Gov. Pillen Awards Prizes to Student Entrepreneurs through Inaugural New Venture Competition


Laura Strimple, Governor’s Office, (402) 580-9495

Jacy Schafer, Governor’s Office, (531) 510-8529


Gov. Pillen Awards Prizes to Student Entrepreneurs through Inaugural New Venture Competition


LINCOLN, NE – On Thursday evening, Governor Jim Pillen awarded prizes to three teams of college entrepreneurs through the first-ever Nebraska Governor’s New Venture Competition. The contest, created to showcase and encourage student-led entrepreneurship, was overseen by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Invest Nebraska, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. The winning teams were: 1st Place: Privy AI; 2nd Place: Cattle Kettle; 3rd Place: Dyslexico.

“Entrepreneurs are the bread and butter of our economy,” said Gov. Pillen. “They’re the innovators and job creators who help Nebraska grow. Entrepreneurs display remarkable courage in taking the risk of launching a new venture. I’m blown away by the ingenuity and grit of the young entrepreneurs who took part in the New Venture Competition. The contest was a great way to give visibility and support to homegrown Nebraska ideas with industry-transforming potential.”

“It’s incredibly energizing to see the next generation of entrepreneurs in action,” said DED Director K.C. Belitz. “Across Nebraska, economic opportunities are increasingly being created by local entrepreneurs. The State is intensifying our support of these homegrown entrepreneurs, through initiatives like the Governor’s New Venture Competition, as the most viable economic development strategy for sustained growth.”

Nineteen teams of students -- including both undergraduate and graduate students -- submitted proposals through the Governor’s New Venture Competition. Competitors participated from Doane University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Omaha, and Peru State College. All 19 teams pitched their idea virtually to a panel of judges representing the Nebraska Angels, Black Dog Ventures, Tech Nebraska, and NPPD. The judges provided valuable feedback to the student entrepreneurs and selected 11 teams as finalists.

Each finalist team was then assigned a mentor to help refine their presentation. The mentors were chosen from Nebraska’s entrepreneurial ecosystem based on their familiarity with tech startups and the art of pitching a business concept. After working with their mentor, the finalists pitched their business idea in person to a panel of judges during the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting on Feb. 1. These judges -- representing Hudl, NPPD, Fast Forward, Grit Road Partners, and Move Capital Fund – selected the awardees. Later in the evening, Gov. Pillen officially announced the winners.

“Nebraska’s entrepreneurial ecosystem of founders, funders, private partners and public agencies continually seeks new collaborations to build the pipeline of young entrepreneurs in the state,” said Dan Hoffman, CEO of Invest Nebraska. “Governor Pillen’s vision of seeding and growing new ventures in Nebraska will have a long-term impact on the state’s economy.”

“We want to congratulate all of the students who competed in the Governor's inaugural New Venture Competition,” said Bryan Slone, president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We're thrilled we were able to be a part of the event and get a glimpse into the future of Nebraska's business leaders and all they'll bring to our great state.”

The Governor’s Office would like to thank the participants, judges, and sponsors of the Governor’s New Venture Competition. Prize sponsors include Nebraska Public Power District, Omaha Public Power District, the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Economic Developers’ Association, Nebraska Diplomats, NexTera Energy, and Invest Nebraska.

For more information about the Governor’s New Venture Competition, visit the contest’s website:

Governor’s New Venture Awardees





Student Entrepreneurs


Business Description

Competition Mentor

First Place Award

$20,000 Prize

Privy AI

Artificial Intelligence

Samuel Ingledue

Tan Phan


PrivyAI empowers AI developers and companies by sourcing high-quality training data from data aggregators and selling them securely on its marketplace. The datasets on PrivyAI are also redacted to ensure privacy.

Brian Ardinger, Chief Innovation Officer, Nelnet

Second Place Award

$15,000 Prize

Cattle Kettle


Brooke Bode

Seth Daup


Cattle Kettle is a stock tank management company that simplifies managing cattle tanks, allowing ranchers to monitor and control their tanks remotely. Their products can save ranchers an average of 30 hours of work each week and thousands of dollars each year by reducing the need for manual checks and maintenance.

Jack Keating, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Corral

Third Place Award

$10,000 Prize


Artificial Intelligence

Bridget Peterkin

Tristan Curd


Dyslexico is an assistive writing platform designed to meet the needs of people with dyslexia in a world of writing tools that were not made for them. Dyslexico uses AI-powered spelling and grammar corrections, dyslexia accessibility tools, and powerful analytics to help people with dyslexia grow as writers and communicate with confidence.

Bill Udell, Chief Operating Officer, Don’t Panic Labs



First Place Winner – Privy AI

First Place Winner – Privy AI

Second Place Winner – Cattle Kettle

Second Place Winner – Cattle Kettle

Third Place Winner -- DyslexicoThird Place Winner -- Dyslexico