I just came back from the BigOmaha conference presented by Silicon Prairie News. Held at Kaneko in downtown Omaha, this conference brought together people with ideas big and small. Some ideas were hatching, others had formed billion dollar businesses. Yet, the energy kept the audience hopping, the phones parked and the ears intently listened. How the heck did 500 people suddenly gather in flyover country, mingling with wantrepreneurs, entrepreneurs, press, government, friends and, yes – in Omaha, NE – even a live cow.
The Des Moines participants turned out in full support representing Dwolla, Entrepreneurial Technologies, Far Reach Technologies, Brown Winick Law, 48Web, Scoreyard and more. The lineup of speakers had been impressive to read about, but reality rocked the bios and speakers managed to excite, inspire and challenge throughout the day. I was gratified to see B Companies use the opportunity to inspire social entrepreneurship in so many sessions, inspiring me to not only learn from organizations like SamaSource, Ecko and Warby Parker, but also go out an buy their products.
Though this was my first conference where the idea of startups was the connecting theme, it certainly wasn’t the first business building exercise. I was often reminded of lessons learnt from speakers like Mahan Khalsa and Jim Cecil from Microsoft’s now rebranded Fusion conference. Where speakers previously spoke of how to build businesses, the focus now was purely the execution of ideas, continuous improvement, growth and deal flow.
The five key takeaways for me were –
1. Ideas are a dime a dozen; execution is key!
2. Your legacy is how your family remembers you when you’re gone – so why do you give a damn about the world?
3. Successful execution requires guts, paranoia, risk aversion and unwillingness to take no for an answer
4. Awesome innovation is happening all over this ‘flyover’ zone called the midwest
5. Startup Weekend, Thinciowa, BigOmaha, Startup Drinks and Techbrew like events are juice for the entrepreneurial soul – don’t miss any of them!