SPN Spaces is a new series that takes a look inside the region’s most inspiring startups, workspaces, incubators, accelerators and organizations.
Inside Mammel Hall on the south side of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s campus is the Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Franchising. The Center supports entrepreneurial education and collaboration, innovative hands-on learning experiences, as well as faculty research, conferences and mentorship. CIEF also provides advisory services to start-ups and small business entities throughout the region.
The CIEF website says the center serves as a bridge between the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and the diverse entrepreneurial community in the Omaha, Nebraska area. SPN dropped in on UNO’s Maverick Startups class led by Dr. Dale T. Eesley, Director and John Morgan Community Chair in Entrepreneurship to talk more about how the CIEF and UNO are preparing the region’s next wave of founders.
Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Franchising at University of Nebraska at Omaha’s College of Business Administration
Lead by: Dr. Dale T. Eesley, Director & John Morgan Community Chair in Entrepreneurship
SPN: What classes and programs does UNO offer through the CIEF that are supporting the Silicon Prairie’s next generation of business founders?
DE: The CIEF at UNO’s College of Business Administration offers a wide range of entrepreneurial classes, all of which have a heavy applied focus. These include Entrepreneurial Foundations, Maverick Startups, New Venture Formation, Entrepreneurial Finance, Social Venturing, Entrepreneurial Selling, Commercializing Technology and Technology Ventures (IS&T students paired up with Business students in teams).
We also have a number of classes taught by faculty outside the College of Business Administration including Media Entrepreneurship, Geography, Gender & Entrepreneurship, Political Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship & the Arts, Entrepreneurship & Leadership in British Literature, and Creativity & Innovation in Organizations (taught by the Psychology department).
SPN: How are you emulating real-life business problems and experiences in the classroom?
DE: Classes such as Entrepreneurial Foundation and Social Venturing have hands-on projects where they apply their classroom learning to solve problems for local startups, businesses and non-profit organizations. In Maverick Startups students engage in customer discovery and validation with 50 potential customers using their own concepts and business models. New Venture Formation and Technology Ventures are classes where students work on their own business concepts and try to create new businesses or at least test their viability.
A new program we have started, the Maverick Venture Fund, trains 12 students a year on how to do seed-stage investing. After a semester of training, they make actual investments in student, alumni, and community startups. It doesn’t get any more real than that! By the way, if you are searching for funding, please apply to pitch your venture to the fund!
SPN: Do things like startup classes and entrepreneurial groups in college give students an advantage over their self-taught peers once they graduate?
DE: Our classes are very hands-on and applied classes always enhance students’ ability to understand and master the content, so it stays with them long after graduation. Our students have to venture “outside the building” and in so doing, they learn about the startup community in Omaha. So compared to the self-taught, they know where to go for advice, partners and funding when they are ready to launch a new company. Our graduates tend to stay in the Omaha area, so the connections they make through our classes have long-term benefits.
SPN: How are you teaching young entrepreneurs to look at their talents and skills (everything from music, to design, to athletics) differently?
DE: In our classes, we train students to think empathetically and to really understand their customers’ true needs. We do this by having them identify their interests and experiences and then identify an area in which they can contribute. We also use Gallup’s Builder Profile assessment to help them better understand how their talents can be used to create solutions. We emphasize the development of an entrepreneurial mindset that can be used for much more than starting a new venture. For example, our classes in Journalism, Political Science, Theater and Psychology apply entrepreneurial thinking and processes to topics far outside of business.
In the last two years, we have offered an Entrepreneurial Living Learning Community where freshman live together, take cohort classes, travel to places like Denver and Silicon Valley and engage in 30 hours of entrepreneurial activity each semester. This is an incredible way for them to explore their entrepreneurial interests and what they discover about themselves helps shape what they do and the way they do it throughout their college experience.
SPN: Every entrepreneur will experience at least one “small failure” in their career. What advice do you give students for when they inevitably face setbacks?
My best advice, and one we teach in our classes, is that the startup process is a search for information, and failures are really important pieces of information! By taking the steps to minimize the financial risk in the earliest stages, students will have the ability to fail fast multiple times while searching for the right business model. I also support students who start their careers working for others because it lets them build their skills, save money, and let their employers pay the price for their early mistakes. At the same time, if they have a great idea, I think now is the perfect time to go for it, before they are saddled with responsibilities and commitments we take on as older adults.
SPN: What CIEF events are coming up that will give the community a chance to get involved with the program and UNO?
The CIEF offers a lot of events and programs outside of the classroom to enhance their entrepreneurial development. We are always in search of judges, mentors, and sponsors for events such as:
We are particularly excited about this year’s Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference April 6 & 7. Over 400 people from Omaha and more than 25 universities will come together to learn from speakers that include billionaires, shark tank contestants and social entrepreneurs. There’s something for everybody and it is open to the public.
A friend recently complained to me that the targeted ads that persistently stud her social media feeds are not only disruptive but also frequently irrelevant. She uses social media primarily to keep track of friends and to follow artists and crafters that could offer her inspiration or technical knowledge.
