Part of our mission with Scale Omaha is to collect powerful stories from Nebraska-based and Midwest Startup founders to democratize the pathways to success and inspire a new generation of innovators.

Here you'll find all our previous talks along with short descriptions. Learn away!

Craig Nashleanas, Co-Founder of Lens Distortions (Product Development, App Marketing)

Craig Nashleanas' Lens Distortions is an Omaha-based app and subscription for video editors and content creators. They were featured as Apple's App of the Day last year and continue to grow.

They also drive significant revenue with their subscription library used by video editors at companies like HBO, Disney+, Netflix, Universal, Salesforce, and more!

In this talk, Craig shares how their dedication to creating the best products in their market has led to their growth and success. He shares how to prioritize B2B or B2C sides of a business and create a product that influences love to promote.

Topics: Product Development, Influencer Marketing, Bootstrapping, Balancing B2C and B2B, Marketing, Video Production

Paul Jarrett - Co-Founder of Bulu (Enterprise Sales, eCommerce)

Paul shares the story of starting Bulu as a subscription box company and then selling their technology and fulfillment solutions to the world's biggest retrail brands including Disney, Crayola, and GNC.

Topics: Enterprise Sales, Cold Calling, Founder Resilience, Fundraising, eCommerce

Kyle Tut - Co-Founder of Pinata (Identifying Opportunities, Fundraising)

Omaha-based Web3 company, Pinata, has been killing it longer than NFTs were the hot thing every newscaster wanted to talk about. Back in August 2022, they raised $21.5M to scale NFT media infrastructure.

Pinata is the leading media management company for the builders and creators of all kinds in web3. Kyle Tut is always looking over the horizon trying to find what is next in use cases for blockchain technology.

Topics: Web3, Hiring, Fundraising, Innovation

Ishmael Samuel - Co-Founder of Paragon (Fundraising, Pivoting)

Paragon has raised $17m from investors including Y Combinator, Inspired Capital, Village Global, FoundersClub and more and recently announced its $13m Series A led by Inspired Capital. To start Paragon, he and his cofounder raised $1m pre-seed with no product. In this chat he discusses their strategy to do that.

Topics: Fundraising, Innovation, Pivoting, Customer Discovery

Manny Quevedo, Multi-time Founder & Angel Investor (After Exit, Giving Back, Career of Innovation)

In this talk Manny shares his history in innovation, the way he thinks about mega trends, and his vision for the future of innovation in Nebraska and the USA.

Topics: Founder Resilience, After Exit, Innovation, Venture Capital, Giving Back

Greg Harris, CEO of Quantum Workplace (Marketing, Sales)

Greg Harris talks about leading Quantum Workplace to be a leader in employee feedback software. Harris designed the first city-by-city Best Places to Work list in partnership with a network of newspapers. And Harris guided Quantum Workplace as it grew from an engagement survey platform to a full suite of employee survey, performance management, and analytics tools. 

Topics: Early Sales, Marketing, Company Culture

Dusty Davidson, Serial Founder and Angel Investor (Community, Inspiring Others, After Exit)

Dusty Davidson has founded many companies and invested in even more. He chose to stay in the Midwest and help build a community around what would become known as The Silicon Prairie encompassing the region between Omaha-Lincoln, Kansas City, and Des Moines.

While building community through the Big Omaha Conference and Silicon Prairie News, he was also building successful tech companies in Flywheel and TripleSeat-- both of which exited in the last few years.

Now Dusty invests and advises in startups in The Silicon Prairie.

In this talk he shares his business journey in tech, his philosophy on community, and how he is thinking about his future now that he can slow down.

Topics: After Exit, Finding Opportunities, Community, Marketing

Rory Rubin, Founder & CEO SI Container Builds (Impact Startups, Housing)

Where there are significant problems, there are opportunities for significant solutions. Two significant problems in the housing market are lack of availability and lack of sustainable building options. S.I. Container Builds recently raised $1.7MM to scale their solutions to these problems.

Topics: Virtual Chat, Finding Opportunities, Impact Startup

Luke Hansen, CEO & Founder CompanyCam (Identifying Problems to Solve, Creating Raving Customers)

Luke Hansen grew CompanyCam to be a very successful tech company in Lincoln, NE that now employs over 200 people with $20M ARR and growing. He started by identifying a recurring problem in his dad's roofing company. 

Topics: Startup Omaha Week, Finding Opportunities, Marketing, Sales

Joe Keeley Co-Founder JustiFi (Turning Any Company Into a Fintech)

In this Fireside Chat, we'll dive into Joe Keeley's journey with one successful exit and how he took his lessons from that company to build a company that enables every startup to be a fintech company.

JustiFi is forging a path to democratizing payment infrastructure & enabling embedded financial tools for everyone.

Topics: Innovation, Monetization, Virtual Chat

Todd Clarke, Co-Founder Orion Advisor Solutions (Surviving the Recession, Creating More Scalable Solutions)

Todd Clarke was a co-founder of Orion Advisor Solutions (with over 1,500 employees and oversees $3 trillion in assets under administration). 

In this Fireside Chat, we discuss how Todd Clarke thinks about entrepreneurship and how leaders in a company can be empowered to succeed. 

Topics: Innovation, Surviving Recession, Identifying Opportunity, Family

John Bunting, Founder of Beeso Studio (Qualities of Successful Founders)

The Beeso Studio team has spoken with thousands of early-stage startups over the past few years. They have watched as some go on to succeed and some stall out. It created a set of criteria that has Beeso Studio always thinking and refining What does it take for a founder to be great?

