Prairie Portraits is a weekly set of questions intended to help the community get to know someone from the Silicon Prairie startup scene a little bit better. Prairie Portraits feature a fixed set of questions ranging from career background and personal perferences to, perhaps, off-the-wall questions on YouTube videos and entrance music.
Name: Erik Wullschleger
Title/Occupation: General manager of the Sprint Accelerator
Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska
Current city: Kansas City, Missouri
Title of my autobiography: “Made in Nebraska: Kool-Aid, The Reuben, Strobe Lights and Erik Wullschleger”
Thing I can’t live without: My wife Stacey… I would be living under a bridge if it wasn’t for her.
Drink of choice: I flip-flop between Bourbon and craft beer
Last book I read: “The Pirate Inside” by Adam Morgan
Ultimate road trip snack: Munchies (you know, that all-in-one mind-blowing snack mix)
Entrance song if I was a wrestler: “Omaha Stylee” by 311
Celebrity doppelgänger: For some reason, Jason Grill thinks I look like Johnny Knoxville.
Guilty pleasure band and/or film: If I accidentally catch Beverly Hills Cop on TV I have to watch it in its entirety (only 1 or 2… 3 was just ok).
Chosen career in an alternate reality: Ski patrol… or my cat, he seems to have life figured out.
Worst OCD tendency: Checking my phone at the sound of any notification—even when it wasn’t a notification on my phone (you know you do that too).
Quote I might have said: “Process is for people who want to repeat past success in an environment that is exactly the same as the last time. Chances are it’s time to break something.”
Which actor or actress, and why: Justin Timberlake… I don’t need to explain that one.
Favorite YouTube video: The Footloose vs. Hot Rod punch dancing scene. Best movie ever… this is just one small reason why.
Best place in Kansas City no one knows about: Blue River Road south of 435. Awesome on a motorcycle and some great mountain biking trails!
Kansas City’s obligatory tourist stop: WWI Museum and the Roasterie/Boulevard tours. You can do all three in one day if you’re good.
One thing Kansas City has that other Silicon Prairie cities don’t: The Mutual Musician’s Foundation and Cyprus Avenue/The Fish Fry on KCUR
Best thing going for Kansas City’s startup community: Our neighborly culture. We need to double down on that and embrace it!
Last local restaurant I ate at: Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop—it’s way too close to our building.
Best meal I’ve had in Kansas City: Mole enchiladas at El Patron on Southwest Blvd. I can’t get anything else there.
Kansas City would be better if… more people walked or biked to places.
The Startup Scene
Social media pet peeve: I don’t get Snapchat and the people who “say they do” can’t explain it to me. Should I be scared about that?
App I’m obsessed with: I love Untappd.
Silicon Prairie startup crush: I’m excited to see what Christian Fisher and crew do with the recent momentum around Briefcase.
Most comfortable startup T-shirt I own: I do like my Big Kansas City shirt, but still looking for a favorite if anyone wants to drop one by….
Something most people don’t know about me: In third grade I was the founder of a product called the “Recycle Buddy” that helped citizens sort recyclables for Omaha’s brand-new curbside program. The product was manufactured locally and distributed through local retailers.
Entrepreneur I most want to grab a drink with: I would love to sit down with John McDonald and crack open a few of our favorites together.
I do what I do because… I see so much opportunity in opening up the resources of a large corporation to resourceful people. Entrepreneurial thinking isn’t something reserved for two people in a garage, it’s a way of doing business and I want everyone in this region to be more entrepreneurial, regardless of their position.
Before I was in startups… I’m not your traditional “startup guy.” I grew up an entrepreneur but as a junior in college started selling phones at a Sprint Store (the same week the very first camera phone hit the market). While I’ve been “corporate” for seven years, my passion for starting stuff has always followed me through roles in field sales, product development and marketing.
If money wasn’t an object, my next company would be… a language immersion K-12 school that immersed students in technical languages (think Academie Lafayette meets Treehouse).
The Silicon Prairie startup scene is missing… creative, cultural and entrepreneurial density. But we’re working on it!
In five years, I’ll… be running my own company in America’s most entrepreneurial city!
In five years, the Silicon Prairie… will be a collaborative ecosystem of cities that each have a unique entrepreneurial identity.
Credits: Photos courtesy of Erik Wullschleger.