As she vented her frustration, I wondered why the ads she saw were still so consistently missing the mark despite the great leaps in ad targeting technology. Surely there must be a better way for brands to reach audiences through social media.
Surprisingly, though almost two-thirds of social media users are irritated by the number of promotions that clutter their feeds, and 26 percent actively ignore marketing content, a whopping 62 percent follow at least one brand on social media.
According to the GlobalWebIndex, 42 percent of social media users are there to “stay in touch” with their friends, while over a third are also interested in following current events, finding entertaining content or killing time. Though 27 percent of users find or research products on social media, most usage is skewed toward building relationships. As such, it’s clear why many social media users are annoyed by ads they find intrusive, irrelevant or boring.
While this data helps us understand why users may find ads abrasive, it also gives us a glimpse into why they are so open to following brands on social media. Today’s hypercompetitive ethos is not limited to brands or ads. Consumers want to know about the latest trends in fashion and technology, and they want to know first. By following brands, users can keep tabs on the latest and greatest.
Following also allows consumers to interact with brands more directly and to voice their dissatisfaction when brands misstep. A full 46 percent of users have “called out” brands on social media, and four out of five believe that this has had a positive impact on brand accountability. The good news for brands is that when they respond well, 45 percent of users will post about the interaction, and over a third will share the experience with their friends.
Brands should note that 60 percent of callouts are in response to perceived dishonesty, which should lend some context to the fact that 30 percent will unfollow a brand that uses slang or jargon inconsistent with the brand’s image. This can be a costly mistake, as 76 percent of users aged 13 to 25 stopped buying from brands after unfollowing.
The news may seem bleak, but the truth is that these facts draw a clear path for brands that want to tap into the unprecedented consumer access offered by the social media revolution. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Be authentic
Above all, brands need to strive for authenticity. Consumers have shown that they are not only open to branded social media content, they welcome it, provided the content is useful and relevant rather than disruptive to their experience.
From social media usage statistics, we see that users are most interested in staying connected and entertained. Brands that share news of upcoming trends or offer content that stands on its own merit can add value to users’ social media experience while reaching out to a more receptive audience.
In its somewhat brief history, social media marketing has managed to become the optimal source for pushing brand identity and launching marketing campaigns. As more and more brands get on the bandwagon to establish their online presence, murmurs of social media marketing’s decline have also been shaping up in some quarters. Unfounded or not, the recent proliferation of fake news, fake profiles, daily outrage, political warfare, and privacy concerns have definitely dented the image of social media in the public eye. However, numbers tell a different story. Despite diminishing trust over certain issues and internet penetration still in its growth phase in India, Facebook users in the country crossed the 240 million mark in the middle of 2017.
In its somewhat brief history, social media marketing has managed to become the optimal source for pushing brand identity and launching marketing campaigns. As more and more brands get on the bandwagon to establish their online presence, murmurs of social media marketing’s decline have also been shaping up in some quarters. Unfounded or not, the recent proliferation of fake news, fake profiles, daily outrage, political warfare, and privacy concerns have definitely dented the image of social media in the public eye. However, numbers tell a different story. Despite diminishing trust over certain issues and internet penetration still in its growth phase in India, Facebook users in the country crossed the 240 million mark in the middle of 2017. Continue reading…
During this holiday season, we all too often get wrapped up in the excitement and end of the year sprint to finish our fiscal year with some impressive increases. But what about those who got you to where you are? Your clients, your employees, your vendors, your postal worker, delivery person and anyone else who helped to make your organization successful and as efficient as possible…do you thank them?
Many people send holiday greeting cards or small gifts of thanks, depending on the size and type of business you have. A small thank you can go a long way to making a big difference for your future development. What a gift!
Don’t judge a business card by its cover? Ah, yes, I’m afraid so. Business cards, the silent piece of advertisement is scrutinized more than you think. It’s not just the design element potential clients are intrigued or impressed by. They want to learn the meat and potatoes, or the nuts and bolts about what your business has to offer.
Potential clients want to know,
Who you are
Where you are located
What exactly do you do
How can they contact you
How much will your products or service affect their wallet
How long will it take to reach customer satisfaction
Are you trustworthy and what does the BBB have to report about your business
What type of experience do you have supporting your business
Customers are savvier about their spending habits than they have ever been. Also, consumers have trust issue concerns with how they conduct business and the reputation of who they give their dollars to, especially when they have been burned by a business before. There really is more behind the business card than meets the eye.
Have you ever noticed that some individuals in leadership roles tend to ignore or stifle the voices of subordinates who want to share their ideas with the rest of the team? A good leader will not be nervous, feel threatened or intimidated by such team members. Instead, they will listen to what they have to say and encourage them to contribute ideas, foster their achievements and help to spark innovation within the company.
Good leadership encourages healthy brainstorming, by creating tactical moves, conducting research, implementing testing and constantly exploring to bring those collective ideas to the table and making magic happen.