Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

A New Perspective: Entrepreneurial Media

New perspectives. They are refreshing. They are inspiring. They are educational. Most of all they are necessary to grow.

Throughout the past five months I have been involved in a new experimental night class called Entrepreneurial Media. Every Monday night my traditional business views on entrepreneurship have been expanded into a journalistic and media realm of thinking. My professor, Dr. Carol Zuegner, saw an opportunity a couple of years ago after attending Big Omaha to incorporate a innovative and creative business planning class into the journalism curriculum. Being a business student, I jumped at the opportunity to take the class and surround myself with students who encompass the other piece of the puzzle to entrepreneurship. The students were mostly writers, reporters, designers and developers, and then there was me, one of three business students. The collaboration and thought provoking ideas in the class was outstanding I am very glad to have been a part of it.

Throughout the semester we listened to several speakers who are putting their ideas and plans into action and are achieving high success. My two favorite speakers were Jen Edney and Dusty Davidson.

  • Jen Edney, Edney Adventure Photojournalism
    • Jen Edney is a graduate of the Creighton University Department of Journalism, Media and Computing who perfectly exemplifies living on the edge. She took her passion of photography and sailing and has made an international business of it. Traveling all months of the year, she photographs sailing regatas all over the world and is one of the most respected professionals in the field. Jen has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, YACHT Magazine, CBS Sports and ABC Prime Time. Throughout her career she has shot in locations many people would label as paradise and spends a majority of her time in the water. One thing that sets her apart from other professional sailing photographers is her drive and hunger for adventure; she is known as a daredevil because of her willingness to shoot photos in the water while large vessels and sailboats move right in her direction. Along with her photography, she has created a new camera strap product made of military durability rope. Jen had a lot of great advice for us aspiring entrepreneurs and the thing that resonated with me the most was when she told us to never believe that you cannot turn your passion into a career. Follow her photos and expect big things out of Jen; she is just getting started.

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  • Dusty Davidson, Silicon Prairie News
    • Dusty Davidson is a University of Nebraska-Omaha graduate who co-founded Silicon Prairie News. After graduation he he spent some time working in corporate software development and found that he was not fond of the standard 9-5. So, alongside fellow Omaha innovator, Jeff Slobotski, Dusty took control of his drive to start something that excited him and could keep him in his favorite city, Omaha. They saw an opportunity to highlight the flourishing entrepreneurial scene within the Midwest. He explained that for many years there was this belief that tech startups could only be successful on the coasts, especially in Silicon Valley. With the advancement of technology and the excitement for entrepreneurship, the trends were shifting and creatives and innovators were finding large success with putting their ideas into action in cities like Omaha, Des Moines and Kansas City. In 2008 the idea for SPN became a reality and now four years later they have solidified a large presence within the entrepreneurial community. SPN is a content based news site that covers all things entrepreneurship. Their entrepreneurship conference Big Omaha is now one of the most prestigious and sought after conferences to attend in the country. Big Omaha’s success led into creating Big Des Moines and Big Kansas City. These three conferences make up the Big Series and are well worth attending. Dusty is a mover and a shaker and just co-founded a web hosting startup called FlyWheel. To say he is a go getter is an understatement. His best advice for our class was, “Try to get a job or start a career where your soul is not sucked through your nose.” SPN is growing at a rapid pace and Dusty is one of the leading entrepreneurs in the country.31348_0110

Credits: Photos from Jen and Dusty’s Twitter Account

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Movers and Shakers Spotlight: Sarah and Megan

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Two weeks ago, my little knowledge of boutique fashion was entirely stereotypical…

Pretty pink dresses. Big pink bows. Extremely expensive jewelry. Unnecessary pink accessories.

I meet Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik and Megan Hunt, co-founders of Hello Holiday, and my new fashion perspective instantly includes…

Extensive branding and research. Photos and packaging. Website maintenance. Still pretty pink dressesLate working nights. A whole lot more.

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I quickly realized that I was going to learn quite a bit from these women entrepreneurs in our two hours spent sharing ideas. Sarah, a fashionista and creative at heart, and Megan, a born entrepreneur, are the perfect example of complimentary business partners. With their similar professional backgrounds, they pull small business, fashion writing, modeling, crafting and design expertises altogether under one roof. If there was a textbook example of perfect balance in co-founders, I think I found it between Sarah and Megan.

Their e-commerce site, Hello Holiday, thrives off of the mission celebrating your arrival” and hopes that with every purchase, customers feel a sense of holiday or happiness. The co-founders fully believe in celebrating you and have built the company around encouraging their customers to reward themselves for those special moments, holidays, in life. “We want every customer to feel like they are a part of everything we do. We share their Instagram photos, celebrate milestones with them and make them feel important,” Megan explained. Sarah and Megan have built a phenomenal brand and know exactly who they are in terms of fashion and business. They have customers all over the country and internationally sporting their unique designers. Through their blog, excellent videos and social media reach, it is near impossible to not get a grasp on what they are all about. 

Things I appreciate about these two…

  • I appreciate their tenacity to highlight and feature local clothing designers in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • I appreciate their honesty about their strengths and weaknesses.
  • I appreciate their unique style.
  • I appreciate their willingness to share the Hello Holiday story with young entrepreneurs.

