Welcome to oklahoma  venture forum

Log in

OVF Blog

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

  • April 09, 2022 4:04 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Congratulations finalists! 

    2022 Most Promising New Venture Finalists

    Boddle Learning (Tulsa)

    Boddle Learning helps teachers and education publishers transform learning content into interactive experiences through a gamified education platform. Boddle improves test scores by boosting student engagement through gameplay and rewards and tailors learning using artificial intelligence. In 12 months, Boddle grew from 50,000 to 1,500,000 registered students (and growing) across all 50 US States, through low cost and organic teacher outreach strategies.

    The SnapBack (Norman)

    Pregnancy has ample resources and is often a beautiful experience, however postpartum is isolating and does not come with a manual. The average time between delivery and the first postpartum visit is 6 weeks and 40% of women don’t make it there. The SnapBack app provides delivery specific rehab techniques, time released what to expect for the baby/mom, tracking features and an anonymous community forum; it is the only all-in-one, evidence based postpartum resource and community mother’s need. We create tech for the future, we need to create tech for moms who birth the future

    2022 Venture of the Year Finalists

    MaxQ Research, LLC (Stillwater)

    Through proprietary breakthroughs in material sciences and real-time predictive intelligence, MAX-Q is revolutionizing the transportation of life saving temperature-sensitive biologics and blood products, eclipsing existing methods in terms of safety, efficiency, and total value. Trusted by over 800 healthcare and life science organizations globally, MaxQ’s cold chain packaging and compliance automation solutions help predict and prevent product wastage, increase operational efficiency and enhance patient safety.

    Medefy Health (Tulsa)

    The Medefy app helps everyday people make expert healthcare decisions in under 60 seconds. While 84% of American employees say they struggle to afford care because of the complexities of their company health benefits, health insurance, and healthcare providers, the Medefy platform makes it easy to understand your options, navigate to low-cost, high-quality providers, and get affordable care. Users can use a variety of digital decision tools within the app, as well as in-app text communication with Medefy’s care team – live healthcare experts available 24/7 to help navigate users to care. Launched in 2018 to two employer groups, Medefy now services approx. 1200 employer groups with users in all fifty states.

    Register to Attend
  • April 09, 2022 4:02 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Congratulations! 

    2022 Award for Economic Impact

    Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

    The Oklahoma Venture Forum is honored to recognize Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. In 1946, a group of Oklahoma physicians and business leaders saw the potential that biomedical research held. On Aug. 28 of that year, Oklahoma’s Secretary of State granted the charter of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

    All told, 7,500 Oklahomans donated a total of $2.5 million to build laboratories and a research hospital. And what began as a two-person operation in 1946 has grown into an internationally recognized research institute.

    OMRF now employs more than 450 staff members who study cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and diseases of aging. Their discoveries have yielded hundreds of patents and three life-saving drugs now available in hospitals and clinics around the world.

    REGISTER TO ATTEND

  • April 09, 2022 3:51 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Thank you recognition sponsors of the 2022 OVF Awards!
    Economic Impact Award | Rcognition Sponsor | STANDARDS IT

    Standards IT will make your organization more profitable, more competitive, and able to do more with less. CIO to service desk starts with customer service, fixes infrastructure, conducts analytics, develops software specific to your challenges, and manages it all with governance. The board, C suite, and owners always know what is going on and have more confidence steering the organization.

    Venture of the Year & Incubator Tenant | Recognition Sponsor  | OKLAHOMA BUSINESS INCUBATOR ASSOCIATION

    The Oklahoma Business Incubator Association prioritizes the needs of entrepreneurs and brings value to those who work side by side with early-stage businesses through incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, and other entrepreneurial support organizations.

    Most Promising New Venture | Recognition Sponsor | BBB OF CENTRAL OKLAHOMA  

    It is BBB’s mission to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. They accomplish this by setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging, and supporting best practices by engaging with and educating consumers and businesses, celebrating marketplace role models, calling out and addressing substandard marketplace behavior, creating a community of trustworthy businesses and charities

    BBB sees trust as a function of two primary factors – integrity and performance. Integrity includes respect, ethics, intent, and working toward a diverse, inclusive, and equitable marketplace. Performance speaks to a business’s track record of delivering results in accordance with BBB standards and/or addressing customer concerns in a timely, satisfactory manner.  

