2 entrepreneurs will mentor, accelerate funding for NU startups

Released on 08/06/2012, at 12:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., August 6th, 2012 —
Brian Ardinger
Brian Ardinger
Luke Smith
Luke Smith

A new Startup Mentor and Accelerator Program has been initatied by NUtech Ventures to help identify and assist in the creation and incubation of new startup companies from the University of Nebraska. The program will be led by new Entrepreneur-in-Residence Brian Ardinger and NUtech Fellow Luke Smith.

NUtech Ventures is the nonprofit organization responsible for building partnerships between the University of Nebraska and the private sector.

Under the new Startup Mentor and Accelerator Program, Ardinger and Smith will work with university innovators to develop a business model, conduct market research and prepare startups for investor pitches.

“Under this new program, NUtech Ventures marks a new focus on technology-based companies originating at the university,” NUtech Ventures executive director David Conrad said. “NUtech has concentrated on licensing technologies to existing businesses, along with a handful of startup companies each year. The new program will bring increased attention and expertise to university startups, better preparing them for investment, market penetration and overall success.”

Ardinger is former Chief Marketing Officer at Lincoln-based Nanonation, a software company creating kiosks, digital signage, and mobile solutions. He is also co-founder of The Big Plate, a member network for entrepreneurs and startups. Ardinger is a regular contributor to industry publications, a public speaker and quoted industry expert with more than 20 years experience in interactive media, marketing consulting and research. 

Prior to joining Nanonation, Ardinger was head of research at Ion Global, a Hong Kong- headquartered technology firm where he developed Asia’s first dedicated customer experience lab to analyze and measure how customers utilized technology in their shopping and online experiences. In addition to his work overseas, Ardinger has been a senior consultant with Gartner, based in Silicon Valley, where he implemented strategy and research for multinationals around the world and managed projects in industries ranging from software to telecommunications. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and an MBA from Penn State.

Smith has spent time in engineering and operations at large public companies, as well as a string of startups. He led engineering organizations, manufacturing organizations and product divisions in large public companies. In 1995, he entered the world of startups as vice president of operations, and chief executive for a handful of technology-based companies. Smith has extensive experience obtaining funding for startups. Additionally, he consults, does mentoring and serves as a director in the startup space.

Smith earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at UNL, then entered the U.S. Army. He also earned an MBA from Westminster College in Salt Lake City. At Nebraska, his work, funded by a National Science Foundation grant and fellowship, produced two publications in prominent journals.

In the coming weeks, further details of the application process and mentoring program will be announced. To be included on the mailing list or to inquire further, contact NUtech Ventures at 402-500-0717 or at on the Web at www.NUtechVentures.org.

University Technology Development Corporation provided funding for the Entrepreneur-in-Residence position to support university technologies and startup companies. Supporting the transfer of University technology to the marketplace, UTDC is a University of Nebraska affiliate and the parent company of NUtech Ventures.


Writer: Jill Thayer


News Release Contacts:

Associated Media Files: