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The OVF Venture of the Year, Most Promising New Venture and the Award for Economic Impact are three of the most prestigious recognitions a company can receive. The awards represent the triumph of the entrepreneurial dream and spirit. Nominations and applications are now available for the May 2021 OVF Awards.
The Oklahoma Venture Forum, as a means of publicly recognizing the achievements of successful Oklahoma businesses, has produced the awards biennially since 1989. The 2021 awards will be presented in ceremonies to be held in May 2021.
There is no cost to enter, but the competition is keen. Each finalist will be invited to attend the awards presentation and will receive a plaque recognizing its growth and success.
Welcome 2021. Welcome, welcome!
I also want to welcome our latest members: Sarah Edwards, Nathaniel Harding, Melissa Houston, Tina Lindsay, Zach Miles, J.W. Peters, Heather Rouba, and Dan Schemm. Lots of new faces for the new year.
Most new members join OVF because they have been a guest at some point, so keep inviting people who are interested in quality content, viable venture investment opportunity or industry specific networking. The OVF entrepreneurial & innovation ecosystem requires as many motivated participants as possible to continue to connect, recognize and promote economic growth for Oklahoma, thanks for doing your part.
OVF is completely booked this session for main speakers and we only have a few spots left for pitch presentations. Please continue to send your main speaker suggestions and we will begin booking for the 2021-2022 session. Let us know who you want to see and we will do our best to book them.
Now to tell you about our main event, the annual OVF Awards ceremony. This year will be a little different. We have typically alternated award categories each year. The 2021 OVF Awards will combine Venture of the Year, Most Promising New Venture and the Award for Economic Impact, so it will be an epic awards event for Oklahoma.
Don’t miss this impressive event and don't miss the opportunity to support these recognitions by sponsoring a table, one of the three recognition pieces, or go one step further and partner with OVF to become a title sponsor.
As a reminder the award nominations/applications are due January 20th. Contact Che’ or any of the board members if you need any additional information.
I look forward to seeing you at the upcoming Power Lunch on January 13th or the After Hours Pitch Event on January 21st.
Happy New Year.
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Suzette's focus is the politics of human identity and how “labels” influence and impact humans as we function and interact with each other. She gives specific attention to “historical labels”, their meaning during the past and how those meanings impact the present and shape our understandings of the future. Suzette has a Masters in Cultural Anthropology and a Masters in Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Cultural Innovation founded in Anthropology
As an organization whose work is based in anthropology, Thick Descriptions values the unique approaches to the natural and social sciences that exist in cultures around the world. Thick Descriptions understands that all human culture represents the lived experiences of people and communities; the contributions of innovators from a variety of backgrounds representing diverse perspectives are necessary for us to cooperate toward a more functional and healthier world. This collaborative, technological innovation is key to the refinement of more sustainable communities and global systems.
Anthropology is the Foundation of Science
Thick Descriptions’ commitment to the natural and social sciences begins with an understanding that our understandings of ourselves, each other, and the world around us are filtered through the lens of our own cultural experiences.
Education for All
Thick Descriptions is committed to bringing science empowerment and cultural intelligence education to those who have historically faced educational barriers both seen and unseen and to communities that overlooked those impacted by these barriers.
Thick Descriptions values the science and culture fields because of their potential to move us closer to knowledge driven, healthier and more sustainable communities. Our educational mindset is humanity centric.
Thick Descriptions values the unique attributes of the world’s human cultures, and we believe that we work best when we work together. People from all cultural backgrounds have made and will continue to make essential contributions to understandings of science and culture for the betterment of the human community.
James Grimsley is a nationally recognized expert on policy and technology related to unmanned aircraft ("drones") and autonomous systems. Mr. Grimsley has appeared in numerous press outlets since 2007 speaking about technology policy issues and is a recognized speaker on the topic at international conferences and events.
Mr. Grimsley is currently the Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Mr. Grimsley was also recently appointed to the Oklahoma Transportation Commission in May 2019 by Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall and currently serves as the Transportation Commissioner for District 2.
Mr. Grimsley is the founder of successful technology company startups and is also a former Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma – Norman Campus (OU). Mr. Grimsley was also the founding director of the OU Center for Applied Research and Development (CARD). Mr. Grimsley is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Mr. Grimsley was a Division Chief Engineer and later an Assistant Vice President with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Prior to SAIC, Mr. Grimsley was a civilian electronics engineer with the United States Air Force.
Mr. Grimsley also previously served as a Manager of Unmanned Systems Research for the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute (OAI).
