An Afternoon With Hello Holiday–Update!

Here is the final product of my first-ever video class! I have quite a bit to learn before I am the next Coppola, but I had an amazing time trying something new.

Eternal thanks to the beautiful and inspiring women at Hello Holiday. It was a dream to work with you!

Intern Life–But Better

ProxibidAfter graduating from Creighton University in May I have plunged into the “Real World” head first. Following a short stint in Europe, I came back to Omaha refreshed and ready to get down to business.

I now work as a Copywriting/Marketing Intern for Proxibid, the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling high-value and specialized assets from a variety of inventory classes. Proxibid takes the auction industry to a whole new level, providing 2,500 auction companies, dealers and private sellers the ability to broadcast their items to over 190 countries, leaving them with countless opportunities to unload their inventory.

Proxibid is great for buyers too–they offer bank-level fraud protection to ensure transactions between buyers and auctioneers run smoothly. They also provide a badging system that highlights sellers who provide lower premiums, faster shipping, and amazing customer support.

This is my second week working for Proxibid and I have literally been running all over the office learning the ‘ins-and-outs’ of the business. From the IT Department to Production Management and Sales, I have gotten to spend some quality time with the people who help Proxibid operate at such a successful level. I even got to sit in on a live auction with the Sales Department, and have had the exciting opportunity to learn the inside scoop from CEO Ryan Downs, himself–all while enjoying a homemade pulled-pork sandwich and fresh watermelon.

I think it’s safe to say that post-graduate me is having a pretty good time living the intern life.

Structuring a Financially Sound Nonprofit Organization

piggy-bank-non-profit-organizationOne thing that I struggled with when formulating my business plan project was  how to establish my mock company as a nonprofit organization and still make money enough to maintain operations and pay myself plus five part-time employees. In terms of nonprofit work, I have some experience with the PR/marketing side of things. Through my internship at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland I learned about how to effectively organize a group of volunteers to do jobs that most people wouldn’t necessarily want to do even if they were being paid. Wrangling volunteers can earn you some money, especially if they are working on fundraising and donations, but they aren’t necessarily the only resource needed. Looking through my business plan before turning in the final draft, I decided to consult our class textbook, Entrepreneurial Journalism: How to Build What’s Next for News for tips about starting and maintaining a nonprofit.

Some options that the textbook mentions in terms of running a nonprofit are: establishing the organization as a 501(c)(3) entity, establishing a partnership with a university or college for nonprofit status, or finding an agent to help with obtaining grants. Obtaining a 501(c)(3) is the most difficult option from the choices given, and especially after checking out the website run by the IRS, it seems as though there are endless forms to fill out and a lot of tedious steps involved in this process. Concerning my nonprofit idea is a bit smaller than a national organization like Planned Parenthood, I think my best option would be to partner with a university in town, granted they are interested in the organization.

If all went well, my mock-organization would be thriving within the first couple of months, especially because there are a lot of perks to starting a nonprofit organization. Not only would I be bringing something I believe in and also think that others would benefit from greatly into the community, but I would also be able to take advantage of grants from public and private entities (again, if these entities are willing) and not having to pay federal income taxes on the organization.

Nonprofits can also start trusts if they are concerned about obtaining grants. The book talks about trusts, specifically in terms of journalism as a kind of new idea. “One of the first journalism trusts was established in 2010 when a writer and retired businessman named Bill Schubart formed the Vermont Journalism Trust to fund operations for a new startup that focused on state political and civic issues. That site,, came to life in 2009″ (104-105). Taking a look at VTDigger, it seems as though the site is thriving, however it is definitely littered with advertisements.

Establishing a nonprofit isn’t something that would be very easy and it would also be a very time-consuming venture, however I believe it would be the best choice for my business plan idea, and upon further research I still believe this whole-heartedly. I think however, I will skip all of the tedium and plan on partnering up with the University of Nebraska at Omaha for my business idea. I think that UNO would be very receptive to a women-friendly organization, especially since they have a thriving Women & Gender Studies department. This organization would greatly benefit female students and our organization could spend more time working on recruiting volunteers and making our organization as successful as can be without having to spend tireless hours on filling out paperwork.

