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10 people to grab coffee with if you’re new to Lincoln’s startup community

Lincoln Coffee List

While the Silicon Prairie may span several states, include vastly different types of companies and entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds (and football rivalries), supportive communities are one factor that ties them all together. Whether you’re in Omaha or Des Moines, Kansas City or Cedar Rapids, you’ll find people who really care about helping their fellow entrepreneurs thrive.

That being said, it can still be intimidating to be the new kid on the block. So we wanted to help.

This week, we’ll be sharing lists of the 10 people from each community who are go-to points of contact who can help a new entrepreneur, designer or developer get connected with the local scene. Thanks to everyone who helped us pull it together. There are many, many others worth connecting with—drop them in the comments—but you have to start somewhere.

Today we’re kicking things off with our Lincoln list, a collection of founders, investors and doers who will help you get connected in the Huskers’ home city. Want to get connected? Shoot them a tweet, give them a wave or buy them a coffee the next time you see them at their favorite hangout.

We asked each community member to tell us a bit about themselves, what they’re passionate about and where you can find them. 

 Brian Ardinger

Brian Ardinger

Managing director at NMotion accelerator 

Twitter: @Ardinger

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I wear a variety of hats, including managing director for the startup accelerator NMotion, entrepreneur in residence for NUtech Ventures and co-founder of The Big Plate blog. I’m passionate about lean startup, customer development, marketing, research and the power of a good customer experience.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I love meeting interesting, smart, passionate people and connecting those folks to other interesting, smart and passionate people. I especially like when these connections and networks add to the collaboration between cities and the region.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

The center of Lincoln’s startup scene is in the Haymarket, so I tend to float around there. NMotion’s office is at FUSE Coworking, but if I’m out and about you can check out the Catalyst space in Lincoln’s Railyard, Nebraska Innovation Campus or Turbine Flats. If all else fails, stop by Open Coffee every Thursday morning at Crescent Moon Coffee.

 David Chait

David Chait

Co-founder of Travefy

Twitter: @DonnerChait

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I’m addicted to problem solving! Whether it’s a squeaky chair or the group travel industry, I love a good challenge and working with like-minded people.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I have a huge amount of respect for both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, and love to connect with others who see a problem and try to solve it. We all have so much to learn from one another, so I am always looking to meet new connections in the startup community who are up for a cup of coffee and some conversation.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

You can always find me at Travefy HQ at Nebraska Global, having coffee at The Mill or anywhere there’s a whiteboard!

 Tom Chapman

Tom Chapman

Vice president of business development at Nebraska Global

Twitter: @tchap623

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I have been a key early-stage business leader, advisor, funder and historian. I also provide a lot of introductions between startups, customers and community leaders.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I typically am looking to meet people who have started something or who need help with business development.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

Aroma’s in downtown Omaha or the Mill in Lincoln’s Haymarket.

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Bart Dillashaw

Attorney at Koley Jessen

Twitter: @BDillashaw

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I specialize in the legal issues around startups. Specifically, I tend to get involved with companies when they undertake formation, financing, IP licensing and protection or merger and acquisition transactions.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I’m interested in meeting anyone looking for ways to interact with startups and help them grow.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

You can typically find me wandering around the Haymarket in Lincoln, begging for change so I can get another granita from the Mill or breakfast burrito from Maggies.

 Paul Jarrett

Paul Jarrett

Co-founder of Bulu Box

Twitter: @PaulJarrett

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I’m passionate about creating measurable goals and unlocking the power of the individual, brand and company culture to beat those goals.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I would like to connect with anyone who is actively investing or is thinking about investing. Availability of capital is something we can get better at in the Midwest. There’s only a few active entities going out and seeking to fund deals in the Midwest. With a little education and awareness we would see some epic startup growth in our ecosystem.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

I live and work within a one-mile radius of Tower Square (13th and P) in downtown Lincoln. You can find (and join) me walking my ferocious poodle-mix dogs around the block.

