Receive great articles like these right in your inbox each month: SUBSCRIBE NOW
Want to know more about how to subscribe to our RSS feed? CLICK HERE
Jennifer McGrail, Executive Director
Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology
From the shopping cart to the parking meter, through some of the most recent lifesaving treatments, innovation is no April Fool’s joke in Oklahoma! I am thrilled to invite you all to the upcoming April Power Pitch Lunch of the Oklahoma Venture Forum. Our April event brings a great lineup of companies currently solving complex problems and bring disruptive technologies to market.
Finally, I want to remind our members that our entrepreneurial ecosystem is growing rapidly, and we are always looking for new ways to add value and support to our community. If you have any feedback, ideas, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any member of our board. You can also submit ideas via the OVF Wishlist.
I look forward to seeing you all on April 12th for another exciting Oklahoma Venture Forum lunch!
OVF Chair, 2022-2023
Tim BurgEconomic DeveloperMoore Norman Technology Center
Timothy A. Burg currently serves as the Economic Developer for the Moore Norman Technology Center, a position he has held since August of 2021.
Prior to that he was the Economic Development Director for Shawnee Forward, a business alliance formed by the merger of the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation, (SEDF) and the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce.
In his role as an economic developer his duties often include new Business and Industry Attraction, Retail Recruitment, and oversight of the Business Retention and Expansion program. He is also active in areas of Workforce Development, Economic Development Marketing, Property Management, Research and analyzing data used in the economic development profession.
Prior to assuming his duties with Moore Norman and Shawnee Forward, for a decade Burg was the Executive Director for the SEDF where he was managed a team of local business leaders that has been credited with assisting local manufacturers in making new capital investments, through facility expansions and modernization, which has led to significantly increased employment levels. In addition, during the ten years with the SEDF, that organization was a catalyst for recruitment of new industries, the development of several large retail projects, and attracting numerous national retailers to the community.
Prior to joining the SEDF, for seven years Burg served as the Assistant Director for the Ponca City Development Authority, (PCDA) - a stand-alone 501-C3 public trust. In this capacity, he was recognized for his outstanding business expansion and retention initiatives by Governor Brad Henry, and in 2007 was the recipient of the International Economic Development Council’s Private Public partnership Award.
His blend of expertise and perspective in economic development can be traced to three significant experiences in his career. For eight years, he owned and operated his own general contracting firm and for over twenty-five years, he has been a recognized leader in the field of construction and engineering. Burg was acknowledged nationally for his design/build work.
Burg’s hands on career has allowed him to develop a unique perspective and insight into business operations, manufacturing, real estate development, construction, and renovation processes, along with the inner workings of economic development, from both the volunteer and practitioner outlook. He has over 30 years of experience in economic development, 20 as a paid professional and 10 as a volunteer.
Immediately prior to involvement in economic development, he was the Director of Engineering for Via Christi Oklahoma Regional Medical Center, a 160-bed medical/trauma center in Ponca City. While serving in this position, Burg received national recognition by the American Society of Healthcare Engineers, (ASHE) for his work.
In his tenure, Burg has been exceedingly active in workforce development serving on a state, regional and local level for over seventeen years. Burg also played a key role with the Ponca City Planning Commission board for a period of over ten years. In addition to his numerous civic and professional positions, Burg was awarded recognition as the Chamber of Commerce Ambassador for the Year in 1994 and served as the Chairman/President of the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce in 1996, while continuing to operate his own general contracting firm.
Burg is a 2005 graduate of the Economic Development Institute of the University of Oklahoma, (OU/EDI). He earned designation as Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) in 2006 and is one of only 1200 certified economic developers in the world.
Burg was a board member with the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, for seven years and served on the Oklahoma Baptist University’s College of Business, Board of Executives. For six years he served on the faculty of University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute and for several years served as an instructor at the Community Development Institute with the University of Central Arkansas, in Conway AR.
He and his wife Linda have been married for 38 years, have two grown children, five grandchildren.
Chief Technology Officer
Bobby Rockers is the Chief Technology Officer of Bison Technologies, a software-enabled service company that digitizes oilfield logistics. Starting in 2019 to solve the problem of using paper ticket books to keep track of work orders, Bison Technologies has since added dispatching, price booking, and integration to ERPs, growing the company to over 200 employees, including 50 engineers. Rockers is passionate about building the technology ecosystem in Oklahoma and believes the lack of experienced tech startups that can scale is a problem.
