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  • April 01, 2021 3:56 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    I need to improve my Elevator Pitch, what do you recommend?

    Written by Henry Dumas
    Business Coach, Moore Norman Technology Center

    An elevator pitch is a conversation, or an ice breaker, that will (hopefully) lead into a deeper dialogue about what you and your company can offer. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20-30 seconds—hence the name—and focuses on what are you doing now. It should be simple enough that someone could reel it off at any time—and memorable enough that people will listen. To improve, or create, an elevator speech follow these tips:

    • Answer the right question. The typical starting point for giving your elevator pitch is the question, “What do you do?” Don’t answer that question, at least not directly. Instead, assume you have been asked the question “Tell me what you do for your customers.” That’s what they really want to know, and it’s the best way to show what you do, vs. describing how you do it.

    • Be conversational. The goal is not to talk at someone but with someone. Pause after the first few sentences for the other person to comment or ask questions. A successful pitch is where the other person relaxes and says, “Interesting. Tell me more.”

    • Use simple, everyday language. The goal is to have the listener understand your company. Avoid jargon and industry-specific terms. A good exercise when you think you have the perfect elevator speech is to re-read and cross out every word that sounds remotely like a buzz word and replace it with a more simple, direct word.

    • Start with an introduction of the company and then talk about what it can mean for the listener. Avoid starting the conversation with bragging points or product features -- “We are the leading provider with 54 offices in 29 countries.” Reserve that information for the end of the elevator speech, after the customer is interested in the conversation.

    • Provide relevant examples. Have at least two or three different examples of a current or past customers and what you achieved for them in quantifiable terms. Choose one example that would be the most meaningful to the listener. This will bring your value proposition to life and make it real.

    • Practice, practice and then practice some more. Test it on someone who is not intimate with the company and will give your honest feedback. Remember the goal is to make someone else understand your company.

    • Make eye contact, smile, be energetic and be engaged. Pull them in with your words, as well as your physical reaction and emotions as you tell your story. (This is where practice pays off.)

    • Follow the golden rule. An easy way to test your elevator speech is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Would you enjoy talking to someone if they used the same approach about a different company, or would you push the button for the closest floor? Better yet, recall when this has happened to you and be determined not to repeat the same mistake.

    • Make your elevator speech evolve. Modify the speech based on feedback, verbal and nonverbal, and engagement. If the listener’s eyes glaze over or they walk away, your elevator speech needs work. Evaluate if it was the introduction, explanation, example or delivery and continue to modify your speech. You will see and feel it when your customer is engaged and know that you have created a great elevator speech.

    ATTEND The April Power Lunch

  • April 01, 2021 3:54 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Robert Gay
    Otos Wealth Systems

    Robert W Gay founded RWG Investment Counsel in 2013 to provide investor clients with access to the superior investment returns created from proprietary corporate performance metrics. Identifying changes in company fundamentals related to growth, financial condition, cash flow and investing is the key to stock performance.

    Bob created the OTOS team in 2013 to create an opportunity for people to gain access to the tremendous investment value of keeping up with company fundamentals. By aggregating into portfolios associated with mutual funds, exchange traded funds and private accounts, these metrics can be deployed to make asset allocation, mutual fund selection and ETF selection decisions.

    The OTOS development team is creating a whole new realm of financial management. Through the dynamic visualization of the historical company data record, investors create strategies and play what-if games in the stock market. Experience, education and insight gleaned from this game-play empower people to take more control of their investments.

    ATTEND

  • April 01, 2021 3:52 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Nathaniel Harding 
    Managing Partner, Cortado Ventures

    Cortado Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm investing in ambitious growth-driven companies to define a new generation of economic prosperity in Oklahoma.

    We exist to build a legacy of great technology companies that will add to Oklahoma’s economic renaissance. The companies we invest in on Day 1 will look very different on Day 2. We believe in investing in smart and ambitious entrepreneurs who leverage technology to scale quickly. We target specific industries based on Oklahoma's historical strengths, including Insurtech, Fintech, Biotech, Aerospace, Ag Tech, Medical Devices, Energy Tech, and Weather.

    We believe Cortado Ventures is ideally positioned to help entrepreneurs create shared wins. Our greatest strength is our seasoned CEO leadership with each member of the General Partner having successfully led innovative companies through transformation.

