I finally got the opportunity to attend the 3rd annual Big Omaha event, hosted at Kaneko by Silicon Prairie News and many other sponsors.  The 2 day, 3 night event hosts many speakers of all areas of technology and entrepreneurship.  Some notable ones this year are Aneesh Chopra, Mark Ecko, and Gary Vaynerchuk.  Of course there are many more, but the event is truly a driving force in getting people together to discuss ideas, find answers and network with people that have similar interests.  I don’t really consider myself an entrepreneur, but I really enjoy technology and putting ideas into action.  You’ll also notice I’m not a writer, so bear with me.

I finally decided to attend for many reasons and I’m not sure why I waited for so long.  Sure I saw the past presentations online and have read up on SiliconPrairieNews.com, but with the price tag and not being directly related to entrepreneurship, even the proximity of the conference couldn’t get me to attend.  I’m not the best at networking in person, so watching from a distance was enough.  Boy was I wrong.  I talked my employer into footing the bill and attended the 2011 conference with an open mind.  I planned on hearing personal stories from the technology field and hoping to be motivated to work on some of the personal projects that get put off in my everyday life.  I was blown away by the atmosphere and it exceeded my expectations.  The speakers where great, the atmosphere was amazing and it really shows what this city has to offer.

The conference itself was very well executed.  Everything stayed on time, we were greeted every morning by coffee, Red Bull, snacks, and a continental breakfast.  The branding around the event was beautiful and I don’t use that word very often.  The cow/moon theme went from the $5 t-shirts, to the free stickers, coffee & bathroom labels, to the accordion style program, charging station, stage decorations, photo booth, and pretty much everything you could see.  It wasn’t overpowering or in your face, just perfectly styled to prove that every little detail was planned out.  Everyone that helped host was very nice and helpful.  The venue, Kaneko, was the perfect setting.  I can tell why they don’t want to grow too much, it did a great job of offering a blogger lounge, side rooms, and greeting area so that even the speakers were always accessible and everyone was openly approachable.  The walls were full with local artwork and gave the vibe of open minds and creative ideas.  Not to mention that what Jeff Slobotski, Dusty Davidson and their staff have done to Silicon Prairie News and this event are great for the community.  I haven’t met either of the guys, but you can tell they stand for what they believe in and are great characters.  They were constantly thanking everyone else, when I’m sure they could have taken more credit.

I had such a great time I would recommend this event to any one in Omaha interested in tech or not and to anyone in the US interested in the ideas and topics that were discussed in Omaha.  Some day we will look back at this and say how Big Omaha put the Silicon Prairie on the map.