Nebraska has an internal debate over whether its state sandwich is the reuben or the runza, but there is no debating the vibrancy of Silicon Prairie’s startup scene in both Omaha, the state’s largest city, and nearby Lincoln, the state capital. The two cities are separated by 50 miles of Interstate 80, but united in their enthusiasm for fintech, and no wonder.
Omaha has a thriving banking scene anchored by the First National Bank of Omaha, the nation’s largest privately held bank at $17 billion in assets, and Lincoln has a strong tech talent pool stemming in part from its resident research institution, the University of Nebraska, which has more than 25,000 students. The cities have seen a number of successful startup exits — Q2 bought both Omaha-based Social Money/SmartyPig and Lincoln-based Centrix Solutions, Zillow acquired Lincoln-based Mortech, Fiserv bought Lincoln-based ITI, and on and on — and the companies that were acquired tend to stay in the area. Here are just three Silicon Prairie fintech standouts among many:
D3 Technology in Omaha has become a stalwart in the mobile banking scene, helping institutions replace their aging, first-generation mobile apps with data-driven solutions and modern UX’s. Lincoln’s Hip Pocket is a financial wellness tool that allows users to save money with a swipe. Founder Mark Zmarzly leveraged his years of banking experience to launch into the fintech startup world, and is notable for raising funds not by knocking on VCs’ door, but reaching out directly to consumers via a Kickstarter campaign. Embermine is a smart contract platform, also based in Lincoln, that grew out of the publishing industry with the mission of supporting artists and artisans. Users create profiles on Embermine’s blockchain, and can conduct transactions with other users with complete transparency and no need for agents, lawyers, or middle men.