    Nathaniel Harding is Managing Partner of Cortado Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm investing in growth-driven technology companies. He is also Board Member for Antioch Energy. He is an accomplished senior executive, entrepreneur, technologist, thought leader, and community advocate. Nathaniel was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and a Most Admired CEO in Oklahoma by the Journal Record. Previously, he and his partner developed a midcontinent resource play which they sold in 2013 for $120M. His broad areas of expertise include operational strategy, financial modeling, statistical analysis, leveraging big data, connecting science with commercial strategy, energy, fundraising, and public speaking.

    Nathaniel graduated cum laude from the University of Oklahoma with Russian Language and Mechanical Engineering degrees, and earned an MBA from Oklahoma City University. Before turning 30, he was selected to all three “40 under 40” outstanding achiever lists in the state. He is a decorated Air Force Captain and veteran of Afghanistan, where he was embedded with the US/NATO headquarters in collaboration with the Afghan government. Nathaniel has published in multiple industry publications in the US and China, the latter as part of his Beijing-based joint venture with major Chinese companies.

    Throughout his career, Nathaniel has collaborated across diverse community networks to solve local challenges. The Governor appointed him Chair of the Council on Workforce and Economic Development, managing $20M/year to train and connect the most vulnerable Oklahomans to employment. In 2010 the Mayor appointed Nathaniel to oversee $777M in city infrastructure and quality-of-life projects. He is a trustee for several organizations impacting education, economic opportunity, health and social equity, in addition to mentoring students in STEM fields. He has been a Miss Oklahoma judge, track national champion, Russian orphanage translator, political party National Vice Chairman, and local TV talk show host.

  • April 01, 2021 3:48 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

     

    Jay Martin
    Martin Bionics

    Improving Comfort and Lives in Prosthetics 
    Written by Dennis Spielman

    During Jay Martin’s early days of his clinical work in prosthetics, he learned his patients’ functional abilities were limited not as much by their amputation as by the lack of technology available in the field. With his love of inventing, Martin saw an opportunity to advance the field of prosthetics to provide more comfort, more functional abilities, and quality of life back to amputees.

    “We think of prosthetics as being a very high-tech field, there are some great advancements have been made in recent years, artificial intelligence and new control systems and robotic devices, but prosthetics, in my opinion, has really been a very stagnant field, and it’s very much in its infancy still,” said Jay Martin, founder of Martin Bionics. “I’d argue the vast majority of amputees, quality of life with prosthetics is but a shadow of what it could or should be if technology were further along.”

    While Martin believes features like better control systems and better sensors are significant, the greater good revolves around socket comfort. The socket is the part of the prosthetic that the body interfaces with, and Martin compares conventional sockets to feeling like wooden clogs.

    As Martin set out to improve the quality of life aspects in the prosthetics field, he got an opportunity to work with NASA on three different exoskeleton programs. One was an Iron Man suit for special ops SEAL Team Six, another was a fabric-based exoskeleton, and the third was an exoskeleton for astronauts.

    “With all three programs, they were all very challenging in their own regards,” said Martin. “We created kind of what became the foundation for what we have now as the socket-less socket technology, which is our main product line. And really what I developed was I developed an understanding and awareness of how to connect man and machine with compliant, dynamic materials in a way that would achieve maximum comfort, but also maximum control and stability within the device.”

    Compared to conventional prosthetics, the technology at Martin Bionics more modular. Their modular sub-components can be assembled with simple hand tools to fit and match the user. Martin said this bypass much of the fabrication processes needed to make conventional prosthetics, allowing them to fit their sockets faster, more efficiently, and effectively.

    “We have a new generation of technology that we’re working on right now that expedites that process even further,” said Martin. “We’re already leaps and bounds faster than conventional fitting methods to achieve and can achieve greater results, but where we’re going is making it just faster and more efficient.”

    One of Martin’s main goals for the company is an outreach program to serve patients in developing nations who don’t have access to prosthetics. Martin explained the problem is threefold. Most parts of the world don’t have a trained clinician who has years of experience fitting a hard piece of plastic to the human body. They also don’t have the tools or resources, or lab equipment to fabricate a conventional prosthetic. Lastly, they don’t have the funding to support buying the components.

    “Our technology overcomes all three of those,” said Martin. “The hard cost of making our technology is very scalable. We can train a layperson anywhere in the world to fit our prosthetic technology and to provide a long-lasting, comfortable prosthetic, and we only need simple hand tools. We don’t need expensive fabrication lab equipment. Missionaries will backpack into villages and fit our socket technology on amputees in real-time with simple hand tools and have amazing results.”