    Entrepreneurial Champion Award | Recognition Sponsor | OKLAHOMA INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOY ALLIANCE

    OITA was founded in 2021 and the trade association home and voice for Oklahoma HQ technology and IT companies.  As technology and IT companies who choose to have our headquarters in Oklahoma, we are committed to investing in Oklahoma as we create jobs while diversifying and growing the economy.  Educating policy makers and helping to lead the state’s digital transformation to Top Ten. While our members, invest, create, build and scale  their technology we translate their needs and challenges to Oklahoma policy makers. 

    The Oklahoma Venture Forum thanks you for your support of this event.

    REGISTER TO ATTEND

  • March 29, 2022 10:24 AM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)


    VC on OK Panel #2

    Pivoting to Venture Capital
    Kevin Moore, Aaron Webster, and Justin Wilson

    by Dennis Spielman

    Before having a career in venture capital, Kevin Moore, Aaron Webster, and Justin Wilson were pursuing other paths. Moore got a degree in engineering, Webster was a developer, and Wilson studied to be a doctor. While their career path changed, they incorporated their past knowledge into their current venture firms.

    Spur Capital Partners specializes in early-stage technology and life science venture capital fund investments. Cameron Ventures is an early-stage venture fund with affiliate operating companies that serve customers across the United States, primarily in insurance, banking, and asset management. Wilson at Plains Ventures says they are sector agnostic, investing from seed to Series A in Oklahoma businesses. 

    Moore, a partner at Spur Capital, finds their significant diversification a positive for the company.

    “The way that our model is set up, we invest in so many different companies with the right firms that we see these effects within the portfolio, where because we’re still investing at the early stages of a company’s life, we’ll see that maybe 20% of all the companies within our portfolio, they will drive about 75% of our performance,” said Kevin Moore. “That’s the power law effect you want to see in venture capital.”

    Moore explained that the drawback to Spur’s business model is that some people lose all control. They decide which managers to choose, how much money to invest with each manager, and when to exit those different opportunities. The other potential issue that some people might have is that they only focus on early-stage venture capital.

    Webster, Managing Director at Cameron Ventures, sees a benefit to their limited partner base.

    “We get to focus on meeting entrepreneurs to focus on looking at the deal mechanics, looking at what the technologies actually do, and then backing the teams that we think are going to make some big changes in the industry,” said Aaron Webster.

    Historically, Wilson, Managing Director at Plains Venture Partners, has focused on healthcare and biotech companies because Oklahoma produces outstanding companies in those fields.

    “We can invest in really any industry as long as it’s a high growth opportunity with an outstanding founder, and there’s a clear path to value creation and an exit,” said Justin Wilson. “We’re open-minded and willing to dive in and understand something.”

    For founders looking for investors, Moore thinks most founders discount the strength of their team. 

    “I think the team is critical,” said Moore. “However, I think that there’s also this notion that if the product is good enough or the market is large enough... And those things certainly have to be there, but in some of the most successful venture capital firms, what they experience and what I’ve experienced in the past is that the team is what makes the biggest difference. And you look at it as you can have a really good team with an average product that will have a higher probability of success than a great product with an average team.”

    Webster advised that entrepreneurs should understand what type of fund they’re pitching to, whether generalist or vertical-specific funds.

    “In general funds, you have to find the right partner to pitch to that is interested in your company and interested in your theme,” said Webster. “If you’re pitching to a vertical-specific fund, you actually have to pick the correct vertical. I get so many inbounds from founders, just cold decks to where we are not even focused in on that theme at all.”

    Wilson said founders should view investors as a class of your customers.

