Meet the Silicon Prairie Awards judges

The Silicon Prairie Awards are decided by 50% popular vote / 50% judges vote. This year we pulled together an impressive panel judges from across the region. From community builders to serial entrepreneurs to investors, these individuals embody the expansive Silicon Prairie vision that the Awards are all about. Lynn Allendorf, Managing Director at University…


The Silicon Prairie Awards are decided by 50% popular vote / 50% judges vote. This year we pulled together an impressive panel judges from across the region. From community builders to serial entrepreneurs to investors, these individuals embody the expansive Silicon Prairie vision that the Awards are all about.

Lynn Allendorf, Managing Director at University of Iowa

Lynn Allendorf is director of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at University of Iowa. She also teaches in the undergraduate and MBA programs in the Tippie College of Business. Previously she served as vice president of product development for Parsons Technology where she managed the development and marketing of the company’s $30 million productivity division including the Quicken Family Lawyer product line. Her extensive experience in software development and engineering also includes the Silicon Valley companies Intuit and Broderbund as well as Rockwell Collins. She has also founded two companies. Her expertise is in consumer product marketing, both direct and retail, product development, team building and entrepreneurship. Lynn has a BS in Mathematics, Computer Science, and Economics, as well as an MBA, from The University of Iowa.

Trish Brasted, President and CEO of Wichita Technology Corporation

Trish Brasted, an entrepreneur and active angel investor, currently serves as president and chief executive officer of Wichita Technology Corporation (WTC), is the Managing Member of Wichita Technology Ventures, (WTV), an early-stage technology fund, and the Managing Member of the Midwest Venture Alliance, a Kansas based angel group all of which serve high-growth entrepreneurs in the region.

Ms. Brasted has a long history in finance and entrepreneurship and understands the risks entrepreneurs’ face, the courage it takes to start a new venture and the process of growing a successful organization. This passion for young businesses, growth opportunities and helping entrepreneurs succeed has paved the way for many years of success in early stage ventures and investment management.

Under the leadership of Ms. Brasted, the WTC team has provided hands-on business building assistance to several hundred entrepreneurs, invested seed capital dollars in more than 75 technology companies, representing over a 100 patented technologies in diverse technology areas such as advanced materials, manufacturing technology, biotech, broadband and telecommunications, proprietary engineering services, medical devices, information technology, and software solutions.

Ms. Brasted earned her bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University and her MBA from Baker University. She is a frequent speaker on accessing venture capital and angel investing and serves on the boards of several private technology companies.

Joni Cobb, President and CEO of Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship

Since 2006, Joni Cobb has served as the founding President and CEO of the Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship, an elite organization of the Midwest’s most successful, high-performance entrepreneurs.  Ms. Cobb has led this acclaimed model since its inception and has scaled the organization to a multi-state non profit organization with a national advisor and mentor base.

Prior to leading Pipeline, Ms. Cobb successfully started and grew her own Kansas City-based company, Cobb Communications, which provided comprehensive business planning, strategic communications and public affairs consulting services to technology and bioscience organizations, as well as foundations and organizations with high emphasis on public sector engagement.

Ms. Cobb graduated with a BA in economics and political science from the University of Missouri and earned her Juris Doctorate from the Washington University School of Law. She is a noted speaker on entrepreneurship and innovation and has been honored as Kansas City Business Journal’s Inaugural List of the “Power 100”, KC Business Magazine’s “Women of Influence” and Ingram Magazine’s “40 Under 40.” She is also a founding advisor to the Athena League for women entrepreneurs.

Ms. Cobb and her family live in Kansas City.  She is an ardent fan of the performing arts, and as such, volunteers most of her “not-so-free” time to support youth theatre programs.

