My name is Dusty Davidson, and I’m a technology entrepreneur residing in lovely Omaha, Nebraska.
I’m probably best known for my work with Silicon Prairie News & Big Omaha, but have been involved with a number of things over the years, and I’m currently the co-founder and CEO of a WordPress hosting company called Flywheel.
I’m super passionate about startups (particularly those in the Silicon Prairie) and I love all things food & wine.
I grew up in Iowa and attended Iowa State University (yes, where they invented the computer). Afterwards I spent some time traveling around Europe before coming back to reality and settling into a couple of software development jobs.
The first was a small company with a great culture, and the second was at a large company with a shitty culture. The combination of those experiences drove me (with the help of my partner Kevin Zink) to start my first company – Brightmix. Essentially we wanted to create a place where we would want to go work everyday, and surround ourselves with people who might want something similar.
I often describe Brightmix as a software consulting company whose prime directive was to be a product company, not a time-for-money company. After a couple failed attempts we finally got our chance with Tripleseat, our web-based software for restaurants to manage private events. In September of 2010, we raised some money and went “all in” on Tripleseat.
Along the way, we got connected with Jeff Slobotski, and teamed up to start Silicon Prairie News. I describe it as “wanting to find more people like us.” That is – in Omaha how do you surround yourself with people that care about innovation, high growth startups, cutting edge technology, great design and creativity?
Over the years Silicon Prairie News itself has spawned a number of things, including Big Omaha, Big Kansas City and the Silicon Prairie Awards. It has very much been alongside, if not been a driving force of what I describe as an entrepreneurial renaissance in the Midwest over the past 6 years. SPN to this day serves as the #1 voice for entrepreneurs and startups in the middle of the country, and in January 2015 it was acquired by the AIM Institute.
Fast forward to today, where I have the privilege of working alongside some good friends to build Flywheel, which we believe to be the best WordPress hosting solution on the market – and certainly the most beautiful. We’re early on but growing quickly, and are working hard each and every day to make the lives of web designers easier.
I’m married to a wonderful and beautiful woman named Marlina, who for many years now has put up with all the ups and downs associated with high-growth startups. In fact, without her I literally would have not started Brightmix as her health insurance kicked in once we got married :)
We are new parents of a tiny little baby girl named Annabelle, who is a startup in and of herself. She’s super cute and cries a lot, just like babies should do. And she makes me want to be a better entrepreneur – one that is successful in both life and work.
We love to travel, including our annual pilgrimage to France each summer where we rent an apartment and live for a month or two.
We love eating – from Kraft Mac & Cheese to dinners at some of the top restaurants in the world. Food has become an enormous part of our lives, and with the exception of our waistlines we’re better off for it.
We love living in Omaha. I’m often asked “why Omaha?“, and my response is usually the same. It’s where our home is. It’s where our families are. It’s where our friends live. It’s a city where you can make meaningful change if you want to. It’s a city with great food and culture. It’s a city that’s small enough where you feel like it’s a small town. It’s a city where we can affordably live in a nice loft in the urban center. The list could go on and on. At the end of the day, we can travel the world to experience all kinds of wonderful things, and then come back home to Omaha.
The following are a list of affiliations that I have to various companies and organizations. You’re free to make you’re own judgement on whether I’m biased (hint: I am).
I have co-founded or been involved in the following: Brightmix, Silicon Prairie News (including Big Omaha), Tripleseat & Flywheel
I have previously invested in or been a shareholder in the following: GoPollGo & Layeredi
I organize or help organize the the following: Big Omaha, Big Kansas City, Silicon Prairie Awards, Barcamp Omaha & WordCamp Omaha
I also advise a number of startups. But those are secret.