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Omaha’s JumpStart Challenge to award over $10,000 in prizes for business concepts

Omaha’s first JumpStart Challenge of 2017 launched on Tuesday with a reverse pitch presentation from three local organizations.

Each challenge has a specific set of goals focusing on business, culture and community. The problems presented are focusing around Omaha but have an industry-wide scope.

The City of Omaha Challenge – How can City Hall better convey progress to citizens?
The MAPA Challenge – How do we encourage residents to move about the community without a car?
The Metropolitan Challenge – How do we create community within a community college?

How the challenge works

Participants have two weeks to prepare a pitch for their concept. The pitches will be presented on stage at the Blue Barn Theater on February 21.

Solution pitches will be judged on four criteria: scalability of concept, presentation and sales-personship, rigor of customer validation and creative innovation. A bonus concept review and lean canvas modeling session is also offered that can help boost final scores.

A winning concept for each challenge will win a $2,500 prize as well as a one year sponsored fellowship to The Startup Collaborative worth $1,200. The Startup Collaborative’s mission is to radically improve the odds of startup success.

Connecting innovators to industry

The goal of the Startup Challenge is for participants to create solutions that can instantly turn into businesses. An increase in participants means that the challenge is succeeding and innovators are being connected to the industry.

“We’re matching up supply and demand,” said Nathan Preheim, cofounder of The Startup Collaborative.

Preheim said that the turnout for the launch exceeded his expectations. Based on previous challenges, organizers were hoping for 100 attendees but estimated that 130 came for the reverse pitches.

“It tells me there’s a yearning,” said Preheim. “People want to start up, they just need a market.”

Image courtesy of The Startup Collaborative.

Motivations go beyond winning prizes

Team members Allie Esch and Kramer are particularly interested in the Metro Community College challenge.

Kramer is an IT analyst and said he’s participating in the JumpStart Challenge to gain community exposure and flex his problem solving skills.

“The more exposure I get in the corporate world, the more I see these problems across industries,” said Kramer. “Startups are born out of finding the gaps.”

Esch has one semester left at Creighton University and is interested in non-profit work. She hopes to one day found a startup that combats reconviction among former prisoners.

“The reconviction rate of people coming out of prison is high,” said Esch.

She wants to revamp hiring processes for parolees and level the playing field for people with records seeking employment. She’s confident there is a connection between MCC’s challenge and her career target.

“Especially in low income communities and with low high school graduation rates, there has to be some similarities there,” said Esch.

Timeline for the Startup Challenge

There is still time to get involved in the challenge. Participants have until February 13 to register their team.

People not participating in the Solution Showcase are still encouraged to attend. Audience members will get to hear about early stage concepts, cheer on presenters, and help choose the audience favorite.

Feb. 14 – Concept review
Feb. 19 – Slide Submission
Feb. 21 – Solution Showcase

Christine McGuigan is the Associate Editor of Silicon Prairie News.

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