Knowing the Difference Can Improve Your Business
Turning military training into business success
Dan Warren has a knack for finding a good niche market, and chances are you’ll soon find the need for one of his businesses. The Lincoln-based entrepreneur owns two businesses, co-owns another and works full-time at yet another establishment owned by his brother. Apart from such an impressive schedule, Warren has managed to delve into three very separate areas.
Like any good story, Warren’s begins with a solid foundation, one that was started at the age of 17 when he chose to enlist in the U.S. Air Force. It was a formative decision that curtailed some “reckless behavior” and gave him the chance to gain some wisdom from those older and disciplined. After nearly 14 years as an enlisted man and Air Force contractor in Djibouti, Kuwait and Iraq, Warren had built the “cornerstone to whom [he] would eventually become” having found that what one learns in service “transcends who [one] will be.” Warren has certainly carried this notion with him through to his current endeavors.
Just like the Air Force is always the first wave in, Warren has plowed the way for a greener and more engaged Lincoln metro. A self-described “bike guy”, Warren became interested in the bike taxi industry. Having visited Austin, one of the biggest bike taxi markets in the U.S., he soon realized that Lincoln had the right sort of demographic and need to support its own such service. So began the innovation of Pedal Pushers. Nearly four years and 23 bike taxis later, Pedal Pushers can be seen around Lincoln during the summer and fall, and at the World Series and other special events in Omaha. Much like his time working ground support in the military, Warren’s Pedal Pushers offer a useful service that works as a “natural fit in Lincoln,” with its many events and biker friendly terrain.
"Warren's Pedal Pushers offer a useful service that works as a 'natural fit in Lincoln,' with its many event and biker friendly terrain."
Similar to its mechanized counterpart found in every large city, Pedal Pushers’ taxis are moving ads. In fact, mobile advertisement seems to have become a specialty for Warren. As the Operations Manager for Aqua Systems, his brother’s water softener company, Warren began to conceptualize a better way to deliver fresh water to customers that not only serves more but is also greener. With his brother, Warren created Springo, the “anti-bottle” water company that is “green in nature” and proudly so.
Much like Pedal Pushers, Springo operates as delivery and promotional services in one package. A large, mobile water cooler with the capacity to serve 10,000 water drinkers from atop a car trailer, Springo taps into existing water lines and filters water on the spot. It’s a perfect marriage for large events like concerts, marathons and festivals. The water is free, with Warren either charging a flat rental fee or branding bottles and other souvenirs for companies using Springo’s services.
"Warren sees beyond the product and focuses on how the services he provides can improve the lives of others."
Perhaps most important of all, Warren is drawn to serving those who have served us all. As a retired Senior Airman, Warren spent the last couple of years searching for a business opportunity that would help him connect his skills in a more personal way. He then engaged in the acquisition of an Indoor Billboard business that proudly serves masses of VFW and American Legions throughout the Midwest. With Indoor Billboards, he found not only a “connection to other veterans” but a way to help veterans “promote themselves to the veteran community.” Founded 15 years ago by a man, and veteran, who saw a need for improved message boards in veteran establishments. Indoor Billboards was designed to give veterans a better, cleaner means of communicating events with each other. While Warren’s other two ventures are start-ups, Indoor Billboards was already in full swing when he purchased it Spring 2016. The fact that it was “established and mature was a big appeal,” but it also allows him to lend his marketing strengths to a dear cause.
What is most special about Warren and his companies is that he sees beyond the product and focuses on how the services he provides can improve the lives of others. Maybe that harkens back to the camaraderie Warren would have found in the military, where working together is equally beneficial to all. More than anything he is always looking for the right fit, where he can “show how to use a service for a company’s benefit.” Whether that be a bike taxi, a roving cooler ready to provide clean water, or something as simple as a message and advertising board at a veteran meeting. Warren is ready to step in and prove that meaning can be found in the most interesting of ideas.
The Firm Deal Review
Buyer's Drive: To serve those who have served us
Customer Base: Over 100 Midwest American Legions & VFW Chapters
Deal Structure: Asset Purchase Agreement
Financing: Home Equity Line of Credit