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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
Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology
As we get ready to pop open the champagne and belt out the lyrics to Ault Lang Syne, I’m sure I am not the only one thinking of what my New Year’s resolution for 2023 will be. For this year, I’ve decided to make the phrase “seize the opportunity” my resolution.
I know this is incredibly fitting for many of us with the Oklahoma Venture Forum. For our founders, they are working to seize every opportunity and even working to create and find opportunity where none might exist. For our resource providers, you all are the ones working tirelessly to help create opportunities and connect others to them. To our funders, you all are not only working day-in and day-out to identify new opportunities, but you work to provide critical capital so that others can seize their opportunities.
I would like to invite you all to join me in seizing the opportunities in 2023. You can start your year off right by seizing the opportunity and joining us for the January OVF Power Lunch. During our event, we will hear from Anita Ly, Managing Director of the OKC Gener8tor Accelerator program. Anita will share more on what founders they are looking for and what plans Gener8tor has for OKC. We will also have the chance to hear pitches from Zara Ahmen with Bison Underground and Ryan Skeffington with Cheers!.
We look forward to seeing you in January and hope that you will take the chance and seize the opportunity to show up and support OVF all year long!
Business Development Manager | Technical Division
Here to connect talent and opportunity within the OKC metro job market. Passionate about quality leadership techniques and values personal growth.
When I'm not out and about connecting with OKC's own, you can find me playing golf or planning my next summer vacation in the mountains.
Rebekah is a UCO graduate and current Edmond resident with a background in marketing and community relations. She works as the Business Development Manager for the Technical Recruiting division at Fuse3 Solutions, a local talent firm.
She's passionate about local development and connecting with people in the metropolitan. Rebekah is newly married, so expect a name change soon! Her favorite things include summer in the mountains, a round of golf, and a chilled glass of wine.
Register here to attend the January 11th OVF Power Lunch
January Pitch Presenters
Steve Adams, Bison Underground
Ryan Skeffington, Cheers!
Farming is a vital part of the global economy, but also a major producer of a large amount of carbon dioxide, adding to the mounting levels in our atmosphere. Our technology takes unusable organic material from farms, like stalks and leaves post-harvest, or cover crops grown during the off season, and turns it into an injectable, nutrient-rich material that is placed deep into farming soils. This limits the addition of new carbon to the atmosphere from surface decomposition and sequesters it into soil long-term. Our idea is unique due to the additional benefits of rapid soil and crop health restoration, improved resiliency of farms against extreme weather events, enhanced crop yields, decreased need for synthetic fertilizers and irrigation, and increased agricultural biodiversity and food security for all.
Cheers is a mobile app that reduces time spent in line, increases bartender efficiency, and increases revenue for owners and alcohol brands.
For users we offer a mobile app that allows them to get bar & drink recommendations, order from their phones skipping the lines, and saves them from having to sign wet receipts at the end of the night with digital payments.
For bar owners we offer a local marketing platform that saves them the cost and headache of posting on social media or hiring a social media manager. By offering sharing tools for their establishment they get user generated marketing content directly linked to their bar and their products. For bartenders we offer time saving solutions. No more waiting on a customer to look at your menu with 100 selections. No more taking cards, swiping cards, checking I.D.’s, and closing tabs. No more printing off receipts, getting them signed, and filing away wet paper.
For alcohol brands we offer unparalleled access to user insights and on site advertising. We offer partnered alcohol brands the ability to put an ad in front of a customer and have that customer be drinking their product within the next few minutes after clicking on their ad. This data will allow them to more efficiently strategize and roll out ad campaigns from the local level to nationwide.
Generating Success for Entrepreneurs
by Dennis Spielman
As the Managing Director of gener8tor in Oklahoma City, Anita Ly is committed to helping entrepreneurs succeed with gener8tor’s national investment accelerator program. Ly started her professional career as a scientist in biotech pharma in California before moving to Oklahoma to attend graduate school at the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, she became involved with the Oklahoma Catalyst programs as they were looking for someone with a STEM background, who was all about women empowerment, and entrepreneurship. This led to her discovery of her passion for working with founders and telling their stories, leading to her decision to pivot her career to focus on helping founders. After finishing her schooling at OU and working in venture capital at Atento Capital in Tulsa, she joined gener8tor to help support and build a community around founders in Oklahoma City. The gener8tor platform includes more than 75 programs spanning startup accelerators, corporate programming, speaker series, conferences, skills accelerators, and fellowships.
