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How does an Oklahoma organization anticipate its 90th birthday? In the case of the Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma, it stays true to the core values established in 1930 while continually adapting its services to the business community. “Transparency is one of the core values of our business,” says Kitt Letcher, the CEO and President of the Bureau. “And our standards of trust must be met before a business can earn BBB accreditation. But we’re also really trying to transform our image to business owners.”
Transparency may be the best known characteristic of the BBB model: “The bbb.org website is a free resource that absolutely anybody can use,” says the CEO. “Consumers can look up businesses and know that both positive and negative reviews are actually vetted by our organization. The business owner sees and can respond to the reviews.”
But posting such comments online is only the beginning. “Out of negative experiences is where most of our opportunity lies,” says Ms. Letcher. “That’s as true when we receive negative feedback about the BBB as it is when any other business fields a complaint.”
So how does CEO Letcher define opportunity? “When we look at records from businesses receiving more than 3 complaints a year, we may see a pattern. If we feel like we can help, we reach out to the business and offer solutions.”
Sometimes, though, the businesses are the ones reaching out to the BBB. “When I came on board in 2013,” says Letcher, “one of the biggest things I heard from businesses was, ‘I get accredited; I get a bill; I pay the money, then I never hear from you again.’”
“That’s not what we want,” she says. So the CEO looked at the core value of trust and transformed it into something bigger.
“We started offering Trust Talks™ this past April,” she says. “We survey our business owners and then find special speakers to address areas of concern. Coming up, we will do 2020 Planning.”
Letcher has already done her planning for next year. In 2020 she and her team will launch a peer program and an ambassador program.
“I’m super excited about these programs,” she says. “With the peer program, we pull together eight to ten business owners and put them in a group.”
The day of the peer program will begin with a specially designed curriculum to address specific small business issues. The afternoon will include a round table discussion.
“Because this will be a confidential setting, business owners will be able to bring to the table an issue they’re currently working on. Then someone else in the group might say, ‘This is how I solved that problem.’ Keep in mind that that advice is not a theoretical statement; it’s coming from experience.”
For businesses in far flung parts of Oklahoma, Kitt offers an alternative program. “We cover about 70% of the state,” she says, “but it’s difficult for us to have a physical presence in all the communities where we have accredited businesses.”
“Next year, host businesses in places like Ada, Shawnee, Stillwater and Guymon will begin offering monthly meetings for other accredited businesses in their area.”
“There will be at least one tangible takeaway from each meeting, whether it’s the best way to respond to a complaint or how to increase customer reviews. It will also be a networking opportunity.”
“We’re really trying to transform our image to business owners. We want them to see us as a resource for helping and/or stabilizing their businesses.”
Earlier this month OVF hosted Philip kurtz with CareATC and LB Dahle with ePathScreens.
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Host Organization: Oklahoma Venture Forum
Event title: OVF Power Lunch "The Exit Strategy"
Event type: Success Speaker & Pitch Presentation
Event date & time: October 9th, 11:30 am-1:00 pm
Link to registration: Attend
Host Organization: Moore Norman Technology Center
Event title: 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity
Event type: Lunch & Learn
Event date & time: 7 Nov 1130A -130P
Link to registration: https://enrollment.mntc.edu/short-term-classes/lunch-learn-franklin-coveys-5-choices-extraordinary-productivity
Event title: OVF Power Lunch Local Business & Education Technology
Event date & time: November 13th, 11:30 am-1:00 pm
Host Organization: Moore Norman Technology Center (South Penn Campus)
Event title: Franklin Covey’s 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity: One Day Essentials
Event type: Workshop
Event date & time: Friday November 15, 2019 830A – 400P
Link to registration: https://enrollment.mntc.edu/short-term-classes/franklin-coveys-5-choices-extraordinary-productive-one-day-essentials
Event title: OVF After Hours
Event type: Networking & Presentation
Event date & time: Nov. 21, 2019 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Link to registration: LINK
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We are eager to begin the 2019-2020 session.
Oklahoma Venture Forum is a membership-based business organization dedicated to fostering new and existing small business ventures in Oklahoma. Membership in the Oklahoma Venture Forum is essential for any business, organization, group or individual involved in economic development on a local, state or national level.
Memberships have helped us accomplish so much.
This year we will be able to once again provide sponsorship of important community events, and contests that share our goals of fostering new and existing business ventures and the entrepreneurial spirit in Oklahoma.
