It is a very exciting day for us at Don’t Panic Labs.
Today, we are announcing that we have completed the purchase of investment fund Nebraska Global’s interest in the company.
I’m not sure how to put this other than saying that this is a big deal. Perhaps it’s as significant as the steps taken to found Don’t Panic Labs 12 years ago.
Let’s recap some of our history.
In 2009, the nation was in the midst of The Great Recession. Steve Kiene and I had this crazy idea to demonstrate that software technology companies could grow and thrive in this region. At the time, Nebraska was ranked 52 out of 50 states (including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia) in startup investment. We wanted to provide more opportunities for technology-based startups and saw a lot of potential. We also wanted to demonstrate what software product development could look like here in Nebraska. The time was right, the talent was here, and we felt good about the plan we had.
In 2010, Nebraska Global was founded along with its product development arm – Don’t Panic Labs. The whole thing was a bold idea. Nobody here had ever done this before, but the idea resonated with many folks. It didn’t take long to have investors in place to fund what was, at the time, the biggest fund of its kind in our region.
Since then, Nebraska Global has played a significant role in putting Lincoln (and Nebraska) on the software technology map. EliteForm, Beehive Industries, Ocuvera, and Don’t Panic Labs have all impacted our area and the industries they serve. The bold idea of Nebraska Global proved to be what our region needed.
Around 2014, a few of us at Don’t Panic Labs saw a need outside our walls for the skills that built the technology portion of the Nebraska Global portfolio. We dedicated three of our team to test how well other organizations could leverage our skills. We quickly found that the need for software product development was much greater than anticipated. So we took the bold move of making Don’t Panic Labs a dedicated development resource for our region.
We grew. And kept growing. And grew some more.
Don’t Panic Labs is now a team of nearly 40, serving companies of all sizes across the country and in numerous industries. In addition, we’re building our own product (Tenzing), helping to meet the education demands of our industry (Nebraska Dev Lab and Advanced Continuing Education), and connecting our community and our state (MyLink).
With all this happening, we believe it is the right time for another bold move.
We want to create a culture that allows employees to own and build a company that controls its destiny and can better reward those committed to its success. I often speak about the importance of having esprit de corps – a strong cohesion of devotion and support. This is something our team already possesses, but I believe there’s more we can add to the mix. By giving employees the opportunity for increased participation in the upside of our success, we’re demonstrating another way organizations can grow and succeed in this constantly changing landscape.
When discussing the possibility of buying out Nebraska Global’s ownership of Don’t Panic Labs, we have been met with nothing but support and enthusiasm. None of what we are doing would be possible without the support of Steve Kiene, the entire Nebraska Global board, and its investors.
So what comes next?
In short, we keep doing what we do every day: making every innovator’s vision a reality through our values of Empathize Then Own It, Build Smart, Deliver with Pride, and Be the Change You Seek. The future of our company and the technology sector in our region is bright. While the unprecedented challenges of the past two years have rattled many industries, we see more need than ever for the services we provide and the skills we bring to bear.
It has been an incredible 12 years, and I’m looking forward to what comes next as we continue working with our partners and helping to make Nebraska known for its impact on the technology sector.
If you long to be part of a company that wants employees to have “skin in the game” and are passionate about our mission and values, we’d love to talk with you.