    “Think of investors as a customer and anticipate their needs and know that if you’re pitching a family office or a high net worth individual, what their needs are is likely very different than what a pure financial VC is looking for,” said Wilson. “But in the end, VC’s about value creation. And so if you can communicate that, ‘Listen, I have this really cool idea that creates real value, that solves a real problem for my customers,’ investors are going to find a way to understand it.”

    Kevin Moore, Aaron Webster, and Justin Wilson will be part of a special panel discussion at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. The event will be open to members and guests both in-person and virtually via ZOOM.

    “I think the fact that this organization exists is a huge positive for Oklahoma and for Oklahoma entrepreneurs,” said Moore. “It provides a good platform for people to present their ideas. And I would say that maybe most of the people in this group probably have some awareness of risk capital and what it means and how it should work. But I certainly encourage members of this group and just Oklahomans, in general, to think about venture capital and early-stage funding as an asset class and to make room for that in your investment appropriation.”

    Register to Attend April OVF Power Lunch

  • March 29, 2022 10:18 AM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Tracy Zserdin
    Co-Founder
    Made Possible By & Cultivate Venture Accelerator

    I'm dedicated to insuring that those who spend time with me feel better about themselves and better equipped to face life's challenges. I spent twelve years in the fitness industry encouraging women to be comfortable in their own skin. I was honored to be the first US Team Captain for Team Red Bowl, a branch of Joint Aid Management that feeds over 1 million African Children each day. I then served four years as the President and CEO of the Guthrie America Chamber of Commerce. I am a Co Founder of an accelerator-backed technology startup called Made Possible By that makes giving easy for Community Minded businesses and provides a better way to share their Stories of Good. I am also the host of a podcast called Conversations Around Good where I highlight (domestic and international) businesses, organizations and individuals who are making a difference in their communities. My newest role is as the Executive Director for Cultivate Venture Accelerator. Creating a redemptive culture in OKC where everyone thrives.

    Register to attend the April OVF Power Lunch

  • March 29, 2022 10:11 AM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Chairman's Perspective: April 2022

    “Show me the money,” is not just one of the most popular lines from Jerry Maguire, it’s also one of the most commonly listed needs for entrepreneurs starting and growing their businesses. If you enjoyed our engaging January Power Lunch, with the first part of venture capital investors in Oklahoma, you will not want to miss our April Power Lunch. During our April event, Aaron Webster with Cameron Ventures, Justin Wilson with i2E, and Kevin Moore with Spur Capital Partners will discuss what their organizations look for when funding and provide insight into what is currently going on with venture funding in Oklahoma. At the end of the session, Power Luncheon guests will have the opportunity to ask these funders questions.

    We look forward to seeing our regular OVF attendees and encourage you to invite those aspiring entrepreneurs or funders to join us for the April Power Luncheon. We also encourage you to come prepared with your most pressing questions for our panelist. We look forward to seeing you at the OVF April Power Lunch.

    Kindest Regards,

    Jennifer McGrail

    Register to Attend

  • February 22, 2022 11:29 AM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Chairman's Perspective: March 2022

    Nestled right to the east of downtown Oklahoma City is a small area of about 850 acres that is making a tremendous mark on innovation that impacts the world. The Oklahoma City Innovation District is home to more than 25,000 employees. To put that into perspective, that would make the Innovation District, on any given workday, the equivalent of the 17th largest town in Oklahoma placing it solidly between Jenks and Ardmore. During our March Power Luncheon, we look forward to welcoming our main speaker, Katy Evan Boren, President, and CEO of the Innovation District. Katy will share more on the Innovation District and many of the recent exciting developments for the growth of the district.

    As Oklahoma becomes more innovative, this cannot happen without a significant amount of creativity. Our March pitch presenters will feature Laura Philips and Laurent Massenat with Factory Obscura. Laura and Laurent will share how Factory Obscura, as a collaborative company, uses immersive experiences to encourage the creation of art in all forms.

    The OVF March Power Luncheon will deliver a dynamic look into innovation and creativity that is going on in our state. This luncheon would be a great time to invite your friends and colleagues that are interested in creativity and innovation. We look forward to seeing you at the OVF March Power Lunch.


