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Culture of risk in Omaha


Yesterday, Gabe Kangas (@gabek) officially gave notice that he’s leaving his job and will be pursuing other opportunities. For a bit of context, its probably worth reading his entire writeup on his blog.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge deal — people leave their jobs all the time. However, this one is different for me. Why? Because the display of support for Gabe’s decision to me is an indicator that the needle is starting to move with regards to “risk taking” in the region. Let me explain…

We spend a LOT of time talking about “how to build a culture of risk taking.” In fact, if we look all the way back to things that Sarah Lacy said well over a year ago, it’s a critical component:

Every center of innovation needs a cocktail of things:

  • wild, almost naive ambition
  • money
  • a culture of risk taking
  • a social scene where Valley-like serendipitous moments can happen. (You know, stuff like: Oh, hey! I haven’t seen you in forever! You’re starting a company? OMG I know an angel investor who’s really into that space! etc)
  • big companies techies can spin off from
  • universities

Anyone from Omaha or the Midwest would undoubtedly agree that we’re not exactly a culture that actively embraces risk-taking of any degree. As we at Silicon Prairie News look at how we can best influence and affect change in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the idea of shifting this mindset is right at the forefront. Our core premise of promoting and highlighting the area’s success stories and great individuals serves as a means to show people that there are others out there like them — that they CAN do their own thing — they CAN be successful.

I’m blown away by the overwhelmingly positive words of praise and encouragement that people are sending Gabe’s way

KT — “excited for you to push your skills and potential to the limit. you shouldn’t be scared, you’re awesome and my favorite.”

Eric Downs — “I know you will do great! I quit my full time job 1 year ago to run DownsDesign full time and was in the exact same position. Funny thing about Omaha is it has a way of helping its peeps out.”

SkidVis — “You are a man of unlimited potential. You will not fail. At worst, you’ll experience. Congratulations on leaving the pack.”

The list goes on and on… This visible display of support for such a “risky” thing is EXACTLY what builds strong entrepreneurial ecosystems. So again, kudos to Gabe, you know you have a strong community of people backing you. And congrats to Omaha, I think tides are starting to change, and I’m more excited than ever for the potential.

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