Six startups receive $100K in accelerator investments

OMAHA — Six Nebraska startups each received a $100,000 boost this past week.

The investments for the startups, which were announced at a news conference at Millwork Commons in Omaha, come from Lincoln-based startup accelerator NMotion via its growth accelerator program. The money was provided by local individuals and companies through venture capital firm and startup accelerator gener8tor, which is based in Wisconsin but has a partnership with NMotion, as well as the Lincoln-based nonprofit Invest Nebraska.

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The six startups are HerHeadquarters, which connects women-owned businesses nationwide; Microwash, a medical device company marketing a product that collects nasal specimens for painless COVID-19 testing; plant-based nutritional drink supplement company Tiiga; knowledge and skills management platform Noviqu; software solutions company Hellcat; and real estate software development company Particle Space.

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The six mark the inaugural cohort to receive investments from the NMotion program. They were among 179 companies that applied for the money.

Tiiga co-founders Katy and Jeff Tezak said the $100,000 investment will help expand their startup’s reach faster. Jeff Tezak said the investment will open up new avenues for selling Tiiga products.

Having launched Tiiga in June 2020, the Tezaks have secured shelf space for their products at about 50 Hy-Vee supermarkets across five states and are expanding the product to Texas and Salt Lake City.

Tiiga is not the only startup to have seen a relatively quick rise to success.

Since launching HerHeadquarters a few years ago, Carina Glover has expanded her startup from connecting women entrepreneurs to women executives and their team members across the country. She is in the midst of a $750,000 fundraising drive to expand HerHeadquarters.

With help from NMotion’s investment, Glover said, “We can impact more women-owned businesses. I can hire more of the right people that will allow us to have a great impact. It’s really just about reaching our goals.”

The investments made by NMotion into the six startups are what Nebraska Economic Development Director Tony Goins highlighted as an example of the support needed to ensure a thriving startup landscape.

“The difference between success and failure can often be measured in resources and support available to help these business owners overcome obstacles and achieve milestones,” he said. “Groups like NMotion are so vital to our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Each startup will be connected to 100 mentors and up to 50 early-stage investors through a 12-week program. NMotion also will work with the six companies to help grow the companies’ revenues, improve their products and services and pitch investors for the next round of investments.

Scott Henderson, managing principal of NMotion, said organizations and individuals in Nebraska have dedicated $3.7 million to bolster the state’s growing startup scene over the next two years.

“It’s a very exciting time here in Nebraska,” Henderson told a crowd that included entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders.

Directions 2022: Changing times in Lincoln

Explore all of the articles, videos and photos in this year’s Directions section here.

Several residential projects in or near downtown, including the 250-foot-tall Lied Place Residences, will open to residents this year.

Delta Nelson’s entire life has been rooted in the auto industry, so it only made sense when she decided to open The Mechanix Garage in Lincoln.

Downtown Lincoln’s population is expected to reach 10,000 in 2025 — a 730% increase since 2010.

The history, culture and DNA of the Cornhusker state are woven throughout the Scarlet, which is scheduled to open this spring.

Robin Eschliman’s annual review of restaurants in Lincoln found more dining options opened in 2021 than shut down.

Over $2 billion worth of inventory was sold online through HiBid in 2021, and there are typically anywhere from 700,000 to 1 million items listed on the site at any given time.

Assurity’s Jack Douglas moved with his wife from South Carolina in 2020, the height of the pandemic. 

What started as an ambitious vision in 2015 has nearly come to fruition for Speedway Properties and Nelnet, which partnered together and bought more than a dozen properties in the once-blighted area in the 2010s. 

Union Bank & Trust executive vice president Doris Robertson attributes the bank’s recent success in part to the innovations the company made during the early days of the pandemic.

Before Boxcar BBQ officially served its first slab of ribs to a paying customer in October, the staff experimented with hundreds of pounds of meat and dozens of tweaks to their recipes.

Even when the work is hard and frustrating, Jayne Ellenwood says it fills her bucket to be a part of Bryan’s response to the community.

The golf club that opened in 2001 has gone private and among its new features will be a 250-foot-long lazy river, an adults-only pool with a swim-up bar and a six-lane competition lap pool.

“I wrote thank-you cards to anyone that spent money with us. … I wrote hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cards,” owner Laurie Frasier said, even if someone only spent a few dollars.

With the South Beltway set to open next year, some developers worry the city isn’t thinking aggressively enough about spurring growth in an area still largely unserved by sewer and other infrastructure.

Jason Ball returns home to lead the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce with determination to “keep the ball rolling” for Lincoln as the city develops and grows.

CHI Health plans to open a new clinic at 40th Street and Yankee Hill Road, while Bryan Health will wrap up a multiyear expansion and renovation at its East Campus hospital.

Each of the eight Schulz Poultry barns holds 45,000 birds, which arrive at just a couple hours old and spend the next 42-44 days in the barns before going to Fremont for processing.

Jada Picket Pin said she enjoys serving first-time visitors to the Green Gateau, as well as regulars who return for the excellent food and quality service.

Christina Melgoza has seen big changes in Lincoln during her eight years as director of lot sales at Kreuger Development. She spoke to the Journal Star about Lincoln’s growth, the housing market and more.

Since CompanyCam’s inception, more than 400 million photos have been stored and 15 million projects created largely by contractors looking to better document their work.

Monolith led a record year for investment in Lincoln-based companies, which collectively raised nearly $300 million in venture capital in 2021. 

Many employees moved to remote work during COVID-19, a trend that’s likely to stick around, experts say. But other pandemic effects, such as labor shortages and pay increases, are likely to be short-term changes.

A fundraising campaign brought in more than $10.3 million for the 7 acres of land near the airport and the 60,000-square-foot new office building and warehouse, almost doubling the Food Bank’s current space.

Jay Foreman, Erick Strickland and Vershan Jackson have shows on the The Ticket, which also has programs featuring 22 current Nebraska athletes.

The Journal Star invited businesses and other offices celebrating an anniversary divisible by five this year to share their history with readers.

The Journal Star invited readers to share honors that businesses or employees received as best of state, region or nation. Also included is a recap of the major awards presented by business organizations locally.

In June, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce resumed ribbon-cutting events to mark new businesses, businesses with new owners, relocated and renovated businesses, business anniversaries and ground-breaking ceremonies.

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