    Kind Regards, 

    Jennifer McGrail

    Register to Attend

  • February 21, 2022 8:49 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Laura Phillips
    Director of Connectivity
    Factory Obscura

    Laura Phillips, Director of Connectivity, is interested in development of next-big-things for OKC.  From Elemental Coffee to H&8th Night Market to OKCPS School Board to Factory Obscura, she focuses on collaboration, community, and culture.  Laura manages connectivity within the organization through HR, culture building and community partnerships, and develops strategic relationships for our business growth.

    Collaborating around the belief that Oklahoma City needed an art playground that would be as much fun for adults as for kids, founders Tammy Greenman, Kelsey Karper, Laura Phillips, Laurent Massenat and Hugh Meade, gathered a team of artists to begin building in 2017. In order to avoid competing with existing arts organizations, Factory Obscura, Inc was founded as a B-Corporation, existing to create fully immersive art environments and events that awaken joy and wonder, while supporting artists and arts education. Mix-Tape operates under an LLC owned by Factory Obscura, Inc and Mason Realty Investors.

    Register to attend March OVF Power Lunch

  • February 21, 2022 8:26 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)


    Connecting Assets in the Innovation District

    by Dennis Spielman

    In April 2017, The Bookings Institution released a report based on an 18-month study about how the area now known as the Innovation District was ripe for an innovation district. The information inspired Katy Boren to start The Innovation District, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

    “There are innovation districts across the globe, certainly across the country, and Brookings did an assessment,” said Katy Boren, Founder/CEO of The Innovation District. “What Brookings kind of foreshadowed was the success we could have if we focused on creating an ecosystem in Oklahoma City around our knowledge-based economies, STEM economies, that would make us more competitive nationally and globally.”

    The borders of the Innovation District are 4th Street to 13th Street, Lottie to the east, and Robinson to the west, with the core being Harrison and 10th, right next to the Beacon of Hope in Stiles Park. Since the district sits in Northeast Oklahoma City, Boren is connected to the neighborhoods in big and small ways, from volunteering to co-programming.

    “We are also working hard to make sure that as jobs are created out of this initiative in these next few years, residents of Northeast Oklahoma City are in the pipeline for STEM careers,” said Boren. “That’s working with K through 12, working with adult workforce for upskilling and reskilling, but really focusing some of our efforts to make sure that everyone benefits from this economic growth.”

    One of Boren’s missions for the district is creating an ecosystem to strengthen the city’s STEM economies, making Oklahoma City more competitive. 

    “Everyone was working in silos inside universities, inside enterprise-level industry businesses, and entrepreneurs had a lot of resources here but could have even more, so pulling all of those assets that we have together, and convening them in different ways,” said Boren. “For example, we have 120 post-docs doing research in our physical area here. About 78% of all NIH funding for the state comes to this physical area as well, and so we have a lot of really great things happening in academics and research, which is where entrepreneurs and investors want to be, and in the industry as well, and so we have a great recipe.”

    The Innovation District hosts over 50 events a year, despite not having a building of their own yet. Construction is set to begin in April, and Boren said they will do even more programming and convening of people and ideas. People can get involved by visiting the website okcinnovation.com.

    Katy Boren will be presenting at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. The event will be open to guests both in-person and virtually via ZOOM. 

    “Our outcomes are determined by how much people participate,” said Boren. “The more ideas we get and the more vision we have from the network and the ecosystem, it creates a better outcome.”

    Register to attend March OVF Power Lunch

  • February 21, 2022 8:18 PM | Ché Loessberg (Administrator)

    Lawrence McKinney
    President and CEO
    Norman Economic Development Coalition

    Lawrence McKinney is President and CEO of the Norman Economic Development Coalition in Norman, Oklahoma. He leads a team of economic and community development professionals responsible for facilitating the creation of jobs and an improved quality of life for the citizens of Norman and Cleveland County.

    Born on Hill Air Force Base, Utah as the third child of Air Force veterans he has traveled throughout the world his entire life and career, affording him a unique perspective on community growth and development.

