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Hundreds gather for Straight Shot Demo Day in Omaha

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2016 Straight Shot cohort gives group gift to Managing Director David Arnold, who will be leaving the program this fall. Photo by Melanie Lucks.

Nearly 350 people came together for the Straight Shot accelerator’s fourth annual Demo Day in Omaha Wednesday evening. The Holland Performing Arts Center foyer was packed as the crowd made its way to the auditorium to hear from eight teams from this year’s cohort.

When asked about what’s been different about this year’s cohort, Managing Director David Arnold said that the Straight Shot team has worked very hard to increase the quality of the program each year.

“Sometimes that means choosing companies that are a little more later stage or vetting the companies a little bit harder,” said Arnold. “I would say we were a lot more intentional in the type of founder we selected this year, with our focus being on them.”

The eight teams took the stage and shared details about their platforms and their current traction. SPN profiled these startups in the past few months, and each one had more news to share:

  • Aron Filbert of Lyconic shared that they currently have nine paying customers, four of which were brought on through their last 90 days at Straight Shot.
  • Stephanie Feltus of Robyn announced plans for the business to expand to Kansas City, St. Louis and Detroit.
  • Eric Burns of Gazella Wifi revealed the team has had over 5,000 people logon to their wifi systems and that 242 GB of data has gone through the platform. He also said they’ve completed their first round of funding, which will allow the team to expand to other markets outside Omaha quickly.
  • Jennifer Barry of Revolve Fine Art announced that that they are Nebraska’s second public benefit corporation, a for-profit company with a social mission.  
  • Vinesh Kannan of Omnipointment shared that they have reached 35 campuses across the country with their technology.
  • Billy Martin of Ulytic revealed that with their partnership with TrafficLand they now have access to over 20,000 traffic camera feeds, spanning over 250 cities, 35 states and 5 countries around the world.
  • Alex Adams of Rodeo Analytics shared that since they started offering their services in November of last year the team has provided 19 events with their service and recorded over 2,100 rides.
  • Preston Badeer of Avert announced that as of yesterday the team is launching an invite-only exclusive beta program that high schools and colleges can participate in.

Jonathan Musser of Silicon Valley Bank, Amy Johnson, cofounder & CEO of Lifeloop and Jim Young Jr., cofounder of the Aksarben Innovation Initiative were present to ask questions to the startups after their pitches. When asked about their favorites of the night, Rodeo Analytics, Revolve Fine Art, Ulytic and Avert were mentioned as unique and interesting.

A new future for Straight Shot

At the end of the night Arnold announced that Straight Shot will be transforming the accelerator into a new program called The Startup Collaborative, co-founded by Nathan Preheim and Erica Wassinger. Arnold will be leaving the Straight Shot program and starting a new position at BuilderTREND.

Introduced by a short video, the teaser promised the audience that there will be a bigger announcement in January of 2017.

“What it will be is an evolution to the model of Straight Shot,” said Arnold. “It will be taking the spirit and core values of Straight Shot and combining them with the infrastructure of OSC, and the connections and budget that the chamber has.”


Mel Lucks is a regional freelance journalist and former intern for Silicon Prairie News and AIM.