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Innovation Lives Here

A Booming place for startup businesses

Entrepreneurs treat their business ideas like seeds, waiting to plant in just the right conditions for them to grow. Lincoln is growing ever bolder, creating ideal conditions for an engaged startup community. “The growth and interest in entrepreneurship in the city has been phenomenal,” said Christina Oldfather, director of innovation and entrepreneurship with the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development. “There’s a lot of momentum, particularly in the Haymarket,” she said. Business people have recognized the potential for startups and entrepreneurship in Lincoln. Those in the community have seen a rise of groups that meet throughout the city for entrepreneurs to network and bounce ideas off of each other. For example, 1 Million Cups brings 20 to 30 entrepreneurs together every week to meet over coffee to support the startup community and get feedback. Developed by the Kauffman Foundation, it is based on entrepreneurs discovering solutions and networking over a million cups of coffee. For big thinkers and problem solvers, The Jumpstart Challenge reverse pitch competition is a spotlight on their talent. Established companies present challenges to a group of entrepreneurs who are tasked with identifying solutions to those challenges. Clubs and competitions like this exist because people interested in starting a business know you need to stick together to achieve. “It used to be that if you were an entrepreneur and you came to Lincoln you would find very few other entrepreneurs,” Oldfather says. Now Lincoln is a playground for business builders. One of the biggest successes has been Hudl, a sports technology company that started in Lincoln’s Haymarket District in 2006. In 2015 Hudl grew to 230 employees across four offices with plans to build a new headquarters to bring 300 more onto its team. Entrepreneurs throughout the city strive to support each other to build a community that is rich with startup businesses.

Fuse Coworking is a shared work community that provides an environment for entrepreneurs who don’t have their own office space to meet and work. It recently quadrupled its space to accommodate the growing need for progressive workspaces. “Fuse Coworking promotes a work style in which people of varied backgrounds come together, including established professionals who work from home, solo entrepreneurs and business startups,” says Andy Beecham, one of three co-founders. “We act as a community hub, a place where solo entrepreneurs and startups can go for all kinds of support,” Beecham explains.

The Southeast Community College Entrepreneurship Center provides a full-service resource station for entrepreneurs at all stages of business development. The center provides business coaching, business planning assistance, financing preparation, business incubation and entrepreneurial educational opportunities. The center is home to several resource organizations including the Nebraska Business Development Center office in Lincoln and Procurement Technical Assistance Center.

SCORE is a nonprofit resource partner with the Small Business Administration designed to provide entrepreneurship education and startup success. The Lincoln startup ecosystem continues thrive and provide local resources and for new entrepreneurs looking to build on their successes.

Lincoln builds on TECHNOLOGY

Lincoln is a phenomenal place to start and grow your business. The work that the 2015 Vision Group, the Mayor and the Chamber of Commerce have done to develop the Railyard and West Haymarket area has been a huge asset for us in keeping talent here in Lincoln and helping us to recruit talent from across the nation. We’ve been successful at attracting candidates from both coasts, and the redevelopment has been a big part of that. Whenever we’re entertaining a candidate who is returning to Lincoln for the first time in a few years, they are amazed to see the recent changes that have been made to the downtown corridor. The new entertainment and living options have made it a lot easier to keep that talent here in Lincoln and pull in others from outside the state. Lincoln is a lot different city now than the one they left when they graduated college.

-David Graff, CEO, Hudl

Helping technology businesses get off the ground

NMotion knows a winning idea when it sees one, and the idea presented by Quantified Agriculture of Lincoln was one of them. “We make a Fitbit for cattle,” said Vishal Singh, CEO of Quantified Ag, which operates in Lincoln’s Innovation Campus. Quantified Ag is one of a handful of startup companies selected by NMotion, a Lincoln-based startup accelerator that provides access to capital, mentors and training for five to 10 startup technology and software companies each year.

NMotion is a part of the burgeoning technology industry in Lincoln. "The industry has grown rapidly in Lincoln over the past five years, in part due to huge support for innovation," said NMotion founder Brian Ardinger. In addition, "Lincoln’s innovators all work together and support each other," he said. NMotion gets support from a large network of technology companies that serve as mentors to the businesses that NMotion deems worthy of support.

NMotion chose Quantified Ag because it saw the potential for significant benefits in the agriculture industry. The company manufactures small devices, similar to the Fitbit (the health tracking device humans wear on their wrists) that are attached to the ears of cattle. The device measures the health and fitness of cattle and helps feedlots manage large herds.

Quantified Ag is one of several companies that got a boost from NMotion, which selects its startup companies each year from 400 – 600 applications. NMotion, which is part of a Global Accelerator Network of about 55 from around the world, focuses on sports, agriculture and marketing technology. “The number of startups has grown exponentially in Lincoln,” Ardinger said. “There is a growing regional network of entrepreneurship.”

Many of Lincoln’s leaders in technology serve as mentors for the startup companies selected by NMotion, including Hudl, Opendorse (which built a software allowing companies to easily secure endorsements with athletes) and Travefy (which developed a group travel planning software). These mentors themselves are a reflection of the growing technology savviness of Lincoln.

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