Aksarben Innovation Initiative, a collaboration between the Scott Technology Center, University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Maverick Innovations and Jim Young Jr., co-founder of the Aksarben Discovery Fund and member of the Nebraska Angels, is proud to announce its debut of the Lean LaunchPad program in Omaha this summer. Developed by Stanford professor and serial entrepreneur Steve Blank, Lean LaunchPad focuses on the market viability of a concept prior to product development and allows start-ups to stay accountable, track progress and validate results. It has been and is being used by entrepreneurs and innovators around the world as well as U.S. government agencies such as the National Science Foundation. Many corporations also use this process internally as it provides detailed documentation, not just biased feedback.
Traci Hancock, Director of Maverick Innovations in UNO’s Office of Research and Creative Activity, Ken Moreano, Executive Director of the Scott Technology Center and Jim Young, Jr. are the innovators behind the Initiative and have worked with students, community members and entrepreneurs from Omaha and Lincoln for 18 months to validate Nebraska’s need for the Lean LaunchPad program. “It fills a gap we noticed time and again as we worked with early stage companies. They were asking for investment but had not truly validated their customers and market. The Lean methodology takes a scientific approach to building a business,” Hancock said. “When Maverick Innovations launched in 2013 to help move student and faculty research into the marketplace, we also wanted to engage the Omaha community in that process. Aksarben Innovation Initiative and Lean LaunchPad help us do just that.”
Six start-up teams have been selected for Omaha’s pilot LLP program based largely on “coachability” and entrepreneurial spirit rather than experience. In addition to following the LLP methodology, the Initiative will be utilizing an innovative technology platform called LaunchPad Central, specifically designed to support and enhance the experience and efficiency of the LLP methodology.
Bhavik Joshi, Co-Founder and CEO of LaunchPad Central, said, “We are excited to work closely with Traci and her team at Aksarben Innovation Initiative as they become the first in Nebraska to implement the highly experiential Lean Launchpad methodology. In conjunction with the University of Nebraska at Omaha, we look forward to supporting their Evidence Based Entrepreneurship Initiatives and to the positive economic impact it will have for the state and the entire region for years to come.”
Moreano and Young are subsidizing the program costs for the first group of start-up teams—all they need to bring to the table are their ideas and commitment to the program. Future start-up teams will be chosen through an application process administered through the Initiative. Additionally, Maverick Innovations together with various UNO Colleges will be running LLP cohorts as part of the curriculum at UNO to students in the coming academic school year.