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Founders and investors share what they’re thankful for this Thanksgiving

The 18 founders and investors who shared what they’re thankful for with us. Individual photo credits below.

On Monday, we asked more than 20 founders and investors running companies based in the Silicon Prairie a short but open question: What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday? We encouraged a succinct answer with a list of three things.

By Wednesday evening, we had received 18 contributions, ranging from the health of loved ones to a higher Klout than a colleague. In all, they provide a bit more insight into the risks taken on by entrepreneurs and investors and the community of support that surrounds them. We hope you enjoy this special holiday post.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The question:

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday?


Here’s what they had to say:


Emma Peterson

Tikly (Des Moines)

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the friends and family members who make up my incredible network of support. Without their love, guidance, and willingness to dream big, I have no idea where I would be today. I am also quite thankful for Apple products and great music—what would I do without these? I don’t want to know. :]

(Photo courtesy of Peterson)



Joe Petsick

Proxibid (Omaha)

I am thankful for learning soon enough, that the key to success as an entrepreneur – may actually have the least to do with you, but instead in surrounding yourself with good people and getting out of their way. I am thankful for being so lucky to have such great support from family and friends, that it made it possible for me to be a part of building a business in which we were able to solve a problem.

(Photo from facebook.com)


Jonathan Sharp

appendTo (Evergreen, Colorado-based, Omaha office)

I’m most thankful for a committed wife and daughter who have supported me over the last 3.5 years since leaving the traditional job behind. There have been seasons of depression, despair and frustration that comes along with the territory and my family has pushed me onward into seasons of joy and thanksgiving. It’s because of them I’m being shaped into the individual that I am.

(Photo courtesy of Sharp)





Willis Jackson

ShownHome (Kansas City)

I am thankful for the people in my community that believe in me. This is tough, and sometimes it is painful too. But having so many people pulling for me and lending a hand here and there, with this and that, it really makes a difference. It makes me want to succeed and make them proud.

(Photo by Malone & Company / Big Omaha)




Michael Ferrari

SmartyPig (Des Moines)

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for the continued health of my father. Over a year ago, cancer rocked our family for the first time and it has certainly changed how I look at life, at what’s important in life and how fragile life can be. Life gets hectic. Crazy. Stressful. Cancer put things into perspective. Take time to sit back and enjoy the present. Take time out to listen. Take time out to play. Enjoy the people around you. Cheers…

(Photo courtesy of Ferrari)




Wade Arnold

T8 Webware (Cedar Falls, Iowa)

I am thankful to be surrounded by an entrepreneurial culture that posses a deep passion for their trade and respect for one another.

(Photo from twitter.com)




Erin Ginkens

Entrepreneurial Technologies (Des Moines)

I’m thankful for this community where we have so much drive and talent, mentors give freely of their time and expertise, and the momentum is building daily. Most of all, I’m thankful for the opportunity to do something that inspires me.

(Photo courtesy of Ginkens)



Nick Bowden

MindMixer (Omaha)

1. First and foremost, I am thankful for an incredible wife that understands the demands of a startup.

2. Thankful for the best work family on the planet. As much time as we spend together, you better have a team that works hard and likes each other.

3. Quite possibly most important, I am thankful for a higher Klout score than Dundee Venture Capital.

(Photo from mindmixer.com)


Collin Caneva

Green Bein’ (Lincoln, Neb.)

I am not only thankful for my family, but for how large my family actually is ~ For me, it’s not only the immediate members of my family; but my family at work, our family of investors, and the family that makes up my entire network.  All of these arms of my family are made up of individuals that humble me on a daily basis ~ For that, I am thankful beyond comprehension.

(Photo from twitter.com)


Tej Dhawan

Pikuzone (Des Moines)

The past year’s induction into the Des Moines Startup community is the most unexpected turnaround in my life and I‘m grateful for friends who give selflessly to furthering entrepreneurship in the Silicon Prairie. Mentors, Politicians, Business Leaders, Professors and startups are engaged in sharing, supporting, teaching and growing. What an awesome community of a couple hundred renegades shaking up this staid culture. The birthplace of the Computer is abuzz with something big. Thankful to participate.

(Photo from twitter.com)


Ben Milne

Dwolla (Des Moines)

My team. My girlfriend. Airplanes. Apple Computer. Vegetables. Soy Lattes. The internet. Pandora. Netflix. Skype. Opportunity.

