Daniel Friesen will present the Nachtigall Lecture Series in Entrepreneurship on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Franz Family Heritage Lobby of the Shari Flaming Center for the Arts. It is free and open to the public.
Friesen, a Buhler, Kan., native, is the co-founder and chief innovation officer for IdeaTek. He and four high school friends formed the company as a computer repair business in 1999, and it now provides fiber broadband services to over 90 Kansas communities.
“Daniel’s track record as an entrepreneur speaks for itself,” said Melinda Rangel, Ed.D., Marvin Sellberg Professor of Business Administration and Entrepreneurship. “With roots in south-central Kansas, their innovation shows what can be done in our backyard. We look forward to hosting him for our inaugural Lecture Series in Entrepreneurship in 2023-24.”
IdeaTek was started with only $250, but Friesen led the company into telecommunications by purchasing dozens of failing dial-up and DSL companies. Today, IdeaTek has more than 150 employees and has deployed over 4,500 miles of fiber optic network. Under his leadership, IdeaTek continues to expand its offerings, adding a hosted phone service in 2017 and a high-speed, fixed-wireless product in 2020 to reach more of Kansas’ underserved population. Over the last five years, the company was awarded over $30 million in major grants to expand reliable fiber internet to rural Kansas.
Friesen’s investment in rural Kansas includes work in his county and community, including 11 years as mayor of Buhler and a current county commissioner in Reno County. Friesen also enjoys aviation and is a licensed private pilot with an instrument rating.