“Silicon Valley does not have a monopoly on innovation.”
Bernard Moon’s message to those at the annual Inside / Outside Innovation Summit seemed to be a fitting theme for three days of collaboration, collision and connection May 29-31 at the Graduate Hotel in downtown Lincoln. Moon, co-founder and partner at SparkLabs Group, was one of many leaders in the realm of startup and corporate innovation to share their message at Inside/Outside this year as the summit moved smoothly into its second year.
After launching in 2017, Inside/Outside organizer Brian Ardinger felt 2018’s edition was able to build on a successful start a year ago and pave the way for future growth for the summit.
“We learned a lot of things from last year. The atmosphere this year made it much more collaborative and much more connected than it was in the past.”
“We’re always on day one, it’s always trying to figure out ‘what’s that next thing’? At the end of the day, we must bring value to the community or the community isn’t going to support it. If we continue to bring value and the community sees that, then we’ll continue to do it.”
With more than 30 startups represented at this year’s summit, the bar continues to be raised for attracting those with big ideas and the hopes of bigger and bigger audiences to share them with.
This year’s startup pitch contest saw Alyss Analytics take home the top prize, a $120,000 investment from sponsors Nelnet, Allo Communications, Assurity and Spreetail while SavR took home a $25,000 grant from the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development.
Alyss Analytics is a Wichita-based company that bills itself as a company that “empowers employers to make better, faster hiring decisions” using artificial intelligence and analytics, which are then employed through the recruitment and hiring process. The company has worked with Wichita State University and hopes to expand its presence with companies in Lincoln, Omaha, Des Moines and others throughout the region.
Meanwhile, SavR, which hails from Australia and has created a personal finance app, will use part of the LNK Launch Grant to open a local office in Lincoln according to Christina Oldfather, LPED Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Oldfather says the contest is important because it allows people from many different fields and areas of expertise to share ideas and perhaps help them figure out what’s next for their growing businesses—such as the case with SavR and its planned expansion.
“From a community perspective, anything we can continue to do to support these conversations, collisions and things that are happening here, we want to make sure that continues.”
Oldfather adds that the feedback from the companies and those that attend the summit shows that it’s important to get people talking about what their visions are and how they can make them a reality.
“With the companies in the showcase, we’re getting a lot of good feedback from them as well as far as having great conversations with people in the community and outside the community. Getting everyone in the same room doesn’t always happen even with just the people that are here, so I think that’s resulted in a lot of great things to come too.”
Ardinger says he’s excited to see the conversations and collisions continue with Lincoln a perfect place to start them.
“I think I’m very intentional about who I bring to town because I know that those people are rock stars wherever they are at whether it’s Australia, Silicon Valley or New York.”
“Most of the time they’re flying over, so giving them the opportunity to stop over and spend a couple of days and see not only the people but the company and the support that the community provides around this, it opens their eyes to the fact that they can collaborate in the Midwest.”