Mr. Grimsley has been active in a variety of state organizations and initiatives in Oklahoma and the region. Mr. Grimsley organized the Unmanned Systems Alliance of Oklahoma (USA-OK), now a state chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and served as founding president. Mr. Grimsley also organized and led Oklahoma’s first six Oklahoma UAS Summits beginning in 2009. In 2011, Mr. Grimsley was appointed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to the Governor’s UAS Advisory Council and served through 2015. In 2016 Mr. Grimsley was appointed by the FAA to the FAA's Drone Advisory Committee - Subcommittee. In 2017 Mr. Grimsley was selected as a non-resident research fellow for the Noble Research Institute. Mr. Grimsley has also served on advisory committees for higher education, vocational training programs and secondary education. Mr. Grimsley is active in scholarly research in both technology and law, including co-authorship of a recent paper published in the William and Mary Law Review.
In 2014, Mr. Grimsley was named the AUVSI Member of the Year for contributions to the UAS industry and advocacy work as well as his state and national leadership in the UAS industry. Known both nationally and internationally, Mr. Grimsley is one of the leading recognizable figures in the UAS industry and is frequently interviewed in the international media (The Economist, Fortune, USA Today, Associated Press, The Guardian Newspaper, CNBC, etc.). In 2014 Mr. Grimsley was recognized as an Oklahoma Innovator of the Year by the Oklahoma Journal Record newspaper.
In 2017, Mr. Grimsley led the proposal development and capture team for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma for the FAA's UAS Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP). The Choctaw Nation was ultimately selected as one of ten sites for the UAS IPP by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L Chao and the Choctaw Nation was the only tribal government selected for the program.
Written by Dennis Spielman
With a background in government and public affairs, Tom Robins is putting his political knowledge to help Oklahoma grow as a Top 10 place for IT. In the fall of 2019, Robins started the OITA, the Oklahoma Innovative Technology Alliance, to give Oklahoma IT companies a voice in the public policy process.
“Having worked in DC, everybody has a trade association,” said Tom Robins. “Everybody’s represented. The guys who build your desks have a trade association where they’re getting together, talking about some of the barriers to their business and priorities. It shows that IT is growing up here in Oklahoma and creating opportunities.”
As part of his presentation for the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch, Robins will highlight the gist of their mission statement and how they educate policy members, members of the legislature, and others, the best way to create an environment for IT and technology in Oklahoma.
“We got organized at the end of this last year, and we’re really kicking things off in January,” said Robins. “We’re going to be doing a coffee and conversation with the Oklahoma legislators, with Oklahoma IT leaders. So I think that’ll be a great thing for investment, the investment community in Oklahoma, for OVF members, for people that are involved with businesses that have an IT innovative component that are either just starting or that are established, that want to network with other companies, but also want to start talking to policymakers about that.”
Robins’ main topic of his presentation will be on the autonomous vehicle side. As president of the consulting company, Solid Foundation Consulting, Robins helps build projects and coalitions around different issues. One of those he got tapped to lead was on behalf of the secretary of transportation, was to head the Oklahoma autonomous vehicle working group. The purpose of the group is to signal to the markets, signal to investments, and signal to people who are interested that Oklahoma is open for business when it comes to autonomous vehicle technology.
“There’s a lot of layers that need to be engaged on autonomous vehicles, both on the ground and aerial, and what that technology means and what the state needs to be doing to prepare,” said Robins. “It’s a landing place for people that have questions or an interest or are looking at investing in autonomous vehicle technology in some way, or autonomous transportation, I’d say, or electrification, and giving them a welcome mat, and then directing them through education engagement or policy to the right place.”
An example of the group’s earliest win they had was the issue on truck platooning. Similar to how flocks of birds drift off of each other to converse energy, the state of Oklahoma passed a bill that allowed for that technology with trucks.
“There’s trucks that can draft off each other and be able to what they call platoon if they’re connected via technology,” said Robins. “Now, there is still a driver in each of those seats, but they can draft off each other in a much closer, compatible way. And that is all through technology from those cabs talking to each other, right? So, there is already that happening on the road, but you have to be able to update the laws as you go along as you discover either county, municipal, or state regulations that either impede or hinder that development.”
Tom Robins, along with Jim Grimsley, will be speaking at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Be sure to register for the online ZOOM event to learn more about how technology is shifting in Oklahoma, ask your questions, and network with entrepreneurs in Oklahoma.
Speaker Tom Robins
Solid Foundation Consulting
Special Guest James Grimley
New Horizons for Aviation Technology
Disruptions in Aviation
Who's in the room?
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Chelsea Larsen, CEO ParaNano
CEO and co-founder, has 8 years of experience in the customer service and public relations industry with an 80% success rate in engaging customers and potential clients to upgrade or change their services in the financial industry. Her experience includes performing as a growth and business development officer for 3 small businesses resulting in an increase in size and revenue by at least 25% in he first 3 months including a $1million contract for one of the businesses. She was the leading effort in the formation of ParaNano, LLC in 2015, and through her effective management skills, ParaNano won 2 business plan competitions resulting in $31,000. Her effective presentation and communication skills drove the team to excellence and she was awarded 1st place in a 90 second pitch competition, resulting in $1,000. She graduated with honors from UCO in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship.
