Omaha wants to spread its status as the “Silicon Prairie.” Start-up costs, other business costs, and the cost of living are lower in Omaha compared to other U.S. cities.
David Arnold managing director of Straight Shot said: “On top of that, there’s great institutional support for entrepreneurs.” In addition, the Omaha Small Business Network assists entrepreneurs in economically poor districts that are in need of working capital. According to Arnold the presence of Fortune 500 companies such as ConAgra, Berkshire Hathaway, and Union Pacific Railroad has also created a robust network of mentors, “and many top talents at these companies are jumping ship and starting their own companies.”
How is Omaha different from other cities for entrepreneurs and business?
The work ethic in Omaha is really hard. I think you’ll find it’s something that’s baked in over the last century or so. In general, Nebraskans are very much a hard-working group. So when there is a team of people that get together with an idea, they will work hard for very little.
It’s kind of creating an entrepreneurial revival if you will. There’s access to a lot of smart people that are extremely hard working. For example, at Hay Needle, we’ve hired something like 350 people.
Both coming out of undergrad, but also coming out of experienced companies like Union Pacific, and First Data, some really talented programming. Both front end and back end. The talent, in a way, is kind of cooped up. They want to jump out and start their own thing.
What makes Omaha a great place for startups?
Mark Hasebroock: Omaha has got a really exciting young dynamic culture that’s starting to embrace starting their own businesses. It’s a laid-back way of life. It’s really easy to live in Omaha. The cost of living is very low. We don’t have great big booms. We don’t have many busts. It just kind of floats along under the radar.
Where is there more capacity, in engineering, sales, or other areas?
Omaha has been, a call center environment from the 1960s and 1970s up through the early 2000s, because of Strategic Air Command putting big pipes in the city. Call centers are almost everywhere; West Telemarketing, as well as in-bound out-bound type stuff. So you had this infrastructure for customer service. If you wanted to set up a call center environment, there were many people to choose from that were very talented.