Entrepreneurs with ties to the University of Nebraska were among those receiving top honors at the 2016 Pipeline Innovator of the Year event, a gala that drew 600 of the Midwest’s top entrepreneurial leaders to Kansas City last Thursday.
The NU president’s office is a sponsor of Pipeline via the University of Nebraska Technology Development Corp., headed by James Linder, M.D.
“One of the University of Nebraska’s most important responsibilities is providing a skilled workforce for the state. That includes fostering a culture of entrepreneurship across our campuses,” said NU President Hank Bounds. “We want to prepare our students not only to get jobs, but to create jobs. Our strong showing at this year’s Pipeline event is the latest example that our students are learning how to turn their big ideas into action – and that our faculty are providing the necessary mentorship. I’m incredibly proud of the University of Nebraska students, alumni and staff who participated in the Pipeline event and who are working daily to build a vibrant, highly skilled workforce in Nebraska.”
Those recognized at the annual celebration, attended by top entrepreneurs, investors, news reporters and others, included:
Aumueller, who majored in marketing and economics at UNL and then earned his MBA there, was chosen to give a “university spotlight” presentation after entering a pitch competition at UNL’s Center for Entrepreneurship in October. His startup, Fanlete, will be a mobile app and later a desktop program as well that provides sports rankings, records and scores, allowing users to choose which teams they want to follow and offering traditional components of social media, like the ability to upload content.
Aumueller came up with the idea for Fanlete as an undergraduate playing tennis at UNL. Being a student-athlete showed him firsthand the challenges that smaller sports teams in particular face in connecting with their fan bases, he said. He also came to believe there wasn’t an effective and efficient way for fans to follow their favorite teams.
“There are approximately 18,000 college sports teams, 2,000 schools, 40 different sports, half a million student-atheltes and 190 million fans,” Aumueller said. “Yet there is not a single platform that allows the user to experience college sports the way he or she wants to.”
According to Aumueller’s research, the average college sports fan typically visits three different websites to get their sports news.
“I decided to do something about it,” he said.
With guidance from UNL faculty members, he developed Fanlete and finessed his business pitch. He credited Samuel Nelson, interim director of UNL’s Center for Entrepreneurship, for mentoring him over the past year.
“Chris is a great ambassador for our university and a proven competitor,” Nelson said. “I have had the pleasure of watching Chris develop and pursue his idea for nearly two years. He continues to combine his talents and his work ethic to achieve great things as both an innovator and an entrepreneur.”
Aumueller called the opportunity to pitch at the Innovator of the Year event “an incredible experience.” He plans to continue developing Fanlete while he finishes his Ph.D.