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GO GO Cannabiz, Zach Williams
Go Go Cannabiz is a supply chain optimization tool for the cannabis industry. After launching an online marketplace for the cannabis market in Oklahoma back in March of 2019, the founders realized two things: 1. Even as they'd proven the concept, they were up against much larger, more established marketplaces for B2B cannabis and 2. There were major gaps in the entire cannabis supply chain that no other company was addressing. Recognizing they could turn these gaps into opportunities with their existing software, the Go Go Cannabiz founders pivoted from essentially targeting their software toward cannabis brands and retailers to primarily aiming their solution toward wholesale cannabis distributors and transporters.
Go Go Cannabiz has already helped one cannabis transporter here in Oklahoma grow from a couple of vans and drivers meeting in the owner's front yard to a fleet of vans and drivers operating out of a warehouse that currently transport over $5M of product every month. Additionally, Go Go Cannabiz is working with another wholesale cannabis distributor in Oklahoma to help execute a model that drives sales for brands, reduces overhead, makes purchasing simple, allows cashless transactions, ensures quality, enhances safety, and helps keep everyone compliant. The best part about the business is that it scales into any legal cannabis market and the business is already in discussions with major distributors in Missouri and will launch there by the end of 2020.
December 3rd, 2020
Good Girl Chocolate, Dr. Tabatha Carr
Dr. Tabatha Carr, ND, is a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. She is the founder of Good Girl Chocolate, a best-selling author, and a talk show co-host for The Blend, a show that has recently been launched on UPLIFTTV, a new Christian and inspirational network. Her book titled Open Your G.I.F.T.S., with actress Kim Coles, hit the Amazon Hot New Releases Bestsellers List at
#1 in Personal Growth, Spiritual Growth, Self-Help, and Happiness categories.
Good Girl Chocolate is a Beyonce’ grant recipient, has been featured in the Gifting Lounge at the GRAMMY’S, in select OSCAR nominee gift bags, on the Good Morning America show, in USA Today, Forbes, in Food & Wine Magazine and in over 100 other media outlets.
A baccalaureate in Science with a master’s degree in Health Administration and her study of Naturopathic Medicine gives Dr. Tabatha a scientific and business background in her approach to Good Girl Chocolate and women’s health.
Dr. Tabatha focuses on bringing positive energy to her community. She can be found playing the piano for her church, volunteering at local charities such as Positive Tomorrows, Baptist Children’s Home, Ronald McDonald House, or doing public speaking.
Stacy Eads, Oklahoma Business Consultant
Expediting decision-making processes during stressful times with the OODA Loop
Before becoming an International Business Coach, Stacy Eads had been the CEO of a Norman technology company for over a decade when she fell in love with the book, Scaling Up by Verne Harnish.
“I grew Levant 600% of its size while I was a CEO, and I started to figure out that maybe that’s where my true personal niche lies and that I wanted an opportunity to maybe break away, become a coach, and be able to help more businesses than just be an employee of one company in particular,” Stacy Eads said.
For Eads’ presentation for December’s OVF power lunch, she will teach a tool that helps expedite decision-making processes during stressful times, especially with all of the pandemic’s pivots. The OODA Loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, has helped her clientele make better designs during moments of fight or flight.
“Whenever they have a year that’s like 2020 again,” Eads explained, “or all of the things that have been happening with COVID-19, they have a tool that they can go back to and say, ‘I know how to calm down. I know how to look at the facts. I know how to orient myself to those facts. Make a decision, act and start my loop again, so that I have a fast, quick decision-making tool that gives me confidence in my business to proceed.’”
Eads said one of the things she loves about the tool is that the first step is to make sure that you observe that you’re observing facts only. She explained that when people are in a crisis mode, their emotions are at play or there is competing information, and they’re unsure which way to go.
“We don’t want our emotions, we don’t want our opinions or what we think is going to happen, but we just want to observe the facts that are around us,” Eads said. “What do we know? And what do we not know? And that initial pinpoint of the exercise is one of the things that I think is the most fruitful.”
Stacy Eads will be speaking at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, December 9, 2020. Be sure to register for the online ZOOM event to learn more about OODA, ask your questions, and network with entrepreneurs in Oklahoma. As an Oklahoma City business coach and somebody who travels among North America helping CEOs, Eads is excited about having the opportunity to speak to the Oklahoma Venture Forum.
“Many of them might’ve even heard of the OODA loop before, but maybe they have not put it into the perspective of how to use the OODA loop within the year 2020, and within the type of anxiety that CEOs are having these days,” Eads said. “The types of pivots that they’re making during this pandemic. So I’m excited to take an old concept that’s been around for decades and maybe breathe in some new life into what the year 2020 has to offer.”
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