Big Omaha 2017 kept the energy in high-gear Friday morning with another inspiring round of speakers and a panel discussion. The conference runs through Friday with additional speakers and another panel and then concludes Friday evening with happy hour, shopping from Hello Ruby Mobile Boutique and a closing party at Hotel Deco.
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Be sure to catch the Big Omaha live stream and watch this afternoon’s speakers courtesy of the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation.
Daniel Burka, a design partner at GV, shared his experience as a designer for Google and the ways designers are responsible for creating user experiences. Burka said that designers should to be involved in early processes and not be the ones down the line to correct a problem that has come up.
“Designers have a seat at the table and I think they’re squandering it,” said Burka.
He said that design should be considered a scientific method for businesses. Often times, people take their best guess at a design process and measure the results the best they can.
“Even if something worked, it’s hard to know why it worked,” said Burka.
Burka promoted Google’s Sprint method of solving design problems. Sprint is a five-day process that leads to more efficient and successful designs through creating prototypes in a short timeframe.
“We’ve got this amazing toolkit where we can take ideas and make them look real,” explained Burka.
Shanda Woworuntu, founder of Mentari, was born in Indonesia, graduated high school at 14, graduated college at 17, and then left for New York after political upheaval caused layoffs across the country.
“I went to this [employment] agency with the expectation that I would see Whitney Houston and go to Disney,” said Woworuntu. “It was the American dream.”
What awaited her in New York though was an international human trafficking ring. She was sold to a series of sex traffickers immediately after getting off the plane. The traffickers told her she owed them $30,000 for her freedom which she could pay off at $100 per customer.
She eventually escaped and lived homeless in New York City until she found someone who was willing to help her. Now, she has dedicated her life to helping other survivors find help and resources for integrating back into society.
“I survived because I had hope,” said Woworuntu. “I do this job because everyone deserves freedom.”
Brandon Levey, the founder of Stitch Labs, talked about how honesty plays a part in businesses. He said that people think that startup growth is always an “up and to the right curve,” but that isn’t a truthful assessment of growth.
“Entrepreneurship is hard,” said Levey. “ But hard isn’t bad. […] Some of the best things come out of challenges.”
Levey believes that one of the biggest challenges businesses face is keeping everyone within the company focused on the same goal.
“We’re all looking at the same things, but we’re all looking at it from different perspectives,” said Levey.
When it comes to employees trusting their company, founders have to put in the work of maintaining radial transparency, especially when it comes to doing drastic things to ensure the survival of the company. But trust pays off.
“When you do it and you do it right, you hit your goals,” said Levey.
Investor and Advisor speaker panel
Featuring Mona Bijoor, Joey Brander, Christina Brodbeck, Moderated by Cory Clarke
The final presentation of the morning was a panel discussing the success and failure of startups. One of the main points of the discussion was how businesses need to use their investors to their advantage.
“There’s no reason 9 out of 10 startups have to fail,” said Brander.
“I only get involved in companies I know I can help,” said Bijoor. “The best partnership is when you’re constantly talking to your investors.”
There was also emphasis put on capital as a commodity and knowing where a business goes once it’s raised capital.
Bijoor also talked about the importance of the brand itself.
“Your brand is a precursor to your company’s reputation.”
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