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Need a Straight Shot at success for your e‑commerce idea? Hayneedle’s Mark Hasebroock may have the answer

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 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.

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