    Jay Martin will be speaking at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Martin said he is excited to share with the community some of what’s unfolding for them at Martin Bionics. Be sure to register for the online ZOOM event to learn more about turning around a business, asking your questions, and networking with entrepreneurs in Oklahoma.

    ATTEND

  • March 31, 2021 2:47 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    OKLAHOMA VENTURE FORUM ANNOUNCES THE 2021 ECONOMIC IMPACT, VENTURE OF THE YEAR, AND MOST PROMISING NEW VENTURE AWARD FINALISTS

    Winners to be announced during hybrid awards ceremony.

    Oklahoma Venture Forum will host Oklahoma’s 17th OVF Awards ceremony on May 12th, 2021 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in a hybrid event that will be viewable statewide. This year’s award ceremony features a keynote presentation by Sean Kouplen, Chairman & CEO of Regent Bank, and Immediate Past Secretary of Commerce.

    The OVF Awards incorporate three of the most prestigious recognitions a company can receive because they represent the triumph of the entrepreneurial dream and spirit. Evaluation criteria for the Economic Impact Award, the Venture of the Year Award, and the Most Promising New Venture award is based on: product or service innovation, market potential, potential economic impact, and more.

    Award for Economic Impact

    • The Oklahoma Venture Forum is honored to recognize PPP.Bank for its dedication to small business, and its economic impact in Oklahoma. PPP.Bank is a free, secure resource for small businesses, non-profits, and sole proprietors across the United States who received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and are now applying for forgiveness. 
    Venture of the Year Finalists
    • Skydweller Aero Inc. (OKC)- is a US aerospace company developing solar-powered aircraft solutions capable of achieving perpetual flight with unprecedented payload capacity.
    • Datebox, Inc. dba The Happily Company (OKC)- provide people with great at-home date nights, but, in addition, they have added products such as premium experiences and classes with industry leading experts.
    Most Promising New Venture Finalists
    • Respond Flow (TULSA)- an SMS messaging service which allows users to leverage local 10-Digit numbers to schedule and send personalized messages to customers and prospects, while maintaining a personal touch.
    • Watkins-Conti Products, Inc. (EDMOND)- a platform women's healthcare company developing affordable and effective solutions for taboo issues faced by women, specifically, with regard to pelvic health.
    • Drov Technologies (OKC)- utilized their years of expertise related to tire inflation systems to pivot from a tire inflation company to a technology company seeking to provide a full smart truck and trailer solution for the trucking industry.

    “Each year we are impressed by the submissions and look forward to the interview process where we dig deep to learn of each company’s achievements and to get a glimpse at what future innovations they have planned. It is exciting to see impressive new innovations from right here in Oklahoma. Each year the selection process reveals a new group of entrepreneurial pioneers who deserve to be publicly recognized for their achievements. OVF is proud to be the organization who gets to highlight these talents.” explains Che’ Loessberg, Executive Director of Oklahoma Venture Forum.

    The Oklahoma Venture Forum is a non-profit organization formed in 1987. OVF is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurial ecosystems and economic development in Oklahoma. The organization provides opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs, and others to exchange business ideas and experiences to foster growth of new and existing small businesses.

    The 2021 OVF Awards will be a hybrid ceremony hosted online on May 12th, 2021 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The live ceremony will be held at the OU Health Science PHF Conference Center. The live portion of the event is open to OVF members and sponsors, with limited capacity.  Guests are asked to view the event online via Zoom. Please register online through the website: www.ovf.org  to receive the Zoom link and please invite a guest. For inquiries about the awards event, please contact Che’ Loessberg at che@ovf.org.


  • March 02, 2021 1:59 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Join the OVF After Hours Pitch Event

    This online event will feature pitch presentations from three Oklahoma startups. 

    The event is online from 5:30pm-7:00pm.

    Please register for login credentials. 

    Pitch Presenters

    Past Pitch Update:  Allison Conti

    Watkins-Conti Products
    Incontinence products generate $32 billion each year! There is not currently an Over The Counter solution to that eliminates or reduces leaking WHILE addressing the causes of the problem. According to the Urology Care Foundation, at least ONE in THREE women will suffer from some form of incontinence in their life.

