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

Omaha Coffee List

While the Silicon Prairie may span several states and include vastly different types of companies and entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds (and football rivalries), supportive communities are one factor that tie 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 entrepreneur thrive.

That 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 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.

Yesterday we kicked things off with our Lincoln list, and today we head about an hour northeast to Omaha to get you connected to everyone in the city where SPN began. 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. Below are the responses we received so far, which we’ll update as we go. 

Kathy Anderson

Kathy Andersen

Business analyst at Aviture

Twitter: @kathyia

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

Through a community organizing lens, I’m convinced that vibrant entrepreneurial communities are important drivers/shapers of economic activity, that they are necessary for a region to be able to adapt to increasing rates of technological change and thus changing industries and job markets. I work on specific projects as well as various long-term initiatives; I think about strategic partnerships in OMA & beyond and ways to incorporate diverse ideas and skill sets into the current landscape.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I love hearing & debating new ideas. I’d like to meet curious technologists, developers, designers, builders, professionals, etc. who see an opportunity or a pain point that they are compelled to solve. I like to fill in the blanks both for those who don’t know where to start or those who might know what they need and want to tap in to the network and the resources available in Omaha.

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

The Garage is home base, where I love being around coworkers full of energy and ideas. When I’m not at The Garage, Aroma’s Coffeehouse downtown or Panera’s on Saddle Creek (which is close to home). Happy to meet at the office or [Your Favorite Coffee Shop in OMA/LNK] to share the exciting things in the works for The Garage and Omaha!

 

 David Arnold

David Arnold

Managing director of Straight Shot accelerator

Twitter: @David_M_Arnold

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

Working with founders of early-stage startups to turn ideas into functioning businesses. I’m passionate about entrepreneurship, workforce development, startup-corporate collaborations and public policy.

What are you looking for in new connections?

Individuals who are excited about Omaha’s (and the region’s) future and want to play an active role in shaping it. Cross-industry thinkers who want to plot community partnerships. Authenticity above all else.

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

I office out of the Wareham, so my go-to coffee shop is the Blue Line in North Downtown.

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Shonna Dorsey

Director of Interface Web School

Twitter: @shonna_dorsey

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

Tech education, community building and strategic partnering.

What are you looking for in new connections?

Aspiring difference makers who need help making connections.

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

The Wareham Building, the Starbucks near 156th and Dodge or Mediterranean Bistro.

 William Fisher

Bill Fisher

Partner at Treetop Ventures 

Twitter: @fishomaha

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

My partners and I are pretty good at listening to an entrepreneur’s pitch and helping them figure out what is missing or not logical or not credible. We aren’t particularly capable of deciding whether or not the idea will be successful or not; we only have deep experience in software and payments, and everything else is a guess on our part. We are passionate about helping those who want to help themselves. We don’t have much time for someone who is looking for the short cut or those who believe the world owes them something.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I like to learn. I’ve been around a long time and know that everything and everybody comes full circle if you give it enough time. I like to spend time with people who are well grounded and like people who want candid input versus feel-good input and who treat others with respect.

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

You can find me at work or with my wife/family, not too much exists for me in between. Email is my contact mechanism—not mobile, not texts and not Twitter. I use the others but prefer email because I feel that I get to set the priorities that way. I love lattes but get mine at around 6 a.m. on the way to work and don’t find a lot of people who are anxious to chat at that time of day. I don’t do lunch and don’t do drinks, but I’m always happy to meet at the office during the day.

 Mark Griffis

Mark Griffis

President of Aviture 

Twitter: @garagebyAviture

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

Having had multiple technology startup companies, I realize the importance of having a ecosystem that can help founders get from one stage to the next. To facilitate this I decided to start The Garage—a startup incubator that provides an environment for web-based startups to develop concepts into products and turn teams into companies. I’m absolutely passionate about helping founders in our region succeed.

What are you looking for in new connections?

Passion and drive, which are the fundamental building blocks for founders. I’m especially drawn to people who understand their “why” and want to keep learning and growing.

