Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Wednesday, September 18

gBETA Presentation for Local Entrepreneurs

5:30pm – 1867

gBETA is a program of nationally ranked startup accelerator gener8tor. gBETA is a free, seven-week accelerator for early-stage companies with local roots. Each program is capped at five teams, and requires no fees and no equity. gBETA runs multiple times every year in cities across the United States & Canada. Up to five companies from a range of verticals are selected from a competitive applicant pool to participate in the seven-week program. During the program, companies meet with the gBETA team twice a week for an hour each to refine their business model, meet mentors, strategize their growth, gain customer traction and pitch investors.  

Each gBETA program has a different focus. Some programs include a focus on music and art, including gBETA Musictech, which is powered by Capitol Records, gener8tor, Motown Museum, and TechTown Detroit. gBETA Musictech works exclusively with startups building music-related products, services and content. This includes technologies related to sourcing, recording, production, distribution, marketing, touring, licensing and streaming as well as any technology or process innovations that could serve any component of the music industry. 

Companies that go through gBETA receive:

  • Individualized coaching and mentorship from the gBETA team during weekly, one-on-one meetings.
  • One-on-one meetings with 25+ mentors including serial entrepreneurs, subject matter experts and investors.
  • Weekly Lunch & Learn series featuring topics relevant to startups including understanding market size, choosing a revenue model, and how to pitch investors. Lunch & Learn events are free and open to the public.
  • Exclusive Pitch Night reception during which participating companies have the opportunity to pitch to an audience of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and community members.
  • Opportunity to build relationships within each cohort of five companies, and the community of gener8tor and gBETA alumni.
  • $1M + in deals and perks from vendors like IBM Cloud, Rackspace, Amazon, PayPal, Zendesk and Microsoft.

friday, September 20

Tracy Georgiou

Tracy Georgiou is the Director of Merchandising & Marketing at Loeffler Randall, a New York City based contemporary accessory label. She has spent 11 years in New York building a career in fashion centering around buying, brand storytelling + partnerships & product development strategy. She has worked as the Senior Brand Buyer for both J.Crew & Madewell, as well as styling for the brand’s website. A Lincoln Nebraska native, Tracy graduated from UNL in 2008. She spends her free time participating in community musical theater productions & attending dance classes.

Tuesday Bassen

Tuesday Bassen LA is the eponymous shop of award-winning illustrator Tuesday Bassen. TBLA is an independently owned lifestyle brand that designs and produces clothes in sizes XXS-5X with an emphasis on adjustable fit for body diversity, as well as local, ethical production. We are proud to use deadstock vintage and California made fabrics whenever possible at our sweatshop-free sewing house in Los Angeles.

Megan Hunt

Senator Megan Hunt is an entrepreneur, activist, and parent elected in 2018 to represent District 8 in the Nebraska Legislature. She is passionate about public education, reproductive justice and gender equality, and reducing brain drain in the Midwest.

As an entrepreneur, she co-founded Hello Holiday, a boutique in the heart of Dundee in Omaha, which harmonizes inspiration from designers, artists, activists, and strong women. In addition to providing the latest trends in clothing, shoes, and accessories, the boutique uses their platform as a business to influence policy and issues that affect women, people of color, those in the LGBT+ community, and those in other underrepresented groups.

 Megan’s work and impact has been featured in dozens of publications including Forbes, INC, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, the Huffington Post, and others, and she is motivated by her goal of helping others translate their experiences into positive action and change in the real world.

Amanda Valentine

Amanda Valentine was born in Lincoln, Nebraska to a beauty queen/artist mother and world traveler/professor father.  The youngest of five children found her voice at an early age by adapting the family’s old drapes and worn clothing into what could only be called… edgy children’s wear.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska with a Clothing and Textile Design degree, Valentine joined older brother James in Los Angeles, where he was beginning his meteoric rise in music.  After suggesting she shadow their wardrobe stylist on his band’s first music video (Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe”), Amanda fell madly in love with wardrobe styling and costume design, apprenticing under LA’s top fashion stylists. All while playing bass in a garage rock band in Silverlake clubs at night.

After a few visits to Nashville, while living in LA, Valentine fell in love with the vibe of Music City (and also fried chicken) and made it her home in 2006.  

After co-owning a vintage shop, managing some of the city’s hottest boutiques, and playing in a couple of bands around town, Valentine returned to wardrobe styling and worked on countless music videos, photoshoots, commercials, and red carpet events.  

In 2013, Valentine was selected as a designer to compete on the 11th Season of Emmy Award-Winning PROJECT RUNWAY.  After placing 8th and showing a collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Valentine returned to styling and launched her clothing line VALENTINE VALENTINE.

In 2014, Valentine was voted back by fans to compete on Season 13 of PROJECT RUNWAY where she placed 2nd and again showed a stellar collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.  

Amanda now runs her clothing line (produced in her converted factory space in Nashville and now under her name AMANDA VALENTINE),  travels to fashion weeks across the United States each season, all while dressing rock bands. Someday she’ll start a band again herself.

Saturday, September 21

Closing the Gap - Facilitating Female Foundership in the Heartland

6pm – Duffy’s Backlot

These startup programs are organized in help by Nick Castner, host of The Commonwealth, a podcast by the Journal Star that profiles entrepreneurs and disruptors. The Commonwealth premiers on September 9th.

