The four finalists in contention for our Investor of the Year award range from a husband-and-wife team making angel investments to a venture capital firm leading seed rounds. These investors, according to the CEOs of their portfolio companies, do more than just boost bank accounts; they provide the “total package.”
At our inaugural Silicon Prairie Awards event on Aug. 30, one these four finalists will be crowned Investor of the Year. In anticipation of that celebration, we’re providing overviews of the four contenders for each of our 12 Silicon Prairie Awards. The finalists — 48 in all — are the result of public nominations in July and input from our selection committee earlier this month.
A public vote will help determine the winners of the awards, so cast your ballot for the Investor of the Year below, or visit the awards page to vote on all 12 categories.
Join us for the Silicon Prairie Awards: We have a fun night of community celebration planned for Aug. 30 at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha. Tickets still remain for the event, which includes an opening reception, keynote talk by TechStars founder and CEO David Cohen, awards ceremony and a closing party. Purchase your tickets today.
Meet the finalists
More than funding, the Investor of the Year provided the all-around package, being a connector and champion of their portfolio startups. (Investment or exit between July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012.)
Dundee Venture Capital invests in internet services and ecommerce businesses that are either at ground zero or have some revenue. (Omaha)
Investments: Dundee VC led Omaha-based MindMixer’s $1.9 million seed round (April 2012).
Words from a portfolio company: “Dundee VC has exceeded every expectation we had going into the relationship and has brought so much more to the table than capital. Mark has provided connectedness to both coasts, invaluable guidance, and served as a phenomenal sounding board as someone who has actually created a successful company.” – Nick Bowden, co-founder and CEO of MindMixer
Jim and Karen Linder are angel investors. (Omaha)
Words from a portfolio company: “Dr. Jim and Karen Linder are one of the main reasons why we moved Bulu Box from San Francisco to Lincoln. They didn’t just contribute dollars, they have contributed their time, mentorship, and contacts to help us move forward and grow as a company.” – Paul Jarrett, co-founder and CEO of Bulu Box
Nebraska Global is a software venture fund that invests in Nebraska-based startups. (Lincoln, Neb.)
Words from a portfolio company: “Nebraska Global is all about their people showing up for their companies. We have seen how Steve Kiene, Patrick Smith and (Nebraska Global investor) Stephen George will really go out of their way to help you solve problems and connect people. … I know Steve is on the road with Elite Form all the time and takes their successes and failures personally. Steve Kiene is really the total package and an invaluable asset to all the portfolio companies.” – Christopher Kingsley, founder and CEO of 42
OpenAir Equity Partners is a venture capital and private equity firm that focuses on the wireless communications and mobile internet sectors. (Kansas City, Mo.)
Investments: OpenAir helped one Kansas City portfolio company to an exit, as Google acquired Zave Networks (September 2011). OpenAir participated in the seed rounds of Kansas City companies Leap2 (February 2012) and AgLocal (June 2012) and invested in Gift Card Impressions (May 2012).
Words from a portfolio company: “The OpenAir Equity team was a critical piece of the equation for the success of Zave Networks. Not only did they provide capital and strategic counsel, but they also were ‘Believers’ in the business and thus willing to go well above and beyond the traditional VC role. … The partners at OpenAir Equity are quality individuals and have a ‘swing for the fences’ mentality that allows them to think bigger and achieve greater results for their portfolio companies and founders.” – Thad Langford, former president and CEO of Zave Networks, currently entrepreneur in residence at OpenAir Equity Partners
Thanks to sponsors that are making this inaugural event a reality: Bellevue University, Hudl, Centennial Bank, Lightbank, West Corporation, Koley – Jessen, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Verizon Wireless, University of Nebraska and our Startup Alley participants. To learn about more opportunities, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.