Success Stories

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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Maria Swenson and some of her staff at MLCS Family & Youth Services in Alliance on Red Nose Day, a worldwide campaign to raise money for children's causes

The sirens shattered the quiet of the small town in the Nebraska Panhandle, and the safe, assured feeling locals had -- that bad things happened in other places.  

News reports would tell of the gunman's spree which left his father dead; then, after failing to rob a downtown pharmacy, taking the pharmacist hostage during a 14-hour standoff, ending in a shootout with a SWAT team. That exchange left several law enforcement officers wounded and hospitalized, the pharmacist hurt, and the perpetrator dead. 

The town of Alliance reeled from the violence, but vowed to take their community back.

Maria Swenson vowed to do her part, one troubled youth at a time.

"I thought about how tragic the lives of some of our young people are," she said. "Some never get the help they need, whether it's for lack of services, lack of money or lack of knowledge of what's out there, or a lack of perception that they do need some help."

She'd just need an SBA Microloan to... Read More

Chef Doug Trammel (left) and owner Nick Bartholomew in the kitchen of Omaha's first chef-driven drive-thru restaurant.

His second-grade teacher once told him she thought he was either going to wind up behind bars, or wind up owning a city block. After a couple of career detours, the still-obstreperous Nick Bartholomew makes no apologies that he's well on his way to the latter, starting with the latest in locavore eating in Omaha's Millard neighborhood.

To think it took Bartholomew willing to chuck a career as a stockbroker at his father's firm and an SBA Lender Advantage loan approval to make it happen.

Bartholomew's idea, Over Easy, boasts a unique chef-driven menu packed with locally-sourced delectables for breakfast and lunch. Try the homemade Pop-Tart packed with plums and the house favorite, the herb biscuits and gravy whipped up with ingredients from area farms.  And then there's the inviting hash brown rounds with bacon, cheese and caramelized onions.

Better, diners on the go can pull up to the drive-thru window and watch the chef prepare his recipe of a farm fresh baked... Read More