Celebrating community is at core of Silicon Prairie Awards
Dan Martell is part of the inspiration for the Silicon Prairie Ambassador award. In his Big Omaha 2011 talk, he said that his mentors encouraged him to go to the U.S. and be successful on behalf of Canadian startups. For example, he now he describes himself as "a Canadian entrepreneur living in San Francisco."
After opening nominations on Thursday for our inaugural Silicon Prairie Awards, we have seen a tremendous response – much higher than we anticipated. That's a sign that the community is excited for the event and some welcome validation for the work we're putting behind it.
The purpose of the awards is twofold. First to recognize the past year's achievements of individuals and companies, and second to bring everyone together for a fun night of celebration. The event takes place in Omaha but we're expecting a big draw from around the region. Whether you're in Sioux Falls, S.D. or Cedar Falls, Iowa, this is your night. Johnson County, Kan. or Johnson County, Iowa, your presence is requested, as well.
Since the names of the first ten awards are pretty straightforward, such as Startup of the Year and Mobile App of the Year, I'd like to dig in on the the idea behind the final two categories that recognize important aspects of the community: Silicon Prairie Community Champion and Silicon Prairie Ambassador.
Silicon Prairie Community Champion
In the Silicon Prairie, there are individuals, companies and organizations whose support of the startup community goes above and beyond what's expected of them. They don't fit neatly into the typical categories, – executive, investor or service provider, for example – since they influence the entire ecosystem with their hard work, commitment of resources and dedication to the cause. This award recognizes the individual, company or organization that has been a true champion to the Silicon Prairie over the past 12 months.
Who is that one person that you think has been most impactful to the startup community in your city or across the region? Submit their name. Know of a non-profit or corporation working really hard behind the scenes to make sure entrepreneurs ideas take shape? Let us know.
Silicon Prairie Ambassador
This award recognizes the individual who continues to advocate for the Silicon Prairie despite their path taking them somewhere else. Whether they've seized an opportunity in Silicon Valley or New York, they have not forgotten their Midwestern roots and make it a point to support, communicate and embolden the vision for the Silicon Prairie as a Center of Innovation.
Conventional wisdom is that people leave the Midwest as quickly as they can and that they never look back. We know that's not usually the case and want to use this award to celebrate our friends who have left but continue to wear their native state on their sleeve and never pass up an opportunity to educate their new neighbors on the great things happening in our region.
Do you know of a woman organizing a meetup group of former Kansas City tech folks in New York City? Nominate her. How about an Iowa State grad in Silicon Valley connecting other alumni with opportunities to invest in Des Moines startups? Nominate him, too.
While it's likely that the "Startup of the Year" will be viewed as the top award on August 30, I'd argue that the Community Champion and Ambassador are actually the most important. Our company has always been foremost about the community and we couldn't be more honored to be able to provide this recognition.
Nominate: Submit nominations for all 12 categories of the Silicon Prairie Awards.
Note: The Silicon Prairie Superhero award has been re-named the Silicon Prairie Community Champion award.