“One of the problems that we continually run into is the lack of experienced tech startups that have been able to scale and to get to that point where they get approached for external funding and actually just take off,” said Bobby Rockers. “And the reason for that is usually not the reason that people think.”
Rockers explained the state needs experienced fast-growing startups that can act as force multipliers for the next generation of startups. Many other communities with thriving tech ecosystems began with a company that was able to grow and scale fast. The experience gained from those companies created a culture of mentorship and development for future tech startups. Although Oklahoma has had some successful tech startups, the lack of mentorship and development opportunities means a gap in the state’s tech ecosystem. Rockers believes Bison Technologies has gained significant experience and can help mentor and develop future tech companies in Oklahoma.
“It’s incumbent upon us, people like the Bison Technologies of the world, to get involved and to just help people not run into the same roadblocks, to push them to move quickly, to understand the trade-offs of the things they’re doing so that they’ve got the opportunity to know that what they’re doing will actually work and that they can be successful at it.”
To build a flourishing tech ecosystem, Rockers said it’s essential for startups to expand and connect with people in other markets. However, the startup culture in Oklahoma can be isolating.
“Collectively, we have those resources,” said Rockers. “It’s just a matter of opening ourselves up as a whole to those resources so that the developers have the chance to be successful.”
Rockers said OVF could be a catalyst for the change we need to see in Oklahoma, but we’re going to be hamstrung by our ability to grow if we can’t grow a vibrant, specifically tech-focused startup culture.
“The group that’s there has the collective resources to be the mentors and the gatekeepers and the resources to make that community vibrant and successful. And that’s what I hope to get out of it is that the people who come out of there come away with the passion and the desire and the intensity to say, ‘Hey, we can do this, and this is something that can change the skyline of Oklahoma for the next hundred years.’”
Bobby Rockers will speak to Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch members on Wednesday, March 8, 2023. The event will be held at The Venue at Crew Work Space in Downtown Oklahoma City from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm and will be open to members and guests both in-person and virtually via ZOOM. Rockers said communities such as OVF are essential, and we should leverage each other.
“It’s the serendipity of people from different backgrounds and stuff running into each other and coming up with new ideas and making those connections and saying, ‘Hey, I know a guy that does social media stuff. You probably should talk to them.’ Or, ‘Hey, I know somebody who’s been able to get auto-scaling for ten million+ customers at a reasonable price.” Or, ‘Oh, I know somebody who’s had problems with product market fit in this particular thing. Let me hook you up with somebody that’s got product experience.’ And so I think that that’s important. And initiatives like OVF and the Tech Plus Plus events and some of the work that Techlahoma is doing is super important, and we need to expand that, and in some cases professionalize that.”
CEO & Founder
BaB (Big Ass Bag)
Jenae Goodin is the founder and CEO of Big Ass Bag, which instills confidence in the online shopping experience through a universal shopping bag that allows users to add different items, from different stores, all in one place, a Big Ass Bag. She was inspired in December 2021 when online shopping online for her youngest daughter.
After owning her own boutique fitness studio and then spending 5 years working in IT alongside the Chief Information Officer, Jenae began working with University STEM students to turn their research into a business. She then had the idea to apply her expertise to solving her own problem and founded her own startup Big Ass Bag.
Jenae was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but is a native of Oklahoma, and has attended University of Tulsa and University Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, aerial arts, listening to podcasts, and of course, shopping online.
Bab instills confidence in the online shopping experience through a universal shopping cart that allows users to add different items from different stores, all in one place, in a Big Ass Bag. Those making purchasing decisions can compare products, curate a collection, and save selections when shopping online. Since launch in May 2022, Bab has organically acquired 150 beta downloads.
Attend the Power Lunch
Chief Product and Technology Officer
Accomplished visionary and technology leader with 15+ years in product development, scaling technical teams, and implementing large scale SaaS applications. A results-oriented executive, enthusiastic about improving organizations’ market presence. Endorsed for a democratic leadership style, keen eye for the big picture vision, and the ability to execute. A proven leader with a passion for helping people solve complex problems with software solutions.
