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Vote Angell, Metz, Neri or Weber for Startup Technologist of the Year

Though each works on a different project – from a payments network to a mobile app creation studio – the four finalists for this Silicon Prairie Award share one thing in common: playing a pivotal role in a startup’s progress the past year.

At our inaugural Silicon Prairie Awards event on Aug. 30, one these four finalists will be recognized as Startup Technologist of the Year. In anticipation of that celebration, we’re providing overviews of the four contenders for each of our 12 Silicon Prairie Awards. The finalists — 48 in all — are the result of public nominations in July and input from our selection committee earlier this month.

A public vote will help determine the winners of the awards, so cast your ballot for the Startup Technologist of the Year below, or visit the awards page to vote on all 12 categories.

Join us for the Silicon Prairie Awards: We have a fun night of community celebration planned for Aug. 30 at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha. Tickets still remain for the event, which includes an opening reception, keynote talk by TechStars founder and CEO David Cohen, awards ceremony and a closing party. Purchase your tickets today.

Meet the finalists

The Startup Technologist of the Year is a team member, freelancer or consultant that made a significant contribution toward development of a startup’s product. (Contributed to startup product active between July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012.) (Descriptions provided by respective technologist.)

Matt Angell, RareWire (Kansas City, Mo.)

Matt Angell is the co-founder and CTO of RareWire, the maker of the App Creation Studio. Angell leads all technology development at the startup.

Words from a colleague: “Matt is a co-founder of RareWire, invented the idea, architected it, built it, hired the rockstar staff that continues to build it, etc. … Every company has their own technology star that they think is the best. I believe all of those guys, once they meet him, walk away thinking ‘that guy is impressive.’ He is a unique combination of being one of the most talented programmers/software designers in the country, mixed with no ego.” – Kirk Hasenzahl, Rarewire co-founder and president

More: Angell on LinkedIn and on SPN

Ben Metz, Banno (Cedar Falls, Iowa)

Ben Metz is the lead product engineer across Banno‘s emerging product lines. Banno is the maker of Grip, a financial decision support tool.

Words from a colleague: “Ben has created a culture of continued learning, peer mentoring, and product execution from no employees on his team to over 40 in 24 months. … Ben is a product person at heart. With no formal secondary education, he is a world class, self-taught functional programming and distributed system software engineer that has learned the trade simply to make the user experience of mobile banking better.” – Wade Arnold, Banno founder and CEO

More: Metz on LinkedIn and on SPN

Rodrigo Neri, Instin (Kansas City, Mo.)

Rodrigo Neri is the co-founder of Instin, the maker of myHomework app and Teachers.io. He’s responsible for the startup’s iOS development, front-end web development, user interface design, user experience and branding.

Words from a colleague: “The developer of the No. 1 school planner in the App Store, myHomework, Rodrigo Neri recently made the top of Hacker News by open sourcing Syte, a personal online presence aggregator. In May, Rigo left his lead web developer position at Cerner to work full time on education-related products for his startup, Instin, LLC, where he’s already launched a new website for teachers: Teachers.io.” – Keith Entzeroth, Instin co-founder

More: Neri website, on LinkedIn and on SPN

Brandon Weber, Dwolla (Des Moines)

Brandon Weber is a software engineer at Dwolla, a payments startup. In his role, Weber has built or helped build every product Dwolla has released since he started in early 2011, including Proxi, Instant and FiSync.

Words from a colleague: “The last year was a critical time for Dwolla, and Brandon joined our engineering team when it was a only three people. He’s got this amazing passion and care for technology that has been apparent since day one.” – Ben Milne, Dwolla founder and CEO

More: Weber on LinkedIn and on SPN



Credits: Headshots of Metz, Neri and Weber courtesy of finalists. Headshot of Angell by Annie Sorensen.

Thanks to sponsors that are making this inaugural event a reality: Bellevue University, Hudl, Centennial BankLightbank, West Corporation, Koley – JessenGreater Omaha Chamber of CommerceVerizon WirelessUniversity of Nebraska and our Startup Alley participantsTo learn about more opportunities, contact geoff@siliconprairienews.com.

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