The Kauffman Foundation reflects on its support of Big Omaha
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has been Big Omaha's premier sponsor for three years running.
If you've had even the slightest experience with the Big Omaha community — either in person, through video, or on social media — then you've likely heard of The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The "Foundation of Entrepreneurship" has been Big Omaha's premier sponsor for the past three years and served as a tremendous partner to the Silicon Prairie News team as we've prepared for the event.
The Kauffman Foundation is often billed as "the world's largest foundation devoted to entrepreneurship." The organization embodies that by doing good works for the startup community on a global scale, as the financial partner powering the Startup Weekend organization, as one of the co-founders and sponsors of Global Entrepreneurship Week and as the creators of the Startup Act legislation here in the United States, to name a few examples. But, here in the Silicon Prairie, they're something more tangible: they are a part of our growing entrepreneurial community and a physical asset to the region with their base in Kansas City, Mo.
Before Big Omaha, I caught up with Nick Seguin, Kauffman's Manager of Entrepreneurship, via email to get his thoughts on this year's event.
Silicon Prairie News: The Kauffman Foundation has been the premier sponsor of Big Omaha for the past three years — what is about the event that keeps Kauffman involved?
Nick Seguin: While Kauffman's focuses are education and entrepreneurship on a national level, the fact that Big Omaha is a regional event is fantastic. Proximity aside, Kauffman's involvement and support continue because Big Omaha brings together a tight group of people from around the country to have meaningful progressive conversations about entrepreneurship. The Silicon Prairie News team has succeeded in cutting the fat and putting people together who want to act.
SPN: You travel to entrepreneurial events across the globe. What, in your experience, makes Big Omaha unique?
NS: Big Omaha has done a tremendous job of highlighting people and companies who are on their way to the top. It's a stage for incredible entrepreneurs who haven't necessarily worn out the conference circuit, but are building important companies. Big Omaha feels intimate – the fact that SPN restricts the size allows attendees to wrap themselves around the conference and really participate in everything from breakfast to hallway conversations to the parties at night. Most importantly, though, the culture that's been created at Big Omaha is unique. I'm not the biggest fan of conferences, but somehow Big Omaha has a consistent theme of action and forward progress. It's not a bunch of blowhards, but rather a group of makers and doers vetting ideas and helping each other take the next step.
SPN: The Kauffman Foundation is bringing a good-sized crew to the event this year, after three days at the event, what do you hope that they walk away with?
NS: This year Kauffman will send associates from our research and policy, entrepreneurship and innovation groups. It's important to continuously interact with practicing entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial communities. The opportunity to participate in and learn from an event like Big Omaha allows Kauffman associates to ground ideas and initiatives in real needs.