Startup Omaha Week | Day 5 Recap

The final day of Startup Omaha Week kicked off with Entrepreneurs & Favors. Next up was a live edition of SPN Office Hours featuring exit-ed Nebraska founders. The day ended with the E-Commerce & Friends Meetup.

The final day of Startup Omaha Week kicked off with Entrepreneurs & Favors, a gathering of entrepreneurs ready to ask and give help to one another. Next up was a live edition of SPN Office Hours featuring exit-ed Nebraska founders, presented in partnership with the Nebraska Angels and Enterprise Legal Services. The day ended with the E-Commerce & Friends Meetup.

Keep reading for takeaways from the final events of Startup Omaha Week.

Startup Omaha Week || Angels + ELS + SPN

This special live edition of SPN Office Hours included a panel of four Nebraska founders: Dusty Davidson, Joe Petsick, Shonna Dorsey and Manny Quevedo. The panel discussed their experiences selling companies in the 1990s through the 2010s and how they engage now in the Nebraska startup community.

These are a few themes from the conversation.

Entrepreneurship & Mental Health: All of the panelists acknowledged that their mental health suffered at various points during the process of building and selling their companies. Several mentioned being diagnosed with PTSD after the sale because it felt like a profound loss.

Life Post-Exit: A couple of the founders were acqui-hired (hired by the company they sold to) after their company was acquired. Others went on to build something new after taking a break. All of them are still involved in the startup ecosystem in Nebraska as mentors, investors, board members and community builders.

The Ecosystem Today: The panelists agreed that today Nebraska’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem is considerably more established than when they first started building. It’s also more diverse in terms of individual identities and business opportunities. There are more resources, including funding sources, available, too. 

Tips For Success: Be intentional about the people you surround yourself with, including co-founders, investors and the team you hire. Find folks who buy into your vision, can execute without a ton of supervision, and are willing to take risks. Leverage your existing network and resources to create a new market or disrupt an existing one. 

Final Thoughts: Prioritize aligning expectations with partners and funders early on to allow for more candid conversations and better decision-making from the beginning. Accelerating a startup’s growth in Nebraska is simpler now than it was 25 years ago, but it still takes work and commitment. Focus on building something big, selling it and then giving back to the community in order to grow the ecosystem. Successful ecosystems tolerate failure, allowing for risk-taking and growth, so we need to get comfortable with it.

You can see a full video replay of SPN Office Hours here.

E-Commerce & Friends Meetup

The E-Commerce & Friends Meetup featured Hummingbirds CEO Emily Steele sharing lessons from building a platform that connects small businesses with micro-influencers in their community in order to drive sales and awareness.

Here are the highlights of her presentation.

Community-led Growth: Hummingbirds is building a two-sided marketplace for local businesses and individuals to connect and collaborate for influencer marketing campaigns. Marketing is moving towards word-of-mouth and building relationships through technology, rather than interruptive advertising. Individuals don’t need to have a massive following in order to work with local brands. Consistent engagement and messaging will build brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Effective Influencer Marketing: Work with influencers and content creators who will drive traffic and sales, while also building trust and association with the brand. Focus on delivering value to customers through authentic connection and technology. Create moments that people remember, such as an experiential event where attendees connect with each other and build positive brand associations.

Influencer Marketing Strategy: Brands should start by understanding why people buy their product. Identify where influencers have influence and tailor your marketing efforts accordingly. Understand your audience’s engagement with content, including the value of repetition and the need for sustained communication. Focus on the middle funnel of the customer journey to activate and retain customers, rather than just focusing on the top or bottom of the funnel.

Final Thoughts: It’s important to work with influencers who are active daily to drive customer acquisition and loyalty. Both sides of the marketplace can receive valuable engagement and feedback by working with local micro-influencers and brands compared to national brands or influencers. Building local communities and supporting small businesses is key to creating value and thriving in a franchise or large grocery/hotel/restaurant chain.

More Scenes From The Day

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