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

Unfortunately, most of my coffee comes from a Scooter’s Drive through these days because you can typically find me hanging out at The Garage. Hanging out with cool startup companies and a building full of world class developers all day is a pretty good time for a geek like me. I welcome anyone to stop by for a cup of coffee any time.

 Sabastian Hunt

Sabastian Hunt

Co-founder of Year of the Startup accelerator

Twitter: @OfficialYOTSU

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

I’m a slightly younger, substantially more Midwestern version of Erlich Bachmann from HBO’s Silicon Valley. I run Year of the Startup, a residential accelerator in midtown, where founders of young firms eat, sleep and breathe entrepreneurship. We’re passionate about helping early-stage companies plan, build and scale with an emphasis on innovation and social entrepreneurship.

What are you looking for in new connections?

We’re looking for collaborators for a North Omaha expansion house (planned for 2015), corporate sponsors, connections for our startups, future applicants, VCs and adults with graying or white hair to join our board of directors.

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

I’m usually in the shared work space at our startup house at 4036 Burt St. or at Cali Commons, a co-working space in our neighborhood.

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Sumeet Jain

Co-founder of Big Wheel Brigade dev shop & Omaha Code School

Twitter: @sumeetjain

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

I work in software development and also tech education.

What are you looking for in new connections?

I’m interested in meeting people who need websites and/or web applications built, and learning more about initiatives to make the Prairie a culturally and ethically healthier place to live and work.

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

I co-work often at Omaha Code School (1258 S 13th St.) and hang out downtown, in Dundee and Benson.

 Jim and Karen Linder

Jim & Karen Linder

Co-founders of Linseed Capital

Twitter: @linseedcapital

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

Our own education and background is in health care and medical devices, but we are passionate about investing in any market segment in businesses that are innovative and show great potential. We invest in early-stage companies so that our funds and guidance have a greater impact.

What are you looking for in new connections?

We enjoy hanging out with interesting people.

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

We’re all over the place. Panera (78th Street or Saddle Creek), Jones Bros., Paradise Cafe, Varner Hall in Lincoln and the new Linseed Capital building at 719 S. 75th Street in Omaha.

 Shane Reiser

Shane Reiser

Co-founder of Startup Genome & community organizer

Twitter: @shanereiser

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

I helped start Startup Genome, a nonprofit that maps, tracks and analyzes startup community data around the world. In my free time I facilitate Startup Weekends, organize 1 Million Cups Omaha-Lincoln and teach lean startup methodologies at Fortune 500 companies.

What are you looking for in new connections?

Happy to grab a coffee with anyone and help them get plugged into the startup community.

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

I live in Field Club, work out of the Wareham building (16th and Mike Fahey St.), and hang out at Archetype or Aroma’s (both downtown and in Benson).

 Dusty Reynolds

Dusty Reynolds

Co-founder of RaceNote & entrepreneur-in-residence with the Omaha Chamber of Commerce

Twitter: @dreynolds41

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

I like to see good people do great things together. So, I often find myself connecting the dots and playing matchmaker.

What are you looking for in new connections?

Folks who are high integrity, smart and community driven. People who subscribe to “we” being greater than “I.”

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

I’m fairly nomadic, but if not at the RaceNote headquarters in Dundee, I gravitate toward North Downtown or Aroma’s in Benson.

 

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

  • Awesome list!!!

  • Great list! Would love to connect, as I am just entering the Omaha startup scene with FWD.us.

  • nddaveman

    As luck would have it, I’ve had coffee with Sumeet at Accelerando Coffee House. The conversation and the coffee were both great.

  • Aaron Babcock

    What a great group of people! Nice list!

  • The Modern Hive

    Thanks Silicon Prairie for putting this together. Great list for new entrepreneurs like myself! Looking forward to meeting some of these people!

  • CF Newbie

    Great list. I would love to meet with these people as I am finance/business person just entering the scene.