Lizz Whitacre

Lizz is the Founder and CEO of Pawlytics, a software company that helps pet rescues save more lives. Lizz is a serial entrepreneur with a serious passion for pets, innovation, and technology. Lizz founded her first company, a non-profit, at 19 to save pets while simultaneously founding a student organization at UNL to connect student volunteers with rescues in Nebraska. From there she worked to open a cat café in Lincoln but realized a pivot was necessary and founded Family Pet Project, a website dedicated to helping pets stay out of the shelter and find new homes. In 2015, Lizz was awarded the Inspire Award for Top Future Business Leader and won 3-2-1 Quick Pitch. In 2017, Lizz won 3-2-1 Quick Pitch again and graduated from UNL with a B.S. in Business Administration specializing in entrepreneurship and innovation. In 2018, Lizz won UNL’s New Venture Competition, completed Start Up School through Y Combinator and NMotion, a business accelerator based in Lincoln. Most recently, Lizz has been accepted as a 2019 Pipeline Fellow.

Ali Schwanke

Ali Schwanke is the CEO and Chief Marketing Strategist of Simple Strat, the marketing agency for B2B companies that are serious about growth. With nearly 15 years of marketing experience as both an in-house marketer and entrepreneur, Ali brings a unique data-driven perspective to marketing and sales.

As an industry professional, Ali’s work focuses on helping companies develop and implement growth-driven marketing programs. She is a HubSpot Certified Inbound Marketer and content creator, speaking and contributing to a number of marketing publications, communities and events worldwide.

Ali is also the co-founder of BrandPlan, a technology start-up focused on helping marketers better plan, visualize, and execute their marketing strategy. In her free time, she enjoys running, spending time with her husband and two boys, and making a mean batch of homemade granola bars.

Aakriti Agrawal

Aakriti Agrawal came to Nebraska from India in 2012 to study at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Upon graduating with degrees in actuarial science and finance, she taught herself how to code. Working in the industry, she was able to see the lack of female representation in technology and STEM first-hand, and knew something needed to be done to end the vicious cycle! Aakriti co-founded Girls Code Lincoln, a grassroots nonprofit that helps bridge the gender gap in technology. Girls Code Lincoln runs weekly coding clubs for 50 middle-school-aged girls, free of cost, focusing on confidence-building and leadership development through computer programming. Girls Code Lincoln is entirely volunteer-powered – so everyone, including Aakriti, balances nonprofit volunteering with a full-time job – Aakriti is a Data Governance Analyst at Ameritas.

Stephanie Luebbe

Executive Director – Nebraska Angels

Stephanie Luebbe is the Executive Director of Nebraska Angels, a network of 60+ local angel investors. Since 2006, the Angels invested over $27M in seed stage companies across the Midwest. The Angels’ portfolio consists of 44 companies, with two notable exits. 

Before joining the Nebraska Angels in 2018, Stephanie spent over a decade in business development roles spanning large retail corporations to start-ups and private companies. She is passionate about delivering results through developing consumer-focused strategies and providing a complete path-to-purchase mindset. She enjoys meeting innovative companies and connecting Midwest entrepreneurs to local funders. Stephanie and her husband live on a farm outside of Lincoln, often chasing two young toddlers. 

Megan Elliott

Director – Johnny Carson Center for Emerging and Media Arts


Megan Elliott is the Founding Director of the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is an award-winning entrepreneur, an innovator and a visionary. Prior to joining the UNL, Elliott co founded X Media Lab, one of the most forward-looking and distinguished media and entrepreneurship programs in the world. She traveled the globe taking X Media Lab to 14 countries and 22 cities. Elliott has been nominated by the Australian government as one of the “Global 50 – Australian Unlimited – Global Achievers,” and as one of the “Leading 50 Women for the Future.” She has deep ties to the emerging media industries across Asia and Europe. Now, she is leading the vision for the $57 million Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts and creating a global destination for students who reside in the future.

Moderator: Christina Oldfather

Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development


Christina Oldfather is the director of innovation and entrepreneurship for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and interim co-managing director of NMotion, a startup accelerator in Lincoln, Nebraska. She dedicates her time to building entrepreneurial communities and helping entrepreneurs succeed with programs like StartupLNK and LaunchLNK. She also helped organize 1 Million Cups, Lincoln Startup Week, the JumpStart Challenge and serves as the chapter director of Startup Grind x Lincoln.

Trevor Hall

Clear Creek Digital

Trevor Hall is the President of Clear Creek Digital, an investor relations consultancy working with junior mining and mineral exploration companies throughout the world. The agency specializes in social media management, grassroots investor outreach, and new media production for companies exploring for and developing projects focused on precious and base metals. Trevor also hosts Mining Stock Daily, a news briefing about junior resource investing and capital markets which is published every trading day before the open of U.S. and Canadian stock markets. Trevor received a Bachelor and Masters degree from the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He now resides in Denver, Colorado with his beautiful wife and 2 amazing children. **coming soon

Willa DiCostanzo

City of Lincoln Waste Diversion Coordinator


Gage Mruz

Founder of Greenstain


Greenstain is an environmental brand that provides eco-friendly solutions and plants a tree for every item we sell. As industry experts in sustainability, we put factual numbers to your impact so you can see the clear-cut difference you are making in the world. 

Curious about your environmental impact? We created a Carbon Footprint Calculator for you to better understand how your decisions are impacting the natural world around you. Our Eco-friendly apparel collection includes clothes made from 6+ recycled plastic water bottles and an eco-responsible manufacturing process that dramatically reduces the amount of resources used, saving roughly 490 gallons of water per shirt.

Music Workshops

Thursday, September 19

Finding the Right Sound in the Studio: A Conversation with the Experts

5–6pm – Bennett Martin Public Library – 2nd Floor

Moderator: Tom Larson

Recording artist, UNL Instructor, former studio owner

Philip Zach

Executive Producer, the Grid Studio


Keith Rodger

Make Believe Studios

James Fleege

Producer at Silver Street

Doug Van Sloun

Mastering engineer, Focus Mastering



Ace Jinx