Skip to main content
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Entrepreneur Awards

New Venture Competition

In celebration of the local entrepreneurship community, the Nebraska Center for Entrepreneurship honors entrepreneurs and advocates for their innovation, success and entrepreneurial spirit.

Nebraska Distinguished Entrepreneur Award New Company Entrepreneur Award Start-Up Executive Award Entrepreneur Advocate Award New Venture Competition Grand Prize Winners

Nebraska Distinguished Entrepreneur Award

Presented to the founder of an established, successful entrepreneurial Nebraska company that inspires and demonstrates continued innovation.

Year Name Company
2018 Brett Thome Spreetail
2017 Matthew Wegener ISoft Data Systems / Turbine Flats
2016 Larry L. Snyder Snyder Industries, Inc.
2015 W. Patrick Clarke Northstar Financial Services Group, LLC
2014 David Graff, Brian Kaiser and John Wirtz Hudl
2013 Michael D. Hays NRC Health

New Company Entrepreneur Award

Presented to a firm less than five years old that has proven successful in creating an innovative offering experiencing early growth and success.

Year Name Company
2018 Jordan Lambrecht, Karley Johnson and Tony Bertino Pixel Bakery
2017 Vishal Singh QuantifiedAg
2016 Matt Taylor Tavern on the Square and The Other Room
2015 Matt Medlock Paysafe
2014 Paul and Stephanie Jarrett, Bulu Julie Mahlock
2013 Blake Lawrence Hurrdat / opendorse

Start-Up Executive Award

Established for a start-up person who made a positive and significant difference to at least one growth company.

Year Name Company
2018 Dillon Sadofsky Presage Analytics
2017 John Hogan Home Instead Senior Care
2016 Joseph Knecht Venture Tech
2015 Bill Hipsher B2 Interactive
2014 Joe Petsick Proxibid
2013 Thomas G. Guy -

Entrepreneur Advocate Award

Presented to an individual who has made significant contributions in helping move Lincoln’s startup community forward.

Year Name Company
2018 Christina Oldfather Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development
2017 Dan Hoffman Invest Nebraska
2016 Gregg Christensen Nebraska Department of Education

New Venture Competition Grand Prize Winners

Each year, more than 40 student teams compete in a bracket format for the right to be crowned champion of the New Venture Competition. Two first place winners currently receive $25,000.


Hannah Esch, Oak Barn Beef
Alain Mutabazi and Kane Wellnitz, Savannah Breeders Service


Justin Collier and Lizz Whitacre, Pawlytics
Joseph and Matthew Brugger, Upstream Farms


Grant Suddarth, Terrace Ag


Ryan Erdmann and Derek Nordgren, Concise Research Group


Thomas Frederick and Brock Smith, T&B Innovations, LLC


Grant Stahla, Stahla Services


James Verhoeff, PickIt


Center for Entrepreneurship
HLH 315