Silicon Prairie News

Hear from the 12 winners of the Silicon Prairie Awards (updated)

Omaha August 30, 2012 by Michael Stacy Only 13 days until Big Omaha. Get your tickets before they sell out!

The inaugural Silicon Prairie Awards have all been doled out. 

Hundreds of nominees were cut to 48 finalists, who were then whittled down to the 12 companies and individuals that walked away with hardware tonight.

Below is a quick overview of all the winners. Stay tuned to Silicon Prairie News in the coming days for more details from tonight's inaugural event, including coverage of David Cohen's keynote, reports from the orange carpet and loads of photos and video. 

Silicon Prairie Awards honorees

Mobile App of the Year - Front Flip

  • Fellow finalists: Dwolla, Leap2 and myHomework
  • Acceptance snippet: Co-founder Matt Beckner joked that he'd like to take home the huge golden prairie dog cutout on the stage, but he was plenty grateful for the smaller hardware Front Flip walked away with. Competing in the crowded mobile space, Beckner said, can be tough. But Front Flip has made positive progress.

Startup Technologist of the Year - Brandon Weber, Dwolla

  • Fellow finalists: Matt Angell, RareWire; Ben Metz, Banno and Rodrigo Neri, Instin
  • Acceptance snippet: Weber said he was "actually shocked to even get nominated because there's just such an amazing amount of talent in this community." He gave credit to other Des Moines shops like Goodsmiths. "It just blows my mind that I would even get nominated, much less win this."

Startup Designer of the Year - Jake Johnson, Divshot

  • Fellow finalists: Justin Kemerling, MindMixer; Rachel McClung, Goodsmiths and Kyle Murphy, Hudl
  • Acceptance snippet: Accepting via recorded video from Los Angeles, Johnson heaped credit on Startup Weekend Kansas City, where Divshot was born. “I'd like to thank Kansas City Startup Weekend for all their support and help," he said. He said "Divshot probably wouldn't have happened” without the event.

Startup Service Provider of the Year - Greg Kratofil, Polsinelli Shughart

  • Fellow finalists: Bart Dillashaw, Scudder Law Firm; David H. Milligan, Advent IP and Joey Hinke, Miller Fidler & Hinke
  • Acceptance snippet: "I love working with technology entrepreneurs," Kratofil said. "Quite frankly, they inspire me. I mean technology entrepreneurs … envision the world as a better place. They make it more efficient. They envision it faster. The envision it more entertaining. They envision it more secure."

Startup Investor of the Year - Dundee Venture Capital

  • Fellow finalists: Jim & Karen Linder, Nebraska Global and OpenAir Equity Partners
  • Acceptance snippet: All of the team from Dundee took the stage to accept, which Dundee founder Mark Hasebroock explained was a testament to how his outfit works. “This is the first team acceptance here because I don't do half as much as the people behind me," he said. "This is really a first-(rate) team that we have here.”

Startup Executive of the Year - Ben Milne, Dwolla

  • Fellow finalists: Chris Caldwell, LockPath; David Graff, Hudl and Naithan Jones, AgLocal
  • Acceptance snippet: "I kind of wish I could take a saw to this thing and cut it in multiple pieces” Milne said, giving a tip of the cap to his other finalists. “I'm really honored to be mentioned with these guys.” Milne said his team deserves considerable credit, joking that "even though I have the title of CEO, I can't really even dress myself."

B2B Startup of the Year - Hudl

  • Fellow finalists: LockPath, MindMixer and RareWire
  • Acceptance snippet: Accepting for Hudl, Matt Mueller noted that, with football season underway and Hudl supporting a constantly growing client base, lots of the team had to stay behind in Lincoln. “There's about 25 people back in the office still supporting coaches," he said. "This is our busiest weekend of the year.” That Mueller said, is a stark contrast from the early days, when a small crew powered the company. “We just want to thank everybody for helping us grow,” he said.

Consumer Startup of the Year - Dwolla

  • Fellow finalists: Bloom.com, Hatchlings and SkyVu Entertainment
  • Acceptance snippet: On stage for the second time this evening, Milne took the opportunity to look back at Dwolla's early days. He paid tribute to, among others, the media that covered Dwolla and the city that helped nurture the young startup. "Des Moines," he said, "gave us our first user base."

Silicon Prairie Ambassador - Rahul Gupta, Big Wheel Brigade

  • Fellow finalists: Ashton Kutcher, Nick Seguin and Ben Silbermann
  • Acceptance snippet: Gupta, who ran a humorous social media campaign in support of his candidacy, gave three thank yous. First, to Kutcher, "for not tweeting about this" and, thus, not getting Kutcher's many followers to vote. Second, "to the rest of you for responding to my blitzkrieg of tweets. Third, and most seriously, he thanked everyone in the room. "There would be nothing really to talk about if it wasn't for the work all of you were doing," Gupta said to the crowd. "If you guys weren't doing the work that you were doing, I wouldn't be able to represent it, so thank you.

Silicon Prairie Community Champion - Dusty Reynolds, Omaha Chamber

  • Fellow finalists: Thad Langford, Christian Renaud and Joni Cobb
  • Acceptance snippet: Reynolds' wife recently gave birth to the couple's first child, so Dr. Jim Reynolds accepted on Reynolds' behalf. Linder read a snippet passed along by Reynolds, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce's director of innovation and entrepreneurship. "I'm consistently reminded of how awesome we have it here in the Midwest," Reynolds said in the statement. "Thank you so much for letting me work alongside you as we continue to build something special here."

New Startup of the Year - Goodsmiths

  • Fellow finalists: Front Flip, Klink Mobile and Sporting Innovations
  • Acceptance snippet: Co-founder James Eliason spoke on behalf of his company and recalled a time not long ago when his day-to-day existence was vastly different. Just months ago, he was part of a small team doing client work. Then that team came to a decision: "I said, 'We're done doing this. We are going to focus 100 percent on Goodsmiths,' " Eliason recalled. "And ever since we did that we've gone uphill as far as traffic, sales, the whole nine yards."

Startup of the Year - Dwolla

  • Fellow finalists: Hudl, MindMixer and RareWire
  • Acceptance snippet: Dwolla, with four awards total, was the toast of the evening. But Milne led the audience in a round of applause for fellow nominee Hudl, and he offered big praise for the Lincoln company. "I'm a big fan, man" he said to Hudl. "Thank you guys, and thank you everybody." He turned his attention to the audience as a whole. "It's you guys in the room that built our company," he said. "And there's people that aren't up here that have contributed just as much as people on stage."
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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.

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