Increasing access to information and community

Startup Office Hours is our version of mentoring at scale. With this new monthly series we’ll feature guest experts who dig into a specific topic relevant to folks in the startup ecosystem. Join us April 25th to discuss startup hiring with advice for both hiring managers and job candidates.

April SPN Office Hours

Transparency is a core value of our parent organization, The Nebraska Journalism Trust. At Silicon Prairie News we strive to embody that mission by increasing access to information and community.

Startup Office Hours is our version of mentoring at scale. With this new monthly series we’ll solve for the following questions:

  • How do we connect the folks with resources in the startup community to those who need them?
  • How can you break into a closed network as someone from a historically excluded background or someone who recently moved to Nebraska?

The Nebraska startup community has historically felt like a closed system to some. It can feel like a private club that’s impossible to break into unless you know the right people. It can even feel that way for those like myself who were around in the early days of building the Nebraska startup community, but eventually felt alienated. Others never felt included to begin with. This certainly includes women and people of color. And it’s a sentiment I’ve also heard expressed by white men in Omaha, folks in rural communities and those living in Nebraska’s smaller metropolitan areas. 

So we’re going to try to do something about that, starting this month with a virtual conversation you should participate in. The details are at the end of this story.

Access to information and mentoring is powerful. But how do you find those when you’re not already “plugged in” to the ecosystem?

Aspiring entrepreneurs face  additional  barriers compared to their already established founder counterparts. According to the 2020 Kauffman Foundation Report, Challenges Along The Entrepreneurial Journey:

– Aspiring entrepreneurs were nearly twice as likely as entrepreneurs to report challenges related to mentors who can provide guidance; social support; and location, region, or geography. 

– Aspiring entrepreneurs were nearly three times more likely than entrepreneurs to identify a lack of inclusion based on race, ethnicity, gender, income, or other factors as a challenge.

Entrepreneurship changes the world and our lives through the creation of new jobs, bringing innovations to market and disrupting the status quo. Entrepreneurship can be a pathway to building generational wealth for communities that have been historically excluded. And not just for founders. Equity grants to startup employees can make a huge impact on their financial futures.

“The startup ecosystem is a massive engine of financial power and opportunity for founders, employees, and investors. But not everyone has had the opportunity to participate in this ecosystem,” according to the 2022 Carta annual equity report: Demographic analysis of ownership in the private market.

According to the report: Black and Latino people only made up 16% of equity-receiving employees in 2022 despite representing 30% of the U.S. labor force. In 2022, women received less equity compensation than their male counterparts. They comprised 36% of equity-receiving employees while comprising 47% of the U.S. labor force.

In 2022, 60% of equity-receiving employees were white, on par with their make up of 61% of the U.S. labor force. However, they collectively received 70% of the total value of initial equity grants.

Growing the ecosystem (and access to it) will present more ownership opportunities to more people.

According to the Kauffman report, 53% of founders reported that finding skilled employees is one of their biggest challenges, second only to finding customers. That’s why we decided to kick off Startup Office Hours with an AMA about hiring.

Join us for a live (virtual) conversation with guest experts, startup advisor Corey Spitzer and experienced startup hiring manager Amanda Martinez to discuss:

  • How to hire employees for your startup
  • How to get hired at a startup
  • Considerations for in-person vs. remote hiring
  • Equitable hiring practices
  • Hiring for culture add vs. culture fit
  • And more 

Send us your questions about hiring by email or on our social channels to help fuel the conversation. You can register to attend the livestream here.

Want to know more about what it’s like to work for a startup in Nebraska, check out our guest experts in last week’s article. Want to see who’s hiring in the Nebraska startup ecosystem? Check out the Omaha Startup Job Mixer this Friday, April 14 at Millwork Commons.

A special thank you to our Startup Office Hours sponsor Elevator!


We’ll share event highlights, founder profiles and feature stories digging into all things related to Nebraska startups and small businesses. Delivered on Wednesdays.