Entrepreneurs come together to boost startup morale

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Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013 12:00 am

Startup ecosystems drive innovation and breathe new life into their business communities, entrepreneur-turned-venture-capitalist Brad Feld said Friday.

“It generates this continued sense of renewal ... that is extremely powerful,” he said.

Feld's remarks kicked off Intersect, a one-day entrepreneurship conference held at the Embassy Suites in LaVista. The conference drew about 350 people, attracting entrepreneurs who have already launched a startup, people who want to start a business, investors, service providers and everyone in between.

Feld, who addressed the group via Skype, told the attendees that their part in Nebraska's startup community was important because “every city was once a startup.” That city, he said, needs the vibrancy and growth that startup companies offer.

The managing director of the Foundry Group, a venture capital firm in Boulder, Colo., Feld has seen how individual startup companies have prospered by a supportive startup ecosystem. When he first moved there in 1995, there were only a dozen or so leaders in the startup community. Today, there are around 100, he said.

“Every city needs a startup community as part of its fabric,” he said.

Feld reminded attendees that creating a successful startup is a marathon, not a race. It can take five, 10 or 20 years, and a philosophy of inclusiveness can make it happen faster and be more fun. Feld encouraged attendees to hold events and trainings that boosts morale across their startup community.

“This is a great example of a conference that does that.”

In addition to speakers, the conference this year added a “Startup Village” that gave about 50 startup companies, students and service providers the opportunity to show off their ideas and products, said Michael Dixon, CEO of UNeMed Corp., the technology licensing arm of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

“Hopefully people are meeting their next co-founder or their next funder,” he said.

Formerly known as the Nebraska Summit on Entrepreneurship, the conference also featured locals such as Blake Lawrence, founder of Opendorse and Hurrdat; Courtney Rodgers, co-founder of Boutique Window; Beka Doolitte, founder and CEO of The Pink Store; Aaron Babcock, owner and publisher of Hail Varsity; and Ben Pankonin, co-founder of Social Assurance.

The conference was organized by UNeMed, the University of Nebraska's NUtech Ventures and other startup groups from Southeast Community College and the Nebraska Department of Education.

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