Nebraska entrepreneurs talk startups on Wall Street Journal blog

Ben Vu speaks at the Pipeline event earlier this month.

Nebraskan Ben Vu was named Innovator of the Year by Pipeline, a three-state organization that aims to connect high-growth entrepreneurs with investors and mentors.

Vu is co-founder and chief executive officer of SkyVu, a transmedia entertainment company that creates mobile social games and licensed consumer products, including Battle Bears.

More than 600 people, including an estimated 100 from Nebraska, attended the Pipeline event Thursday night at the Midland theater in Kansas City, Mo.

The Innovator of the Year was selected from the fellows who completed the 2012 Pipeline program. The winner was determined through a three-part voting process, the last of which was by a panel of three national judges.

Five other Nebraska entrepreneurs have been selected for the 2013 Pipeline fellowship program for innovators and investors in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

The five:

»Ben Blecha of Ace Ortho Solutions, which makes orthopedic braces for dogs and other animals in Benkelman.

»Leandro Castro of MultiMech R&D, an Omaha company that provides computer-aided engineering to improve the design and manufacture of products.

»Paul Jarrett of Bulu Box, a monthly service based in Lincoln that provides samples of vitamins and nutritional supplements.

»Matt Medlock of PaySAFE, an Omaha online service that helps consumers and small businesses make safe transactions.

»Rob Rhodes of InjuReplay of Lincoln, which provides medical and educational information related to sports injuries through video or computer animations.

This year's total of 13 Pipeline fellows who complete the yearlong program will be eligible for next year's Innovator of the Year award.

Pipeline also announced earlier this week that James Linder was joining its board of directors. Linder is the president of the University Technology Development Corp., the technology transfer arm of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and a Pipeline regional founder with his wife, Karen Linder.

James Linder was instrumental in adding Nebraska and Missouri last year to the group that previously accepted entrepreneurs only from Kansas, said Pipeline President and CEO Joni Cobb.

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