SPN’s Year-End Top Ten

2019 was a momentous year. The Washington Nationals won the World Series. Lizzo headlined her first music festival ever in Omaha, Nebraska. The president was impeached. And Silicon Prairie News continued to bring you the latest news on Midwest startups, tech and entrepreneurial culture. Here are 10 of our favorite articles from the past 12…


2019 was a momentous year.

The Washington Nationals won the World Series. Lizzo headlined her first music festival ever in Omaha, Nebraska. The president was impeached. And Silicon Prairie News continued to bring you the latest news on Midwest startups, tech and entrepreneurial culture. Here are 10 of our favorite articles from the past 12 months.

Eight-Year-Old Inspiring Entrepreneurs of the Future

We love a good inspo story, especially when it involves kids. At eight years old, Nico White started his own business. Passport Sioux Falls introduces youth to the possibilities within various career fields. Launched in summer 2019 with the help of Nico’s mom Carla, the business has already broken even. What does this precocious entrepreneur want to do with the money he earns from his company? Buy a new bike, of course.

Pincurl Girls Brings Message of Positivity to Young Lives

Artist and entrepreneur Jen Landis wanted to do something to help her daughter navigate her impending adolescence. Landis recalled how discouraging adolescence was for her and many young women, how the misogyny she faced led to persistent feelings of inadequacy despite obvious talent and brilliance. So, she launched Pincurl Girls, products designed to encourage girls to reach their dreams. At the heart of the business is a text-messaging service that sends personalized daily affirmations to girls. Affirmations like “your successes & failures are itty-bitty in comparison to the enormous courage you have to fight for your ideas,” “your potential is equal to your imagination—at any moment you can imagine new opportunities for yourself” and “you make the stars twinkle and the moon gleam.” I’m not crying, you’re crying. (Okay, I’m crying, too.)

New Omaha Coworking Space Populus Supports the Physical and Mental Health of Entrepreneurs

The hustle-and-grind ideology of startup life can take a serious toll on entrepreneurs. So perhaps it’s no wonder that nearly half of all entrepreneurs struggle with at least one mental illness, according to a 2015 University of California study. Luckily, the new Omaha-based coworking space Populus launched with the goal of entrepreneurs’ overall wellness in mind. Each member enjoys access to a fitness center, standing desks, healthy snacks, and a licensed therapist on site. Founder Micah Yost hopes the space will help dismantle the stigma associated with mental illness among entrepreneurs. We applaud him quite loudly for it.

Addressing the Racism in Tech Education and the Tech Industry

This two-part series shines a light on the trenchant racism in tech education and the tech industry. It’s a compelling, disturbing read. Like any work of journalism taking a hard look at racism, the series faced some backlash from a tiny segment of readers who couldn’t handle the truth. Overall, however, the SPN audience took the message to heart: we need to do better, both as a tech community and as human beings.

We Are Having the Wrong Conversation About Workforce Development

Economic development strategies tend to focus on encouraging the growth of startups and outside investment, particularly in the tech arena. Unfortunately, as this piece points out, economic development and workforce development are separate beasts, and it makes no sense to grow the demand for tech workers without increasing the number of tech workers. 

AIM Institute’s Cybersleuth Camp Teaches High School Girls about Technology, Cybersecurity, and Digital Citizenship

Speaking of the tech workforce, the nonprofit AIM Institute provided a weeklong cybersecurity camp for girls this summer. Since women are vastly underrepresented in tech, it’s vital to tailor tech education to the needs of girls. A more diverse workforce is a stronger one, obviously.   

Highlander Code Camp Builds Tomorrow’s Tech Workforce

People of color are also underrepresented in the tech workforce. This summer, the AIM Institute partnered with the community development organization Seventy Five North to implement Highlander Code Camp, a seven-week web development program primarily serving high school students of color from North Omaha. Students learned HTML, CSS, and Javascript; designed and coded their own websites; and took field trips to tech companies to see where a career in tech could take them. 

Mutual of Omaha Focuses on Scientific Method through New Enterprise Business Platform Lab

We’re all about the scientific method here. René Descartes, Frances Bacon, Isaac Newton and other progenitors of empiricism were really onto something. That’s evident in almost every facet of life in 2019, including business innovation. Using a science-based approach, Mutual of Omaha’s new Enterprise Business Platform Lab helps the 6,000+ employee company deliver new products with the speed and agility of a startup. While it’s always exciting to experience the mysterious and intangible spark of inspiration, it’s also advantageous to employ rigorous testing to evaluate the worth of an idea before going all-in.

Reshaping Our Region for the 21st Century

Maybe it’s not so bad living in flyover country. We’re famous for agriculture, of course, but the Midwest is a powerhouse for many other industries: manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and health science, to name four. We’re also poised to reshape our future through AI, machine learning, and data analytics. And while our larger geographic size makes connecting us all a challenge, technology has never made it easier to do exactly that.


Today’s Hottest Tech, According to Ben Franklin

While technically not news, SPN unearthed this interesting bit of content from founding father and inventor of the bifocal, Ben Franklin.


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