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Q&A with Year of the Startup founder Sabastian Hunt

Sabastian Hunt is the founder of Year of the Startup. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. After considering a master’s degree, Hunt began mulling a startup concept that eventually became Year of the Startup.

The Omaha native has an interest in nonprofits and marginalized communities. Below is Hunt’s paraphrased conversation with Nebraska Entrepreneurship, in which Hunt shares his vision for Year of the Startup.

What is Year of the Startup?

Year of the Startup is an entrepreneurial residency program. The goal is to get around the financial hurdles of starting a business. It emphasizes communal living by placing entrepreneurs in a house during the year-long program. Entrepreneurs pay a monthly fee to live in the house, and at the end of the year-long program Year of the Startup returns that money to each entrepreneur. It’s a way to help startups save money while working on their startup idea in a collaborative environment.

How did Year of the Startup come about?

The idea came about in 2013 after doing research and talking with people in Omaha about what the entrepreneurial community needed. The general consensus was that there’s a need for a place for entrepreneurs to live and learn at the same time. We thought that by creating a space for entrepreneurs to live and work on their startup ideas, while keeping their day jobs, we could spur more ideas that will benefit the whole community.

How is it different than an accelerator?

Contrary to a typical accelerator, where there’s a high profit margin and rapid growth requirement, the Year of the Startup program isn’t as strict on the return on investment stipulations. The end goal is to determine the needs in Omaha and meet those needs through the ideas of individuals in the program.

What takes place during the year-long program?

The first class of entrepreneurs will move into the house in early September. After that, they’ll begin plugging into the current entrepreneurial ecosystem by going to events, talks and meetups. I’ve been in touch with local organizers who are active in the startup community and I’m working on securing partnerships and mentorships for the program participants.

What kind of entrepreneurial training do participants receive?

We’ll be equipping participants with the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program curriculum, created by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Additionally, participants will be filling out business model canvasses, meeting with mentors and building a strong network in the Omaha community.

How do you hope this will benefit both the community and local entrepreneurs?

The overall goal is to enhance economic activity to better the community. I’ve heard so many great business ideas from individuals, but they don’t have a space or the support to make these ideas into anything more.

How do you apply and when does this start?

Year of the Startup  began taking applications on April 17. Those wanting to apply can do so on the Year of the Startup website.

We really emphasize that having the characteristics of an entrepreneur are more important that having a well-defined plan for a business. The board of directors will choose four to six entrepreneurs to participate in the program.