Get to know the five finalists for New Startup of the Year

This award is for the young’n that has, within the last year, grown from idea to full-fledged force somewhere on the Silicon Prairie. And the finalists are…

Last year Higher Learning Technologies won New Startup of the Year, now they’re up for Startup of the Year.

It won’t be long until we’re all looking elegant and dapper August 21 at Midland Theatre in Kansas City, celebrating another year of growth and success across the region at the Silicon Prairie Awards.

We’ve seen unique storylines unfold in our three core regions—an influx of code schools in Nebraska, Iowa’s foundational growth of accelerators and spaces for collaboration, and Kansas City’s attraction as a hub for testing out new technologies.

Everyone plays a part, which brings us here. Before we can celebrate, we need all of you to help us determine which individuals and companies we’ll be crowning. It’s a two-week voting period that ends at 11:59 p.m. on August 11. That means you have loads of time to spread the word.
Cast your vote for the Silicon Prairie Awards!

Join us for the Silicon Prairie Awards: We have an exciting evening of community celebration planned for Aug. 21 at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City. Tickets are still available for the event, which includes an opening reception, keynote talk by N3TWORK co-founder Erik Lammerding, awards ceremony and closing party. Purchase your tickets today.

Meet the five New Startup of the Year finalists

The young’n that has, within the last year, grown from idea to full-fledged force.


Briefcase provides colleges with a tool that exposes students to all jobs relevant to their individual career paths and gives school administration a way to monitor student experiences and gain valuable insight into their students’ career aspirations through understandable metrics. (Kansas City)

  • SparkLabKC and Digital Sandbox KC alum
  • Seed-round investment from Dundee Venture Capital, Nelnet, Saturday Capital and KC angel investor Jon Bentz
  • Implemented its platform at four colleges
  • Read more: SPN


Knoda is a prediction record book that lets users predict anything, challenge friends, and prove they are always right. (Kansas City)

  • SparkLabKC alum
  • Secured a seed-round investment from a local investor in November
  • Teamed with fellow Prairie startup opendorse on a marketing campaign with pro athletes
  • Received a $50K investment from a student group at Mizzou
  • Opened content relationships with several web platforms and newspapers across the country
  • Nomination: “These guys were just another SparkLabKC accelerator company a year ago. Now I hear about them everywhere. Their apps are awesome, and now I’m seeing their predictions embedded within the KC Star and other big websites. They raised money before they launched, and every time I talk to these guys, I come away impressed.”
  • Read more: SPN 


Nobl assists healthcare facilities in improving patient satisfaction by making the process of hourly rounding more efficient, meaningful, and effective. (Lincoln)

  • NMotion accelerator alum
  • Rebranded from SynerScan to Nobl
  • Closed a $200,000 round, completed pilot studie and expanded to four employees
  • Nomination: “The Nobl team is changing the way hospitals think about patient satisfaction. Their growth in the past year has been phenomenal, and serves as a testament to the value of going through an accelerator (NMotion) and launching a successful startup.”
  • Read more: SPN

Pear Deck

Pear Deck makes it easy to plan and build interactive lessons directly from your Google Drive that promote active learning in the classroom. (Iowa City)

  • Launched private beta with select schools in mid-March
  • Received a $100,000 loan from the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund in July
  • Nomination: “After exiting their former startup, the founders of ActiveGrade are at it again. You can tell they’re putting everything they’ve learned from round one into their new product, and it’s moving along very quickly. They launched early in 2014 and already have rolled out into a limited national release. Their market is huge, as more and more schools give chromebooks and laptops to every student. Two of the three founders are former teachers, and are a great example of what can happen when a person with a passion finds their entrepreneurial drive.”
  • Read more: SPN 


Pushlee allows users to access gas station deals and save money no matter where they go. (Sioux City, Iowa)

  • Launched in Feb. 2014
  • Signed agreement with more than 40 Kum & Go locations around the Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota border in May
  • Founded by a recent Morningside College grad and a soon-to-be Morningside College senior
  • Nomination: “These kids have come up with a solution for an old school industry (gas stations) using existing hardware paired with the latest GPS, Bluetooth and app tech. In short, everything has been done right with this startup and they’ve done so without leaving their hometown. In my mind this makes them a great candidate because they personify the Midwest approach to startups and tech—old school meets new school in Sioux City.”
  • Read more: SPN

Silicon Prairie Awards content is brought to you by CenturyLink.

This story is part of the AIM Archive

This story is part of the AIM Institute Archive on Silicon Prairie News. AIM gifted SPN to the Nebraska Journalism Trust in January 2023. Learn more about SPN’s origin »

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3 responses to “Get to know the five finalists for New Startup of the Year”

  1. […] New Startup of the Year — Pear Deck  […]


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