If my life was missing any one of these things, I’d be lost at this point in my life.*

(Photo by Anna Jones | Art of Photography)



Andy Lynn

Kickanotch (Kansas City)

I am thankful for the support out of the Midwest …. it’s been unreal. I am thankful for our team, internal and external … we have been given the opportunity of a lifetime that has been adopted by so many believers … including our angels and investors, but also advisors, mentors, clients, advertisers, staff and supporters.

We are so thankful to God, friends, family, faith, and our American way to even be given the opportunity to live in a country that allows us to work hard, dream, and succeed if you do what is right. For us that is delivering a solution that our clients need … have not understood or been given a solution that suits their best needs. It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity to offer something that everyone wins … it doesn’t come often and our time is now. 

Lastly, I want to thank our clients … Mike Carter as well … we would not be here without the CBG team allowing us to understand what the market needs … not just what we think they need. All  of our clients that have enabled partnership, through media … and mobile together offering their brand and advertising the best ROI not seen in a decade. 

It isn’t just Kickanotch … it takes everyone to be a leader in the marketplace.

For that and all those people and brands I am thankful.

(Photo from kickanotch.com)


Julie Mahloch

Bloom.com (Omaha)

I am thankful for my team at Bloom.com. Being a part of a start-up is a wild ride…and not for the faint of heart. My team at Bloom.com is amazing – they are believers and achievers … that’s the kind of people it takes to create something great!

(Photo courtesy of Mahloch)



David Graff

Hudl (Lincoln)

Our awesome team. We’ve asked a lot of our crew this year – we set aggressive goals for our product and our growth and threw in the bonus challenge of acquiring our biggest competitor four weeks before football season (our busiest time). Everyone here delivered in a big way, and I am very thankful for the extra effort and sacrifices everyone and their families made to help make this season so successful.

(Photo courtesy of Graff)


Jimmy Winter

VoterTide (Omaha)

I’m thankful for my family, friends and everyone who’s supported me through the years. I am thankful for getting this e-mail in 1 minute before the deadline. I am thankful my health hasn’t deteriorated as much as it rightfully should have. I am thankful for Danny Schreiber.

(Photo from votertide.com)



Mark Hasebroock

Dundee Venture Captial (Omaha)

Thankful for my health and my family and the energy I get from working with some amazingly talented, visionary and fun people.

(Photo from dundeeventurecapital.com)





Patrick Smith

Nebraska Global (Lincoln, Neb.)

I’m thankful for people closest to me and people I don’t know. My wife and kids shape who I am and are the enjoyment in my life. My kids continue to teach me much needed patience, I am thankful for their never ending love and enthusiasm. I am also thankful for those willing to take up arms and stand a post in a far off land whenever asked. We all should be thankful for people who say yes when others do not.

(Photo from nebraskaglobal.com)


Jay Wilkinson

Nebraska Angels (Lincoln, Neb.)

Having spent time in Africa last summer, I’m thankful that I was born in the United States. Far too many of us don’t realize we were born with a head-start.

(Photo from twitter.com)





And… Silicon Prairie News

We each contributed one thing we’re thankful for this holiday:

Jeff Slobotski – I am thankful for my family’s love and inspiration to do what I do each day.

Dusty Davidson – I’m thankful for the wonderful people in my life – those that inspire me, those that challenge me, those that teach me and those that make me happy. And, for Diet Mt. Dew.

Geoff Wood – A year ago, we took a big risk in hopes of taking Silicon Prairie News to the next level, so far it’s working out and I’m thankful for the startups, sponsors and our staff who’ve made it so. 

Brittany Mascio – Those Silicon Prairie News Fellas: I’m grateful to spend my first year in my career with such an incredibly passionate and zealous team that challenges me and gives me a reason to laugh hysterically nearly every day.

Michael Stacy – I’m thankful for my family and friends, without whom I’d experience all else in a vacuum; they make the bad bearable and good great. Also, I’m thankful for rapgenius.com. It helps me get “big props” from all my “homeskillets” for my “mad cred” in the “rap game.”**

Danny Schreiber (that’s me!) – I’m thankful for the constant support of my parents in my entrepreneurial career, which includes the “OK” to skip out on some Thanksgiving cooking to write this post.

**Update Nov. 25 at 12:15 p.m: New entry added.

*Update Nov. 25 at 2:40 p.m.: Slightly edited quote per Milne’s request.

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