Vote Kutcher, Gupta, Seguin or Silbermann for Silicon Prairie Ambassador
At our inaugural Silicon Prairie Awards event on Aug. 30, one these four finalists will be recognized as the year's Silicon Prairie Ambassador. In anticipation of that celebration, we're providing overviews of the four contenders for each of our 12 Silicon Prairie Awards. The finalists — 48 in all — are the result of public nominations in July and input from our selection committee earlier this month.
A public vote will help determine the winners of the awards, so cast your ballot for the Silicon Prairie Ambassador below, or visit the awards page to vote on all 12 categories.
Join us for the Silicon Prairie Awards: We have a fun night of community celebration planned for Aug. 30 at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha. Tickets still remain for the event, which includes an opening reception, keynote talk by TechStars founder and CEO David Cohen, awards ceremony and a closing party. Purchase your tickets today.
Meet the finalists
The Silicon Prairie Ambassador is an individual from the region that has moved away but continued to advocate on behalf of the Silicon Prairie community.
Ashton Kutcher, investor in Dwolla, Iowa native
Ashton Kutcher, a high-profile actor who's been investing in tech startups in recent years, returned to his home state of Iowa in April to hold a series of press events announcing his investment in Des Moines-based Dwolla, a payments startup. Though for just one day, Kutcher's star power shed a spotlight on Iowa's startup activity, yielding coverage from national media outlets and tech blogs. "Dwolla can only be built here," Kutcher said in a live video interview with Silicon Prairie News in April.
Rahul Gupta, Big Wheel Brigade co-founder, former Omahan
A native Californian, Rahul Gupta spent the last eight years in Omaha until moving back to his home state in April. Before leaving, however, he co-founded a web development firm whose co-founder still remains in Omaha. The company carries the slogan: "Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Big Wheel Brigade is a Silicon Prairie Company with Silicon Valley roots." Gupta is active on social media, staying involved with the Omaha startup community through Twitter. During Apple's WWDC event in June, he organized a Silicon Prairie meetup in San Francisco.
More: Gupta on SPN.
Nick Seguin, former Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation manager of entrepreneurship, former Kansas Citian
After serving as Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation's manger of entrepreneurship for 18 months, Nick Seguin returned to Columbus, Ohio in May to work full-time at the web development firm he co-founded. Since leaving Kansas City – and during travels outside of the city with the Kuaffman Foundation – Seguin has stayed connected to the region, boasting its startup community when given the opportunity.
More: Seguin on SPN.
Ben Silbermann, Pinterest co-founder, Iowa native
Over the past year, Ben Silbermann became one of the most notable names in tech as the startup he co-founded, Pinterest, exploded with user growth and media coverage. With the rise, came more awareness that he's an Iowa native, a fact he states in his Twitter bio: "Grew up in Iowa. Now in CA." On stage at our Thinc Iowa conference in October 2011, Silbermann said Iowa, given its population size, is disproportionately represented on Pinterest, a fact that's appeared in other stories about Pinterest. In December 2011, Silbermann welcomed Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who was on an economic trip to the state, into the Pinterest office.
More: Silbermann on SPN
Credits: Headshot of Kutcher by David Shankbone via Flickr. Photo of Gupta courtesy of Gupta. Photo of Seguin by Malone & Company/Big Omaha. Photo of Silbermann courtesy of Silbermann.
Thanks to sponsors that are making this inaugural event a reality: Bellevue University, Hudl, Centennial Bank, Lightbank, West Corporation, Koley - Jessen, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Verizon Wireless, University of Nebraska and our Startup Alley participants. To learn about more opportunities, contact email@example.com.