    Mr. McKinney graduated from Augusta College (Georgia) with an undergraduate degree in Economics and Finance and from Georgia State University (Atlanta) with an MBA in International Business. He later earned Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) credentials from the International Economic Development Council, Organizational Management (IOM) credentials from the United States Chamber of Commerce, and Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) credentials from the American Chamber of Commerce, one of only 11 executives nationwide to simultaneously hold these prestigious credentials. He is a graduate of numerous advanced leadership programs, including the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs, the Ford Fellowship program through the Ford Foundation, and the Master Economic Development Practitioner (MEDP) program hosted jointly by Clemson University, the University of New Mexico, Texas Christian University, and the University of Southern Mississippi.

    His 35-year career has spanned the continent, serving as a regional Chamber of Commerce or Development Authority CEO in Augusta, Savannah, Atlanta, and Athens Georgia, as well as Daytona Beach, Florida. Prior to coming to Norman, he served as Chief Operating Officer for a national fundraising firm and as co-founder and Principal of Economic Strategy Professionals, LLC. Mr. McKinney is married to Army veteran Elizabeth Hennen McKinney, Ed. S, CEO of Economic Strategy Professionals, and they have five children and two grandchildren.

    EDUCATION

    • Center for Creative Leadership, Colorado Springs, Colorado
    • American Chamber of Commerce Executives Association, Washington DC
    • Certified Chamber Executive (CCE)
    • International Economic Development Council, Chicago, Illinois
    • Certified Economic Developer (CEcD)
    • Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
    • MBA in International Business
    • University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
    • Institute for Organization Management (IOM)
    • Georgia Regents University, Augusta, Georgia
    • BBA with dual majors in Economics and Finance

    CAREER

    • 2021 - Present, PRESIDENT AND CEO, Norman Economic Development Coalition (Norman, Oklahoma)
    • 2014 - 2020, PRINCIPAL and CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, Convergent Nonprofit Solutions (Atlanta, Georgia)
    • 2013 - 2020, PRINCIPAL and CO-FOUNDER, Economic Strategy Professionals LLC (Port Orange, Florida)
    • 2006 - 2013, PRESIDENT, Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce and EDO (Daytona Beach, Florida)
    • 2002 - 2006, PRESIDENT, Impact Athens Regional Chamber of Commerce and EDO (Athens, Georgia)
    • 1999 - 2002, PRESIDENT, Partners for Tomorrow Public/Private EDO and Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce (Atlanta, Georgia)
    • 1995 - 1999, CEO, Meriwether County Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce (Warm Springs, Georgia)
    • 1992 - 1995, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, Bryan County Development Authority, Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau (Savannah, Georgia)
    • 1990 – 1992, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, Columbia County Chamber of Commerce (Evans, Georgia)
    • 1986 - 1992, DIRECTOR OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, Metro Augusta Chamber of Commerce and Columbia County Development Authority (Augusta, Georgia)

    AWARDS

    “Best of the Best”, American Chamber of Commerce Executives Association

    “Top 20 Best Practice for EDOs”, Georgia Tech

    “Mayor’s Community Spirit Award”, Conyers, Georgia

    “Most Influential Floridian”, Florida Magazine

    “Businessperson of the Year”, Athens, Georgia

    “Kentucky Colonel”, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin

    PUBLICATIONS

    “Does a Rising Tide Really Lift All Boats?”, August 2018, IEDC ED Now Feature

    “Talent: The Currency of the 21st Century Economic Developer”, January 2019, ACCE

    “How to Show Short-Term ROI to Your EDO Investors”, May 2019, IEDC ED Now Feature

    “Strategic Planning for Development Authorities”, 2006, University of Georgia Fanning Institute

    VOLUNTEER BOARD SERVICE

    American Chamber of Commerce Executives

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board of Regents

    Georgia and Florida Chamber Executive Associations

    Daytona 500 Checkered Flag Committee, Augusta National Gallery Guards, and numerous civic clubs

    Register to attend the March OVF Power Lunch


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software