Silicon Prairie News

Posts by Guest Contributor
5091_ceef291d44_small December 7, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Omaha (Guest post by Gordon Whitten.) When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he famously said, "That's where the money is." Not so different from an entrepreneur looking to start a business. Business is where the money is. But most entrepreneurs go into business to build something. The money to be earned is somewhat secondary to the creation of this new thing, which is kind of nice. Obviously, to get money out of the new business, however, you usually have to put some in. I've raised capital for three entrepreneurial ventures of my own so far in my life, and I'm commonly asked, "What is the best way … read more

4940_e5497dea25_small October 28, 2012 by Guest Contributor

San Francisco (Guest post by Philip Rosedale.) I recently posted on the Coffee & Power blog about Silicon Valley's amazing lead in startups, and our analysis of why it is both so strong and growing. The summary is that Silicon Valley has more tech people per capita (and per square mile) than anywhere else in the world, making it a very safe place for startups and software development, and also that when you run into tech people in San Francisco, they tend to be unusually open and helpful. The new version of Coffee & Power … read more

4939_9f01b9d6df_small October 28, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Des Moines Reports of our economic demise have been greatly exaggerated | History can be a crafty fox. It’s misleading because it likes phases and doesn’t often spend time looking back at how silly its old hairstyles once were. In the 1970s, history was wearing bell-bottoms and snorting coke at Studio 54. It opted for hammer pants and a boombox on its shoulder in the 1980s. Today it hasn’t shaved for two months and sports a tank top and skinny jeans as if those hammer pants never happened. The idea that the Midwest in the Twentieth century is divided into a rising phase before 1950 and a falling phase after is an easy arc to get your mind … read more

4935_4cdaae7c7a_small October 26, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Des Moines It is a great honor to close out the October series on hiring here on Silicon Prairie News. I have read both Brad's and Brent's post from earlier in the month and I'm hoping I can share some great insight like they have. I'm a big fan of Mark Suster. Mark is an investment partner at GRP Partners and blogs at Both Sides of The Table. In March 2011 he wrote a blog post that I have bookmarked and read often. I am drawn to his post and this topic so much because Mark says when hiring employees, always choose "Attitude over Aptitude." In a region like LA, or even in NYC and The Valley, where there is more abundance of people with the same aptitudes … read more

4884_ca128a6d3c_small October 12, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Columbia Between AdVentures and our portfolio companies, we're no strangers to hiring. Personally, I've hired nearly one-hundred people in the past five years. Some have been fantastic hires and long-term fits. Others have been terrible. Throughout the process, we've developed a set of rules so we land more of the long-term people – and fewer short-timers. Trust, but verify: Ah, yes, there's nothing like kicking off a list with a Ronald Reagan quote. The wisdom couldn't be more accurate. Regardless of what people claim in an interview or on a résumé, be sure to verify the accuracy. For some people, somehow, references tend to magically … read more

4841_f7968aa423_small October 8, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Des Moines It's that time of year again. The leaves are turning from green to brilliant oranges and reds. The weekend grilling ritual gradually gives way to simmering pots of chili on the stovetop. Neighbor kids are throwing the football in the front yard … And Thinc Iowa is almost here. All of us here at Performance Marketing cherish this time of year. Like having Christmas come early, it's when Silicon Prairie News tells us to throw caution to the wind, to let the creative … read more

4822_b40b0a9249_small October 5, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Omaha (Guest post by Heath Mello.) As local and state governments continue to wrestle with a wide range of ongoing policy challenges, one issue continues to stand out as an opportunity to help solve many problems with a simple stroke of the keyboard: releasing usable government data. Transparency in government continues to be an ongoing issue facing not just the state government, but also city and county governments. Yes, budgets are sent to the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts every year and some Nebraska cities and counties provide more budgetary information on their websites to give the public more detail of where their tax dollars are currently being spent. However, why isn't that information in a usable-data format like Microsoft Excel? As part of my interim study … read more

4829_ac3cc40859_small October 5, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Des Moines (Guest post by Brad Dwyer.) Hiring your first employees is one of the scariest propositions a startup founder will face. It's often tempting to go it alone and make do with the superhuman efforts of a startup's founders for much longer than is healthy. The decision to build out your team is a huge responsibility and one not to be taken lightly, but it's probably the most essential thing you can do to lead to your startup's success. On the other hand, hiring the wrong people can be the kiss of death for any business. The team at Hatchlings: Being the sole driving force behind Hatchlings was a rut that I languished … read more

4679_4153ab5cd4_small August 31, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Cedar Rapids (Guest post by John Schnipkoweit.) I'd like to challenge every employee and employer to think about why they are really doing what they are doing. Employee benefits almost always focus on the employee's quality of life, and in recent years, that's included perks around the office as well. I think if we really want to shake things up and take it to the next level, we need to look at how to get better at our jobs. How can any of us really enjoy work, if we're confused as to why anyone would buy our product or use our app. It's easy for the founders – they eat, sleep, and dream about solving their customer's problems – but the larger an organization gets, it's sometimes easy to forget that not everyone truly understands the customers. Try to think of benefits that will help immerse your staff … read more

4651_a364e8484c_small August 24, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Iowa City (Guest post by Josh Cramer.) Before you gouge your eyes out thinking I'm going to launch into a seminar on 401Ks or a rant on how screwed up our health care system is, let's step back and consider another side of employee benefits. Sure, we offer a health care plan and IRA plan to our to our employees, but that's not what I want to talk about today. I've always felt that if this company is successful, the whole team should share in the success and be rewarded. Stock options are one traditional way to reward key employees after they meet certain benchmarks with the company. A stock option plan does a couple things for the company and the members of the team: (1) it creates an incentive for each team member to stick it out at the company; and (2) once exercised … read more

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