Entrepreneurial Business Plans: A Review

Business PlanIn great contrast to the elevator pitch assignment from earlier in the semester, delivering my business plan was a phenomenal experience. Although I am incredibly shy and usually hate public speaking, I am very passionate about the business plan I have created for my Entrepreneurial Media course.

The business plan I have constructed consists of restructuring an already existing community-based website that focuses specifically on interactions with women, and although I would like to keep this current group anonymous outside of my classmates and current site members so as to not divulge any personal information, I think it is safe to say that the external website I would be building would really serve as a way for women to achieve a voice in Nebraska.

I am incredibly passionate about feminism and providing a means for women to interact with each other in a safe and secure environment. I would love for all women of all backgrounds to be able to explore their thoughts, feelings and ideas among themselves in a positive place, and I think my business plan definitely embodied this passion.

In terms of the presentations given by my peers, I was very, very impressed. During the evaluations I had difficulty finding an aspect of my classmates’ presentations that really needed much improvement. Most of the presentations were well-thought out and clearly delivered.

One of my favorite presentations was on an organization called Purple–a political resource for young people that provides accurate and unbiased information and strives to create a call-to-action for young people to effectively involve themselves in politics. This business plan was definitely something I could see being a successful business venture and I thought that the members of the group defined their mission well.

Another presentation I really enjoyed was on an app that would serve Nebraskans interested in fitness and allow them to organize their fitness schedules, read reviews about instructors, and really cater to their needs when exercising. I thought that this idea was excellent and definitely the perfect niche app. 

Overall the business plan project was an incredibly enriching experience. I was able to conquer my fears of public speaking through my passion for my business plan idea and also witness the development of the business plans of my peers.

I think we may have a few successful entrepreneurs in the mix after all.

Entrepreneurial Media: A Short Review

reviewsAfter a semester of Entrepreneurial Media I would not only advocate for adding the course to the JMC curriculum, but also highly recommend the course to future seniors. There were many aspects of the class that I enjoyed and I think that this class could be a great experience for many other JMC students, however I think there are some minor improvements that could be made so that students can gain the most from taking this course.

From the variety of guest speakers I was able to learn a lot about the positive and negative aspects of being an entrepreneur and achieve a more well-rounded image of what being an entrepreneur would actually be like. It was important to me to be able to understand entrepreneurialism from a first-hand perspective, and the guest speakers provided that necessary insight. I think that guest speakers should continue to visit the class in the future; learning about the personal experiences of actual entrepreneurs in Omaha (and other cities around the world) and receiving tips from those who are living the entrepreneurial lifestyle was invaluable.

I also really enjoyed the ability to get creative with my project and also participate in open discussion with speakers as well as classmates. It was nice to feel comfortable and able to speak out about my thoughts and opinions.

One thing I really didn’t enjoy about this course was the elevator pitch. Without rehashing the *trauma* I feel as though this assignment could be greatly improved if it were more spontaneous and if a camera was not involved. Having students come up with the ideas for their business plan, giving them time to discuss the specifics, and asking for an impromptu pitch the day of would be a more effective way to have students give an elevator pitch. It is not only a more realistic situation but would also provide a more informal atmosphere that would allow students to be able to talk freely, therefore resulting in better speeches.

Honestly, I think this class is a great addition to the JMC department, and despite my lack of wanting to be an entrepreneur, I was able to learn that about myself while taking this class but also gain some pretty important knowledge that will stick with me while I explore my career options.

Krug Park & Hello Holiday: Local Entrepreneurs With a Community Focus

HHAlthough I was unable to make it to the field trip to Krug Park and Hello Holiday last week I am familiar with both businesses and admire the work they have done as entrepreneurs. Having the amazing opportunity to work with Megan Hunt and Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik on a short video (For Time Guthrie’s Digital Video course) about their mission a few weeks ago was a really enlightening experience. When I went to visit the Hello Holiday office for the interview I was able to enjoy a pleasant and welcoming afternoon listening to Megan’s plans for the future of Hello Holiday and her reasoning for keeping the business in Omaha. The loyalty both Megan and Sarah have to Omaha is something that really struck me about the Hello Holiday brand–the dedication to their location and their community was really inspiring and also a large part of why I think they are successful entrepreneurs. They spend a great deal of effort promoting their business within the community as well as pooling their resources with other entrepreneurs to develop a well-rounded brand. They also provide opportunities for local designers to become a part of their business by featuring their garments or accessories on their website and making them available for purchase. This is a really amazing way to involve local fashion designers and make Omaha a fashion destination.

