Silicon Prairie News

In 2011, what can we do for you?

Omaha December 7, 2010 by Danny Schreiber

Jordan Johnson performs a jump in the Big Omaha 2010 photo booth. Photo by Malone & Company.

In 2011, we want you to jump for joy, sing to the mountains, and do that little dance you do. So, how do we accomplish that? We're deep in the planning stages of what 2011 will look like – from the first story published in January to the last events we hold in December – and with that in mind, we want to hear your hopes, wants and expectations. As we've said many times, we do what we do because of you, our Silicon Prairie News community.

A small glimpse of 2011 includes an increased volume of content, a stronger focus on what's happening in Des Moines and Lincoln, as well as covering and breaking more timely stories out of the Silicon Prairie region. We also look to hold more events. We haven't had a Creative Capital Pitch Session in quite some time and we think there's room for other fun and engaging events.

And speaking of engaging, here's where we turn the mic on you:

Please leave a comment below letting us know what you'd like to see in 2011.

What would make Silicon Prairie News a better blog, a better event producer, a better resource for the Silicon Prairie's entrepreneurial community? In short, what can we do for you?

(Photo: Chris VanKat poses with Karli Newman and Andrew Marinkovich at the Big Omaha 2010 Opening Party. Photo by Malone & Company.)

If leaving a comment isn't your style, no worries. Here are the email addresses of our contributors, starting with myself:

Thanks in advance for your time and input. We sincerely appreciate everything you have to say and we'll do our best to respond to your feedback and ideas in a timely manner.

Again, we couldn't do this without you and for that reason we're excited to continue our third year at Silicon Prairie News.

Previous Post
BarCamp Des Moines 2010 wrap up and photos
Prairie Moves: Matt Secoske, NUtech Ventures, John Wirtz & more
Next Post



Idea: Demo Day.

An SPN event where a bunch of freelancers, small business and large businesses have a set time to show off their latest and greatest products.

You have to have something that you are actually going to sell; somehow. Monthly service. On a store shelf. Via website.

Judged on by peers. The basis of judging could be split in categories; freelancer, small business, big business. Or by technology, art, services. ... plenty of options here. Which is where the judging criteria comes in place.

Judges; would be good to make it open to peers somehow. But I know that doesn't always work. It be nice to have critical reviews too; why someone didn't win and get feedback.

There should be prizes at stake: cash! And maybe not all in cash form even. Maybe donated time by marketing firm. Design time by someone in town for a redo website. Credit at a t-shirt company. Prizes for the demo to take it to a "product" level.
... Just NO VC!!!

The purpose would be to show off a product, an app, a new website you designed, new art, just something that you, your business, partners have done and are going to be selling/charging for as a business soon. No tech demos of some general idea of something; save that for the VC competitions and Barcamp.

Dec 7, 2010 at 01:06 PM

I would like a street car system installed locally.

Now, if that's not gonna happen, here's another ideas.

Mini-Big Omaha-esque events regionally, maybe quarterly, maybe on only one topic, and obviously much smaller than BigO. They'd be more sort of old-school "salons." Basically, just a chance for like-mined people to gather around a shared-interest/topic, hear an enlightened speaker get things started and then have an open amount of time to have a conversation about it. Select topics for each event could mirror current topics being focused on SPN, leading up to the event.

Dec 7, 2010 at 01:29 PM

@Andy Stoll: I like the way you think on both items :)

Dec 7, 2010 at 06:58 PM

I like Andy Peters' suggestion of a demo day, except I say nix the competition aspect. Products and ideas are subjective anyway.

Barcamp meets product demos where you have to pre-register for a slot.

Dec 7, 2010 at 09:47 PM

Competition or no competition; I'm down for a way to show off to a great big crowd.

It'd just suck if it's an event to all pat each other on the back the whole time. Subjective is a great point, getting real feedback and next step ideas would be a big motivator. Thats where the competition idea came in; at least if you don't have any win of any type your product might not be great. Or maybe its just measured on its merit of being an product.

Also, I know I'd prefer it to be less about ideas and more about something you, your team, your company is actually (or about to) selling (somehow). Ideas are for Barcamp, Startup Weekend. Omaha doesn't have anything for the "SPN" crowd to show off what people have been doing (or will be doing)... in person.

Dec 7, 2010 at 11:10 PM

... i can't help myself with more thoughts on this.

RE the competition thing, maybe just keep it simple and somewhat broad. Like top 5 people all get a case of red bull. Top 2 get 100 credit for tshirts. Or something. Still giving the satisfaction of winning without being a huge win and only one.

Regardless, I know if I were to show off some things there I'd like to hear from other about their ideas for next steps. Ideas to take it further as a product. Or what may hold me back. Opinions from all sorts of folks; tech or not. And the participants can take it or leave it.

Dec 7, 2010 at 11:18 PM

A completely unrelated to "Demo Day" idea is to have more articles/interviews/videos with followup.

IE: Ninth Division releases this totally awesome new product that will change the way we all use our iPhone, iPad, Mac. SPN does an article (among other places) and we get tons of attention. Then we fail miserably, or just at one part, or whatever. We don't really blog about it because we suck at blogging.

... I'd like to see an article following up with Ninth Division about where did that awesome product go? Or why'd you totally change it? Or how come you shut it down? Talk about the process and things learned.

I know I can think of a handful of companies, products that have been talked about over the last year or two that I haven't seen anything from in a long time. Whatever happened to them and why?