This talk will be useful for: 

- founders looking to increase their odds of succeeding

- investors wanting to learn more about how to pick founders that have the best chances of succeeding.

Topics: Innovation, Founder Resilience, Fundraising

Taylor Monks, Founder of BasicBlock (Taking On Competition, Fundraising Like a Bay Area Startup)

Taylor Monks, CEO of BasicBlock has grown the company in less than 5 years to a $78 million round earlier in 2022. He spent the first six months traveling the country with truckers to get a complete picture of their business and where he thought technology could add major value.

Topics: Founder Resilience, Fundraising, Competition

Erica Wassinger from Proven Ventures (Venture Debt Explained)

Erica Wassinger is Cofounder, General Partner of Proven Ventures, a Burlington Capital Fund.

We sat down for a Fireside Chat with Erica to discuss funding for startups in the Midwest and how Proven Venture's model is different. While this talk was focused on Nebraska startup funding, the model is applicable anywhere.

Topics: Fundraising, Midwest Startups, Venture Debt Explained

John Grange, CTO & Founder of OpsCompass (Midwest Startup Culture, Hiring, Integrating Acquisitions)

Building a technical product in the Midwest has unique challenges, but John Grange has faced those head-on with his companies through Layered Innovations and now OpsCompass.

Topics: Fundraising, Hiring, Acquisitions, Scaling, Innovation

Ben Williamson, Invest Nebraska (High-Growth Startup Funding Roadmap, Startup Terms)

Early founders on a path to becoming high-growth scalable companies need to understand the funding roadmap. Ben Williamson is passionate about helping founders understand the types of capital available and how to map out a roadmap for successive funding rounds.

Topics: Fundraising

Joe Petsick, Co-Founder Proxibid (Innovating In Slow Moving Industries, Marketplace Startups)

Joe Petsick started Proxibid along with three other co-founders in 2001 before there was an easy way for auction houses to hold online auctions.

Within the first year they hit $1.5 million in inventory passing through Proxibid. By the time the company was acquired 18 years later, it was processing $6 billion per year.

Now Joe Petsick is the co-founder of Auctic, a company that builds private marketplaces for enterprise clients. He is also the Executive in Residence at University of Nebraska - Lincoln starting a new accelerator.

Topics: Problem Solving, Innovation, Sales, Building a Team, Founder Conflict, Work Life Balance

Keith Fix, Co-Founder of Retail Aware (Enterprise Sales, Hiring)

Keith Fix is a dynamic, young entrepreneur with a knack for identifying scalable (and sellable) ideas. He previously won awards at University of Nebraska for his Groupon-like business in college. Then he founded and eventually exited a digital signage company called blabfeed.

He now is Co-Founder and CEO of the quickly scaling company, Retail Aware. The company was started in Omaha, Nebraska but has a workforce presence in other cities including Austin and Chicago.

Topics: Problem Solving, Innovation, Sales, Hiring

Rick Knudtson, Co-Founder of Workshop and Flywheel (Product Design, Sales, After Exit)

Designing experiences people love has been key to the success of companies Rick Knudtson has Co-Founded. Flywheel, a design-led WordPress hosting company, was recently acquired by WP Engine in what the company said was "the largest acquisition to date in the WordPress industry.”

Now Rick is Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer for Workshop, a delightful internal communications platform built on the back of the stellar employee engagement they saw at Flywheel.

Rick Knudtson is also a tech investor and speaks about what he looks for in companies when investing.

Topics: After Exit, Product Design, Delighting Customers, Hiring, Sales

Brian Kaiser, CTO of Hudl (Scaling Development, Dealing With Tech Debt, Sales)

Getting your product development right early on is essential to building a scalable startup. Brian Kaiser, CTO and co-founder of Hudl, discusses the early days of building the company with University of Nebraska Lincoln Huskers Football as their first client.

Topics: Identifying Opportunity, Competition, Acquisitions, Scaling Development, Hiring Tech Talent, Sales

Crafting Your Startup Story for Investors and Customers with Tina Bakehouse (Storytelling, Brand)

Tina has spent over 20 years teaching public speaking and education, including coaching university students and faculty in Creighton University's Communication Center and coaching TEDx speakers.

Topics: Storytelling, Brand

Scaling Sojern From $0 To $150M a Year | Conversation with Chad Reelfs (Sales, Hiring)

Chad Reelfs helped start Sojern with Gordon Whitten in 2007 and worked for him at Intuit. Chad has personally closed and grown millions of dollars in revenue each year, while consistently hitting and exceeding multimillion-dollar sales quotas. He helped build and scale Sojern to a $350M valuation in 2019. He has been a part of building and scaling several $100M businesses. Chad is working with investors and helping to scale our I See It Ventures accelerator companies.

Topics: Sales, Career Transition, Hiring

Amy Johnson, Co-Founder of LifeLoop (Company Culture, Listening To Customers)

Amy Johnson, the co-founder, and CEO, often praises her team and won Powderkeg’s 2020 National Tech Culture Awards for Startup Culture and Work-Life Balance. In this Fireside Chat, we sit down with Amy to have a discussion about hiring your team and building a strong culture for your startup. She certainly has some new insights to share as the company tripled in size during COVID, bringing plenty of growing pains with it. 

Topics: Hiring, Customer Success, Company Culture, Sales