We have developed a new media marketing presence that includes short video interviews, podcasts and other products used to promote, Main Speakers, Pitch Presenters and member growth.
This year we will host main speakers and pitch presentations with topics including Early Development - Teen Founders, The Importance of an Exit, and Managing Multiple Funding Sources.
Join Oklahoma business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs for networking, new business opportunities and informative stories of success from all over our great state. Monthly OVF Power Lunches are a great way to meet and learn from each other all while fostering a better business future for Oklahoma. This is the best hour per month anyone can spend in pursuit of opportunity and connection with like-minded professionals.
Each OVF Power Lunch offers a combination of peer-to-peer conversation, Pitch Presentations of viable business scenarios (not just potential) and Success Story presentations full of real-world specifics that inform and engage all attending.
Along with our monthly Power Lunches, OVF members receive the added value of attending private events, access to the member directory on our website, receiving curated business information via our email newsletter, member spotlights, our podcast/video series and social media mentions along with sponsorship and marketing opportunities.
Your highest potential ROI is membership in OVF.
Please consider how much more you could do for OVF by becoming a member.
If you have any questions about membership options or the renewal process I hope that you will reach out to me, I am always happy to help.
Daniel Will is the Executive Director of Cowboy Technologies where he directs the strategy and activities of the company. Cowboy Technologies was organized in 2011 as a for-profit, limited-liability company owned by the OSU Research Foundation to be a catalyst for commercializing Oklahoma State University technology through successful startup companies. Through OSU researcher collaboration, Daniel and his team scan for and progress technologies that have a strong, commercially viable product-market fit. Cowboy Technologies provides business advising, sponsored research funding for technologies still at OSU, seed capital investment funding in operational startups, capital raise preparation and positioning, non-dilutive state and federal funding assistance, and access to scalable business facilities and amenities. Previous to joining Cowboy Technologies, Daniel worked for Agilent Technologies, Inc., a Fortune 500 life science and electronic diagnostics technology company, serving in a variety of roles including business development, product planning, marketing, sales, distribution channel manager, and product line manager. Daniel received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Kansas State University and his MBA at the University of Colorado.
Cowboy Technologies Mission and Strategy
Cowboy Technologies was organized in 2011 as a for-profit, limited-liability company owned by the OSU Research Foundation to be a catalyst for commercializing Oklahoma State University's technology through successful startup companies. Cowboy Technologies collaborates with the OSU Research Foundation’s Technology Development Center and OSU’s researchers to identify technologies that have commercial interest and viability, and progress them to later stages of development that will meet market needs. It works closely with developers and entrepreneurial leaders to develop business models and go-to-market plans, and provide ongoing business advisory services to the team. Cowboy Technologies additionally provides sponsored research investment for technology development while still at OSU, and seed capital investment in startups entering into operations with licensed OSU technology. It also positions startups to raise new capital form aligned investment partners while also helping identify and apply for state and federal government sources of non-dilutive funding. Finally, Cowboy Technologies helps enable startups with access to first class, scalable business facilities and amenities in Stillwater and the region.
ePathScreen, LLC is a medical devices development company that holds patented technology for intelligent, cell recognition software used in cancer screening and diagnosis. Relying on proprietary algorithms, the software offers a true paradigm shift replacing human subjectivity with AI technological objectivity, self-learning, including improved accuracy and speed of delivery.
The ePathScreen software won the prestigious University Startup World Cup as the best in category as well as overall world winner, held in Denmark. The company is currently preparing for clinical trials with third-party validation preparatory to FDA approval, after which the software will be taken to market.
L.B. Dahle, CEO and Founder
After earning an undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University in pre-med and international business, L.B. completed graduate studies in management, marketing and finance at OSU, Boise State, and international studies at Columbia University. He founded a company while in graduate school before transitioning to insurance. He was rapidly promoted and became area vice president and eventually president of an international division for PFSI, a $4 Billion insurance group (ultimately acquired by CONSECO), and thereafter Division President (domestic) for States General. He is a former Member, International Insurance Council.
After semi-retirement, he consulted with businesses under 100 Million in revenues in 16 different industries, ultimately founding his own consulting firm (LBDahle Enterprises) which he continues to operate. His consulting practice evolved into L.B. serving as interim or permanent CEO for different clients' companies. Since 2017 he has been affiliated with ePathScreen. He has a passion for health and fitness, having lost two family members and several close friends to cancer. L.B. is married with five children. He loves time with family, reading, research, analytics, travel, and sports of all kinds.
