April 2019 Chairman's Perspective
By Brad Rickelman
What a pleasure to have our Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell speak to the Oklahoma Venture Forum in March. While we are focused day in and out improving the ecosystem for entrepreneurs in Oklahoma, it is heartening to have our government’s highest positions filled with entrepreneurs. I also appreciate your taking the time to complete our survey for the forum.
Hopefully I was not conspicuous in my absence. I was awarded a fellowship to travel to Thailand by the US Department of State. We were working on improving entrepreneurship education in their vocational college business incubators (much like I work with in the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech). Perhaps surprisingly, they have much the same issues with their students and programming as we in Oklahoma. The country of Thailand was a beautiful place, with weather basically like Houston in July all year around. So if you enjoy very hot, very humid, weather, Thailand is your place. Luckily I was not caught in a hotel conference room the entire visit, and was able to take advantage of their hospitality.
One area the Thai are focusing on is increasing tourist and tourism based entrepreneurship businesses. Many younger Thai feel this is a great way to start a service business, and there is great demand from tourists to view more of their beautiful country.
Tourism is a major industry in Oklahoma as well and one we often underestimate. Even in Thailand, people asked me about the buffalo or the Native American tribes. So our state brand is very strong. But we all know that Oklahoma is not just wind and buffalo. It has a strong business climate. We all need to see ourselves as ambassadors of Oklahoma and Oklahoma business.
In April, our speaker will be Dr. Craig Watters from the Oklahoma State University Global Social Entrepreneurship Institute. He will speak about some of their programming throughout the world. This will be a good opportunity to hear about some of the very practical and useful programming through our state research universities.
I look forward to seeing you – and a guest! – at an upcoming OVF event. Remember that if you have someone you feel should attend one of our events, and you cannot afford to bring them as a guest, tell me and I will make it happen.