Expect big things from Sarah and Megan. Big things.

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“Do more. Be more.” 

– Megan Hunt, Co-Founder Hello Holiday

Credits: Photos from hello-holiday.com

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The Big Kansas City Feel

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“Learn the rules like a pro, but break them like an artist.” 

As I approach graduating from college I am constantly being approached by peers, family and friends about what my next move is. Many times the questions people ask are: Graduate school? Fortune 500 Company? Corporate training program? When I answer their questions with things like,  “work for a startup,”  “volunteer for a couple years,” or  “start my own business,” I am usually received with raised eyebrows and a sarcastic “good luck kid” attitude. I am not angry or blaming anyone for this response because to most people those options are so out of the ordinary that they sound heinous. However, this week I was surrounded by over 400 people at Big Kansas City who thought these options were brilliant and they challenged me to be more and to do more.

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Approximately a year and a half ago, I was so lucky to be introduced to the Silicon Prairie News team. This past January, I joined the team as the events intern and could not be more grateful for the opportunity to work with some of the best movers and shakers. Started in 2008 off an idea and an opportunity, SPN has pushed the envelope on covering the entrepreneurial world in the Midwest of the United States. They encourage start-up “can-do” attitudes to anyone who has ever had the urge to put their business idea into action. SPN has found great success right here in Omaha with their entrepreneurial and innovation conference Big Omaha. Big Omaha has brought in many inspirational and innovative speakers like Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos! and Neil Blumenthal, co-founder of Warby Parker to share their stories of innovation and creativity, and to challenge attendees to define their purpose. With the success of Big Omaha and the newly rebranded Big Des Moines, SPN saw the need for a Big conference in the vibrant start-up community of Kansas City. Being a Kansas City native, I was thrilled to see this exciting action come to my hometown.

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Big Kansas City has come and gone, and this inaugural event has set the bar high for next year. Helping plan and prepare for #bigKC has taught me so many invaluable lessons when it comes to entrepreneurship, event planning and building a brand. The amazing speakers made me think about how I am going to move forward with my ideas, and encouraged me to break through the normalcy mold that many fall victim to. My favorite speakers were Scott Harrison from charity: water and Jamie Wong from Vayable. I also enjoyed getting to know the emcee Jason Zone Fisher.

The attendees were definitely the furthest thing from normal, or was the venue since it was at the National Airline History Museum. I connected with so many unique people ranging from software programers to fashionistas to disc jockeys. Those three professions typically would not interact much, however at Big Kansas City it was not unordinary to see them picking each others brains about their latest idea or venture. The energy was contagious and it was almost impossible to have left the conference without gaining new perspectives and new outlooks on business. This was my second Big Series event and I can honestly say that I am a changed person from last week.

Three Large Take-Aways from Big Kansas City

  • Introverts are awesome! Being a natural extrovert, I typically do not flock to shy people. However, some of the neatest and most insightful people I met at Big KC were not the typical business folk who “ham” around the parties or conference. I learned to appreciate a calmer and more collective approach to conversation.
  • Treat your “business idols” like normal people. I had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite social entrepreneurs at the conference and also had the chance to talk one on one with them for about thirty minutes. When I found out I would be meeting with them, sweat start coming out of every pore in my skin and it suddenly got hot in the room. I frantically texted my sister with the news and was pretty much freaking out. When it finally happened it was not as scary as I thought it would be. I had a great, casual conversation that consisted of many insightful things and great advice. When it was all said and done, I had made a friend and a great connection. Remember, famous people put their pants on in the morning just like the rest of us.
  • Know the personal brand you want to portray. One of the speakers ironically gave the advice “to not take anyone’s advice” and I definitely had to ponder this one for awhile. I finally realized that many people are going to tell you how you should market your idea, how you should make your money or how to network. Essentially, if you have the drive to do something, it ultimately comes down to your decisions and who you are. When connecting with people at the conference we were encouraged to introduce ourselves and our story before going straight to introducing our business. The speaker who challenged us explained that you will lose your identity very quick if you do not separate who you are from your business idea.

As I move on into the planning stages of Big Omaha and I make plans for my future after school, I know that I will use a lot of things learned from Big Kansas City. I may be unconventional in many peoples eyes, but to myself and the entrepreneurial world I may just be on the right track. Here’s to hoping I make it out alive!

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Credits: Photos from siliconprairienews.com and #bigKC Instagram

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Movers and Shakers Spotlight: Andrew Norman

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“I’m just a liberal arts guy.” Listening to the stories of how a south-western Nebraska boy took his passion for local music and turned it into a lifestyle, made me believe this doer deserved a lot more credit than just being liberal arts savvy. Andrew Norman, a man of many trades, started the non-profit Hear Nebraska after recognizing a need to showcase the amazing musical talents planted right in the heartland.

