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Dusty Davidson: A new role for me and a bigger vision for SPN in 2012

Hello again. It’s been some time since I’ve contributed to our blog – nearly five months, actually – but I’m looking forward to getting back into the rotation and to kick it off today I have exciting news about my involvement with Silicon Prairie News and another Omaha startup.

During this time of year, when I get together with friends and family, they often ask me what it is that I actually do. It’s a good question, I suppose, as I have multiple titles and wear many hats. Over the past nearly five years that I’ve been involved in the startup world, one could break down “what I do” into three major buckets:

  1. Co-founder and CEO of Brightmix, a software development consultancy
  2. Co-founder and CEO of Silicon Prairie News (SPN), the organization that brings you the post you are currently reading and events, such as Big Omaha, Thinc Iowa and Meetups
  3. Co-founder and VP of Marketing & Product of Tripleseat, a software company that sells a web application to help restaurants and hotels book their event spaces

Recently (for about the past year), most of my focus has been on No. 3, as Brightmix doesn’t do consulting work anymore and Silicon Prairie News has been rocking along thanks to the efforts of our amazing team.

First, moving on

The time has come for me to step down from my day-to-day operational role at Tripleseat, the software company that I helped start more than four years ago. It’s really hard for me to believe that it has been that long, during which time we’ve grown by leaps and bounds, worked with some amazing customers, and hit some major milestones. I’m incredibly proud of the team we assembled in Omaha to do product development, and the folks in New York City and Boston to handle sales, marketing and support. Together, we built a product that not only looks great, but makes our customers extremely happy. Never is it more evident than during the busy holiday season, and it’s rewarding to hear from our customers firsthand just how much of an impact we make.

Personally and professionally, I’ve learned more at Tripleseat in the last year than I’ve learned in my entire “career” as an entrepreneur – the high point being the money we raised at the end of last year. Though I fully realize that raising money is a means not an end, it’s an incredibly humbling thing to have an outside organization place its trust, faith and belief in you enough to write you a check. I’ve never learned more as an entrepreneur than going through that process and in the time that followed.

So for Tripleseat, the groundwork has been laid and it’s time for me to move on. I’ll still be involved at the board level and in an advisory role, but operationally I leave it in the capable hands of my partners and our amazing team of developers, salespeople and more. You’ll see great things from Tripleseat in the future, I guarantee it.

So, what now?

First and foremost, Silicon Prairie News (the organization) is making big plans for 2012, which includes adding more people, more events and more great coverage of the startup community across the Silicon Prairie. Doing this requires strong cultural and strategic leadership, and this will be a big part of my focus. We have an amazing team of folks (and we’re looking for more) and we’re in a great position to accomplish our lofty goals. Rest assured we’re in this for the long haul and I’ll be right in stride, helping to shape and guide the company as we grow.

Software is my passion though, as I believe at my core I’m a geek and a product guy. I’ve also never been one to have just one iron in the fire. As such, I’m excited to say that I’ve joined forces with my good friend John Grange as a partner and co-founder of Layered Innovations, which will be developing and assembling cutting edge software tools for marketing professionals. We’re just on the very tip of things, with many details yet to be unveiled. However in a short amount of time, we already have some great investors and partners in place, and I’m very excited to start pouring fuel on the fire. You can check out our initial splash page at layeredi.com, and stay tuned for many more exciting announcements on that front in the coming weeks and months.

Looking forward

It has been an amazing ride over the past nearly five years, taking us through some pretty exciting experiences. It’s strange to think back to when we first started Brightmix, the “startup community” barely existed in the region, and it’s crazy to think what things will look like in another five years.

And so, this is my new direction. In many ways it’s a renewed focus on what’s already in front of me (Silicon Prairie News), and in many ways it’s a fresh start. I couldn’t be more excited for either. Thanks to all that helped me along the way, I wouldn’t be here without it.

Photo Credit: Photo of Davidson by Malone & Company.