Tag Archives: Silicon Prairie News

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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My New Journey of Adventure and Empowerment

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As many know, I have danced around with several possibilities as to what I should do after graduation. And, as some of you may or may not know, I am receiving my degree in Social Entrepreneurship in ten days and I am sort of an unconventional business student; I have no desire to wear a tie to work, I do not want to sit in a cubicle and I do not want to work for a giant corporation. So, to make these unconventional desires a reality I spent this past year connecting with as many like-minded people as I could to expand my knowledge of the social enterprise world. From road tripping to California with my best friend visiting socially driven companies in the fall, to becoming involved with Silicon Prairie News and the Big Series in Omaha, to living and working in NYC for a month, I have tried to put myself out in the world to take advantage of the endless opportunities and to initiate as many conversations as possible.

After many months spent procrastinating school work by looking at job opportunities, tweaking my resume over and over, and making tough decisions that could potentially affect my career, I have finally accepted a job offer! I am incredibly humbled, grateful and excited to announce that as of June 15, 2013, I will be embarking on a six-month volunteer journey with…

Krochet Kids International to Lima, Peru! 

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Krochet Kids International is a non-profit organization that I became a huge advocate for after visiting their HQ in the fall. I fully believe that they best fit and align with my life values, goals and desires. Krochet Kids mission is to empower people to rise above poverty. To make this mission a reality, KKi believes that all people can grow holistically and enrich their lives if given an opportunity. They employ women in Northern Uganda and Lima, Peru who have backgrounds filled with poverty, low wages, little hope, but have the potential to do great things in the world. They make handmade crocheted hats, scarves, shirts, headbands and other fashion items that are then sold all over the world. Krochet Kids pays a living wage, provides job training and growth opportunities, facilitates mentoring and education classes, and most of all provides hope within impoverished communities.

Kohl Crecelius, co-founder of Krochet Kids, explains more about KKi and talks about using your passion to make a difference.

Krochet Kids added their Peru location about a year and a half ago so I am very excited to use my entrepreneurial skills in my Production Assistant Intern position. I will have a hand in all things business related in the operation. I will deal with quality control, shipping, inventory, product development and get a little taste of everything Krochet Kids Peru has to offer. Alongside me will be three other Production Assistant Interns and a Photojournalism Assistant intern. We will all live together in an apartment in the Chorrillos District of Lima. I will be entering Peru right as their winter is beginning, so I will experience mild temperatures and a heavy fog called garúa. Aside from working, I am excited to learn Spanish and to learn more about Peruvian culture. Lima is a fairly large city so I will experience new foods, music, styles and people. Also, I may have the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu and the Amazon Rainforest. Even though Lima is a large metropolitan city, there are a large portion of citizens who live in poverty every day. I am eager to learn and see how the different demographics interact and how Lima is addressing the needs of the impoverished. To say that I am completely stoked to live in Peru is an understatement!

This is Jacque’s story, one of the women working with KKp. This video exemplifies the positive impact Krochet Kids is having in Peru.

As I mentioned above, this is a volunteer position. Am I nervous or concerned about not getting paid? No. I trust that everything will work out the way it is supposed to. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to go to Creighton University for the past four years, where we were encouraged everyday to live out the Jesuit teachings to be men and women for and with others. Service was a large influential portion of my college career, from going on service trips to West Virginia to volunteering as a mentor at a local high school. I feel called to use my skills and attributes in a positive way to make a lasting impact on people. There is no better time to answer this calling than when I am 22 years old without any attachments. I hope to grow more than I ever thought I could and I hope to challenge myself everyday.

This was part of my acceptance letter to Krochet Kids Peru…

Our hope and vision for these coming 6 months is that they will stretch you in a unique way.  From being immersed in a new culture, to learning the behind-the-scenes of what we do, to using- and growing- your skills and gifts for a cause you believe in, we want this experience to shape you for the future.  

You will be challenged.  You will challenge others.  Your worldview will be expanded.  And our goal is that by the end of your time with us, you’ll feel more prepared to take next steps toward your career and life dreams. 

Now that’s what I am talking about! Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way of finding my passion. I am excited to share this adventure with you! Follow this blog for all updates.

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Check out their products at www.krochetkids.org

* If you would like to donate to help me fund this journey, you can directly donate to me, or at www.krochetkids.org/donate. Write For Lucas Turner in the “write a note” section, and email nic@krochetkids.org to notify him of the donation on my behalf. All donations are tax-deductible. Do not feel obligated at all to do this. Thank you very much for your support!

Credits: Photos and Videos from krochetkids.org

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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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