Prairie Portrait: Nick Seguin of the Kauffman Foundation
Bio: Midwest guy whose obsessions include: startups, building teams, travel and storytelling. Curator of people, connector of dots. | Title: Partner at Dynamit, Manager of Entrepreneurship at Kauffman Foundation, Board of Directors at Startup Weekend | Age: 27 | Residence: A 747 somewhere, sometimes Kansas City, Mo. | Website: nickseguin.tumblr.com | Twitter: @nickseguin | Intro
Name: Nick Seguin
Bio: Midwest guy whose obsessions include: startups, building teams, travel and storytelling. Curator of people, connector of dots.
Residence: A 747 somewhere, sometimes Kansas City, Mo.
Intro music: “Make My Whole World” by Trolley Snatcha
Silicon Prairie News: In your role at Kauffman, you travel across the country and world observing and working in different entrepreneurial ecosystems. To you, what are the unique, defining characteristics of the Silicon Prairie?
Nick Seguin: I honestly don’t know if I can articulate any unique defining characteristics … and that’s probably a good thing. Sure you can talk about local advantage and sector buckets, but in reality it comes down to people and will. Entrepreneurial communities are led by individuals and SP, like any successful region or city, has them. People are tenacious, creative and capable. Said another way, the fact that it’s not necessarily uniquely defined means it’s not at a disadvantage. It’s just as able as anywhere else. Now, it takes will. We need to push culture, stop making excuses and continue on the entrepreneurial path that has built this part of the country for 150-plus years … it’s just time for new tools.
SPN: What’s been the most rewarding part of helping grow Dynamit from when you launched it while still in school back in 2004 to what it is today?
NS: Hands down it has been watching one of the most talented teams I’ve ever been around execute, grow and have leaders emerge from within. The management team has grown tremendously, and we have a long way to go. But seeing people who started with us not-that-long-ago teach us, lead others, exude our culture and deliver is indescribable.
SPN: As an angel investor, a mentor to startups and an advisor to community leaders and organizations, where do you turn for advice?
NS: I’ve sought out mentors and advisors all my life. Early on at Dynamit we established an advisory board. I’ve spent lots of money and time on cups of coffee with people I wanted to learn from. I find people who are willing to teach, and who fit specific skills and experiences that I want to work on. I’m intentional about my teachers and I know I have a lot to learn.
SPN: An avid reader, you’ve certainly consumed your share of books on entrepreneurship and startups. Say someone’s about to make the entrepreneurial plunge. What three books do they have to read, and why?
NS: First, in our world of startups I’d say blogs are more valuable than books. But, if we’re going with books (and I only read real, paper books) top for me right now are: “The Lean Startup” – it’s not just about product, but about a system of thinking and stresses the blocking and tackling of startups; “Atlas Shrugged” – you either understand this, or you don’t; “The Alchemist” – to be a great entrepreneur you must be self-aware. To me, this book is all about self-awareness.
SPN: Can you talk me through the last year as a fan of The Ohio State University? What’s your take on going from the low of the Tressel scandal to the high of luring one of the nation’s finest coaches, Urban Meyer, out of “retirement”?
NS: You had to go here, didn’t you? 🙂 I mean look, we all know college athletics are a mess – it’s all a money game. Tressel broke a cardinal rule: you don’t lie to the NCAA. He had to go. We will see how Urban does (I have high hopes and higher expectations), but when asked in his first press conference how he’d like his team to be depicted by the media, his answer was perfect: RELENTLESS. No matter what, scarlet and gray run through my veins. O…H…
Image credit: Photo courtesy of Nick Seguin.
Prairie Portraits: To learn more about this series, see our introduction post, or visit our archives for past Prairie Portraits. To suggest an individual for a future Prairie Portrait, contact email@example.com.
We’ll share event highlights, founder profiles and feature stories digging into all things related to Nebraska startups and small businesses. Delivered on Wednesdays.