    Tracy Zserdin

    Made Possible By
    Made Possible By makes it easier for community minded companies to manage and share their grant, sponsorship and charitable gift requests. We're reinventing the community investment process for companies with an easy to use, online toolset that saves time and money and helps you earn community and customer trust.


    John Galbraith

    Exaeris Water Innovations
    ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER IS VITAL
    Water is essential to everything we do, yet nearly one billion people still don’t have access to clean drinking water. Exaeris has the solution.

    ATTEND

  • March 01, 2021 1:38 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)


    SBA Implements PPP Changes for America’s Mom-and-Pop Businesses

    SBA Prioritizes Smallest of Small Businesses in the Paycheck Protection Program

    Steps to Promote Equitable Relief for Mom-and-Pop Businesses

    February 22, 2021 | Release Number 21-17

    Contact U.S. Small Business Administration at Press_Office@sba.gov

    WASHINGTON – Building on a month of strong results, the Biden-Harris Administration and the U.S. Small Business Administration are taking steps with the Paycheck Protection Program to further promote equitable relief for America’s mom-and-pop businesses. 

    The latest round of Paycheck Protection Program funding opened one month ago and already the Biden Administration has succeeded in making major improvements to the program’s implementation:

    • For businesses with fewer than ten employees, the share of funding is up nearly 60%
    • For businesses in rural communities, the share of funding is up nearly 30%
    • The share of funding distributed through Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions is up more than 40%
       

    “The SBA is a frontline agency working to create an inclusive economy, focused on reaching women-owned, minority-owned, low- and moderate-income, rural, and other underserved communities in meaningful ways. While reported data illustrates we have made real strides in ensuring these funds are reaching underserved communities, we believe we can still do better,” says SBA Senior Advisor Michael Roth. “The important policy changes we are announcing further ensure inclusivity and integrity by increasing access and much-needed aid to Main Street businesses that anchor our neighborhoods and help families build wealth.”  

    These simple progressive steps by the Biden-Harris Administration further demonstrate the commitment to racial and gender equity, reaching low and moderate-income, rural, urban, and other underserved areas. The SBA will:

    • Establish a 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees
    • Allow sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula for these categories of applicants
    • Eliminate an exclusionary restriction on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions, consistent with a bipartisan congressional proposal
    • Eliminate PPP access restrictions on small business owners who have struggled to make federal student loan payments by eliminating federal student loan debt delinquency and default as disqualifiers to participating in the PPP; and
    • Ensure access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP.
       

    The 14-day exclusivity period will start on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 9 a.m., while the other four changes will be implemented by the first week of March. The SBA is working on the program changes and will communicate details throughout this week.

    These actions will help to lay the foundation for a robust and equitable recovery for small businesses across the country. Small businesses employ nearly half of the American workforce; they create 2 out of 3 net new private-sector jobs; they reinvest 68% of revenues to build and sustain communities. Borrowers can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program by downloading the First Draw PPP loan application or Second Draw PPP loan application and working with a participating PPP lender through the SBA Lender Match tool.

    Through SBA’s nationwide district offices, the Agency will work in close partnership with the Administration to further leverage its resource partner network and expand on multilingual access and outreach about the PPP. Updated PPP information, including forms, guidance, and resources is available at www.sba.gov/ppp and www.treasury.gov/cares.

    SEE MORE

  • February 26, 2021 2:22 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

     

    Chairman's Perspective

    Danny Slusarchuk, Standards IT

    Take a look around, Spring is not here yet but it seems like Oklahoma is ready for it and buzzing a bit.  I have noticed some of the depression associated with COVID, politics, and weather is subsiding.  Finding ways to move beyond these hurdles is great for OVF where we continue to cultivate optimists and dreamers.  The Oklahoma economic ecosystem only exists when you get and stay involved.  The OVF awards committee is working full speed on all the exciting applications we received this year.  The executive committee is hard at work even now preparing and rehearsing for the awards event.  Make sure you take the opportunity to invest in OVF by sponsoring this event.  It can be critical for some of our entrepreneurs to be recognized in these stages of their businesses.  The time and money you put into OVF translates to better quality of life for you and your family.  Catch the buzz and make March count big.  Bring a guest to OVF and register for the awards event.

