Members of Lincoln and Omaha’s startup ecosystem gathered at the Ironhorse Bar & Event Room in the Haymarket Tuesday night to say farewell to Beth McKeon, NMotion’s Managing Director.
McKeon will be leaving to run Fluent, her new consulting business that educates accelerators across the country on designing and running programs. Her goal is to work with at least 100 startups in 2018.
“I’m leaving NMotion and looking to scale the work I’ve done with startups,” said McKeon. “The idea behind [Fluent] is that I want to really understand what’s working and what’s not across accelerators, and help cross-pollinate the experiment.”
McKeon said she wants to share best practices across ecosystems and help communities learn from one another. That mindset is what has benefitted NMotion, and Lincoln as a whole, under her direction.
“Beth has really been instrumental in moving the program forward,” said Christina Oldfather, Director Of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and the NMotion team. “She really moves with that mindset set of: Try it, if it doesn’t work, we’ll do something else. She’s pulled a lot of us along with that and made our community better for it.”
Her first stop will be Birmingham, Alabama where she’ll be taking on the role of Managing Entrepreneur in Residence for the Velocity Accelerator’s second cohort. McKeon said that the fact that Velocity is so young played a part in her joining them.
“One of the reasons they were looking for me to come in is to bring some of that experience that their team didn’t have,” said McKeon. “But the really cool thing about Velocity is that its part of the Innovation Depot which is a 25-year-old incubator.”
McKeon said that Velocity spans two city blocks and houses 105 startups and 900 employees.
“There’s a really robust startup ecosystem, but the accelerator model is very new,” said McKeon. “I’m going to get to learn a lot about what a much more mature ecosystem looks like, as well.”
McKeon’s time at NMotion was spent widening their program offerings including NMotion Labs and NMotion Fellows, a post-accelerator program for alumni and growth-stage founders.
“Running an accelerator has been an interesting position for me to be in. I started as a founder running a startup, going through an accelerator,” said McKeon. “What I was able to do [at NMotion] since I started as Managing Director, is take the program from the 90-day accelerator, all the way to being an organization that serves founders from idea to series A.”
Oldfather said they weren’t just saying goodbye to McKeon, they were also thanking her for everything she’s done for the accelerator and Lincoln’s community.
“We’re celebrating, first and foremost, the hard work that Beth has done over the last couple of years and all of the great things she’s done to help move the community and the NMotion program forward,” said Oldfather. “We’re going to continue to do the programming that Beth has put into place.”
Oldfather said she would like to see a new director in place in time to do a cohort over the summer.
“Moving forward, we’re in the process of putting together a description for a national search for a director to come lead our organization here in Lincoln,” said Oldfather. “We’re looking to put out a calendar in January that has upcoming events and where we’re at with things.”
The NMotion board of directors also announced that they secured funding for three more years. In a time when the future viability of accelerators is in question, that funding verifies what McKeon already believed.
“At the end of the day, I wouldn’t start a business helping accelerators if I didn’t 100% believe in the accelerator model,” said McKeon. “I think this is still the best way to help startups accelerate their business, but I also think that we need to keep evolving what that model looks like and testing and changing it to make it the best thing [it can be].”