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.
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.
Collin is extremely active in the Omaha Startup community, the Startup Collaborative, and many other organizations throughout the community. Last semester, Collin was the President of UNO’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization where he led 75+ students on a weekly basis helping them connect with local entrepreneurs and startups. Collin shows up; he enjoys networking and learning all he can from consistently attending events throughout the community. Following through with his eagerness to learn more about the startup community, he began his career with Sojern, getting started in sales. He advanced on to Flywheel where he is now learning a new market and growing his knowledge of sales and marketing full-time. He is over-the-top energetic and continuously has great ideas. He is one of the few young people who works toward his goals. This brought him to The Startup Collaborative where he’s now working on his latest venture, GoNow. GoNow is a mobile app that connects travelers within the same community based on their trip preferences. He’s also working on SoberBros, a ride-sharing service for college students; Omaha SOUP, a community dinner, pitch competition; as well as singing various National Anthems nationwide and writing his first EP. Collin is passionate and loyal in promoting the products and the people he believes in. I have no doubt Collin will succeed in any venture he focuses on, whether for his own or another startup.
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.
Mycroft is the world’s first open source voice assistant. It can run anywhere – on a desktop computer, inside an automobile, it even runs on a Raspberry Pi. It is open so it can be remixed, extended, improved. It can be used in anything from a science project to an enterprise software application.
Flywheel started in 2012 with a simple mission - to improve the lives of the millions of web designers & developers worldwide that build sites on the WordPress platform. In 2016, Flywheel raise a $4mm Series A financing, added almost 50 people to the team to bring total team size to 75, expanded their downtown Omaha office, purchased a company (Pressmatic), and continued to make waves in Omaha and around the world as the leading platform for designers and agency building websites with WordPress.
Bulu Box has seen over 300% revenue growth from 2014 to 2017. They're also going to see over 700% increase in boxes shipped from the year before (over 2 million sample boxes). To do this they've added a 20,000 square foot Warehouse to their warehouse space. Bulu Box is the first health, nutrition and weight loss discovery box designed to help you feel your best. Each month, you’ll get a box curated with a new mix of 4-5 premium samples from top brands to try. Every sample is sufficient enough to decide if the product is right for you. Of course, shipping is always free and you can cancel anytime. Bulu Box has also brought dozens of examples of prestigious press coverage to the Silicon Prairie through company profiles by CBS News, Inc. Magazine, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post.
Gear Supply Co. runs on the motto of “Quality guitar goods. Great prices. Honest service.”, and uniquely offers subscription guitar strings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, with other offices around the United States and Canada, Mutual of Omaha employ more than 2,250 associates who serve customers throughout the education life cycle. Mutual of Omaha has invested in many local companies over the years.
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.
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
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.
As founder and CEO of two mobile ventures, his deep expertise in imaging, sensors and mobility gives him early insight into the trends and technologies impacting consumers and the enterprise. Prior to his two startups, EyeVerify and Rush Tracking Systems, Toby led the product development & QA for SAT Corp, a venture funded mobile software company. Toby also started and led the MobilEdge practice group for BSI consulting. He started his career with Accenture deploying SAP enterprise systems.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
BPC's mission is to be Wichita and Garden City’s concrete subcontractor of choice, by delivering high-quality craftsmanship that exceeds our customers’ expectations and builds lasting relationships through exceptional workmanship by every member of the construction team, at a profitable margin. In 2016, BPC created GroundWork ( a co-working space meant to attract and retain Wichita's top entrepreneurial talent. As startups within GroundWork achieved success, they also led to BPC's development of a virtual construction division called Grit. Grit provides Building Information Modeling authoring and coordination services as well as Virtual iMmersion eXperiences, a virtual reality tool for owners and operators to live digitally inside their new space months before construction begins.
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.
We're an app that puts a pickup truck at your fingertips to help move, haul & deliver your stuff around town. We’ve been compared to popular ridesharing apps but instead of moving people, we move people’s stuff. Check out this video:
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.
Preston is a rare breed.... not just in terms of technical chops. He's able to see the future and code accordingly. From June through the end of 2017, Preston went heads down on Avert. He took what was a medical prototype developed to detect concussions amongst athletes. The first part of 2017 has proven to be his next evolution. And, possibly the startup that really hits! Preston has found a way to bring the value of google analytics to the brick and mortar experience through Retail Aware.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Founded in 2006, Mid-America Angels (“MAA”) is a regional network of accredited investors dedicated to identifying and funding the most promising early stage companies in the Midwest. The MAA network funds deals in the investment range of $250,000 to $1,500,000. MAA typically participates in seed, Series A and Series B rounds. Depending on the size of the capital raise, MAA can either lead the round or be part of the investment syndicate. The MAA network provides the structure to aggregate the knowledge, experience, and investment capital of its membership. This approach provides an effective and efficient process both for investors to evaluate opportunities and for entrepreneurs who are seeking funding.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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