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Nearly 600 gather for NMotion Demo Day in Lincoln

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NMotion Managing Director Brian Ardinger at NMotion Demo Day 2016. Photo by Shayla Kelly.

The NMotion Accelerator’s fourth annual Demo Day filled the Rococo Theater in Lincoln with nearly 600 people Tuesday night to hear pitches from this year’s cohort and announcements about new NMotion programs. Managing Director Brian Ardinger was “hashtag more than excited.”

“We see this program and this event grow each year as more people are exposed to the power of startups,” he said. “Today is the culmination of a gut-wrenching, hair-pulling experience.”

Participants learned from more than 100 mentors, outside experts and startup events.

“We took the teams to Big Omaha and Kansas City,” Ardinger said. “And we exposed them to other founders who are building companies here in Nebraska.”

For Program Director Beth McKeon, this was her first year working with NMotion after relocating from Lawrence, Kansas.

“I bring a different perspective as an outsider who has been generously welcomed,” she said. “The commitment by this community to support startups is truly unique.”

McKeon described some new features of this year’s program, as well as new initiatives that will soon be underway.

“We added four summer internships this year in collaboration with entrepreneurship programs at UNL,” she said. “We found ways for the interns to get value from the program and for companies to get value from the help.”

Another new feature this year was the Mentor Mashup, an intense 30-minute exchange between startups and mentors.

“Teams gave their elevator pitch and answered tough questions,” McKeon said. “Their heads were swimming, but it helped strengthen their muscles to talk about their business on the fly.”

New outreach programs

McKeon announced three new initiatives starting this fall: LNK Exchange, Spotlight and Prelaunch 2.0.

LNK Exchange is designed to welcome startups visiting Lincoln with free coworking for a day, lunch with local founders and a tour of the local startup ecosystem.

“LNK Exchange expands the reach of what we’re doing,” McKeon said. “We already have reciprocating offers from Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Lawrence.”

Spotlight includes a monthly pitch night, networking and interactive workshops for anyone who wants to test out an idea.

“Anyone who has a business idea can give a 3-minute pitch and get connected with resources in the community,” McKeon said. “There will also be interactive programs like laser cutting at Innovation Studio or hackathons at Nonprofit Hub.”

Prelaunch 2.0 will help prospective entrepreneurs work through customer discovery, market validation and other basic principles.

“This is a sandbox where you can really explore,” McKeon said. “Is this something they want to do for the next ten years?”

Big news for 6 teams

The evening culminated with pitches by the six startups in this year’s class. SPN has profiled these startups in the past few weeks, and each one had something new to announce.

  • Josh Koterba of Gear Supply said they have generated $75,000 in revenue and more than doubled their subscriber base in the last 90 days
  • Colin Nabity of LeverageRx announced partnerships with MD Magazine and Physicians News Digest that reaches 400,000 readers and has already generated 184 referrals in the last month
  • Daniel Young of Fantasizr announced a partnership to be the exclusive fantasy platform for ABC’s BattleBots
  • After flying a drone from the balcony to the stage, Justin Kyser of DivviMap announced partnerships with four companies in Mexico and said they have $400,000 in the enterprise pipeline
  • Steven Taylor of Anvilhead Studios announced they will be working with Unity, one of the largest game engines in the world
  • Valerie Lefler of Liberty announced that they have been contacted by potential partners in 29 states as well as AARP and the White House Rural Council

After the program, McKeon was asked what she planned to do tomorrow.

“I’m going to sleep in,” she said.

Rod Armstrong is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AIM in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News.