Since its beginning, Hear Nebraska has gone from the typical business idea sketched on a napkin in a bar, to a full fledged non-profit reaching music enthusiasts all over the world. Discouraged by the lack of appreciation and recognition for Nebraskan bands and musicians, Norman and his wife set a goal to prove that Nebraska has a vibrant arts scene attractable to the younger people that were moving away from the Cornhusker state. With an emphasis on staying local, Hear Nebraska highlights shows, festivals and tunes coming straight out of our Nebraskan backyards. They have even represented Nebraska at world famous festivals like SXSW in Austin, TX.

Hear Nebraska has become a movement that Norman views as a lifestyle. Coming from a journalism background, he had never taken any type of business course. He literally learned the ends and outs of being an entrepreneur as he built his non-profit. At first, the plan was for Hear Nebraska to be for-profit, however with the lack of wanting to advertise and having little focus on profits, the best option was to become a non-profit. Norman did not even think of this possibility until he collaborated with another doer and they recommended the idea. He said that collaborating with other like-minded people in your community or niche is one of the most valuable tools you can use when starting your own business. Another useful tool he discovered along the way was interns. Hear Nebraska has had several editorial and multimedia interns, some of which have turned into full-time employees. Even with the growth of his non-profit, Norman has still found time to freelance and copyright to pay for the important stuff. He reminisced on the days of touring with a band eating cold Chef Boyardee and hoping that his volunteer developer would meet deadlines. He realized that his lifestyle needed a change and he has now found a way live comfortably while living out his passions.

One of the most inspiring things I took away from listening to Norman talk was his commitment to staying local. Too many times people rush to the coasts to chase their dreams. Andrew Norman’s story and Hear Nebraska musicians are prime examples of dreams coming true, right hear in Nebraska.

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Credits: Photos from hearnebraska.org

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The “Elevator” Pitch

Imagine yourself going about your business day after a long meeting. You may have just had your third cup of coffee and are daydreaming about 5:00. You press the up button on the elevator, the doors open and boom, there stands in front of you an interested investor, creative or entrepreneur that has been wanting to talk to you about your newest idea or venture. You start to sweat, your mind goes blank and before you know it you have babbled your way up to the 40th floor and you can’t even remember what you said as you shake the person’s hand with your sweaty palm and say your farewell.

This scenario is what many young entrepreneurs play out in their mind time after time as they develop their first few business plans. The elevator pitch has become one of the most feared parts of being an entrepreneur. People freak themselves out and end up selling themselves short in idea sharing conversations. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I have experienced the stressful babbling pitches, however as I have gained confidence I have begun to walk away from a short conversation feeling like I hit a grand slam. Here is my advice for the elevator pitch:

  1. It is a casual conversation. Do not all of a sudden put on an announcers voice or start using big words. People are impressed with genuine passion and knowledge of your idea. 
  2. Keep it simple and get your main points across. If people want to know the nitty gritty details, they will ask.
  3. Do not saturate the conversation. Allow the other person to share their ideas and if they ask you specifically about your business, then you can share your newest plans.
  4. Ask people what you can do for them before you expect them to help you. No one wants to listen to a pitch when they can tell you are just trying to use them.
  5. If giving a formal pitch in front of a crowd, do not stare at your presentation. You should know your facts well enough that you can engage with your audience.
  6. Relax, practice, take a deep breath, exude confidence and enjoy the world of entrepreneurial pitches. Also, do not forget to smile, this is fun stuff.

Not every pitch is going to be perfect and not every one will be a flop. The more practice you can get and the more people you can get in front of, the better off your presentation is going to be. It can be tough to take in new ideas or criticisms, but know at the end of the day your finished product will be that much stronger. Good luck!

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A New Wave of Entrepreneurship

People read about and engage in what interests them, whether it is entertainment, technology, world news, sports, etc. During the hype of the printed newspaper and television news, it was very convenient to flip through the different sections of the paper or watch the news at a certain time to receive your niche in news. Also, if consumers really wanted to dive even further into their interest niche, magazines provided them an excellent opportunity. Now, with the revolutionizing of the Internet, mobile apps and satellite radio, the then “readers” of news are now becoming the “instant alert” receiver of news.

Readers are not going to change their normal routine unless there is a new option that promises more convenience, reliability, authenticity and benefit. Had no one ever had the entrepreneurial spirit to start up things like Twitter, mobile apps for companies like ESPN, or entrepreneurship websites like Mobilize or Silicon Prairie News, more consumers would still be sipping their coffee while browsing through pages of the daily paper. Browsing still happens, it is just in a more focused way.

Today, there is an opportunity for new age entrepreneurs to take on the new Web 3.0 craze. Founders that have found the most success have come from people who saw a gap in the market and acted on that need by creating a new and innovative approach to an old method. A great example of shooting the gap is that of Reid Hoffman, mastermind behind Linkedin. Many of the social media sites available before Linkedin gave users access to a plethora of people ranging from colleagues, family to old schoolmates. Hoffman saw the need for people to connect with others in their professional field and created the platform Linkedin, offering more of a focused and professional approach to social media. Users can connect with others along with receiving news specific to their interests and industry. Today, Linkedin serves as one of the largest networks on the internet.

Being a product of the millennial era, young entrepreneurs have a large opportunity to find great success by incorporating a creative mind, technology and the media into the next big idea. The table is set; now it is time for entrepreneurial action.

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