What does it take to start your own business?
For Jordan Lambrecht, managing partner and creative director at Lincoln’s Pixel Bakery Design Studio, several ingredients were key.
A good idea. Hard work. And a heaping spoonful of experience gained during his time at Jacht, a student-run advertising agency at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Lambrecht joined Jacht in 2015, the same year he graduated from Nebraska with a major in graphic design. The agency was pivotal in helping him envision new possibilities for his art degree.
“I was fascinated with the concept of advertising, moved over there and fell in love even more,” Lambrecht said. “The connections in the community were amazing. The life experience was great.”
Jacht was also where Lambrecht met Pixel Bakery co-founders Tony Bertino and Karley Johnson. As they worked together, the students realized there was an untapped market for specialized animation and video production services in Lincoln.
“We had the idea in Jacht to do it,” Lambrecht said. “We saw that niche and chose to fill it.”
The three alums were motivated to put down business roots in Lincoln due to its low cost of living and access to recent Nebraska graduates. Today, Lambrecht said Jacht provides a continual stream of talent for his company.
“It’s a night and day difference when you hire somebody that’s been in Jacht versus somebody that hasn’t,” Lambrecht said. “It’s like learning Spanish in a Spanish class versus immersing yourself in Mexico or Spain. Both are very beneficial, but the real life experience is what’s going to get you somewhere.”
Putting students in the driver’s seat
Amy Struthers, interim dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, is proud watching former Huskers like Lambrecht find success in the creative field. She started Jacht 10 years ago as a way to bring experiential learning to students and give them a taste of running their own business.
Her fledgling idea took off with the support from Nebraska Global, a venture capital firm which paid for the agency’s Haymarket office space during its first two years of operation.
“We’re just grateful to have somebody who believed in us. As it turned out, the ad agencies were also great supporters. They contributed through the foundation to a fund that helped us make capital purchases,” Struthers said. “I think they recognized it as a talent pipeline. They want to be able to identify and help grow the next generation.”
Struthers started Jacht with a class of 13 students. Today, more than 50 students work in the agency’s Haymarket space each semester, representing majors like journalism, finance, marketing, film and graphic design. In total, more than 400 alumni have passed through its doors since 2010.
Although Jacht works with big brands like the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha Public Schools and the Nebraska Dairy Association, it’s also a valuable asset to small businesses, said current director Jemalyn Griffin.
“We’ve heard a lot of great feedback from community partners saying that if they weren’t able to work with Jacht, they couldn’t afford a lot of the creative services, especially nonprofits local to Nebraska,” Griffin said.
The agency is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary, as well as making plans to expand its Haymarket office space.
“It’s really inspiring to see something bloom over the past decade and make such a footprint on our university’s campus,” Griffin said.