Everyone has the opportunity to wake up and think of an idea that could change the world. When I was a kid, Barry Sanders was my favorite running back because he had that same mentality. When he got the ball he felt it was an opportunity to score a touchdown. It didn’t matter if he had to run 30 yards backward before he ran 50 yards forward, he sincerely believed he could do it. We’re not all going to be given the stage that Barry had, but we have the choice to approach every day with the same attitude. We need more problem solvers.
In my short tenure working on Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the Greater Omaha Chamber, I’ve learned a completely new vocabulary, met hundreds of people and determined who fits in where within the ‘entrepreneurial ecosystem’. Simply put, there are brilliant people waiting to serve a new wave of problem solvers.
This editorial is targeting everyone in the Greater Omaha area that has ever had a conversation with a friend, spouse or family member that started with the phrase “wouldn’t it be cool if…” or “don’t you hate it when…” or my favorite, “I have an idea.” You get the point. There are solutions to problems being proposed in our lives every day and it’s time we take action to monetize that. If you don’t have a solution, I challenge you to take 30 minutes of every day to identify a solution to a problem. There is capital, talent, professional services and free services waiting to embrace you.
There are three questions that have been a pretty good filter for me to know if a solution is viable:
1) Who is your customer? (hint: don’t say everyone)
2) Can you produce revenue? (hint: don’t say no or have a really long answer to this question)
3) What is the problem you are solving? (hint: try focus on one problem at a time)
The more awareness the Greater Omaha area has on potential startup companies, the more of a story we have to tell as a community. This translates into more jobs, more talent and more investment in the area. If you have a solution that you want to talk about please email me. We are a neutral party that exists to get you connected to the ‘startup ecosystem’ so you can take your solution to the next level.
Once every few weeks, I’m going to take some time to reflect on my role with the Greater Omaha Chamber. I’m writing as a neutral party, a ‘Switzerland’ if you will.
In the last 8 months, I’ve learned that the Chamber’s Entrepreneurship/Innovation team plays a vital role to the community as a connector… and I’m not just saying that to justify our paychecks. It is not our role to decide where startups should office; what investors should be recommended; what professional services genuinely serve startups; what corporations should do to innovate, etc. Rather, we exist to be a neutral party to help the community move forward and that is exactly what I wanted from this opportunity. As I’ve reflected on this opportunity, I’ve realized it is rare to find a neutral party when capitalism is at the core of our economy.
Capitalists should not be afraid of competition. At a recent 1 Million Cups meeting, Matt Medlock, founder of Paysafe, said “I want as many competitors to enter my space as possible. In fact, I’ll hand them over the code so they can get started… the more competition in my space will only create more awareness for the problem Paysafe is solving”.
I immediately drew a correlation to our startup ecosystem. It is no secret that there are events, investors, schools, and professional services that are in competition with one another within the startup ecosystem. This is a GREAT thing. Competition raises awareness that our startup community exists. Our community benefits from more investors, more professional services, more training and more events. Be loud, be the best, and be positive.
In our ‘always nice’ ecosystem, honesty and positivity is better than being vague and negative. I have been thoroughly impressed with how those I’ve met have a sincere interest in the startup ecosystem.
The time is now to embrace competition and move forward. We are a community on the same team. We want to win. We are all in. Let’s do this!