Jobbing e‑commerce managers wanting to flex their entrepreneurial muscles might consider a move to Omaha: thanks to new startup accelerator Straight Shot there’s likely to be a surge of new e‑commerce firms in that neck of the woods, each of them generating new media jobs.
It’s the latest endeavor of Mark Hasebroock, the man who proved his entrepreneurial mettle a decade ago when he and a couple of Omaha buddies bought the faltering company Hammocks.com and transformed it into one of the most successful internet retailers out there, Hayneedle.
The e‑commerce specialist
E‑commerce managers will probably agree that this guy knows a thing or two about e‑commerce. Now managing a venture capital fund, Hasebroock’s doesn’t simply plan to create a new e‑commerce firm: he want to build 100. Straight Shot, he says, is the only accelerator specializing in e‑commerce.
Operating out of a 3,000 square-foot space in Omaha’s famous Scott Technology Center, Straight Shot welcomes applications from new entrepreneurs with a “back of the envelope idea” as well as revenue-generating firms. Six spots are available currently, offering a three-month curriculum beginning this July. Successful applicants not only gain access to the curriculum, they receive between $15,000 and $20,000 in funding as well as nearby living arrangements at discounted prices. The accelerator’s roster includes 70 veteran mentors and participating startups will give an equity stake of up to six per cent to Hasebroock’s firm, Dundee Venture Capital.
Driving e‑commerce success
But the canny e‑commerce manager may be asking: why choose Omaha to launch another accelerator, given that there are dozens across the country? Hasebroock draws on his experience as mentor to three accelerators (Chicago, TechStars Boulder and the Brandery) to answer:
“The impact those programs have had on their community has been pretty astounding,” he said. “So is it great for the companies? Absolutely … but what’s really interesting is just seeing the impact that it’s had on Boulder, on Chicago, on Cincinnati to bring mentors, investors, media together all for one purpose, and that is (Straight Shot).”
Omaha, he says, hasn’t seen much in the way of investment opportunities; Straight Shot aims to change all that, creating streams of investment opportunities for his firm. With applications already coming in from Seattle to San Francisco to Louisville, expect e‑commerce to take off in Omaha.