TSC Sales Adjunct Joins the Fellowship!

Ben Jackson is an intelligent, passionate leader and adjunct who’s been by TSC’s side since day one, helping early-stage startups grow. He leads our LEVEL 9 // Outbound Sales module. He guides fellows through possible blind spots in their sales technique, and provides proven strategies to empower startup sales folks. He’s got a rich background of experience, including education in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Standford’s Graduate School of Business, he helped grow national sales at LinkedIn, and he’s started several businesses of his own. So you can imagine our thrill when he signed up to join the TSC program as a fellow!

Even though he’s already balancing his role as a TSC adjunct, working a full-time job, and raising a family, he’s still felt the desire to step forward and start up. In partnership with his co-founder, Alex, he’s currently working through early customer discovery for his concept, PaidUp, an idea that stems from pain points he recognized in his work. PaidUp will provide a technology-based tool that helps businesses whose clients struggle with credit checks, paperwork processes, or other limitations.

We officially welcomed him into the program on November 13, and there’s no doubt, given his experience and drive, this adjunct and fellow will turn PaidUp into something big.

Bringing Talent to the Good Life

Whether it’s love, work, upbringing, or family that takes or keeps you here, we have found that most people enjoy living in Omaha. We’re especially excited to have smart, founder-minded “imports” who have chosen to live here and start up.

We’re thrilled to be a part of so many Omaha transplants’ and new arrivals’ experiences, enabling them with the knowledge and skills to launch their innovative solutions. Currently, we have about 65 fantastic fellows in our portfolio. Each of them have stepped up, having the courage and vigor to solve specific, interesting, and very proven problems. We’re eager to see where these Fellows go.

While they all have their founder-minds in common, it’s quite noteworthy that nearly 90% of our current Fellows come from out-of-state. In fact, five in every six fellows have transplanted here or boomeranged back from other markets. (Come join us for our monthly All Rise Rally can meet some of them in person.)

We just welcomed a dozen new fellows last night at this months’ LEVEL 1 // Initiation – many of which have been lured to Omaha from elsewhere. (Stay tuned for stories about them!) Needless to say, we’re currently experiencing a large influx of really incredible Fellows willing to push the Omaha startup ecosystem forward. We’ll be supporting them every step of the way!

Finding Future Talent // CareerVoice

We’re pretty pumped to have a founder like Preston in the TSC Fellowship. He was welcomed into the program with our robust October class, ready to work, and knowing where he wants to go. Preston has a bright mind and brings so much experience and knowledge to our tribe. Lots to follow with this founder!

He’s got a tech-rich background, starting his career working with websites as a UX designer for a startup in New York City, before making his way to Omaha. (And gosh, do we love an incoming Omaha transplant!) After moving here, he joined the UX team at CRi Solutions, expanding on his skill set by designing mobile banking apps for large banking clients and conducting usability tests with customers. This expertise has most definitely prepared him for his next adventure in the startup world.

Keep an eye out for Preston and CareerVoice. He will help customers, educators and students make the most of worker talent. He’s currently verifying with his customers that future talent is expensive to acquire and difficult to maintain. Turns out, he’s on to something!

Preston’s excited, and clearly capable, to scratch his startup “itch” once again, currently working relentlessly to complete the essential Problem Validation + Customer Discovery work. We’re excited to see where he goes! Keep after it!

Listen, Listen! // Holler Scholar

Michael Mazgaj, AKA “Maz,” graced us with his presence during Breakthru Weekend in late September, which was a 3-day startup sprint event we hosted in partnership with UNO. A clear founder-minded grad student, Maz got going right out of the gate, delivering a charming and compelling pitch, and then convincing a group of fellow young innovators to join his mission: Holler Scholar.

Maz always had trouble keeping up with required reading in high school and college. He couldn’t get through the material and it wasn’t engaging for him. After earning his bachelor’s degree in Geo-Science at UNL, he started grad school at UNO. In order to solve his problem, he began recording the heavier, more technical, in-depth readings and lectures. Turns out, graduate school papers and assignments require A LOT of resources! “Isn’t there an easier way than skimming through these research abstracts?” he thought.

How can you make it less time consuming, more modern, and more efficient for students and professors alike to absorb scholarly articles?

Holler Scholar, led by TSC fellow, Maz, aims to solve this problem, and open the world of learning. By providing alternate ways to consume and obtain scholarly articles, it can save time – and money – for students, professors, and ultimately, educational institutions.

We’re keen on Maz! If you know any innovative professors or students that’d be interested, reach out to him today… go HERE to learn more and provide feedback!

Match Making + Opportunity Spotting // Compatible

The Compatible Team consists of two professionals who are stepping up to provide a solution at a time when it’s most needed: ensuring your accountant, therapist, financial advisor — any important consultant in your life — is the correct match for YOU. These guys are dedicated to making it happen.

