Quest was mentioned in the Omaha World Herald.
Brain drain is often lamented in Nebraska, but an interesting reversal is happening in an up-and-coming technology niche here. Tech startup entrepreneurs for new companies are relocating to Lincoln from Seattle, Chicago, Toronto and Iowa. You read that right: Tech entrepreneurs, moving from Seattle and Chicago to Nebraska. The common connection: All three companies are sports-technology startups, and Lincoln is building an impressive reputation as a place for such firms to congregate. Lincoln’s current roster of sports-focused tech companies include Hudl, opendorse, Lockr, EliteForm, Hail Varsity, Bulu Box and Powderhook. Hudl, a sports video editing software firm that got its start from research by students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is seeing impressive growth. The company just announced that it plans to open an office in Omaha’s Old Market with an eye to double the firm’s production team of 52 staff members. Hudl is offering starting bonuses of $10,000. Economists say that states are best positioned to maximize their tech-firm growth when they develop local “clusters,” or concentrations, of niche firms. That’s what Lincoln is doing on the sports-tech front. It’s encouraging, then, to see that such firms are among the niches being cultivated by NMotion, a Lincoln-based initiative by which venture capital investors, the University of Nebraska and private companies are providing financial, consulting and mentoring support to promising startup firms. NMotion recently announced the seven startups it is supporting this year, and sports-related firms are a particular focus: Athletepreneur (online network and marketplace for athletes), Turnstile Cards (mobile fan loyalty platform) and Commissioner.io (sports league management platform). Those are the three firms whose leaders are relocating from out of state to Lincoln. There are other encouraging developments on the startup front in Nebraska as well. Ground Fluor Pharmaceuticals Inc., a startup company that grew from technology developed at UNL, has won a $726,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to expand its research and product development. The company’s technology is used in three-dimensional medical imaging. In Omaha, the startup accelerator Straight Shot has announced its seven-company class of startups. Three of the companies are Nebraska-based: Borrow for Your Bump (maternity fashion rental and retail e-commerce), Quest (technology to connect people to personal trainers and coaches) and SitStay (pet products e-commerce). Straight Shot’s presenting sponsors, McCarthy Capital and the Greater Omaha Chamber, are both providing financial support and serving as mentors. Additional sponsors include the UNL College of Business and private firms such as the Fraser Stryker law firm, First National Bank and Aviture. To make progress on the startup/tech front, Nebraska needn’t have a tech cluster the size of California’s Silicon Valley or a capital market as large as New York City’s venture capital community. What it does need is entrepreneurial vision, well-crafted financial and mentoring supports and smart cultivation of economic niches. Nebraska’s startup developments this year provide encouraging examples on all three fronts.