intern at the WSU Center for Entrepreneurship where she assists in the planning and execution of events for several entrepreneurship programs. In the past, Jocelyn has worked as operations specialist for OxCart Products, a Wichita startup and has hosted pitch competitions, entrepreneurship speaker events, and workshops to promote entrepreneurship. Jocelyn found her passion for entrepreneurship at the age of twelve and has since then dedicated herself to that passion.
Simpson College leadership and Todd Kielkopf began working in 2011 to create a model program for a small, private college to become a destination for those seeking entrepreneurial opportunities. Initial partners included the college, a local municipal utility, and an economic development agency. An often-cited goal was to provide local economies with the opportunities, local talent, and networks to succeed in the digital economy. In his role as utility General Manger, Todd provided public-sector leadership to form the EMERGE@Simpson program ( Jerry Kelley provided leadership at both Simpson College and local economic development agency. In parallel, Todd led the deployment of the Des Moines metro's first fiber-to-the-premise network that provides Simpson College, its students, and local businesses world-class telecom services. Todd transitioned to a full-time independent consultant in 2015, now advising other communities how to establish their own local broadband networks and then leverage those investments into entrepreneurial economic development. He also works with Simpson College staff and faculty to refine the EMERGE@Simpson program, advises student entrepreneur teams, and consults for Des Moines metro ventures while coordinating that program.
Erica is the cofounder of The Startup Collaborative, a program of Greater Omaha Chamber and a nonprofit dedicated to radically improving the odds of startup success. More than 70 area startups have participated in the unique blend of incubator and accelerator program, The Collaborative has been connected to the creation of hundreds of jobs, millions in venture funding and the inspiration of thousands of current and potential entrepreneurs. She hails from Dallas where she worked with top civic leaders on pivotal public-private partnerships to change the trajectory of the city. Previously, Erica worked with a handpicked group of growth-seeking clients spanning the marketing, technology, startup and nonprofit industries.
Jared and Spencer are the founders of Vytal, a new health monitoring system designed to provide better analytics. The value of the work they’ve done on Vytal was recently recognized with a $10,000 award from the Wichita State University Jumpstart Competition. The winners were selected based on several criteria including technical merit, development stage, commercialization timeline, job growth forecast, collaboration with partners and time and money invested. In addition to Vytal, they’re developing Dino as a wearable product for students 4 to 8 years old. It introduces those kids to coding, electronics, biometrics, problem solving and creative thinking. It has already been recognized as one of the top 20 best among 700 participants in the Ozy Genius Competition. Spencer and Jared will learn in March if Dino is among the 10 winners. Jared and Spencer are also taking classes and participating in the “Shocker Startup” organization. Both are students at Wichita State University.
Proseeds is an easy, automatic, and free way to earn 5% cash back for your favorite non-profits. Simply select one or more of your favorite non-profits, securely link your existing credit/debit cards, and every time you visit one of our 130+ merchant locations, the merchant will donate 5% of your purchase to the causes you've selected. Eat, shop, play...and change the world!
Christina Oldfather is the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and NMotion. Christina works to support and build the startup community by rolling up her sleeves and jumping in to make things happen. Christina is a supporter, organizer, speaker, connector, and mentor for #StartupLNK website and newsletter, Startup Week, JumpStart Challenge, 1 Million Cups LNK, Ladies Launch Lincoln, Women+ Startup Nebraska, the Ag/Food Tech meetup, Hour of Code, the Women in Business Conference, and much more. Christina also developed the Founder’s Fund, which helps founders with acceleration/growth stage activities and is currently working to develop an expanded NMotion mentor program and programs for growth stage founder support. In addition to helping startups, Christina is a certified Jazzercise instructor and franchise owner who loves helping people achieve their fitness goals. Before her time at LPED/NMotion, Christina worked for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development helping startup companies with market validation and funding through the Prototype Grant program.