Mike Colwell, Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, SquareOne

As executive director of the entrepreneurial initiatives of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Mike is directly responsible for Square One DSM and Plains Angels. Mike also has had a key role in the formation of the Global Insurance Accelerator and the agricultural technology accelerator. In his role Mike spends his days coaching, mentoring, consulting, networking and generally asking very tough questions, the kinds of questions most entrepreneurs would rather he did not ask.

After spending more than 20 years in the mobile computing and wireless networking markets, Mike brings his knowledge and battle scars to bear with the goal expanding the central Iowa entrepreneur ecosystem. Focusing on high-growth-potential companies, he works with businesses ranging from a single person with an idea to $10 million companies looking to grow to $25 million. Mike assists with business strategy, business planning, business plan execution and business model development. Mike is the co-founder and co-manager of the Plains Angels, an angel investor group with 2 Iowa chapters and over 60 members.

Mike is personally an angel investor and partner in startups. Growing up in the Cedar Falls-Waterloo area, Mike worked in several of his father’s small businesses. He attended the University of Iowa where he majored in management information systems and minored in computer science. (Courtesy of SquareOne)

John Dascher, President & CEO of E2E Accelorator

Mr. Dascher recently worked in Denmark as an Investment Director for two early-stage venture capital funds with a combined capital base of over $200 million. During this time, he held chairmanships, CEO and CFO positions with several companies in his portfolio. He enjoys being an active mentor to the entrepreneurial teams and has played instrumental roles in establishing operations in many of these companies. Before moving to Denmark, Mr. Dascher helped establish and operate investment funds and technology accelerators in Texas, Delaware and South Florida.

Dascher began his career in technology acceleration and venture capital investing in 1997 at the internationally renowned Ben Franklin Technology Partners in Philadelphia. Prior to this he worked as an aerospace project engineer with a tier-one supplier to the global leaders in the military, defense and aviation industries such as Boeing, GE, and Rolls Royce Plc. He holds a B.S. in applied physics from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania and an MBA in finance from the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He is also a graduate of the Venture Capital Institute and a Member of the International Mensa Society.

Dascher and his wife Helle Isen Olesen have three boys: Anders, 11; Søren, 9; and Kristian, 20 months. His community service activities include being a mentor for Connect Denmark where he was twice nominated as their Ambassador of the Year, a board member for his children’s elementary school, treasurer for his town’s residence club and a fundraiser for the Danish Children’s Red Cross. He enjoys being physically active, having completed three marathons and two half ironman triathlons; he also enjoys traveling with his family. (Courtesy of E2E)

Beth Engel, Partner at Dundee Venture Capital

Beth Engel is partner at Dundee Venture Capital, a seed stage venture fund based in Omaha, Nebraska. Her diverse experience includes teaching spirited middle-schoolers and working at every level of three Nebraska-based startups, including joining Hayneedle as its 12th employee, now a 600-employee venture-backed business.

After graduation from business school, she embarked on a four-year stint in the public sector at the FBI where she helped to launch the first ever Bureau-wide leadership development program (LDP). She did not carry a gun or badge, and she happily discovered that LDP was the closest thing to a “startup” in a very large institution!

Beth is a co-founder of Interface: the Web School, and an investor and mentor for Straight Shot, Omaha’s first startup accelerator. She is on the board of four of Dundee’s portfolio companies (Phone2Action, DivvyHQ, ABPathfinder, and Cosmic Cart), and advises other portfolio companies including Bulu, RoundPegg, DonorPath and Mindmixer – Dundee’s very first investment. Beth is on the board of the non-profit MAGIS Teacher Corps at Creighton University. She has an MBA from Georgetown University, a Masters in Teaching from the University of Portland, and a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Notre Dame.

Kimm Harris, President of IPC of Iowa

Kimm is a passionate businesswoman with the ability to create a vision for the future, to transform ideas into action, and to connect individuals across a broad spectrum of industries. Through her business and non-profit work, Kimm has developed relationships with successful individuals worldwide, allowing her to grow a personal network of thousands.