It could be lessons learned. It could followup with awesome new company/product. It could be warnings to not try this again things. It could be a story of a failure. ... anything in that range; you get the idea.

Dec 7, 2010 at 11:25 PM

World: I know I am not the only one with ideas.

Danny, sorry for all the long comments... I'm sure I'll have more though. Enjoy the possible spam.

Dec 7, 2010 at 11:27 PM

Regarding the "lessons learned" or "story of failure" stories... i'd even volunteer to be the first interviewed for it. Put the money where the mouth or the wallet is... depending on your point of view.

Dec 7, 2010 at 11:33 PM
Danny Schreiber AUTHOR

World: Andy is a commenting machine tonight. Become one, too!

Andy - thanks so much! Regarding a Demo Day, definitely look for something like that in 2011 :) it's been on our "to do" list for a while now. And regarding follow up interviews, I'd love to do it. We're doing our best to convince startups to tell us their stories before and while they're happening, we'll work hard in 2011 to get stories after they've happened. More or less breakdowns of what went wrong where – we'll give readers the inside scoop.

Dec 8, 2010 at 01:08 AM

Danny - I think to draw the line as to what is news worthy or not for SPN, it would be announcements of products/etc that were featured SPN to followup with them. The successful ones to tell their success and failures along the way. But also the ones that fizzled out to tell the same stories... maybe there is more failure stories there. Example: what happened with the ideas from startup weekend(s)? Is there a reason some aren't out there anymore... besides they got bored with it? ... you get the idea.

One thing that comes to mind about "Demo Day" is to give folks plenty of upfront notice; maybe it'd be more of motivating factor to be in the event.

Another thing is if it stayed a "contest of sorts" but all the prizes were focused on getting your demo further along in the "product" cycle... that would be cool. Used as a motivator. (sort of like I said before) There could be prizes for a marketing budget at one of the marketing firms in town, a web design budget with one/many of the design teams in town, a allocated budget for tshirts, buttons, cases of red bull. Or if you are a photographer, a weekend spot at a gallery in town. ... etc. Competing to help sell your product and mature your product. That'd be cool and fairly unique among all the demo day things out there.

Danny - ... okay, i've said what i think i can say about all this on spn comments. Look me up sometime for more brainstorming.

World - where the hell are your ideas? I have heard you tell me about them...

Dec 8, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Dear Santa,

Here is my Christmas list for SPN:

1. Already covered by Andy Peters but I will reiterate it anyway. Demo days. Would be great to get both technical and non-technical people alike to view products and give a bunch of feedback about what is good about it and what needs to be improved.

2. Highlight entrepreneurs who need help. This could be a featured blog post, events, or you could use other channels to help entrepreneurs get in touch with the right people. What I am thinking is on ongoing series of blog posts that will feature a new person each week or month that says "Hi, I'm John Doe. I am working on creating a company that does XXXX. Here is what I have done so far, but to take it to the next level. I need help with marketing, sales, design work etc.". This will help the person get the word out about their product/service AND hopefully get them teamed up with the people they need to make their business a success.

3. A day/week in the life series that is written in diary format of local entrepreneurs that highlights what they are doing to expand their business, their successes/failures, etc.

I'm sure I can think of more, but those are the ones that immediately sprung to mind.

Dec 8, 2010 at 12:00 PM

I am with Andy on the little O style events around the region. I was going to do a Big Omaha Redux this past summer/fall, but someone took all year to get the videos up. After this years BO, maybe we will do a redux and just bring in a speaker or two.

Dec 8, 2010 at 01:01 PM
James Armstead

Going off of Derek's comment:

Possibly a built in Network of entrepreneurs, developers, marketers, etc. Connecting everyone with things they want to. Everyone creates a profile with a resume or simplified resume and what they are looking for. I actually might be able to expand further on this if you are interested, just shoot me an email.

This actually branches to some other ideas. It will give you a nice list of people to invite to some sort of a TechBrew style event (monthly or bi-weekly) or other informal meet and greets. Could help create bigger events(Barcamps, Demos, etc) with a strong following of people who want to be involved.

Dec 8, 2010 at 02:01 PM
Pat Lazure

I would like a pair of colored contacts.

Dec 8, 2010 at 04:24 PM

Just keep doing what you guys are doing. Your killing it.

Dec 9, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Continue what you're doing. It's awesome to hear, feel, and see so much good coming out of the midwest. I love it.

I enjoy coming out to Omaha from KC and feeling the energy built from SPN, BigOmaha, and other inspiring (and actionable) events.

In 2011, let's work together in not only fostering the community of creatives and entrepreneurs in Des Moines and Omaha and Lincoln, but in Kansas City, where innovative people are vibrant and ready to show their moves on the dance floor. :)

Dec 11, 2010 at 08:50 AM
Mike Templeton

First and foremost, I'd love to see a mobile-optimized version of the site. I do a lot of reading on my phone and would love the additional attention to detail.

Second, I'd like to see the "Directory" of people come to life. I would envision it as part CrunchBase, part YouNoodle. It's profiles for the people in your stories, but also a matchmaker of sorts for people looking to connect with others.

Otherwise, just keep doing what you're doing. It's awesome to have watched SPN grow over the years. Remember when Slobotski used to write all these posts? ;)

Dec 21, 2010 at 11:37 PM


The polls are open!

Through August 22, help us decide the winners of our inaugural Silicon Prairie Awards, which will recognize 12 companies and individuals. You can vote once per day per category.
Winners will be announced live on stage at
our August 30 event.