Software Developers for Straight Shot
Last Friday Volano participated in the second “pitch day” at Straight Shot, an Omaha-based accelerator for e-commerce and software as a service start-ups. Volano partners Don Stavneak and Rod Smith attended while Jordan Pascale of Silicon Prairie News, e-Creamery founder Abby Jordan and I sat on a panel to provide feedback for three of the seven companies, Quest, LocalLux and Kitchin on their seven minute presentations, geared toward potential investors. We had a lot of fun talking to the entrepreneurs, business community participants, DundeeVC staff and enjoyed local craft beer provided by Benson Brewery. But we have selfish reasons for wanting to see Omaha become a premiere hub for technology start-ups.
Rising Tide Lifts All Ships
Programs like DundeeVC’s “Straight Shot” help create a more attractive environment for entrepreneurs by supporting their development, getting them an audience of potential investors and helping them become more viable investment opportunities. They also draw dynamic members of the business community together. As an Omaha software developer, we benefit in the long term when more and more people come to understand how software can solve daily problems. In a business setting, creating software as a competitive advantage is also one of our goals. We are also a developer of software as a service, having launched Steelwool and Action Card, and we understand how significant the resource of intellectual capital is here in Omaha. We are constantly learning. Putting people together in a room who are early on in a software business or those who have had success in technology start-ups creates an environment where everyone can inform each other.
Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash paired up to do a VH1 Storytellers album years ago. In the banter between songs, they laughed about how the former members of super country group The Highwaymen used to joke about getting together to steal each other’s songs. In a sense, this is happening at Straight Shot. The companies get paired up with mentors whose areas of expertise range from legal and accounting to executive management and marketing. The owners, whose strengths and backgrounds vary in this year’s second accelerator class pair up with mentors who can help them in areas outside of their immediate comfort zone. Pitch Day is all about helping them learn how to articulate their company vision in front of a group and receive constructive feedback.
Community, Collaboration and Technology
The parallels between programs like Straight Shot and companies like Volano are stark. Our software development team work in an open, collaborative space and rely on each other’s knowledge to help them solve problems. Working directly with the clients for whom we build and sell software, we also realize that relationship development is a key component of writing custom code or developing mobile apps. It is on the strength of these client and community relationships that we land custom software business. We are also able to rely on many Nebraska-based peers for knowledge, introductions and feedback on our model and products. As benefactors of this environment, it is also important to proactively reach out and offer help where we can.