Success Stories

Amy Johnson of Life Loop

Amy Johnson was visiting a retirement community in Iowa looking to market her web-based software product where she met a resident she'll never forget. He wanted to communicate with his family, but a stroke had robbed him of the ability to speak. To introduce himself to Amy, he had to take her over to his mailbox on his door and point to his name.

She had a solution. In no time at all, she had him happily in front of a computer using her software's instant message function to chat up his brother in New York.

Johnson's company, Omaha-based Life Loop, offers a lifestyle management and resident engagement platform for senior living communities. They provide a platform that connects residents with their busy families and both with the staff in charge of the residents’ care. 

In November, Amy won the 2015 InnovateHer: Innovating for Women Business Challenge put on by the Rural Enterprise Assistance Program at the downtown Lincoln Community Foundation Building.

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Fred Roskens, owner of Blue Line Security

They’re able to offer a lookout to make sure everything goes without a hitch during the best day of your life, because they’ve had a helping, gentle hand for so many on the worst days of their lives.

Fred Roskens has taken his 23 years of experience with the Norfolk Police Department to create the area’s lone locally-owned private security company, BlueLine Security Services, using an SBA Express loan to build a growing and reliable service covering northeast Nebraska.

Roskens said the security company has handled both armed security and an unarmed presence, on-site jobs ranging from a large wind turbine storage facility suffering a string of break-ins, to late nights at an area diner frequented by oft-rowdy customers.  When it comes to diffusing a difficult situation, it’s a competitive advantage to use experience from being a founding and commanding member of the city’s SWAT team to train his employees.

“All that goes into this business,” Roskens said. “It’s... Read More

Jason Feldman and Sabastian Hunt of Omaha's Year of the Startup

When Sabastian Hunt left college nine weeks before the start of his senior year to live out of a van, splitting time sleeping in a tent and couch surfing for four months on a trip across the American south and east, neither he nor his concerned family knew he’d pick up skills out on the road that five years later would net his venture a $50,000 award in the SBA's Accelerator Growth Fund competition.

"I earned a lot about networking, how to live lean, how to figure out how to make things work, and how to live," Hunt said. "That has meant everything doing this."

"This" is his idea for a live-in business accelerator, Year of the Startup. Since late 2014, for the cost of monthly rent over the course of a year, entrepreneurs get a near-monastic experience in a room in a hundred-year-old Midtown Omaha “startup house” to work and sleep, and a chance to pick the brains of some of the city's most experienced and successful small business mentors. 

Access to business... Read More
Toni Lewis-Miners, Kishia Lewis and Ashley Lewis-Redick of A&K Party Pals

It's not some marketing tag line. A&K Party Pals, a fast-growing name in Omaha in event planning, welcomes each client and guest at every bash they put on as if they were part of the family.

"Grandma Lewis took everyone in, loved them as her own, she fed anyone who needed a meal, and she never, ever locked her door," said co-founder Ashley Lewis-Redick. "That's her legacy, and that's what we bring into the business."

And customers feel that warmth and familiarity as word-of-mouth spreads from happy partygoers. A & K Party Pals, with Toni Lewis-Miners and Kishia Lewis, who head up the family business along with Lewis-Redick, has built a reputation of taking modest ideas into something that wows with its all-inclusive, one-stop event planning service.

"We want them to look at the pictures they take at the party, and say oh, my gosh, I remember this, wasn't that fun?" said Kishia Lewis, A&K Party Pals' other co-founder and Lewis-Redick's aunt.

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