Get to know the five finalists for Service Provider of the Year

This lawyer, accountant, marketer or other service provider made things happen for startups, simple as that. And the finalists are…

Last year at the second-annual Silicon Prairie Awards in Des Moines, Matt Westenburg took home Service Provider 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 Service Provider of the Year finalists

This lawyer, accountant, marketer or other service provider made things happen for startups, simple as that.

Advent IP 

Advent IP has patent law specialization but routinely develop business strategy and assessments in all areas of the intellectual property field including trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and internet commerce. (Omaha)

  • Helped many startups obtain patent protection over the last four years including Hudl, Pulse Populi and Strategic Banking Solutions
  • Nomination: “Tyson Benson has a strategic focus on using startup resources most effectively. He regularly engages clients on both navigating the patent system and deciding when to invest time and resources into the process versus deploying their capital elsewhere.”
  • Nomination: “Knowledgable, dedicated, courteous and calculated. They are focused on finding practical solutions and appreciate the uniqueness of each client.”
  • Read more: TwitterSPN

Bart Dillashaw

Bart Dillashaw focuses on emerging growth companies, venture capital and angel investors and has extensive experience with VC financings, private equity transactions, and formation and epresentation of startup companies. (Lincoln)

  • Leader of the Nebraska Angels
  • Shareholder at Koley Jessen attorneys
  • Nomination: “Active in building the community as a mentor while helping startup companies at no or discounted cost.”
  • Nomination: “He goes above and beyond for his clients, acting as a trusted attorney, advisor, and friend.”
  • Read more: TwitterSPN

Chris Brown, Venture Legal

Venture Legal was started by Chris after he realized he wanted to help entrepreneurs, not be a partner in a large firm.
  • Chris helps with IP, LLPs & corps, contracts and general business law
  • Nomination: “Everyone talks about how a grassroots movement of entrepreneurs starting companies is the best way to build out our community, but few professionals can find it in themselves to serve those making that bold leap. Chris is an exception. He excels in fielding questions from those who are dreaming about their own company, and gives them the support and knowledge they need to succeed from the start. While others might play lip service to the ideal of serving the solopreneur, Chris is in the trenches right beside them, day in and day out. What’s more, he is a tireless advocate who pushes the legal community to move outside their traditional roles and embrace the startup and entrepreneur community.”
  • Nomination: “Even after stepping out on his own, Chris stills consults and helps every entrepreneur he crosses paths with. He is a huge supporter of Startup Weekend, offering mentorship and prizes.”
  • Read more: LinkedIn, Twitter

JPEC – University of Iowa

The University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center is committed to being a national leader in teaching and supporting innovation and entrepreneurial development. (Iowa City)

  • Aside from assisting students at the university level, U of Iowa’s JPEC runs programs like Dev/Iowa Bootcamp and Venture School, among others.
  • Nomination: “The UI and JPEC aren’t just for students anymore. Empowering Iowans of all ages, all career stages, all across the state, with tons of new programs that have rolled out in the past year. Dev/Iowa bootcamp for a crash course in coding, Venture School for customer discovery, UI Partners for business consulting and more. The UI has also sponsored big events, like the Startup Iowa Town Hall, and dozens of meetups along the way. Many of these programs are free or very under-priced thanks to state support for entrepreneurship in Iowa.”
  • Read more: TwitterSPN


Sculpt is Iowa City’s social media marketing agency, and helps brands build, manage and monitor their online communities. (Iowa City) 

  • Built and launched social media recruitment and engagement campaigns for startup community events like EntreFEST, Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids/Iowa City and the Creative Corridor Project’s Creative Week
  • Team members help host 1 Million Cups Iowa City/Cedar Rapids 
  • Nomination: “Sculpt donates dozens of hours in-kind to the events, snapping pictures and live-tweeting. It’s safe to say that if you’ve encountered the IC/CR startup community on social media, you’ve seen their work, or interacted with their community managers. Some of their impact is behind the scenes, too. Sculpt redesigned Clusterflunk’s $1 Million pitch deck, and consulted with companies like Bandwidth Pool and on scaling digital marketing efforts.”
  • Nomination: “Sculpt powers the social web presence for some of the most ambitious, entrepreneurial brands in the Creative Corridor and from coast to coast. Through their work, and volunteerism, this team of connectors build community, ignite conversation, and drives conversions. They do good work and are great to work with. And more importantly, they are changing the way we all look at brands on social media.”
  • Read more: TwitterSPN

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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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One response to “Get to know the five finalists for Service Provider of the Year”

  1. […] Service Provider of the Year — University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center […]