The Oklahoma Venture Forum recognizes Aubrey K. McClendon
The Chairman's Award for Economic Impact identifies individuals or organizations for exceptional contributions to the Oklahoma economy. The award acknowledges leaders in innovation, job growth, financial investment and community development.
The Oklahoma Venture Forum is honored to recognize Aubrey K. McClendon for his economic impact in Oklahoma. We hope that you will join us to recognize his life’s work.
Our keynote speaker will be Scott Meacham, President of i2E, Inc., a nationally recognized private not-for-profit corporation who's focus is on growing innovative small businesses in Oklahoma and making a positive impact on the state’s economy
The event is invitation only and you must register to attend.
See event details at the bottom of this newsletter.
“It’s exciting to see a lot of interesting and cool entrepreneurs move into Oklahoma,” says i2E President Scott Meacham. “There was a time when we lost our best and brightest to other cities, but not anymore.”
“An entrepreneur just moved his company in from Boston; another came from Seattle. Yet another one moved in from New York City.”
Why Oklahoma City? “One of them told me,” says Meacham, “that he was impressed with how the whole community embraced him and was pulling for his success.”
“Another one said, ‘I get to be the big fish in a small pond instead of another little tiny fish trying to swim around and get noticed.’”
So it’s official: Oklahoma welcomes the big fish to town. And i2E, with its history of investing in entrepreneurs and their high growth companies, couldn’t be happier.
Not surprisingly, Scott Meacham knows what an ideal environment for entrepreneurial activity looks like. (Here’s a hint: It takes a while to grow and then catch those big fish.) Here are a few of his thoughts to whet OVF members’ appetites ahead of his remarks at the Chairman’s Award for Economic Impact luncheon at the Oklahoma History Center.
“Right now, we’re seeing an unprecedented level of high quality deal flow coming out of the OKC market,” says Meacham. “People invested in an environment that made millenials and the creative class attracted to downtown OKC, and good things came out of that.”
There’s a name for the right environment to hatch entrepreneurial ideas: Scott Meacham calls it a “startup ecosystem,” which requires three elements: “You need a good flow of high quality ideas,” he says. “You have to have people with the know how to take those ideas forward. Then you need capital to support those entrepreneurs as they scale their companies.”
Points two and three are fairly well covered in Oklahoma. The people at i2E utilize a rigorous venture assessment protocol to consider an idea’s high growth potential. (The nationally recognized organization has served more than 670 start-ups in Oklahoma; part of that assistance includes connecting clients to almost $600 million in private investment funds to date.)
“Here in Oklahoma, we do have a decent amount of at least proof of concept capital,” he continues. “The real problem in our state is consistent quality deal flow.”
“There’s no silver bullet answer to getting more of that,” he says. “It’s really a lot of things. For starters, at our institutions of higher education, we need to be more efficient at creating research that can be commercialized in proportion to the research dollars that are going in.”
“Another problem is that we’re disinvesting in research and development through OCAST [Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology] at the state level. Obviously, the less money you put into people developing new discoveries, the less discoveries you’re going to make.”
“But we do have the right downtown environment,” says Meacham. “There’s the increase in coolness that the Thunder brought about.”
There’s another cool place a mile north of the Chesapeake Arena; this spot is just the right pond for entrepreneurs to land in. “I’m running a co-working space here in my office at i2E,” says Meacham. “It’s free and right now it’s mostly empty.”
“We’re looking for people with high growth ideas,” he says. “They may or may not need our services, but we’re happy to provide them at a deeply subsidized rate.”
The advantages of this space are Meacham and his team have decades of experience working with high growth, scalable companies and connecting those organizations to needed capital. Another advantage is that Scott Meacham understands catch and release.
“Recently I heard a very well-known entrepreneur speak at a treasury conference,” says Meacham,” and he said, ‘The most important thing to me is getting to ‘no’ quick.’ That statement really resonated with me.”
“That means getting to ‘no’ before spending a lot of time and money and investment on an idea.”
“At i2E,” says Meacham, “we probably say ‘no, but . . .’ as often as we say ‘no’ because some ideas need more work to be fully developed.”
“We even offer a 3 week boot camp for entrepreneurs,” shares Meacham, “to see if there’s a product market match and to determine if it really is worth their time and effort to take their idea to market.”
“i2E’s been doing this for 17 years, and I think where we’ve really developed a lot of expertise is around this whole idea of evaluating concepts and determining the best path forward for them.”
Spring is in the air and the landscape of Oklahoma is changing. While trees and flowers bloom with the promise of warmer weather, the business landscape is changing too.
