What does this mean for her and NMotion?
“I think Lincoln is ready to level up as a community,” she said. “That’s not a commentary on what has been, but it’s a natural evolution to move to the next level of maturity as a startup ecosystem.”
One way McKeon hopes to do that is by breaking the startup process into micro steps and figuring out how to help founders along the way.
“The big story is looking at those stages and figuring out how NMotion can support founders at each stage,” she said. “If we don’t have it, we’re working on it.”
“Lincoln and other places in the Midwest have a lot of great stuff for inspiration, for people who are curious about startups but haven’t figured out what it is yet,” she said. “Then we have the accelerator to help founders get their business off the ground.”
But McKeon thinks there is value in providing resources to help at other stages in the startup process. Prelaunch focuses on the early steps.
“The core idea behind Prelaunch is to help first time founders avoid some of the pitfalls due to human nature that can set the company back and take longer,” she said. “The first question we want them to think about is why they want to be a founder.”
The Prelaunch program is open to anyone with an idea for a business – tech, lifestyle or otherwise.
“We really focus in on the market validation stage,” McKeon said. “It may be something percolating in a founder’s mind but they’re not sure it’s the one. It’s critical to get this right, because it might be a 5 or 10 year commitment.”
The program teaches lean startup methodology, customer discovery and opportunity analysis.
“The big piece is if you can be really clear on who the early adopters are and get them engaged,” McKeon said. “It’s hard to do in a really honest way. It takes time and support from a program like this.”
NMotion is nearly the end of its first eight-week Prelaunch cycle, with 8 participating teams. McKeon was asked to describe the class and how they’re doing.
“One is a professional looking to commercialize an idea. Three are recent UNL grads and the other four are students,” she said. “Four are pretty sure they aren’t going to continue with the idea after the program.”
Are any of them ready for the full NMotion Accelerator?
“They need to be founders that want to go down that path and have a scalable idea,” she said. “One might be close to ready but not quite.”
Prelaunch participants are welcome to continue attending the weekly meetings once they have completed the program.
“Even though it’s basically an 8-week program, you don’t have to have the answer on the last day,” McKeon said. “We believe this process should take as long as it takes.”
McKeon had glowing things to say about Ardinger, who will continue to serve as a consultant to NMotion.
“Give Brian a ton of credit,” she said. “I couldn’t have done what he did. Where can we take this next? Brian’s contributions make it all possible.”
Editor’s Note: NMotion is hosting a public party on Wednesday, December 14th from 4pm to 7pm as a thank you to Ardinger for his service as the Managing Director and a celebration of McKeon’s transition into the new role. The party will be held in the Haymarket at 720 Q Street.
Rod Armstrong is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AIM in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News.