Mark Hasebroock, founder of Omaha-based Dundee Venture Capital, was recently selected as a member of the Kauffman Fellows’ current class. He is one of 51 members chosen from around the world and has the unique distinction of being the first Kauffman Fellow from the state of Nebraska.
Kauffman Fellows is a prestigious two-year program that helps investors enhance entrepreneurial access to venture capital by improving understanding and relationships between venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.
“If I get an opportunity to learn just a little bit from each one of [the fellows] I think that makes me a better person and ultimately a better investor,” said Hasebroock. “The folks in the program are all really self-driven and motivated, but they’re all givers. They all love to give their time and effort to make everyone else better which really blew me away.”
Hasebroock has been instrumental in helping form and fund programs and tools to help startups and entrepreneurs in Nebraska including the Straight Shot startup incubator (now part of the Startup Collaborative) and Interface Web School.
“We invest at the very early stages of a company’s life. A lot of the companies that we invest in, they’ll take 5 to 10 years to really hit their stride,” said Hasebroock. “You’ve got to have both patience and high expectations for growth. It’s a long view that we take.”
Prior to forming Dundee Venture Capital, Hasebroock co-founded Hayneedle, Inc. in 2002. He also worked as an investment banker and co-founded Giftcertificates.com.
Hasebroock hopes that the time he’s investing in the fellowship will not only come back to him in the form of personal growth but also improvements to Dundee Venture Capital.
“This is something that is very challenging and the amount of work that goes into this over the next couple of years, I hope pays dividends for the next 25,” said Hasebroock. “I think it’s going to make us a better company. […] It’s a real big opportunity for DVC and Omaha.”
In total, the Kauffman Fellows program has hosted approximately 520 fellows from 41 different countries. Those investors have an accumulative $50 billion in assets under venture fund management, with 75-80% of them being the founders or co-founders of their fund.
“There’s a cross-pollination of people and ideas [through the fellowship] that we wouldn’t get normally,” said Hasebroock. “It’s a way to share what we’re doing in Omaha but also to find opportunities to invest in unique companies together.”
Hasebroock said that through the program, he’s discovering similarities between Omaha’s venture capital scene and other international cities of the same size like Perth, Australia.
“It’s very interesting because here’s Perth, a community of about 1 million people and Omaha, a community of about 1 million people and we both have a lot of the very same issues, struggles, opportunities and excitement about what’s happening,” said Hasebroock. “It’s amazing. There are really a lot of similarities.”
Hasebroock is looking forward to modules in cities including San Francisco, New York, Israel and London. He completed the first module in Palo Alto and said the curiosity over Omaha was amazing.
“People are like, ‘Tell me all about Omaha. What’s going on in the Midwest?’ And I say, ‘It’s the Silicon Prairie, guys. It’s not the Midwest.’