After a 30 year journey, Philip Kurtz found his exit.
“When I got to CareATC,” says Kurtz of the company he recently exited, “it was like everything I’d done in my life had prepared me for this particular job. I believed if I could blend a lot of the tools I’d learned over the last 30 years, I could have a major impact.”
Those skill sets enabled Kurtz to grow a successful population health management company. At the October 9 OVF Power Lunch, he will outline key stops that need to be added to your itinerary long before you reach your exit. The easy to remember checklist includes momentum, market, and management.
“Your company must have momentum,” says Kurtz, who describes CareATC as a growth company. “I spent a lot of time on due diligence before I arrived at CareATC and the company wasn’t doing too poorly. But they didn’t have a lot of disciplines in place.”
So Kurtz set about implementing a budget and producing financial statements. By doing so, he was following an important ‘rule of the road.’ “One of the lessons I’ve learned is stick to what you know. When you stray from what you know, you may think that you can know it, but if you don’t have the time to learn it, you make a lot of mistakes.” In Kurtz’s case, staying with the familiar meant utilizing accounting practices as well as skills in data analytics applied to the health care field. (Two prior companies, Benefit Informatics and CIS Technologies, laid the groundwork for his most recent venture.)
Kurtz’s efforts put CareATC in the fast lane; today the population health management company cares for more than 250,000 patients through its partnership with 150 clients in 35 states. “The time to exit your company is when it’s in a growth mode,” says Kurtz.
Timing is also critical in another key area. “Investors want to see a big market,” says Kurtz. “If you are outperforming your peers, it drives strong valuation for your exit.”
So how big is CareATC’s market? It’s not all about the aforementioned statistics. CareATC tailors health care to the specific needs of employees. When CareATC partners with a company, it reduces the overall costs of healthcare while providing on-site clinics that offer opportunities for disease prevention and/or intervention. How many employers would like to save money while promoting a healthier workforce?
But before the momentum can be increased and the market can be addressed, management needs to be in place. This is another area where Philip Kurtz likes to stick with what he knows. “I’ve made really good friends with my management team,” he says. In fact, some of them have accompanied Kurtz on his 30 year journey.
“Everyone’s heard that with real estate, it’s all about location, location, location,” says the serial entrepreneur. “Well, when investors are looking at your business, it’s all about management, management, management.”
“If investors see chemistry in your management team, it’s infectious. That’s how important it is.”
“I’ve been in several companies,” says Kurtz. “A graceful exit from one company helps you establish credibility with the financial community.”
“What that means is it’s a little easier to get capital when you go back and knock on an investor’s door. Plus, other people are interested in coming on board.”
The exit from CareATC is bittersweet for Kurtz, who admits, “It’s hard to leave because I still have so much passion for the company.”
“But I want to spend time with my family. And I am pleased that the exit was successful and our investors received a very good financial return. The time to leave a company is when you would rather stay.”
September 26th at OVF After Hours held at BBB of Central OK
56:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Register to Attend
Dave King has been involved in high-tech entrepreneurialism since entering MIT in 1993. While still an undergraduate, he worked on one of the first voice-over-IP consumer telephony products, years before Skype. After graduating, he joined Active Control Experts, a startup that used a patented process to embed piezoelectric circuits in sports equipment, leading to the K2 Smart Ski, one of the bestselling skis in the United States for over 3 years. He then joined SynQor, Inc as the 13th employee. Over his 12 years at SynQor he helped to grow the company from the small startup it was in 1999 to a 200+ person international company with almost $100M in revenue by 2011. Mr. King designed and developed SynQor’s manufacturing shop floor tracking software platform, which was the first completely paperless component-level tracking system of its kind, receiving numerous accolades from customers like Cisco Systems, Intel, EMC, Compaq and deemed “best in class” by Nortel Networks. After three years managing the Software Development and Information Technology Team at SynQor, Mr. King shifted positions to focus on architecting large-scale, extensible, database driven systems. Seeing a need in the market for more generalizable and cross-disciplinary data application platforms, he resigned from SynQor in 2011 to found Exaptive, Inc.
This event sponsored by
Venture of the Year Award and Most Promising New Business Awards are two of the most prestigious recognition a company can receive. They represent the triumph of the entrepreneurial dream and spirit.
The Oklahoma Venture Forum, as a means of publicly recognizing the achievements of successful Oklahoma businesses, has produced the awards biennially since 1989.
The Oklahoma Venture Forum is looking to you for nominations. We hope that you will share this invitation and application.
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