In a world where it’s nine-times as expensive for firms to onboard a new client as it is to retain one, it’s a problem that during said onboarding, clients aren’t being paired to their advisor based on compatibility. Their Problem Validation process has told Nick and Zunair in resounding response, “YES – this is a problem.” Great validation!

This match-making ability in professional services has the potential to expand beyond today’s expectations and go and far into the future. How great would it be to have service advisors that actually know you, your background, and have a cohesive relationship with you, as they advise personal, financial, and professional tips? Adding more value to the service and enhancing the experience – that’s what these founders are all about.

Help them out now by completing their Problem Validation Survey, or even volunteering to an in-person interview if it’s a real pain you encounter. The more real-life feedback they can get under their Customer Discovery belts, the better. Onward and upward for Zunair and Nick!

Shout Out From the Crowd // Fellow Feedback

Our ultimate goal is to drastically reduce the risk of startup failure, and set founders up with the confidence that comes with product-market fit and problem validation. We want founders to move forward with assurance that they’re providing the value proposition that’s wanted by customers. We work hard to make this happen, and it means the world when Fellows chime in regarding our role in their startup journey.

We’ve been so lucky to have a world-class group of fellows enter the TSC program recently and they’ve had some really heart-hitting feedback for us. Specifically, brothers Ross and Jesse Harding, who are currently pursuing a genius concept involving greeting card services. We’re thrilled to have them aboard the TSC train.

The kind of momentum they’ve experienced in their Customer Discovery is unparalleled and we’re excited to see where it takes them.

Keep your eyes on the Harding brothers, because we know they’ll go far!

There’s Always Room for Improvement in Outbound Sales

We’re lucky enough to have LeverageRx as residents in our cozy TSC HQ, They’re behind the #1 lending and insurance platform for medical professionals specifically. This week, they participated in a LEVEL 9 // Outbound Sales workshop. While the team already actively (and successfully) practices outbound sales, there’s always room for improvement in the world of startups. If there’s any sales pro who can elevate a team even higher through sales, it’s adjunct Ben Jackson.

The session was hands-on and eye opening. I didn’t realize how much science and art is involved in a sale. Ben worked the team through role play sessions, asked them tough questions, and challenged them to think deeply about the buyer.

While discussing sales pitches, Ben remarked with some memorable outbound sales wisdom – “Don’t spill your candy in the lobby.” AKA, don’t answer questions that have not been asked. You may just sell yourself out of a deal. Like I mentioned, such a balance of science and art. It sounds like the stellar sales team at LeverageRx gained plenty of insight with Ben, which will only bolster this startup’s success.

Don’t Fall In Love With Your Problem

At TSC, we love problems – so much. That’s where our heart center lives. The cornerstone of our program is for new Fellows to tell us what problem exists and the type of solution they may be able to provide. But it’s never recommended to get too attached to an initial problem or assumption.

At this week’s fellow meetup, pictured here, a LEVEL 4 fellow said to some early-stage founders “Don’t fall in love with your problem.” Andy, a well-seasoned TSC fellow knows that customer discovery can lead to new insights, which informed his current concept even more. He had to pivot from his original problem assumptions based on deep insight he gained from early customer interviews. He’s a shining example of a founder who stepped up to solve a problem and he’s is doing a superb job! He’s currently moving through his Minimally Viable Prototype. We’re so grateful for his presence in the Fellowship.

Come meet up with us at our next All Rise Rally and meet some folks who care about the startup community like Andy. Hang out with Omaha’s brightest and most innovative people and talk more about our local startup tribe!

Get Started Omaha // Recap

What a month! With UNO, we hosted an awesome Breakthru Weekend where we met a bunch of bright up-and-coming founders, we also hosted an enormous new class of TSC Fellows in their LEVEL 1 // Initiation, and a handful of our Fellows were recognized at the Cox Cable-sponsored Get Started event on September 20!

We were so proud to see that all five finalist for Get Started were TSC Fellows who are making their way through the methodology. Contenders included John of IHeartYourHouse; Shannon, Michelle, Rachel and Daniel of Space Worthy; Xavier of Showcase; Karisa of Stature; and Keith Fix of Retail Aware. The TextyPitch team was also in the house as they set up all five teams with real-time digital business pitching functionality, making it easy for all attendees to learn about each concept, even after they left the event.

From left: Andrew Dierks, Keith Fix, and Hunter Fangmeyer of Retail Aware – winners of $10K at Get Started Omaha.

Everyone who pitched their business on stage had some thought-provoking questions thrown their way from the esteemed panel of judges, but everyone held their cool and performed so well! We are so proud of this crew! (All of whom are careening toward our available funding!)

Big ups to the winner of $10K, Retail Aware. This big check will go a long way for their Outbound Sales effort in LEVEL 9. But a huge “congratulations” is well deserved by all these teams (and others at TSC) who are working incessantly to move their concepts forward. Bravo!