Startup Omaha Week | Day 3 Recap

Startup Omaha Week Day 3 was packed with advice and resources from funders, founders and support organizations. Explore takeaways from the day.

Day 3 of Startup Omaha Week started with a special edition of 1 Million Cups Omaha featuring a panel of funders from the Midwest. Panelists shared their perspective on what makes an investment opportunity interesting to them. They also gave founders practical advice on the pitching process.

Here’s a summary of the information provided by each organization represented on the panel:

Nebraska Enterprise Fund – NEF is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), which means its goal is to expand economic opportunity in low-income communities through providing access to financial services and products for local residents and businesses. NEF provides loans to underserved small and micro businesses in Nebraska, including those owned by people of color, immigrants, low-income people, women and veterans.

Funding considerations:

  • Current revenue and how long it will take to break even and get to positive cashflow
  • A concise business plan no longer than 4-7 pages
  • An understanding of sales and marketing strategy for achieving profitability

Advice: Get specific about the sources of your revenue and know where it’s coming from.

MOVE Venture Capital is a venture capital fund in Nebraska that invests in pre-seed and seed stage companies across industries.

Funding considerations:

  • High growth potential, i.e. a pathway to 100 employees or 1,000 customers in the next 12-18 months
  • Founder(s) has industry expertise
  • Founder(s) has a solid understanding of customers
  • Does the company need this much money right now or can they bootstrap

Advice: Craft multiple versions of your pitch tailored to different audiences and settings.

IrishAngels is a network of angel investors affiliated with Notre Dame University and based in Chicago that invests in pre-seed and seed companies around the United States. Companies do not need to have a connection to Notre Dame to receive investment.

Funding considerations:

  • Traction in the form of revenue or users
  • Gritty and resilient founders with industry expertise
  • Size of the Total Addressable Market (TAM)
  • High quality advisors and investors already on the cap table

Advice: Combine data and storytelling to craft a compelling story based on your company’s metrics.

Omaha 100 is a CDFI, which means it is less strict than traditional banks when it comes to lending criteria. Collateral is not required to receive a loan. 

Funding considerations:

  • Lending history and debt-to-income ratio
  • Solid business plan that outlines a path to revenue
  • Likelihood that the funds will be repaid so those dollars can be reinvested into the community again

Advice: Think like a banker when it comes to evaluating your idea.

Proven Ventures is a fund that provides revenue-based financing that invests in companies to help them generate more revenue in order to pay the fund back at a rate of 5% of monthly gross sales.

Funding considerations:

  • Amount of current revenue being generated
  • Strong team alignment
  • Understanding of company metrics and capital management

Advice: Founders should do due diligence on potential investors because it’s a 10-year commitment.

Invest Nebraska leads seed rounds and partners with other investment groups to fund and provide operational support to companies in Nebraska.

Funding considerations:

  • The actuals and assumptions a founder is making about their financials
  • Understanding of where the company wants to be in 5, 10 and 15 years
  • Is this a problem worth solving and is this a founder who can solve it

Advice: Look at non-dilutive capital sources, i.e. grants, before giving up equity to an investor. Provide at least quarterly (ideally monthly) investor updates to improve the chances of receiving follow on funding.

Lily Pad Collective Panel

The day ended with a panel of women entrepreneurs hosted by the Lily Pad Collective — a membership-based 501(c)(6) non-profit organization for entrepreneurial-minded women over the age of 21 in the Omaha community.

The panel featured founders:

Here are a few takeaways from the panelists who all met initially at the Startup Collaborative in Omaha.

Community is key. Not only do the founders rely on one another, but support from spouses, friends and family make it possible to focus on building their companies while balancing personal responsibilities. The panel pointed out that the same is true for many successful men founders although it’s not always acknowledged.

Give yourself grace. Adriana Cisneros Basulto said it best: “I give myself a lot of grace. I’m doing the best I can everyday and the work will still be there tomorrow.”

Hard times are inevitable.

“The difference between hardship and adventure is perspective” —Kelly Mann

“You are constantly in this state of ‘if this fails then what will I do?’ I understand why people give up and it’s not because they’re faint of heart. How do you tow the line of hope and fear? We’ve all had those doubts. It’s a sh*t show and crazy and why not you?” —Kellee Mikuls

Representatives from other groups for women entrepreneurs in attendance included:

You can see more snippets from Startup Omaha Week on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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