Fintech Fellows // Uniquely poised to solve succession planning

One team member led wealth management for one of the nation’s largest privately held banks. One runs a CPA firm. Another has helped many companies successfully manage mergers and acquisitions. And the last, well, he’s been on both sides of the succession planning pendulum.

Jason Gilbreath, Kerry Reiss, Eric Hamilton, and John Gilbreath have all felt the pain of succession planning — from various standpoints, none the less.

They’re uniquely equipped to solve one of the biggest challenges facing business owners and their banking institutions: the complicated, messy process of buying, selling or inheriting a company.

They hit the ground running during yesterday’s Fintech Fellows Initiation, quickly zeroing in on specifics in the bigger problem that they wanted to tackle first. Now, they’re in the race for between $10,000 and $80,000 of capital provided by TSC, thanks to First National Bank and the Murphy Vision Funds, in partnership with First Westroads Bank.

Next in the lineup for this team, defining a value prop the market desires and testing that against their network and TSC’s network of financial service experts (and future customers).

Impressive New Class of Fintech Fellows Join the Tribe

A talented group of financial-minded innovators joined us at TSC headquarters last night. Curious thinkers, well-seasoned founders – and many folks in between – all showed up to step forward, willing to solve validated Fintech problems we’ve researched and studied on their behalf. More than 20 new Fintech concepts were introduced, with fellows sharing their banking, finance, and corporate backgrounds and their startup impetus going forward. What an inspirational night it was, learning about all these talented locals who are ready to take the reins and guide these much-needed startup businesses forward.

They’re ready to identify customers, obtain solid feedback, and get their Minimally Viable Prototypes underway, and we’re waiting in the wings to help facilitate their next steps. Stay tuned to see what’s possible with these highly skilled founders. Thanks to all the special people at First National Bank for having our back on this initiative and carrying these ideas onward. The banking world has some big changes coming to it! We can’t wait to help these disrupters get their concepts off the ground.

Price Testing // Making Art Accessible, and Valuable

art subscription service

Setting the price of your product is one of the more important decision you’ll make as a founder. It is the final gate between your product and the market, so at The Startup Collaborative, we take it quite seriously. It’s one of the final feedback loops required before committing code for your product’s MVP.

Your starting price may not always be the most desirable margin. But, it must be aligned with the value your customers believe your product will deliver. Your pricing must incite initial customers but must also act as a signal to your value prop. Setting price is tricky, to say the least. It’s not quite an art and not quite a science.

Right now, one of our most disciplined and most customer-focused founders is determining his initial pricing strategy.

Xavier Jackson’s vision for Showcase is to make art accessible to patrons of all types. The art industry is known for expensive, hard to attainable pieces.

With Showcase, aspirational art enthusiasts get quickly acquainted with local artists that share similar values, shared experiences or affinities. From there, Showcase subscribers can pick from a variety of art pieces that speak to them. The piece is then hand delivered along with more backstory on the artist and the work. For a minimal monthly fee, Showcase subscribers can have the piece in their homes until they’re ready for their next work of art. Meanwhile, artists can collect revenue off pieces prior to their official sale.

To participate in Showcase’s price discovery, please sign up here.

New industry-specific startup creation could equate talent growth for corporates

In this race for high-performing, high-tech talent, our employers can choose one of two mindsets: abundance or scarcity. One company taking a major stance of abundance is First National Bank.

Recently, leaders from within the nation’s largest privately held bank approached our team with a question: how do we ripen the fintech community? They had a hunch, based on the ethos that all boats rise, that if more startups formed around financial services that the bank would, in turn, benefit from a broadened talent pool.

In 2017, there were more than 32,500 employees working for 1,765 companies within the financial services and insurance industries in our metro region. And, as of 2017, we estimate there are less than ten active fintech startups in the region. The most notable of those being D3 Banking, LeverageRX, and PaymentSpring.

In many startup communities, it is easy to draw clear lines between industry clusters and the number of new companies created within that industry. Our region hasn’t yet been able to draw those lines.

Earlier this month, we launched Fintech Fellows Initiative, with preliminary funding coming from First National Bank. This intentional effort intends to generate new startups within the financial services industry.

As part of the Fintech Fellows Initiative, The Startup Collaborative will reveal several financial services market opportunities for great founders to build companies around. These opportunities have been validated through customer discovery with hundreds of potential users motivated to find a solution. To see the full Market Insights Report click here. 

Fintech Fellows will work with The Startup Collaborative, using the pre-seed fund’s outcome-based methodology for deeper customer discovery, early prototyping and business modeling to ultimately create a software-as-a-service startup.

Fintech Fellows will be given access to customer lists, market insights and customer discovery interview transcripts. They will also have one-on-one time with financial service subject-matter-experts and curated potential customers.

Fintech Fellows can earn $10,000 to $80,000 to accelerate their company’s growth based on outcomes met.

This funding comes at a time when early venture capital dollars into the region are at one of the lowest points in the past 10 years. Ironically, venture capital viable startups are on the rise, specifically in Omaha. That will be the next challenge The Startup Collaborative takes on.

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!