After the interview Megan and Sarah showed me some of their favorite spring pieces and how they like to style them. This was one of my favorite parts of the afternoon because I got to see both Megan and Sarah working together and enjoying what they were doing with Hello Holiday. They both model their clothing for Facebook and their website/blog and sometimes have guest models in order to show customers what different pieces look like on different body types. Hello Holiday is committed to serving all shapes and sizes of women and that is something I admire greatly. The brand is really accessible for all women and promotes acceptance of self and everyone’s own unique beauty.

Krug Park is an establishment that I have visited many times while with friends in Benson–their bloody mary’s are incredible! They have consistent service and cocktails that are not only affordable but very high quality. The staff is welcoming and although the bar can be rather crowded the atmosphere is hard to beat. Krug Park also is very dedicated to the Omaha community. The owners seem very interested in preserving and promoting the historic Benson neighborhood by providing a quality establishment for customers and emphasizing a love of community. Their building was restored to embody the same vintage aesthetics as the time period in which the  amusement park and beer garden established by Frederick Krug existed in its place in 1895.

Make sure to check out the video for Hello Holiday later this month!

Trauma 2013: Elevator Pitch Woes

A still from my practice elevator pitch video.

Practice makes perfect? A still from my practice elevator pitch video.

Unfortunately for me, public speaking has never been my “thing.” I have a hard time feeling comfortable talking in front of large groups and haven’t really found a way to relieve the stress and anxiety caused by public speaking. Having to do a 60-second “elevator pitch” in front of my classmates was one of the most terrifying things I have had to do in a while. I thought I was going to explode when I got up to the front of the classroom. But the funny thing is, I didn’t explode or die or do something embarrassing like I was predicting. Although stumbling around the concepts of my pitch, I felt I delivered a some-what articulate and calm explanation of my potential business venture. After sitting down and realizing it was all over, I felt a sudden surge of relief. It really wasn’t that bad. 

Why was the anticipatory trauma so great? Well, I think that this 60-second elevator pitch includes the necessary elements of an anxiety-ridden situation for three very important reasons:

  1. 60 seconds is not a lot of time. It really isn’t. You think you can fit all kinds of information into a 60 second interval, but when writing my elevator pitch and awkwardly practicing in my Photobooth App, I found that I had to keep cutting down bits of information so it didn’t seem like I was running a race with my own mouth. 
  2. For some horrible terrible reason there was a video camera present. If you didn’t think I was terrified before, please just add the red-blinking recording device monster and see how far I make it before passing out.
  3. My presentation seemed so boring and rehearsed, even to me. If I were in an elevator with someone I truly admired and wanted to ask to be a part of my business venture, I would strike up a casual conversation, insert a little flattery and then discuss why my business idea would make a fantastic investment. I feel like a pitch lasting 60-seconds, if rehearsed, sounds more like an infomercial than something on the next review of local start-ups on Silicon Prairie News.

*Interesting fact about me: I am 110 % more comfortable talking to those who are not within my peer group. Running into a potential investor probably wouldn’t have bothered me half as much as talking in front of my classmates. I think a lot of my classmates felt the same.

Although this experience was terrifying, it taught me a lot about effectively communicating my ideas. While writing this pitch I had to go through and think about all of the ways in which my potential business would be a viable investment. I had to creatively convince myself that I would invest in something like this, and that’s hard to do. For future elevator pitches I suggest something a lot more casual and less rigid. It is important to have a conversation as opposed to just forcing your ideas and business plans on to the poor soul that walks into the anxiety-ridden cage that is a top-floor elevator ride.