“Most of our startups don’t just go there for funding,” said Anita Ly. “We’re known for the wide breadth network that we can provide to our founders through mentor swarms as well as investors swarms. Our goal is to set them up for success while having a white glove concierge approach.”
Applications for entrepreneurs are open until mid-January, and Ly has been actively recruiting and talking to founders to let people know that gener8tor is in town. Ly said the most rewarding part of working with gener8tor is seeing the successes of several types of founders.
“No founder comes into the program at the exact same stage of development or having the same types of issues, and it’s really exciting to help them pinpoint what they need to focus on in order to hit that next milestone,” said Ly. “Then seeing the excitement on their faces when they are able to finally raise that next round.”
Aside from the Investment Accelerator program, gener8tor offers other product lines that Ly will discuss. They’re not just focused on Oklahoma City but on supporting all of Oklahoma and companies that can give back to the local community. Ly would like to have all Oklahoma Venture Forum members come to learn about gener8tor’s different offerings.
“We are constantly looking for not just investors but mentors,” said Ly. “That could be anyone who works directly with founders, has been a founder, or has a unique set of experiences that might play a good hand with our potential cohort. Everyone can be a mentor, and we really want people to feel like they have something of value to give, and at the same time, there is so much they can learn from mentoring other founders as well.”
Anita Ly will speak to Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch members on Wednesday, January 11, 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. Ly believes the forum is an excellent place for those that want to be involved in the venture capital world.
“Those that have always been curious about getting involved, this is a great way to have those monthly power lunches and meet really incredible people to learn about what’s going on in the ecosystem and having a network where they can get together with other like-minded individuals,” said Ly.
We have reached one of the busiest times of the year! The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us. From wrapping up Thanksgiving festivities, to literally wrapping holiday gifts, we have almost made it to the end of 2022. OVF members have one last chance this year to hear from a great lineup of speakers.
Please make plans to join us in December to hear from Allison Conti and Michael Labrie as they discuss the importance of intellectual property patents. Our pitch presenter will be Mark Stoddard with EzyTip, Inc. While this is your last chance to enjoy OVF for 2022, do not worry. We will be back in full force in 2023 with more excellent programming and networking opportunities for everyone. The pitches, learning, networking and energy have been amazing over the last few months, and we look forward to having you help us keep the energy high at the December OVF Power Lunch. We encourage you to invite a guest that might like to experience all that OVF has to offer!
My name is Ashton Bennett, and I am an Employee Benefits Consultant for Evans National. I work solely with companies to provide the most optimal benefits package to recruit and retain top tier talent. I assist with navigating through the process to make it seamless for both the employer and their employees.
I was born and raised in Edmond and have always strongly supported locally owned businesses. By setting up a company's benefits package, I can help Oklahoma businesses grow. These are interesting times where employees are leaving companies for better benefits and less pay. Benefits have never been as important as they are today, so I want to make sure that Oklahoma companies are competitive in this area.
Register here to attend the December 14th OVF Power Lunch
EzyTip, Inc. a Delaware Corp, is a Veteran-owned, Tulsa, OK based, pre-seed, startup Fintech B2B2C subscription payment processing business to the $2B combined U.S. Market tipped worker industries of Music, Entertainment, Restaurant, Hospitality, Nightclub/Bar, and Gambling.
The company fixes the problems of the broken cash tip jar and nightly cash tip-out, MAKING IT EASY for all tipped workers to earn and keep more tips, significantly improving their lives.
These problems are fixed by using three BaaS providers to process tips and deposit them same day into our customers bank accounts from more than 10 digital payment methods through our main product of customer tip webpages (Not an APP), and by providing a digital tip out product, a robust one-stop-shop music promotion service, and by educating our customers to proactively seek more tips using our printed QR code products that significantly increase tipping opportunity and ability for a differentiated, maximum value set of services and low fees NOT found with the competition.
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