Seven years ago, a group of community organizers gathered to map out the first Lincoln Startup Week. It has since become an annual event that continues to grow and mature. This year, Lincoln Startup Week runs Monday-Friday in locations throughout the city.
“It’s interesting to see how it’s changed in the types of events and the stage of companies that we’re targeting,” said Christina Oldfather, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development. “It’s evolved a lot to include events for any company from inspiration to growth stage.”
One highlight this year will be several appearances by Paul Singh, venture capitalist and founder of Results Junkies. His group travels around the country with an Airstream trailer looking for entrepreneurs in unexpected places.
“He said when he came to Lincoln several years ago, he couldn’t find an entrepreneur,” said Oldfather, one of the Lincoln Startup Week organizers. “He came back for NMotion Demo Day the next year and there were 600 people at the Rococo Theater.”
Singh will be a guest judge at the opening pitch competition on Monday and will present at 1 Million Cups on Wednesday. He will also be visible at other events, visit entrepreneurship classes and meet with community leaders.
“We’ll be pulling in other parts of the community to show how his experience in supporting startups can bring knowledge into Lincoln,” Oldfather said. “As our community evolves, we reach out to Paul to get insights and connections.”
Singh, Veronica Osinski with Trifecta Capital and Jared Carlson with Assurity will judge the opening Shark Tank-style pitch competition.
“There will be six slots for three-minute pitches and Q & A with the judges,” Oldfather said. “The best gets a $1,000 prize. Then we’ll have a party afterward, and everybody should come out.”
The Startup/Tech Crawl is back for another year on Tuesday beginning at 4 p.m., with a networking event including sponsored food and beverages following at 5:30. This year’s crawl features more than 40 local startups available to visit with students, budding entrepreneurs and others. The crawl will be held at Turbine Flats, a co-sponsor along with AIM|Silicon Prairie News and Assurity.
“The Startup Crawl is back for the seventh year,” Oldfather said. “It’s always been a pillar event of Lincoln Startup Week.”
On Thursday, the first Startup Grind X Lincoln will feature Adi Kunalic of Opendorse. Startup Grind is a global community for entrepreneurs, now with a chapter in Lincoln.
“It’s something brand new to Lincoln,” Oldfather said. “There will be an event every other month to talk with founders in the community.”
Health will be the focus of several presentations, including a personal story from Matt Helt, Global Director of Techstars Startup Week.
“Matt will talk about mental health and the challenges he’s struggled with himself,” Oldfather said. “He’ll use his story to help founders understand how to deal with those challenges.”
There will also be a presentation by Dr. Joel Bessmer with Strada Healthcare on an alternative payment model for under $100 per month.
“Health care is a challenge for startups, and they can find out about some solutions,” Oldfather said. “This is an example of some of the more tactical things available during Lincoln Startup Week.”
There will also be a session on Tuesday providing information about Techstars Lincoln Startup Weekend, scheduled for November 2–4.
“After you’ve learned all this cool stuff you can sign up for Startup Weekend to create and validate your idea in 54 hours,” Oldfather said. “If people are interested or have questions, they should attend this session.”
These are only a portion of Lincoln Startup Week activities. Presentations include panels on service providers and investors, fuels of the future and podcasting. Founder Friday will take place at Turbine Flats again this year. The full schedule can be found at https://lincoln.startupweek.co/.
“This event provides a week to really highlight startups and entrepreneurs in our community,” Oldfather said. “Anytime we have something big like this to create a bunch of collisions, something cool always comes out.”
Oldfather gave special recognition to Lincoln Startup Week presenting sponsor Assurity.
“Thanks to them, we’re able to bring all these events to the community and provide free co-working at the FUSE Co-working Basecamp all week,” she said.