Posts by SPN Newsroom

Lessons from the classroom on company culture

(Guest post by Michal Eynon-Lynch.) Creating a positive company culture is much like creating a positive classroom culture. As former teachers and camp counselors, this is something we enjoy actively considering. When intentionally attempting to improve company culture, I recommend following these three tips:

1. Laissez-faire it up
2. Hire well
3. Make it enjoyable.
Laissez-faire it up:

In the classroom, I can easily make a lot of really firm rules and structures. I can make my students do worksheets every night and give them points for completing their homework on time. I can penalize …

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Four points for a productive pitch to investors

(Guest post written by Mark Hasebroock.) Frequently, we are asked, “What should I present to you when I pitch my business?” I’ve heard and read a number of different ways to pitch and they all have merit. There isn’t one specific right answer. But there are some guidelines. From our standpoint, as capital providers and value add partners, we like to hear:
What’s the problem?
What’s your solution?
How big is the market opportunity?
Why will you win?
Format: Ten to twelve slides. Be brief and be blunt. |

What’s the problem?

Some of the best ideas we have invested in so far stemmed from a founder identifying a problem that is personal to them. It often starts with …

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Prairie Portrait: Steve Roatch of Twentyseven Global

Silicon Prairie News: What factors led to your decision to leave your previous gig and start Twentyseven Global? |

Steve Roatch: I had spent my entire career at Accenture. It was a great run from new analyst to managing partner. But as the company grew, it became more bureaucratic and harder to innovate. So I joined a small software company as the COO, turned it around and ran it until we sold it. I found that I liked the small business environment and had several of my own ideas I was anxious to implement. |

SPN: What have you found to be the biggest challenges to working with offshore delivery centers? How about the most significant benefits of it? ?

SR: The biggest challenge, not surprisingly, is culture. I don’t mean …

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Prairie Portrait: Andrew Evans of Gamer Talent

Silicon Prairie News: What was the series of events that led you to up and move to Kansas City and into the Homes for Hackers house? |

Andrew Evans: I was working hard and playing hard in San Francisco for about two years. I got burned out. I needed a really, really big break. I decided to quit my job, transfer the apartment and travel the world for a year or two while trying to start a company. While on my first month away in Costa Rica, I heard about Homes for Hackers. Free rent and Google Fiber sounded great. |

SPN: Aside from Gigabit-speed internet, what have been the biggest benefits of your time spent in Kansas City Startup Village? …

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“Where the money is”

(Guest post by Gordon Whitten.) When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he famously said, “That’s where the money is.”

Not so different from an entrepreneur looking to start a business. Business is where the money is. But most entrepreneurs go into business to build something. The money to be earned is somewhat secondary to the creation of this new thing, which is kind of nice. Obviously, to get money out of the new business, however, you usually have to put some in.

I’ve raised capital for three entrepreneurial ventures of my own so far in my life, and I’m commonly asked, “What is the best way …

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Prairie Portrait: Kristin Kenney of Polsinelli Shughart

Silicon Prairie News: Given that you once doubted you’d join a big firm, what was it that drew you to Polsinelli Shughart?

Kristin Kenney: Polsinelli is an entrepreneurial firm that values lawyers who think like business people. Although it’s now a large national firm, Polsinelli has remained headquartered in Kansas City and is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout the Midwest. I decided to join Polsinelli because I’m encouraged to use my business experience in addition to my legal skills. | SPN: What experiences or lessons learned during your time as an entrepreneur have proven most valuable in your work an attorney for entrepreneurs?

KK: There are two big lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur. First, develop relationships …

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Prairie Portrait: Katie Weiler, Drake University senior

Silicon Prairie News: What were your main takeaways from the Big Dream Gathering last week at Drake? |

Katie Weiler: I love the connections that are made at Big Dream Gatherings. We had someone who wanted to learn Hebrew who was able to connect with someone who speaks it fluently. There as also a woman who wanted to learn how to work on antique cars, and she was able to connect with someone who does it as a hobby. It amazes me how much people can help each other if they’re just willing to share what they need. |
SPN: As someone with a passion for teaching and learning, what are ways — aside from your formal education — that you make both of those part of your daily life? |

KW: Outside of school, I’m constantly reading books about self-improvement and subjects …

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Prairie Portrait: Wade Steenhoek of Central College

Silicon Prairie News: What are the biggest challenges you face in helping cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset among college students? |

Wade Steenhoek: Students often mistakenly think that entrepreneurship is reserved for someone else and question their own place in this space. Part of my role is to establish competence in starting a new venture but also develop the confidence that allows students to believe in their ability to achieve their dream of starting their own business. |

SPN: As a big fan of Steve Blank’s work, what are a couple of the most important lessons you’ve taken from him? |

WS: The single most important lesson is that products …

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Entrepreneurship is risky; hiring employees is even riskier

It is a great honor to close out the October series on hiring here on Silicon Prairie News. I have read both Brad’s and Brent’s post from earlier in the month and I’m hoping I can share some great insight like they have.

I’m a big fan of Mark Suster. Mark is an investment partner at GRP Partners and blogs at Both Sides of The Table. In March 2011 he wrote a blog post that I have bookmarked and read often. I am drawn to his post and this topic so much because Mark says when hiring employees, always choose “Attitude over Aptitude.” In a region like LA, or even in NYC and The Valley, where there is more abundance of people with the same aptitudes …

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Prairie Portrait: Abby Goltz of Banno

Silicon Prairie News: What were the biggest challenges you encountered last year moving from a job in the advertising industry to your current gig with Banno? |

Abby Goltz: I would say the biggest challenge was just learning and working in a completely different niche. I went from proof reading disclaimers and pulling manufacturer incentives for automotive advertising to product implementation and support for financial institutions nationwide. This industry is a much more technical environment and very highly regulated. I feel challenged and learn something new every single day which is only one of the many factors attributing to my happiness at Banno. |

SPN: Banno colleagues have praised your knack …

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