Silicon Prairie News

Posts by Guest Contributor
5150_90924f5442_small January 4, 2013 by Guest Contributor

Iowa City (Guest post by Michal Eynon-Lynch.) Creating a positive company culture is much like creating a positive classroom culture. As former teachers and camp counselors, this is something we enjoy actively considering. When intentionally attempting to improve company culture, I recommend following these three tips: 1. Laissez-faire it up 2. Hire well 3. Make it enjoyable. Laissez-faire it up: In the classroom, I can easily make a lot of really firm rules and structures. I can make my students do worksheets every night and give them points for completing their homework on time. I can penalize … read more

5130_7aa0431d10_small December 21, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Omaha (Guest post written by Mark Hasebroock.) Frequently, we are asked, "What should I present to you when I pitch my business?" I've heard and read a number of different ways to pitch and they all have merit. There isn't one specific right answer. But there are some guidelines. From our standpoint, as capital providers and value add partners, we like to hear: What's the problem? What's your solution? How big is the market opportunity? Why will you win? Format: Ten to twelve slides. Be brief and be blunt. | What's the problem? Some of the best ideas we have invested in so far stemmed from a founder identifying a problem that is personal to them. It often starts with … read more

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

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