I excel at consulting with senior business leaders to create and refine a technical vision then dissect that with my teams to execute on the vision. I have extensive experience managing multiple large-scale applications and infrastructures, teams of product managers, developers, and IT experts. Over the course of my career, my responsibilities have included formulating, scheduling, assisting and reviewing team members’ progress, creation of product lines, maintenance of multi-million-dollar budgets, implementing complex enhancements, and releasing updated versions of software packages.
Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology
Our calendars are soon set to turn to March. Of course, as someone with that last name of McGrail, that quickly reminds me that St. Patrick’s Day is soon around the bend. When I think of this observance, my mind immediately starts to ponder the word luck. For our entrepreneurs and innovators, we often hear them describe successful journeys with this word thrown into the mix. Yet, every time I hear the phrase, I like to say I believe in luck in the manner Thomas Jefferson described it and that is, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
Our March OVF Power lunch will be full of descriptions of this kind of luck, and you won’t want to miss it. Bobby Rockers with Bison Technologies will join us to describe how they are actively working to build a technology startup ecosystem here in Oklahoma and Jeane Goodin with BaB will tell you how she is disrupting the online shopping industry by simplifying the shopping process. We look forward to seeing you on March 8, 2023.
Make sure to get your reservation in while seats are still open. Also, please invite anyone you know that might be interested in seeing how local entrepreneurs are creating luck through their hard work building innovation here in Oklahoma.
May 18th, 2023 | 11:00 AM - 1:30 PM | Oklahoma History Center
The OVF Awards are prestigious entrepreneurial recognition that represent the triumph of the Oklahoma entrepreneurial dream and spirit.
The Oklahoma Venture Forum, as a means of publicly recognizing the achievements of successful Oklahoma businesses, has produced
the awards since 1989.
Mike Beckham, Chief Executive Officer of Simple Modern
Categories & Participating Sponsors
Venture of the Year
Most Promising New Venture | Presented by
Oklahoma Business Incubator Association
Entrepreneurial Champion | Presented by
Oklahoma Innovative Technology Alliance (OITA)
Incubator Tenant | Presented by
Oklahoma Business Incubator Association
Reserve Your Seat
Director | AXIS
Francis Tuttle Technology Centers
Cara Jane Evans has a long standing career in the Oklahoma CareerTech system where she currently serves as the Director of AXIS, the business incubator powered by Francis Tuttle Technology Center. Formerly she was at Autry Technology Center specializing in innovation, economic development, business consulting, and entrepreneurship. She has taught business and technology courses at several other technology centers and junior colleges. In the private equity and Oklahoma startup ecosystem, she remotely manages deal flow for EncompassFSI/Private Partners Opportunity Fund which has participated and invested in companies in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.
Cara holds degrees from Oklahoma State University and Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She has held leadership roles in professional organizations like the Oklahoma Business Incubator Association, SMPS and Main Street. She currently is involved with the Oklahoma Academy, OKPACE, Oklahoma Venture Forum, and the Oklahoma Venture Advisory Council.
She is a business coach and graphic facilitator in addition to having started and operated several ventures of her own. Her areas of expertise include marketing, innovative processes, strategic planning and the business model canvas. Prior to her roles in CareerTech, Cara worked in construction management and sustainability.
February Pitch Presenter
Rian Libich, Stable Pay
Stable Pay is a crypto payment processor that offers a solution to the cannabis industry looking for a simple way to conduct everyday business.
Stable Pay is a disruptive and innovative technology company based on point of sale and inventory management systems. Crypto and cloud-based accounting and storage make Stable Pay unique. The result is a level of stability and flexibility for traditional business, as well as stigmatized ones, such as the cannabis industry. During this time, we will focus on the cannabis and cannabis related industries. These industries are prime for this product as there is no other product that is as user friendly, directly made for, and as efficient as our product in its conceptual state. In a stigmatized or criminalized state, now is the ideal time for disruptions and innovations in the Point-of-Sale and inventory management segments. This software will ensure that information is properly tracked and accurately recorded.
Attend the February 8th Power Lunch
Jeff Seymour | Building Back a Better Oklahoma
Oklahoma City has a rich history in the bioscience industry and economy, dating back to organizations such as the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). To further develop the bioscience sector in the state, a group of partners, including the Oklahoma City Chamber, came together to explore the possibility of creating a bioscience corridor between Norman, Oklahoma City, and Stillwater. However, over time, the organization recognized the need to reexamine its model and focus on external storytelling and local support.
