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Our 10 favorite Nebraska startup stories of 2015

Photo courtesy of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.

Photo courtesy of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.

Silicon Prairie News covers the tech startup scene across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. Here are some of our favorite Nebraska stories from this year:

1. Hudl announces $72.5M raise, led by Accel and Nelnet (Lincoln)

In April Hudl announced the close of their first round of institutional funding and made history with the largest raise ever in Nebraska. A few months later they announced a new 7-story headquarters to be built in the heart of Lincoln’s Haymarket district, a sign of Hudl’s commitment to the Lincoln community.

2. Benaissance has been acquired by WEX for $80 million (Omaha)

Payment processing startup Benaissance was one of the few companies that adapted quickly to the new health care law, putting it in excellent position for future growth. Their $80 million acquisition by WEX is one this year’s big success stories out of Omaha.

3. How 19-year-old entrepreneur Brent Comstock plans to save rural communities (Auburn)

Brent Comstock started his first tech company, BCom Solutions, at age 12 in Auburn, Nebraska. Today, as a college student, his company has over 500 clients nationwide, and he was voted Student Entrepreneur of the Year at this year’s Silicon Prairie Awards. He is also a powerful voice for innovation in rural communities. This summer he toured the region, meeting with small town community leaders. We’re excited to watch Brent in the years to come.

4. Viirt raises $900,000 to disrupt the roofing industry (Omaha)

Although Viirt left Omaha this fall, 2015 would not have been the same without them. The 2014 Straight Shot grads experienced incredible growth in their first year, supported by local investors like Dundee Venture Capital.

5. 7 reasons why you should pay attention to Lincoln (Lincoln)

Beyond Hudl, it was a big year for Lincoln, receiving national media attention for their emerging startup scene. Bulu Box, Nobl, Travefy, opendorse, and Virtual Incision all closed major fundraising rounds this year. Add NMotion Demo Day, Lincoln Startup Week, and the Silicon Prairie Awards, and you’ve got one of the most exciting startup communities in the country.

6. Router Ventures has raised a $1 million fund so far (Omaha)

Silicon Prairie News co-founder Jeff Slobotski had two big announcements this year: joining Wave Interactive as VP of Business Development and the official launch of his new VC fund Router Ventures. Jeff says he’s already looking at deals. We’re excited to see what Jeff does next in the upcoming year.

7. Nebraska’s most ambitious startup project is in Fremont–Pop. 26,327 (Fremont)

Taking a page out of Brad Feld’s Startup Communities, entrepreneur Glen Ellis is investing his success back into his community with a long term vision for Fremont. His Creative Collective project plans to offer big city startup services–coworking, incubation, events, code school–in the 30,000 square foot May Building in the center of downtown Fremont.

8. Will the AIM Exchange finally solve Omaha’s density problem? (Omaha)

Major renovations are underway this year at The Exchange, a new partnership between AIM and the Omaha Startup Collaborative, in downtown Omaha. This year the 100 year old building has become home to the Straight Shot accelerator, Interface Web School, 1MC Omaha, as well as startups like Drive Spotter, Crumb and Blabfeed.

9. Ecomitize grows after $700,000 funding round (North Platte)

We’re always excited to hear about growing tech companies in western Nebraska. With 40 new hires in the last 12 months, Ecomitize out of North Platte is one of those companies that has caught our attention.

10. Brad Feld at Big Omaha: “Any rich people around here?” [Video] (Omaha)

Big Omaha was a huge success this year, with inspiring talks from founders like Shane Mac, Amy Benziger and Marc Hemeon. One of the biggest applause moments came when Brad Feld started talking about Omaha. “We’re here in Omaha. Any rich people around here?” asked Feld. “Somebody told me there’s some rich people around here.” He went on:

“There’s a lot of rich people here… It’s getting those people, instead of just giving their money to the museum, just giving their money to the symphony, or hoarding their money for the next generation–it’s getting them to continually invest in their community by investing in the next generation of people who are creating companies.”

Ryan Pendell is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.

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