Capital Cigar Lounge

Capital Cigar Lounge is pictured at 5505 S 16th St. on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

For students looking to connect with some of Lincoln’s most notable entrepreneurs, a cigar lounge may be the perfect spot.

Twice a month, Lincoln bar Capital Cigar Lounge hosts Young Professional Tuesday, which brings in business owners from across Lincoln to speak to students 21 and older about their business, what it took for them to be successful in their field and how students can be successful in their future careers as well.

Capital Cigar, located at 5505 S. 16th St., was purchased by co-owner Austin Hillis in 2017. A University of Nebraska-Lincoln alum, Hillis said that when he graduated and moved out of downtown, he was surprised by how different everything was outside of college. He started Young Professional Tuesday to give students the opportunity to establish connections in Lincoln prior to graduating.

“I realized there’s this whole other world of business and networking that’s available in Lincoln,” he said. “A lot of students realize the importance of networking, but Capital is taking it a step further to give young professionals access to the highest quality group of Lincoln’s business leaders."

On Tuesday, Capital Cigar will host Matt Plooster, Bridgepoint Investment Banking co-founder and managing director, and Natasha Plooster, chief operating officer.

Speakers tend to delve into their personal lives in order to relate to the 20-year-olds in the audience and let them know, despite the difficulties they may be facing now, things will get better, Hillis said.

“One aspect is learning about the barriers these leaders have overcome through their professional careers, and maybe their personal lives as well, while helping young professionals understand there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. 

Destiny Southern, Capital Cigar’s head event planner and UNL senior advertising and public relations major, said she likes the events because they are free opportunities for students to network, and a lot of the speakers are relatable.

“Since it is a free speaker, they are volunteering their time, and how they dive into their personal lives is just crazy,” she said. “They are like, ‘I don’t usually say this at other events, but I’m telling you,’ so it felt so exclusive to hear what they had to say to the younger people.”

Southern said her favorite speakers were Aaron Davis from Aaron Davis Presentations and Tawnya Starr, the co-founder of Firespring.

Southern said she likes how she could relate to what the speakers said and their life advice they would have wanted their younger selves to know. She took several notes during Starr’s speech because she talked a lot about relationships, which Southern said hit home for her.

“She said something like, ‘Find a partner that compliments you in your work life as well as your personal life. Because if you are both busy, that's good. But if one person is not then that's how they are not complimenting you because they’re low key envious of you,’” she said.

Hillis said he thinks the events can help local businesses grow by connecting new graduates with businesses in Nebraska.

“When you start looking into the statistics around Lincoln’s young talent, as in recent graduates,” he said, “it’s crazy how they’re receiving so many opportunities outside the state of Nebraska when they should be connected with leaders internal to Nebraska who need talent every year to grow their companies.”

Southern said she thinks the events are beneficial to students because the speakers can give the students advice on success but also because the business world is about connections.

“These people are leaving a legacy behind,” she said. “Hearing them, and then actually having a chance to connect with them, is huge because networking is key. It's not what you know, it’s who you know, and that’s why I think this is so important.”