Last weekend the Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference in Omaha gathered over 250 attendees and speakers from across the region, doubling their attendance from last year.
The event is organized by Dale Eesley, Director of UNO Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Franchising. The event drew college students from as far as Dakota Wesleyan, Luther College in Iowa, and Regis University in Denver.
The speaker lineup included successful entrepreneurs with ties to the region.
“The students liked it because of the diversity,” said Eesley. “We had people in social enterprise, technology, retail, manufacturing. With that variety, somebody can latch on to something, instead of it just being a tech focus.”
The response from attendees at the event was positive.
Luke Peterson and Josh Doerig, two students from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, enjoyed the event.
“It’s been very educational,” said Peterson. “They give you the chance to actually connect with the speakers.”
“My favorite [speaker] so far was Frank Klesitz,” said Doerig. “He gave an actual implementable business model.”
Running an event that targets a younger audience has its own unique challenges.
“My market is college students, so the turnover is constant,” said Eesley. “Unlike Big Omaha I could probably do the same conference every two years and nobody would notice.”
Part of the event’s success has been due to marketing the event to college adminstrators
“The important thing is that the economic buyer almost always isn’t the student,” said Eesley. “I’ve learned how to market this as an educational conference to educators who then bring their students. That’s what we’ll work on in the future as well.”