For two decades Ben has worked with startups, universities, museums, large corporations and government agencies helping them turn ideas into software. In 2006, Ben co-founded Doodlekit (, a website builder used by millions worldwide. Last year the company won the International Small Business of the Year award from the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. ( In 2011, he served as CTO of LiveOn, an app that captured photo and video memories. He drove the technical architecture from concept to launch in less than a year, ultimately receiving a nomination for a 2012 SXSW Technical Achievement Award. ( Currently Ben is working with KC tech company, Red Nova Labs, dba storEDGE architecting their new website platform, business intelligence, big data and SaaS products that serve 3,000+ self storage locations. His guidance actively shapes numerous silicon prairie companies including: FEWDM (, VideoFizz (, RFP365 (, and Top Force Distribution, Inc. When not building software Ben mentors at risk kids and KC high school students at Minddrive and in the CEED MECA Challenge, project based learning programs. He was invited to speak to students at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization national conference about web and mobile development. He ran the SpareRoom radio podcast which featured interviews with local KC entrepreneurs. He wrote the WTF “Words that Frustrate” column for Startland News, translating tech words for the layman.
Matthew Rooda grew up in Pella, Iowa, and even at a young age showed signs of being an effective leader. In 2012, Matthew Rooda graduated from Pella Christian High School and chose to attend Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa, with the University of Iowa and a medical degree in mind. A semester later he was hired on as a Farrowing Manager and Assistant Farm Manager at Schneider & Schneider Pork Farms (SSPF), a farrow to finish operation, where he made an immediate impact. In August 2014, Mr. Rooda graduated with High Honors from Hawkeye Community College, left SSPF, and transferred to the University of Iowa, with the intentions of earning a B.S. in Genetics and Biotechnology and then a Medical degree. In May 2015, Rooda founded SwineTech, Inc. and participated in the University of Iowa's Venture School program and was then recruited out of a pool of 900 companies to join the second cohort of the Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Amy Johnson is the Co-Founder of LifeLoop. Around three years ago Amy was selling group health insurance policies when her and husband came to the intersection of family and senior living. A place many people eventually arrive at but never find easy. This personal situation sparked Amy to think, “Can we make this better?” Fast-forward two years through the arduous process of working closely with owners/operators to develop a software product that helps them provide better care and service to their customers. Solving this problem quickly expanded in to building LifeLoop, an operational platform that focuses on lifestyle management and resident engagement that connects families, residents, and staff. In 2016, LifeLoop closed a round of funding, more than doubled revenue and built a strong team. LifeLoop has made an impact in a short period of time in a large market.
Pear Deck is an educational startup providing a new way for students to be engaged with their education. Similar to a traditional powerpoint presentation, Pear Deck has added an integrated system allowing students to follow and engage in the lesson being taught.
Purple Wave, the largest no-reserve Internet auction firm in the country, is transforming the way sellers reach buyers to turn assets into cash. Purple Wave specializes in liquidating equipment and vehicles through no-reserve public Internet auctions — providing the easiest and most straightforward way to buy and sell used equipment quickly and efficiently. The Purple Wave approach to auction maintains the traditional auction experience for buyers and sellers, but affords the convenience that comes with the Internet. From marketing and listing customer assets to selling and collecting payment, sellers benefit from a full-service experience. In addition, Purple Wave does not require equipment be moved from the seller’s location which saves the seller time and money.
Invest Nebraska is led by a team with over 25 combined years of experience growing early stage and lower middle market companies, including deploying over $125 million in capital and closing over 47 transactions. Invest Nebraska is committed to growing Nebraska’s economy by assisting entrepreneurs and investing capital in those companies that have growth potential. Collaboration with strategic partners, state government, communities, and postsecondary education institutions is extremely important. After all, Nebraska’s 1.8 million population (37th largest in the country) is spread out over 77,354 square miles (16th largest in the country).
As CTO & Co-Founder, Chris has had a massive role in the success of Travefy. Over the past year to year and a half, Travefy has had a slight pivot in their travel product offering and Chris has had the vision and technical expertise to make that possible.
