Recap: SPN Town Hall at 1 Million Cups Omaha

It's been almost six months since SPN relaunched under the Nebraska Journalism Trust. Editor Stefanie Monge gave an update and asked for community feedback at a recent town hall at 1 Million Cups Omaha.

SPN at 1MC

Last week, SPN presented at 1 Million Cups Omaha to share reflections on the past six months and ask for feedback on how we can best serve the startup community moving forward. We launched the SPN Community Survey to help shape what comes next. Fill it out and let us know what you think here.

The event was also a chance for folks to learn more about SPN editor Stefanie Monge, who started at Nebraska Journalism Trust (SPN’s new parent organization as of 2023) in March. Keep reading for a recap of the conversation at 1 Million Cups Omaha and an introduction to Monge.

Honing the vIsion for SPN

SPN tells stories from the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nebraska. That marks a shift from previous, more regional coverage. We’re still covering high tech startups. We’re also expanding to cover entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship in small businesses and larger corporations, as well. Venture-backed startups are one way to pursue entrepreneurship as a career, if not the most likely path for most people in Nebraska.

We’re maintaining a focus on community and engaging with events and partners to help provide points of access into the startup ecosystem in Nebraska, i.e. Startup Office Hours. We want to help connect the dots between all of the resources available for those who want to start or grow their businesses in Nebraska. 

SPN is also working to present a more holistic view of what’s happening across the ecosystem. We want to help break down information silos and connect folks with resources and ideas to resources and networks that are mutually beneficial. We’re trying to tell the whole story of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur in Nebraska — the highs and lows.

The feedback we’ve received so far is super encouraging. Now that we’ve had some time to establish credibility under new leadership, it’s time to look to the future.

What does the community need right now?

We want to hear from you as we look towards the next six months (and beyond) at SPN. Let us know what you think by taking the SPN Community Survey. We’ll use the results to hone our direction for the immediate future.

Take the survey and be sure to subscribe to the weekly newsletter to learn more about the results.

This work could not be happening without you. We appreciate you!

Meet the SPN editor Stefanie Monge

Monge started her career at the Omaha World-Herald covering entrepreneurship and small businesses in the mid-to-late 2000s where she was the first to cover the subject as a dedicated area of coverage. She wrote about the first Big Omaha — a conference produced by the original SPN team, including Dusty Davidson and Jeff Slobotski. It was around this time that entrepreneurship classes were starting to pop up at local colleges and universities.

During her tenure at the World-Herald, Monge launched the Small Business Makeover series that paired small business owners with experts to address specific areas of concern in their business. The problem and solution were published in a story so that other business owners could learn from the experience.

As social media and other new media presented more creative opportunities to engage with readers and sources, Monge saw an opportunity to use these new tools in her reporting. Senior editors weren’t convinced that it was a good use of time. At the time (2008), newspapers were struggling to figure out how to stay viable and adapt their business model in a world where people were increasingly turning to the internet for information.

Monge left the newspaper to work for a tech startup that moved to Omaha from southern California in 2009. She spent just over a year as the spokesperson and community manager before deciding to sell everything she owned and move to Australia for a yearlong Working Holiday Visa. Monge spent the next two years backpacking through Australia, South Asia and Europe.

She returned to Omaha in late 2012 and started a corporate wellness business providing yoga and meditation classes and team building activities for clients in their workplaces. Monge went on to lead international retreats and conferences for women entrepreneurs before returning to work for high growth startups in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

After living and working around the world for more than a decade, Monge started consulting as a chief-of-staff-at-large for nonprofits and startups assisting with strategic planning and team retreats.

And that brings us to the beginning of 2023, when SPN was acquired by the Nebraska Journalism Trust from the AIM Institute — the online publication’s most recent owner. SPN is the second media outlet under the Nebraska Journalism Trust umbrella, following their flagship publication Flatwater Free Press.

Monge was named editor of the new SPN in charge of reviving the publication and launching a weekly newsletter. Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter, published Wednesday afternoons, to get the latest stories from SPN and a curated list of events and resources.


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