A virtual entrepreneurship network is holding its first meeting in Nebraska, with sessions in Omaha and Lincoln scheduled so some of its members can attend the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shareholders meeting in Omaha on Saturday.
The network, called Pipeline, finds and encourages entrepreneurs who have high-growth businesses, connecting them with investors and mentors and establishing long-term relationships through “immersion” in the entrepreneurship program, said Pipeline President and CEO Joni Cobb of Kansas City, Mo.
One goal is for entrepreneurs to expand in their own home areas rather than moving elsewhere, she said.
On Thursday, the first 12 Nebraska entrepreneurs took part in meetings at Kaneko, a downtown Omaha arts venue, along with some of the 58 active Pipeline members from Kansas and from the Kansas City area. Friday, the group is to meet at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Cobb said Nebraska is the first entire state to join the regional network, which started in Kansas. It does not have offices but operates regionally through members connected electronically.
Members agreed to expand to Nebraska because of the high interest in entrepreneurship among people running businesses and among investors in the state, she said. “The energy here is just fantastic.”
Groups funding Pipeline include the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City; the University of Nebraska and its Scott Technology Center; and the Jim and Karen Linder Foundation of Omaha.
At one of the morning sessions, business consultant Bob Jones of Boston discussed sales and product development, noting that people tend to buy products to carry out a specific task. The key to strong sales is having products that meet those needs, he said.
Cobb said participants in the program become a close-knit “family” willing to offer advice and help to one another. They may start multiple businesses during their careers but maintain contact with other Pipeline members, both receiving and providing help as needed.
“It's an entrepreneurial fellowship,” she said.
Contact the writer: