UNL College of Business Administration graduate Jack O’Holleran started his career in California as “the lowest man on the totem pole.” Three years later, he co-founded a software company, Aktana
, which was named one of the “Top 100 Privately Held Software Companies” by JMP Securities.
“After graduating in 2005, I worked at Good Technology
based in Santa Clara, Calif. It was one of the hot venture capital funded startups of that time and I made cold calls. With a lot of hard work and help along the way, I moved up through the top of the sales ranks and eventually was promoted to a business development role leading key strategic alliances and product strategy,” he said.
He started Aktana with a team of four working out of a garage. At night, the office transitioned to a recording studio for local bands.
“We now have a customer list that includes many top Fortune 500 Companies. We raised over $10 million in venture capital and have offices in Tokyo, New York City and San Francisco,” he said. “What makes me most proud though is to have been a part of a team that took something from an idea to reality.”
A North Platte, Neb., native, O’Holleran credits his time at UNL for the ability to succeed in a startup culture. Recruited to play football at Nebraska – his parents, aunt, uncles and grandpa all graduated from UNL – he earned two varsity letters and was twice awarded First-Team Academic All Big 12 Honors while playing Husker football.
O'Holleran as a Husker (left) and today as a triathlete (right)
“Balancing classes at CBA with the workload and stress of playing for the football team helped me mentally and emotionally prepare for world of venture capital backed startups. They require a lot of time and effort. It is not a 9-5 operation,” he said.
Initially an undeclared major, he took classes to prepare for pre-med and pre-law, but he said the business school intrigued him.
“I started reading more about the business world, and once I learned more about the CBA program, my decision was made. CBA provided a strong understanding of core business principles, and helped me understand and speak in business terms. This gave me a head-start above my peers,” he said.
He said learning the dynamics of international business helped prepare him for foreign markets where the culture and process was very different. He has been to Tokyo more than 30 times in the last four years.
“Japan and Nebraska are different in many obvious ways. Surprisingly though, I've found the cultures are also very similar. Both cultures value integrity and character over material wealth and put significant emphasis on courtesy and kindness. CBA students will find they are more prepared in certain ways than their peers graduating from universities on the coasts,” he said.
O’Holleran, who has been in San Francisco for seven years, also tackled a new challenge. Last year, he completed a full distance Ironman Triathlon. His is signed up for another one this May.
“I've been fortunate to be able to take on new challenges and spend time in San Francisco, Tokyo, New York and Shanghai since starting my company. My favorite place in the world though is still Nebraska. I'm proud to be from Nebraska and to have graduated from CBA,” he said.