 Blake Lawrence

Blake Lawrence

Founder of opendorse

Twitter: @Blake_Lawrence

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

As a service provider, I am passionate about digital marketing, specifically helping businesses find low-cost, effective ways to engage customers. As an advice-giver, I love discussing big ideas and helping entrepreneurs put a plan in place to make their dream become a reality. As a community-dweller, I enjoy connecting like-minded folks who want to see others succeed.

What are you looking for in new connections?

As a service provider, I would love to connect with forward-thinking marketers seeking innovative ways to reach their audience.
As an advice-receiver, it would be great to connect with experienced entrepreneurs that can help our team learn from their journey.
As a community-advocate, I would enjoy spending time with former Silicon Prairie peeps, who are able to bring coastal connections back to the Midwest.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

Every morning between 8 and 9 a.m. you’ll find me at Scooter’s in the Haymarket (picking up a large dark roast, no cream).
Our new opendorse offices are at the corner of 13th and P, in the P Street District, where we kick it with fellow startups Bulu Box and Hurrdat for days. On Saturdays, you’ll find me in Memorial Stadium, day-dreaming of the glory days (2007-2009, of course).

 Jill Liliedahl

Jill Liliedahl

CEO of SitStay.com & co-launcher of Ladies Who Launch-Lincoln

Twitter@jillliliedahl

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

Dogs + startups = my perfect job at SitStay. Each day is filled with creating new things and helping to make our customers’ lives (both the two- and four-legged kinds) better. Outside of that I love to connect people with complementary needs, skills and personalities.

What are you looking for in new connections?

Hanging out with other entrepreneurs is where it’s at—people who get stuff done are the best kind of people. I’m a generalist (a Jill of all trades, if you will), so love to learn from people with deep knowledge on specific topics.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

Typically I’m at The Dog House (SitStay HQ) working with our talented team of crazy dog people. Outside of that I’m downtown or in the Haymarket and always at Ladies Launch Lincoln events.

 Matt Secoske

Matt Secoske

Co-founder of Social Assurance

Twitter: @Secos

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I’m a technologist, specializing in software (Internet, scaling, medical, product dev). I’m also starting to get into physical technologies/sciences as well (bio-tech, miniaturization). My passion is helping people solve problems.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I enjoy meeting people who are present, self-aware, honest and passionate about what they do.

Where can we typically find you? (i.e., a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

You can find me most days wandering around the Haymarket in Lincoln, specifically 8th and P (it’s the place to be). I also try to get to Omaha as often as I can as well.

 Matt Wegener

Matthew Wegener

Co-founder of Turbine Flats Project, president of Presage Analytics & president and CEO of ISoft Data Systems

Twitter: @matthewwegener

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I like to identify problems in manufacturing organizations and help solve them with technology, then apply those solutions to other businesses. I like to help people figure out some of those things they didn’t know that they didn’t know in their own business. And I’m passionate about developing a physical space and virtual community for startups to establish roots in Lincoln and grow themselves and their businesses.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I’m interested in getting to know good people. People who are passionate about technology, entrepreneurship, and Nebraska, as I am and yet who don’t take themselves too seriously. I’m looking for entrepreneurs are are passionate to pay it forward, help others first and reap the rewards later.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

My wife thinks I live at Turbine Flats. I love to catch a band downtown whenever I can. And I actually live in SoSo (South of South) so you will likely find me having dinner at Henry’s on South or The Normandy.

 Matt Westenburg

Matt Westenburg

CPA with SP Group

Twitter: @mattwestenburg

What’s your specialty? What area do you work in or are passionate about?

I love numbers! I work with companies to help them understand the numbers that are important, and that doesn’t always have to do with dollars and cents. Do you know what numbers drive your company?

What are you looking for in new connections?

I am looking for people passionate about their company. I like working with people who will stretch my thinking and are fun to work with.

Where can we typically find you? (ie. a favorite coffee shop, co-working space, neighborhood, etc.)

I can be found at Fuse Coworking in the Haymarket on Thursdays, Cultiva Coffee on the weekends. The rest of the time, hit me up on Twitter and we’ll connect.

 

Want to get plugged into another community? Check out our lists from across the region.  

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