CIEF Newsletter | Issue 1 | December 2019
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About the Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Franchising
The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Franchising (CIEF) is continuously playing an important role in developing Nebraska’s entrepreneurial community by preparing its students academically with business fundamentals to become leaders and owners. Competitions such as Breakthrough Weekend, BigIdea! Pitch Contest and the Maverick Business Plan Competition instill concepts of how to start a business all the way to exit strategy.
CIEF also directs The Entrepreneurial Living Learning Community (ELLC) by providing students guaranteed housing and a scholarship. ELLC members not only receive mentoring from community members, but they travel across the country to meet entrepreneurs and visit entrepreneurial hotspots. Furthermore, CIEF offers hands-on experiences to students through its student-run Stedman’s Café, Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Organization (CEO), and the Maverick Venture Fund.
Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization Global Conference and Pitch Competition
The University of Nebraska at Omaha Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) partook in this year’s CEO’s Global Conference and Pitch Competition in Tampa, FL. UNO sent a total of 23 students, including executive members and general members, to participate in this three-day conference. The conference consisted of keynote speakers, including Steve Sheetz - founder of Sheetz, breakout sessions and opportunities to receive mentoring from successful entrepreneurs from around the globe!
UNO CEO received 2nd place for Generating Revenue Incentives Award. Executive members Madeline Allen, Daniel McCoy, Makayla Leiting, Keaton Claassen, and Rick Rueda presented on the various ways our chapter generates revenue. One way students generated revenue this year is through sponsorships with great companies, such as Aviture, Flywheel, Sojern and Farm Credit Services of America.
Madeline Allen, UNO CEO Chapter President, received 3rd Place out of 250 nominations for Chapter Leader of the Year, for her diligent and organized leadership. Not only has she improved our executive team, but has also led membership growth of over 400%!
Makayla Leiting and Jacob Michalski both placed in the top 5 for Entrepreneur of the Year. Makayla owns her own clothing line, ML, and Jacob own his own lawn care business, Jacob Michalski Lawn Care.
One of the main components of this conference is the pitch competition. This year, Emily Buettner (Founder of Plug) and Blake Phillips (Founder of PostMyProject) represented UNO. Emily and Blake competed against 80 other college students and their business ideas.
In partnership with The Startup Collaborative, Breakthrough Weekend was an accelerated workshop where participants from UNO, Metropolitan Community College, Creighton University and the Omaha community learned how to start a business from an idea and eventually pitch their business to a panel of judges. This year’s Breakthrough Weekend took place on September 20th, 21st and 22nd and was sponsored by Aviture, Fiserv, Husch Blackwell and The Startup Collaborative.
As teams worked together to develop their business idea, mentors from the Omaha community consulted teams about their business. This year’s mentors were Roger Kassebaum from Founders Bootcamp, Adrian Petrescu from Innovation Trek, Justin Nabity from Physicians Thrive and Give Sight Global, Jason Feldman from live402, and Mitch Treu from The Startup Collaborative. By interacting with these mentors, students gained a valuable experience and were further exposed to meaningful networks throughout the community.
First place was awarded to Noah Schalley and Ottilie Cooper-Ohm for their idea “Just Landed.” Just Landed is a social media application that helps friends reconnect when traveling away from home. Developed around the “set it and forget it” notification model, Just Landed satisfies the customer pain of current social media application notifications and eliminates the problem of friends losing contact after traveling or moving away from home.
BigIdea! Pitch Contest
The 2019 BigIdea! Pitch Contest took place this October with a preliminary round on October 8th and the final round on October 15th. This real-world opportunity offered UNO students the opportunity to showcase their business idea and receive funding for their business idea. This contest began on October 8th with over 40 students spread across 4 classrooms at Mammel Hall and students pitched their business idea to a panel of judges. Each student was given 90 seconds to pitch their idea, followed by up to 5 minutes of question and answer. The top three students from each room advanced to the final round on October 15th for a chance to win $500 and a trip to the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization Global Conference and Pitch Competition in Tampa, FL.
Emily won the 2019 BigIdea! Pitch Contest with her business, Plug. Plug is a social recruitment platform that democratizes the recruiting process for athletes and recruiters. Blake received second place with his idea, PostMyProject, which is a free project estimator service for over 160 types of home improvement projects. This year we liked the pitches so much that we awarded both these students the opportunity to represent UNO at the CEO Global Conference and Pitch Competition!
With the help from our sponsors for the 2019 BigIdea! Pitch Contest, Fiserv, Suiter|Swantz, Aviture and Husch Blackwell, these students and all students that chose to compete in the contest were able to gain experience in pitching their business and provided the opportunity to receive funding to take their business to the next level.
Entrepreneurship Student Spotlight
Chloe Tran grew up in Vietnam and at the age of 17, she moved to Omaha, Nebraska. Her passion for cooking began at the age of 10 when she started mimicking recipes she found in cookbooks lying around her kitchen at home. When Chloe arrived in Omaha, she attended Brownell Talbott and eventually went on to receive her Associates Degree in Business Transfer from Metro Community College. Throughout her academic career, Tran’s passion for cooking eventually grew into wanting to start her own Vietnamese restaurant. In November 2017, this dream was fulfilled and Chloe opened The Bánh Mì Shop in Bellevue with one goal in mind; serving customers authentic Vietnamese cuisine made from scratch. But, Chloe’s success story didn’t stop there. In October 2019, Chloe opened her second location at the Inner Rail Food Hall in Aksarben Village.
Today, Chloe is a full-time student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and will graduate with her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with Concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Management, all while being the General Manager and Owner of The Bánh Mì Shop, currently operating in two locations. Chloe is employing the concepts she learned in college to help operate two successful businesses. Concepts such as how to perform a SWOT analysis have allowed her to develop her restaurant while mitigating risk and increasing her odds. By attending college and participating in extracurricular activities such as the BigIdea! Pitch Contest, Chloe created her own success story. Chloe had this to say about starting a business:
“Starting a business is hard, but college has helped me not lose faith in my business.”
As Chloe looks towards graduating and growing her business, her long-term goal is to standardize the processes her restaurant uses to position The Bánh Mì Shop to eventually be a successful restaurant franchise.
2nd Annual Celebration of Entrepreneurship Gala
April 5, 2019 marked the first Celebration of Entrepreneurship Gala, where University of Nebraska at Omaha entrepreneurship alumni were invited to an evening of celebration and awards. Honorary Co-Chairs Willy Theisen and Van Deeb helped bring together the UNO and Omaha entrepreneurial community, while raising funds for many programs that provide training, scholarships and startup funding for UNO entrepreneurs. Over $20,000 was raised for the Center and 30 silent auction items were purchased by attendees. In addition, CIEF sold a trip to Florence, Italy and a bottle of wine signed by Alexander Payne.
As we look ahead on our calendars, CIEF’s 2nd Annual Celebration of Entrepreneurship Gala will take place on April 3, 2020. CIEF will look to entertain all and award UNO alumni and Omaha community members for their successes in growing Omaha’s entrepreneurial community. There will be drinks, walking appetizers and much more at this upcoming gala. Did we mention that Bald Brother Brewery Catering will be serving food for this year’s gala? So, join us and celebrate entrepreneurship with a night of entertainment, awards and community building as CIEF hosts our annual Celebration of Entrepreneurship Gala!