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Phenomblue’s Joe Olsen on the Omaha startup ecosystem

Joe Olsen, founder of Phenomblue, a business strategy and communications agency based in Omaha, Nebraska, sees a lot of positives about the Omaha startup community.

“When you come to Omaha you look at a startup scene that’s thriving to the extent that there’s a lot of support system around it,” said Olsen.

Along with a strong business environment, there’s also a lot of potential local investment dollars, albeit relatively new to venture.

“There’s a great support system from a capital standpoint,” said Olsen. “It’s a young system so we’ve got a lot of people in the VC, private equity, angel space because they have money to do so, but the experience side around lending that money and facilitating it…That’s growing up.”

What’s needed now, according to Olsen, are more great business ideas worth funding.

“I think the real challenge for us now is that we need the talent that’s necessary to produce the types of businesses that garner those kinds of raises, and then go out and create successes from them,” said Olsen.

One possibility is leveraging the broader experience from traditional businesses in the region.

“What’s interesting in the startup landscape in Nebraska is that you’ve got all this really great support system, a lot of really experienced businesses around you. You’ve got a lot of industry partnerships you can create,” said Olsen. “I don’t think we do a good enough job exploiting those opportunities. I think we spend a lot of time trying to make things from scratch.”

The key to the future will be proving that the region is an engine for consistently great companies, not just hype.

“You get a lot of volume and traffic and people excited. We’ve had a couple wins, but we need that sustained success,” said Olsen.

For more from Olsen on what it means to be “post-digital,” his SXSW experience, and the future of consumer technology without screens, check out our full interview from AIM Infotec in the video above.

Special thanks to Gallup and Jim Collison from TheAverageGuy.tv.

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