    ATTEND

  • February 22, 2021 1:21 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Martin Lien, Co-founder & CEO, Respond Flow

    Our vision is to make every conversation turn into a meaningful connection. No algorithms, no bots, just the simplicity of texting.

    In a world full of complicated social media algorithms, Frankenstein monsters labelled as AI chatbots, and spammers galore, we decided that there had to be a better way of connecting. That's why we work everyday to make sure Respond Flow enables business to truly connect with their customers, not just "automate them".

    Connection is baked into our history and founding story. Our CEO Martin Lien, faced this challenge as the head of business development in his role at a previous startup. Where traditional communication methods failed him, a well timed, and personalized text made all the difference in truly connecting with his customers.

     ATTEND
  • February 22, 2021 12:58 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

     

    Henry Dumas, Business Coach, Moore Norman Technology Center

    Branding vs. Marketing – And Why Building a Strong Brand Matters

    As entrepreneurs we often find ourselves up against competitors who are better known than we are. They have a better brand that is able to attract more customers and gives them the possibility of setting higher sales prices. But how do we create an authentic and credible brand for ourselves?

    When you start your company, branding is always one of the first things that you work on, even when not doing so consciously. Branding begins the moment you decide to start a company. You set the tone for the company brand with the culture you create, your core values, and your industry vision. Even the savviest logo and visual design cannot override these intangible elements of your brand. The company name, your first logo or brand typography are supporting players in the brand you create through your actions and intentions and those of your employees.

    Brand Distinction

    A brand will have a stronger identity when built on good common sense values as well as values that distinguish the company from its competitors. Your values should provide a contrast and clarify the possibilities of choice for the customer. Customers choose brands when they feel a distinct identification with the company values. The more explicit the values and the stronger the contrast, the easier it is to attract customers.

    To make a brand believable it has to be authentic. An authentic brand is rooted in the real values of the company. It aligns with how a company functions and responds to customers, vendors, the market, even its own employees. Branding is about finding the identity a company already has and ensuring that there is a consistent expression of those values in all aspects of the business, internally and externally.

    One of the best ways to “authenticate” your brand is to take an inventory. Do you have written core values and a vision statement? Do your actions and company decisions align with your values and vision?   Living your brand means behaving according to the brand you say you are and taking powerful actions that let the character of the company shine through.

    Once you feel confident that your company is functioning according to a clearly defined set of values, start developing the outside expression of your brand. What would be the ultimate way to express the brand? What do other companies with your values do? What would tell current or future clients that your company shares their values?

    Branding or marketing?

    Branding is not the same as marketing although there are overlaps. Branding is how your company presents itself. Marketing takes that brand/company presentation to consumers. A well-branded product is easier to market because potential customers already connect with the brand before they even become familiar with the product. 

    Many paths to the strong brand

    A strong brand has many facets: the visual identity, the voice identity, the physical identity, and the attitude identity of the company. The last of these comes from the values and vision, which we have already covered.

    The visual identity reflects the values of the company in a graphical way. Select colors and typographies that best express what the company stands for and compel potential customers. Photos and illustrations should tell the company’s story and support the brand. It is best to employ the services of an expert to create or polish up your visual identity. Even if you have a strong idea of the visual brand for your company, employing a graphic designer to prepare digital files for you up front will save you time and money as you begin using your visual elements in brochures, ads, and on social media.

    The voice identity of the company is in direct continuation of the visual identity. Also called “tone of voice”, your voice identity is about the words you use and the way that you express yourself in your promotional materials. Are you the conservative, experienced company or the young, progressive company? What is the key message in your slogan or headlines? Part of the voice identity is also the names you give your products. Do they have technical names, are the names similar to the company name, and do you use English or foreign names? The voice should “speak” to the audience you are trying to reach.

    A third piece of the branding puzzle is the physical identity of the company. Physical identity deals with how your products are designed and packaged, but also with you and your employees’ physical appearance and attire. Part of your physical identity is also the location and decor you have chosen for your office. All physical aspects of the business should reflect the company’s values to further authenticate the brand.

    Making a difference

    When you run your company authentically, have a good reputation, and give customers a clear vision of who you really are, they are more attracted to your products and your company. Maintaining a consistent brand in all aspects of your company identity - visual, voice, physical, and attitude – builds loyal customers who will become your brand ambassadors and “raving fans”. 

    The topic for the February Power Lunch is Promotion & Marketing Software Technology. 

    OVF Power Lunch

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