Big Omaha wrapped up last week and Volano had some key takeaways. The Silicon Prairie News did a great job once again of bringing out the best in Omaha and attracting the best from the country to our city to teach, inspire and create a more attractive climate for aspiring entrepreneurs. As a young software development company, we participate in Big Omaha for a few reasons, not the least of which is to steal good ideas and learn from technology thought-leaders. This year we had some interesting takeaways.
Don’t Go to Sleep on the Midwest
Volano partner Don Stavneak liked the idea that the Silicon Prairie could be a better place to build a business than Silicon Valley. “There was an ongoing theme of work/life balance with an emphasis on healthy living and I think that Omaha gives you this ability to ‘have it all’. I don’t know exactly what to attribute this to, maybe low cost of living has a bit to do with it, regional or local culture favoring families and family life, or what, but my wife and I are both building our businesses, have a great house in a great neighborhood that has great walk-ability and are raising four kids and still have time to work out and eat right.”
Don’s business partner Rod Smith noted that several speakers commented that Omaha felt like bigger cities did that fostered a spirit of entrepreneurship and technological innovation. “Ryan Freitas, co-founder of about.me said that Omaha feels like San Francisco did four years ago.” With Rod certain points always resonate more when put to rock music and he liked the instantly viral Freitas reference to The Clash song lyric, “Are you taking orders or taking over?” Getting validation from successful business owners outside of Nebraska is validating. The challenge is convincing investors to consider investing in their own local entrepreneurs.
Taking Care of Business Means Taking Care of Yourself
Nebraska native and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams made great points about acting quickly and decisively, understanding that good leaders don’t get a lot right, just a few things and reiterated and often made point about the importance of taking care of yourself. One Volano developer in attendance said his immediate call to action was to get involved in yoga. We don’t disagree. The Silicon Prairie News has a nice synopsis of William’s talk. Ultimately, when the dust and excitement settled from Big Omaha 2014, you’re left with the challenge of execution. Volano will work on refining our recruitment and hiring process and continue to focus on creating a culture that values our people, is empathetic to their lives outside of the office and recognizes achievement in the office.