As part of this process, the organization brought in local expert Gene Hopper of Mettise to conduct a grassroots analysis of bioscience opportunities in Oklahoma. This analysis coincided with the launch of the Economic Development Administration's Build Back Better program, which aims to fund projects expanding capacity and addressing domestic challenges in various industries.
“Through a collaboration of many, many community partners, including the innovation district, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, Echo Investment Capital, I mean so many partners, I'm not going to give you all of them, but so many partners, Stephenson Cancer Center, really conceptualized eight projects we thought would sort of lend themselves to expanding the bioscience capacity of the region but also meeting some domestic challenges that we saw inhibiting Oklahoma's growth and the nation's growth in this space,” said Jeff Seymour, Executive Vice President of Economic Development for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
Jeff Seymour has been working in economic development since 2006. He started out studying business at a junior college in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, and had the opportunity to intern at the Blackwell Chamber, where he discovered his passion for economic development and community engagement. He has held several economic development positions, including his current role as a leader of the Oklahoma City Chamber, where he leads business recruitment, helps existing businesses grow and be sustainable, and leads research on retail recruitment, aerospace support, and innovation. Seymour is particularly passionate about the work he does in innovation and inclusive economic development.
The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber is a unique organization that serves as an economic and community development leader. They go beyond the traditional role of a Chamber of Commerce and focus on economic development leadership, community development leadership, and overall community enhancement. They are an umbrella organization with various functional areas such as economic development, government relations, marketing and events, education, convention and visitors bureau, and criminal justice.
“We do a lot of things that really says, ‘What does the landscape of Oklahoma City look like today?’” said Seymour. “Where can we and should we exert influence with the power of our memberships and our investors in our community partnerships? And how can we make Central Oklahoma better?’”
As the analysis for OKBio was concluding, the EDA Build Back Better regional challenge grants had come online. Their grant proposal was successful, and the group was awarded one of 60 phase-one grants out of 529 applicants. This grant has allowed them to examine several projects further and determine which ones should move forward to phase two. The grant's focus is primarily on capacity building in the region, aiming to promote growth in the bioscience industry.
“Four are in partnership with the University of Oklahoma,” Seymour summarized. “Those are bio startup programs, reaching deep into the community to find new founders and ideas, bringing those to market. Bioprocessing core facility, which is a partnership with the OU Engineering department to produce both a stronger talent pipeline, but also a stronger partnership between industry and the university to bring IP to the market. Center for Development Therapeutics and a clinical trial center. Those are two projects at Stephenson Cancer Center. And then a bioscience workforce, biopharmaceutical workforce training center in partnership with the innovation district that will be housed inside Innovation Hall.”
Jennifer Hankins will join Seymour from Tulsa in a panel discussion on the Build Back Better grants. Jennifer Hankins serves as Chief of Strategic Partnerships for Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL). She joined the team in January 2020 and brought with her nearly ten years of direct economic development experience. Working to convene myriad stakeholders across multiple industries, she is responsible for helping shape TIL’s strategic direction, organization, mission, investments and, in particular, is responsible for securing and managing its cross-sector partnerships with corporations, philanthropies, and other entities.
“I think what I'm hoping to share is that A, give a little bit more of a sneak peek behind-the-scenes on what's embedded in this Build Back Better grant,” said Seymour. “What I think we're trying to do right now is continue to foster opportunities for partnership. One of the things that has been really prevalent in our conversations around the bioscience industry is that so much of the IP and patent creation that's occurred has been on the research side. It's at the research institution's side. And we really want to continue to use this as a catalyst to foster private sector partnerships.”
The panel discussion for Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch members will take place on Wednesday, February 8, 2023. The event will be held at The Venue at Crew in Downtown Oklahoma City from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm and will be open to members and guests both in-person and virtually via ZOOM. Seymour said OVF is one of the vehicles for us to build community and share ideas to see and get a peek behind the tent on what's going on in the economy.
“Everything we all do is about community,” said Seymour. “Hopefully to think about some of the things that are coming at us that are next generation. And I think a chance for us to have collaborations among funders and founders to also think about ways that we can deploy capital and support the overall ecosystem.”
Register here to attend the February 8th OVF Power Lunch
HomeMembershipCurrent MembersPitch PresentersEvents
Call or Email Us
Office: +1 (405) 604-4775
PO Box 1701
Oklahoma City , OK, 73101