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Meet the 6 finalists for Silicon Prairie Champion

As we get closer to the Silicon Prairie Awards on May 2, we still need your help to determine which individuals and companies will take home the trophies. We’re highlighting the finalists in each category so you can get to know the finalists a little bit better.

To vote, visit our Silicon Prairie Awards website hosted by Lincoln-based Reviewr and browse through the finalists. Click on Read More to log in and vote using the hearts. The more hearts, the more love you give the nominee! Score the finalists in each category between a 1-10. Please remember that you’re only able to vote once. Voting is open through March 21.

Dale Eesley

Dale Eesly is the head of the Entrepreneurship department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a major member of the Omaha Startup Community. Some of his projects include: Entrepreneurial Living and Learning Community (ELLC), Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference (MWEC), Big Idea Pitch Contest (UNO), Community Startup Events
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Todd Kielkopf

Simpson College leadership and Todd Kielkopf began working in 2011 to create a model program for a small, private college to become a destination for those seeking entrepreneurial opportunities. Initial partners included the college, a local municipal utility, and an economic development agency. An often-cited goal was to provide local economies with the opportunities, local talent, and networks to succeed in the digital economy.

In his role as utility General Manger, Todd provided public-sector leadership to form the EMERGE@Simpson program (www.simpson.edu/emerge). Jerry Kelley provided leadership at both Simpson College and local economic development agency. In parallel, Todd led the deployment of the Des Moines metro’s first fiber-to-the-premise network that provides Simpson College, its students, and local businesses world-class telecom services.
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Matthew Marcus

Computer programming for the better part of 20 years, Matthew decided in 2010 that it was time to move onto new pastures. Venturing into the startup world was his first step.

As an entrepreneur, he co-founded KULA Causes, Hoopla.io, Local Ruckus, and 60secondz. As a startup ecosystem builder, he is the current Executive Director of Kansas City Startup Foundation (KCSF) and an active co-leader of the Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV).
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Christina Oldfather

Christina Oldfather is the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and NMotion. Christina works to support and build the startup community by rolling up her sleeves and jumping in to make things happen. Christina is a supporter, organizer, speaker, connector, and mentor for #StartupLNK website and newsletter, Startup Week, JumpStart Challenge, 1 Million Cups LNK, Ladies Launch Lincoln, Women+ Startup Nebraska, the Ag/Food Tech meetup, Hour of Code, the Women in Business Conference, and much more. Christina also developed the Founder’s Fund, which helps founders with acceleration/growth stage activities and is currently working to develop an expanded NMotion mentor program and programs for growth stage founder support.
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Erica Wassinger

Erica is the cofounder of The Startup Collaborative, a program of Greater Omaha Chamber and a nonprofit dedicated to radically improving the odds of startup success. More than 70 area startups have participated in the unique blend of incubator and accelerator program, The Collaborative has been connected to the creation of hundreds of jobs, millions in venture funding and the inspiration of thousands of current and potential entrepreneurs.

She hails from Dallas where she worked with top civic leaders on pivotal public-private partnerships to change the trajectory of the city. Previously, Erica worked with a handpicked group of growth-seeking clients spanning the marketing, technology, startup and nonprofit industries.
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Wichita’s Entrepreneurial Task Force

A place where startups can gain capital, mentoring, co-working space and other resources, then emerge as standalone companies — that’s the vision leaders of Wichita’s Entrepreneurship Task Force have for an innovation accelerator they plan to open by the end of 2015. Founded the Wichita e2e in the last year to further this mission in measurable ways and serve as the local center of gravity for entrepreneurship.
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