As President of IPC of iowa inc., a company that creates software solutions for CPAs, accountants, attorneys and other business professionals, Kimm has experienced over 25 years of business success.  In addition to purchasing companies, she has been involved in start-ups and franchises.

Kimm received both her undergraduate and MBA from the University of Iowa and is passionate about entrepreneurship.  She is a Lecturer and Venture School Instructor, through the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) at the University of Iowa.

Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneurship Team

Established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Kauffman Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo., and is among the largest private foundations in the United States with an asset base of approximately $2 billion.

Christina Oldfather, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development

Christina Oldfather is the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and NMotion. Christina works to support and build the startup community by rolling up her sleeves and jumping in to make things happen. Christina is a supporter, organizer, speaker, connector, and mentor for #StartupLNK website and newsletter, Startup Week, JumpStart Challenge, 1 Million Cups LNK, Ladies Launch Lincoln, Women+ Startup Nebraska, the Ag/Food Tech meetup, Hour of Code, the Women in Business Conference, and much more. Christina also developed the Founder’s Fund, which helps founders with acceleration/growth stage activities and is currently working to develop an expanded NMotion mentor program and programs for growth stage founder support.

Jeff Slobotski, Founder of SPN, Big Omaha, Router Ventures

Jeff Slobotski is the Founder of Router Ventures, a consultancy that bypasses place to connect talented people and impactful projects with global, game-changing resources. Slobotski recently launched the Router Ventures Fund, focused on providing early stage capital to the best and brightest companies and founders. Slobotski is also the VP of Business Development for Wave Interactive.

Before Router Ventures, Jeff Slobotski started Silicon Prairie News. Based in Omaha, Silicon Prairie News is a digital media company and event company dedicated to highlighting, connecting, engaging, and supporting entrepreneurs, creatives, and investors.

David Tominsky, Managing Director of NewBoCo Iowa Startup Accelerator

David Tominsky is an entrepreneur and community builder based in Cedar Rapids Iowa. He is currently serving as the Managing Director of the Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA). Tominsky had a 15-year career in the technical staffing industry before joining the ISA in 2014. His work involved recruiting highly skilled technical talent for critical positions in Iowa-based companies.

As a leader in the local startup community he’s organized events like Iowa’s Creative Corridor Open Coffee Series, BarcampICR, Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids, Startup Weekend Iowa City, 1 Million Cups, Caine’s Arcade Global Cardboard Challenge, and many events during Global Entrepreneurship Week and Computer Science Education Week.

He has helped launch several PreK-12 STEM chapters like Coder Dojo Cedar Rapids, Imagination Foundation Cedar Rapids, Google CS First and littleBits Cedar Rapids which has become Imagination Iowa.

He served as the first Program Manager for the ISA from 2014-2016, where he helped lead the program that brought 19 early stage tech startups to Cedar Rapids in its first two years.

He has served as the Managing Director for the ISA since 2016. The 2016 ISA Cohort included 6 early stage businesses. 100% of the teams are from Iowa and 50% of the teams are woman-led companies. In 2017, ISA plans to invest in 10 new companies and deploy $500,000 in capital.

Jay Wilkinson, Founder of Firespring, Founder and CEO of PaymentSpring

Jay currently serves as CEO of PaymentSpring, a fast-growing startup that is poised to disrupt the payment industry. He is also the founder of Firespring–a company that provides a diverse range of integrated print, creative and technology solutions to more than 5,000 clients across the U.S. In 2011, Firespring was featured in Inc. Magazine as one of the 50 Best Small Company Workplaces in America. In 2014, Firespring became Nebraska’s first B-Corporation. Jay is a board member for the Nebraska Angels and has been a leader and advocate for the Silicon Prairie startup community for more than a decade.


Get tickets the May 2, 2017 Silicon Prairie Awards at

The awards are decided by 50% popular vote / 50% judges vote. Judges could not vote in categories they were nominated in.


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