Computer programming for the better part of 20 years, Matthew decided in 2010 that it was time to move onto new pastures. Venturing into the startup world was his first step. As an entrepreneur, he co-founded KULA Causes,, Local Ruckus, and 60secondz. As a startup ecosystem builder, he is the current Executive Director of Kansas City Startup Foundation (KCSF) and an active co-leader of the Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV). Matthew’s goals in life include becoming a startup advisor, entrepreneurial mentor, angel investor, and ultimately a professional philanthropist. His mission in life: help make the world a better place before his days are done.
Gear Supply Co. runs on the motto of “Quality guitar goods. Great prices. Honest service.”, and uniquely offers subscription guitar strings.
D3 Banking provides a digital banking platform that delivers financial services across all digital access points - laptops, smartphones, tablets, smart watches, and voice activated devices such as Alexa - to consumers and small businesses. D3's solutions are disrupting the online and mobile banking landscape replacing aging disparate products empowering consumers and small businesses to control all aspects of their finances anywhere, anytime. Since introducing its solution two years ago, more than 2 million people have been brought live on D3 Banking solutions.
Keith took Blabfeed from a UNO business plan competition (just four years ago!) to a successful exit. Keith Fix has demonstrated vision, grit and an extreme bias toward high growth throughout the journey of Blabfeed. His work to expand the company's customer base from local, to regional and most recently a global footprint is impressive, to say the least. His vision for the company to accelerate his native tribe's economic endeavors and vibrancy through workforce development programs, code schools and even micro-loans to aspiring entrepreneurs is the definition of social impact.
EyeVerify Inc. is the creator of Eyeprint ID™ – transforming a picture of your eye into a key that protects your digital life. Eyeprint ID is a highly accurate biometric technology for smart devices that delivers a password-free mobile experience with convenient, secure, private authentication. This patented solution uses the existing cameras on mobile devices to image and pattern match the blood vessels in the whites of the eye and other micro features in and around the eye. EyeVerify, headquartered in Kansas City, MO, USA, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ant Financial Services Group, also known as Zhejiang Ant Small and Micro Financial Services Group Co., Ltd., a Chinese company. With the vision “to turn trust into wealth”, Ant Financial Services Group is dedicated to building a leading data and technology platform to make financial services accessible to consumers and small businesses globally
Swizzle was born in Seoul, South Korea as an entertainment app company, but has evolved to be so much more. Over the last few years, Swizzle has developed technology to help companies all over the world understand their customers better, and now we share that technology with researchers everywhere. Swizzle Apps monitors your app store reviews, gives you daily reports, and tells you right away when something is wrong.
Gazella leveraged is Straight Shot graduate providing a variety of services to companies looking to improve their social media and those interested in turning their wifi into a automated marketing tool. Gazella has seen rapid growth and success.
Engelmann, founder and executive director of the New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative — known as NewBoCo — has become an advocate for entrepreneurialism throughout the Corridor. Engelmann is one of the driving forces behind the Vault Coworking & Collaboration Space, one of about 17 co-working spaces in Iowa that acts as an incubator for entrepreneurs and startup businesses.
Great technologists not only build awesome software, but are also visionaries and leaders who aren’t afraid to take a leap into the unknown. Formerly VP, Technology for the predictive analytics startup Intent Media in NYC, Geoff built a robust career as a software developer with an emphasis on implementation. In Sioux City, Geoff leveraged his coding skills to solve real business problems. From one of these projects came, a fast-growing SaaS construction disbursements platform that launched beta in April 2016. As co-founder and first engineer, Geoff developed technology himself, driving innovation in technology that builds direct integrations to lenders. He built a modern API around the arcane ACH process. In developing a world-class, comprehensive payments platform, Geoff is implementing serverless architecture and pioneering advanced technologies like natural language processing and machine learning in construction software. In addition to building and launching, Geoff is active in the local Sioux City small business and entrepreneurship community. He and his wife led a local class for Harvard’s CS50: Intro to Computer Science curriculum. Geoff mentored a group of high school and college students to a win in Sioux City’s Startup Weekend competition. Geoff is a vocal advocate and frequent presenter on the role of technology and innovation in Sioux City. Reaching beyond Sioux City, Geoff established the Silicon Prairie Tech group on Slack to connect technologists across the Midwest.
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