In mid-April, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber revealed the findings of an eighteen-month study led by the Brookings Institute to examine the possibility of establishing an Innovation District for Oklahoma City. Perhaps not surprising to those in attendance, the report discovered that OKC is brimming with innovation and diversified economic success.
Bounded roughly by Robinson and Lottie Avenues to the west and east, and 4th and 13th Streets to the south and north, the designated district is the center of much attention these days. With the new GE research facility, OU’s Health Science Center and businesses in Automobile Alley all contributing to the dynamic growth of OKC’s technology-based economy, the impact of innovation is already being felt: Several OUHSC spin-outs including Pure Protein, Moleculera, Biolytx and Heparinex are experiencing strong growth and market success; and, other start-ups in the IT space such as Exaptive, Spiers New Technology, Weather Decision Technologies and NextTought are also expanding and diversifying our state’s economy.
And in the middle of all this activity, providing essential cross-disciplinary professional and social interaction, is the Oklahoma Venture Forum. This theme of building a collaborative network that facilitates the ability to interact, exchange ideas and support entrepreneurial efforts is the backbone of the Brookings report.
This month OVF will gather to present the Chairman’s Award for Economic Impact at our monthly luncheon and celebrate entrepreneurial inspiration. Now more than ever, the purpose and value of OVF is being recognized as we foster the growth of new and existing ventures in the state. I hope you will join our network of entrepreneurs, investors, innovators and collaborators as we stimulate, diversify and promote the economic ecosystem of Oklahoma.
Partner Sponsor Profile
Discussing Economic Impact with Ann Ackerman from OK Business Roundtable
“One of the Aha! Moments for me,” says Ann Ackerman of her introduction to the workings of the Oklahoma Business Roundtable (OBR), “was realizing the important role the Roundtable plays in our state’s economic development. This organization enables elected officials and other partners to do things that couldn’t get done any other way.”
2017 marks OBR’s 25th year as well as Ackerman’s second year as President and CEO. “We are kind of a hub,” she says, “because we pull together all the different people from across the state, all the different organizations, that work on economic development.”
It is fitting, therefore, that the Roundtable is sponsoring this year’s Chairman’s Award for Economic Impact event at the Oklahoma History Center. The award is presented biennially by the Oklahoma Venture Forum (OVF). Of her organizations’ decision to sponsor the luncheon, Ann said, “We hope OVF continues to do things to support the economic development of our state.” John Reid, who is also associated with the Roundtable, agrees when he says, “OVF helps honor the companies that have done well while also providing a forum. It’s an opportunity for a lot of networking to get done.”
OBR is also in the networking business, but with a twist. “We’re not so much about going out and doing things as we are about providing funds so that things can get done,” says President Ackerman. Here’s an abbreviated list of last year’s OBR’s activities: The Roundtable sponsored the Paulsen Scholarship at the Governor’s Cup Competition, supported the STEM Summit and USFIRST Robotics Competition, and hosted national corporate site selection consultants. The organization also provided funds so that individuals could attend an aerospace trade show in England and a bioscience international convention in San Francisco. Too, OBR supported the 30th Annual Lt. Governor’s Turkey Hunt; this statewide event targets business and site consultants looking to locate jobs and investments in Oklahoma.
OBR’s support of these endeavors is noteworthy because the diverse list is not monopolized by energy but is replete with entrepreneurial promise. “If you look back over the past 20 years,” says Ann Ackerman, “you’ll realize that our state has diversified a lot. We have to stay the course and keep on doing what we’re doing with building on aviation, agriculture, and health care.”
“While we do all those things,” says John Reid, “we need to realize that energy is still big business in our state. For example, there’s sustainable energy as well as things that have been learned that can be applied to other industries.”
That has an entrepreneurial ring to it, which is exactly what Ann Ackerman and John Reid like to hear. “While we support those who are out bringing businesses in,” says Ann, “we also want to support our entrepreneurs.” John Reid adds, “We’re starting to see some fruition in our state’s startup areas; there’s a pioneering spirit here. Just look at what Chad Richison has done with Paycom. He just keeps growing! And then there’s WeGoLook!”
“Our state needs to continue to grow entrepreneurs,” says President Ackerman. Broadening the membership base of the Roundtable as well as the Oklahoma Venture Forum is one way to get that job done. “Both OVF and the Roundtable started out more OKC centric,” she says, “but I hope our organizations can collaborate and bring in more members from around the state.”
The Chairman's Award for Economic Impact will be held
May 10th at the Oklahoma History Center
800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive