History & Mission

Nelnet began its venture investment journey in 2006, alongside the Nebraska Angels. Starting out slow and occasionally stumbling along the way, both Nelnet and the Nebraska Angels were able to build substantial portfolios. Since then, Nelnet has invested in over 100 companies with nearly 25 positive exits. While many of Nelnet’s investments have been in conjunction with the Nebraska Angels, Nelnet also sources investment opportunities through our expansive network.

We are key collaborators in building the startup ecosystem in the Midwest with active investments in companies including Hudl, ALLO, and many more. Nelnet works closely with the Nebraska Angels, Invest Nebraska, gener8tor, and more.

We are looking to invest in tomorrow’s world-beaters in a variety of markets including fintech, edtech, future of work, renewable energy and climate technology, agtech, and more.

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# of Companies Invested In

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What We’re Looking For

Nelnet will look to invest in companies that exhibit the following:


Looking for thoughtful, enthusiastic, and “heads down” entrepreneurs with strong and consistent communication. The team is ready to learn, change, and pivot, if necessary.


Looking for high-growth, tech-scalable companies where it is proven the customer is willing to pay. Nelnet invests in companies beyond the MVP stage that have established revenue.


Looking for originality, uniqueness and defensibility in initial product development that solves a real problem. Nelnet Ventures invests in a variety of industries including but not limited to: financial services and technology, education, agriculture, and renewable energy.


Looking for a revenue stream and considerable customer discovery with clearly defined goals and KPI’s.

Check Out a Few of Nelnet’s Portfolio Companies

Our Investments in Innovation


More than 230,000 teams across 40 sports use Hudl to capture, analyze, and learn from video and data – and Nelnet was invested in their vision since their earliest days.

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Teams Currently Use Hudl Technology

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Hudl Team Members, Worldwide

Allo Fiber

Allo has been creating and connecting communities across the Midwest with Gigabit fiberoptic technologies since 2003. Nelnet has been part of this expansive investment since 2015.

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People Receive ALLO Service Every Day


Communities Served Across Three States


CompanyCam helps contractors build trust with their crews and customers through photo documentation, making it easy to keep everyone on the same page. Nelnet was one of the company’s first outside investors, which is now one of the largest construction tech companies in the Midwest.

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Professional Tradesmen Use Company Cam

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Projects Documented with Company Cam


Maptician is the industry’s most innovative end-to-end platform helping organizations build a successful hybrid workplace, empowering professionals with a seamless and simple world-class hybrid office experience. Nelnet added Maptician to our investment portfolio in 2021.

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Daily Users Trust Maptician


ALM Legal Tech Innovation Award Finalist


Flywheel gives designers and agency partners a constantly evolving, all-in-one solution for WordPress hosting. Backed by an investment from Nelnet, Flywheel now partners with WP Engine to form the world’s largest Agency Partner Program in WordPress.

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Employees Working to Innovate Flywheel Solutions

Meet the Team

Chuck Norris

Managing Director


Charles (Chuck) Norris has worked in the Nelnet organization for more than 30 years and heads up its Angel/VC investing activities. He also shares responsibility for Nelnet’s innovation efforts. During his time with the company, Chuck helped start Infovisa, a trust software company, located in Charlotte, N.C., and Nelnet Capital, LLC, a registered Broker/Dealer. He has also been a part of the Nebraska Angels group since its inception in 2006 representing Nelnet, Inc. Prior to joining Nelnet, Chuck was a Financial Analyst for Merrill Lynch in New York City. Chuck also worked for Wilshire Associates located in Santa Monica, Calif. Chuck has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Brian Ardinger

Director of Innovation


Brian is Director of Innovation at Nelnet and the founder of InsideOutside.io, makers of the weekly podcast, newsletter, events, and community. For over 25 years, Brian has been helping entrepreneurs and enterprises navigate and compete in a world of change and disruption. Brian was the founder of NMotion (a seed-stage startup accelerator), CMO at Nanonation, head of research at Ion Global (a Hong Kong-headquartered technology firm), and senior consultant for Gartner in Asia.

Emily Kist

Venture & Innovation Associate


Based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Emily has been at Nelnet for over 3 years in various roles and internships. During her time at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, she founded and led the Husker Venture Fund, a $1 million student-led fund that provides early-stage capital to Nebraska startups. She also has a diverse internship background in accounting, financial planning consulting and angel investing. Kist earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2022.

Chad Riley

Chad Riley

Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships


Chad Riley has been driving innovation and strategic thought in sustainability/cleantech for over 20 years. Chad’s professional career has spanned real estate, consulting, sustainability/renewable energy and venture capital; from neighborhood to international, non-profit to publicly traded, and start-ups to investor. Currently, Chad is the Director of Venture & Innovation at Nelnet focusing on creating value for Nelnet through the deployment of corporate venture capital into the cleantech and climatetech ecosystems.

Chad has an Integrated Studies Degree, with a Concentration in Sustainable Community Development, from Warren Wilson College and received his MBA from the Daniels School of Business at the University of Denver.

Funding Application

Interested in funding or getting to know Nelnet? Fill out our Venture Capital Funding Application below. This form serves as your gateway to presenting your business vision and strategy for potential investment.

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