Startup Week kicks off in Lincoln
Lincoln’s entrepreneurs will get advice, opportunities and inspiration next week at a number of Lincoln Startup Week events.
Plans for the week originated when Matt Sherman, co-founder and president of Three Pillars Media, sent an email to local business professionals, looking for a way to expand Lincoln’s startup community.
“We have a ton of new startups and a ton of young tech companies that are killing it, and many times they all get overlooked,” Sherman said. “These amazing companies are also hiring a ton of developers and are really needing a lot of talent to move to the area to fill these positions.”
Jason Ball, director of business development at Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, said he’s excited to see a solid turnout for Startup Week.
“It just grew from a great group of people coming together,” Ball said. “It involves organizations from all over the city with a number of different missions, kind of moving in the same direction. I’m hoping that the startup community ends up wanting to participate and enjoy the events.”
Startup Week kicks off with Startup Weekend at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Avery Hall, Friday through Sunday. This event gives aspiring entrepreneurs a chance to develop their startup ideas, potentially leaving with successful new business proposals.
“Everybody that participates walks away with a new appreciation for what can be done with focused energy,” lead coordinator Amanda Thonen said.
The Startup Week opening party at 5:30 p.m. Monday will offer a social mixer for entrepreneurs and community members. Attendees will get a chance to mingle with business professionals, share ideas and make connections while sampling craft beers from Blue Blood Brewing. Professionals from Lincoln Chrome, NUtech Ventures, Fuse Coworking and Hurrdat Social Media will also give short presentations to teach attendees about business and inspire change.
“Anytime you get a room full of smart people together, you make connections and share ideas,” said Todd Long, co-founder of The Big Plate. “That’s our ultimate goal to have that happen.”
A quick pitch competition begins Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Invest Nebraska, the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and PitchBurner all partnered to allow up to seven groups to present their business ideas. Several of these groups will have already participated in Startup Weekend.
“It’s always interesting to see who comes out for that type of a competition,” Ball said. “I think there are some ideas bubbling up that people are willing to flesh out and discuss.”
The winner of the competition will earn $1,000 in cash to get his or her idea off the ground. Applications are due by midnight Sunday.
The next event is Office Hours, from 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Fuse Coworking, located above the Mill coffee shop at 800 P. St., will host the event. Aspiring entrepreneurs will have a chance to talk one-on-one with professional bankers, accountants, business coaches, lawyers and investors.
Bart Dillashaw of Scudder Law Firm encourages participants to ask for advice in this informal environment.
“Sometimes with startups, people have all these questions and feel like they can’t get answers,” Dillashaw said. “That’s not the case. There’s a growing group of people who really are targeting this market and really want to help out new businesses.”
The Tech Crawl will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, with a large number of businesses opening their doors downtown or being located at Fuse Coworking. Rod Armstrong, vice president of strategic partnerships at the AIM Institute, said this event is meant to highlight the number of growing technology startups in Lincoln. Nearly 30 companies will participate in the Tech Crawl, he said.
“We’re primarily marketing to students because they’re not aware of the wealth of opportunities that exist in Lincoln around technology-based companies,” Armstrong said. “I’m learning about companies I’ve never heard of that are starting up and growing. It’s good for students looking for internships and job opportunities.”
A closing party will be held at Red9 from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday. There will be catered food and a chance for business professionals and entrepreneurs to wind down after a busy week.
For more information on Lincoln Startup Week festivities, please visit http://www.lincolnstartupweek.com/.