Ben Williamson – Invest Nebraska

ben williamson

Ben Williamson – Invest Nebraska

I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, where I have lived for 32 years which include my undergraduate and graduate degrees (at the University of Nebraska) and the entirety of my professional career. As such, perhaps the more interesting question is why I’ve stayed in Nebraska. Early in my college career I found a passion for traveling, a pursuit which has taken me to many states and countries. Similarly, I watched close friends leave Nebraska for school and to begin professional careers. Through those experiences I realized that there are so many cool and exciting places in the world to visit, but that Nebraska was a truly special place to live – a sort of Nebraska conventional wisdom confirmed by the popular trend of the many “boomerangs” who leave for a short period only to return to start a family or build their long-term lives. While the boomerang path is an extremely valid one, I had the self-awareness at a relatively young age that my desire was instead to stay here and try to help make Nebraska a place that young, smart, and ambitious people never want to leave.

I’ve been at Invest Nebraska for nearly five years and have been focused on scaling our organization and improving Nebraska’s entrepreneurial/technology ecosystem. While Invest Nebraska has been the regions most active early stage investor for several years, we’ve also now grown to the point where we’re investing more than $5M (in aggregate) in ~20 unique equity deals every single year. We also oversee several startups incubators and plan to launch a “Series A” fund in the near term. More recently, I (informally) co-founded and co-manage the Burlington Capital Ag-Venture Fund, a new early-stage seed fund focused on investing in the best innovations/founders solving real problems in agriculture and hellbent on helping make Nebraska and the Midwest the global hub for AgTech. Additionally, the fund is the first venture fund raised in Nebraska since Dundee VC began in the early 2010s, which hopefully paves the way for additional small funds to be raised in the state.

There are several challenges and goals I’m working towards, including: 1. Grow Invest Nebraska’s investments to $10M/year to continue to support and push startup funding growth in the state; 2. Continue to foster and build the Nebraska entrepreneurial/tech ecosystem, namely by facilitating funding rounds, recycling exit returned capital back into Nebraska, driving new angel and institutional investment dollars, and educating young, diverse, and ambitious would-be founders that entrepreneurship is a valid path; 3. Prove the thesis that there are exceptional AgTech entrepreneurs in the middle of the country and raise a larger Fund 2 to continue to mission to help make the Midwest the global hub for AgTech.

A couple of fun facts about me? My favorite fact is that I’m a (relatively) new girl dad and am absolutely loving it. Because that might not be a truly “fun” fact, here are two additional fun facts about me are: 1. I am a huge health and fitness nerd who co-owns a boutique functional fitness gym in Omaha; and 2. my additional hobbies include bow hunting and golfing and I’m currently on a mission to golf in all 50 states.

If I had five minutes to prepare an hourlong lecture, I would teach about how to cultivate a growth mindset and why it is the single most important prerequisite for fulfillment in life.

Interested in learning more about me and my work? I invite you to check out the following links:

Twitter: @InvestNEBen
Invest Nebraska:
Burlington Capital Ag-Venture: