i2E http://i2e.org Innovation to Enterprise Fri, 30 Sep 2016 20:32:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Local ‘Silicon Prairie’ firm creates high-tech employment solution http://i2e.org/featured/local-silicon-prairie-firm-creates-high-tech-employment-solution/ Tue, 27 Sep 2016 14:24:23 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29211 Local ‘Silicon Prairie’ firm creates high-tech employment solution
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

Alex Golimbievsky and Ntuna Ekuri, founders of Hire360 first met when they were both recruiters for a large headhunting company.

“We did ‘smile and dial’ together for a few years,” Golimbievsky said, “and then we were laid off together when they cut the office in half in the recession of 2009.”

The associates went their separate ways. Ekuri moved to engineering recruiting then eventually into business analysis and Golimbievsky moved into business project management. In 2013, as serendipity would have it, Golimbievsky was assigned to manage a project that Ekuri was working on.

They reconnected with a conversation centered around the challenges of hiring. As Golimbievsky put it, they wondered how it is that a person can go online, find a significant other and get married, but it is so hard to find the right talent for your business team, and that’s how Hire360 was conceived.

“We have taken everything we used to do as recruiters,” Golimbievsky said, “and built it into our platform. It used to be that a recruiter would look at the requirements of a job and search across hundreds of resumes. They would find a person, reach out, set up an interview, and charge 25 percent of a first-year salary. Our system does all that in seconds for an economical subscription fee.”

In many ways, Hire360 is a mini-case study of what two passionate entrepreneurs with a good idea can accomplish in Oklahoma today.

From their own firsthand experience, Golimbievsky and Ekuri identified a big problem that companies will pay to solve. They imagined a solution. They are located in Oklahoma, where Silicon Prairie versus Silicon Valley costs of living and operating businesses are favorable. They find affordable development talent online thanks to trends in the share-economy, a reminder that geography and proprietary technology are playing a smaller role for startups than ever before.

Hire360 launched in May and now has nearly 40 client companies, ranging in size from five to 1,500 employees. But it wasn’t that way at first. “We started out with a plan to ‘burn’ the resume,” Golimbievsky said. “That was woefully ignorant. The whole hiring process today is built around the resume. As a startup, you can’t change the world on a dime.”

So instead, Hire360 adopted another tack, used what they learned from the early adopters and evolved into a system that equips operating executives to do their own hiring, thus helping relieve the bottleneck that can occur when human resource departments are overwhelmed. It’s like having a virtual recruiter, with Kayak-like access to a network of 100,000,000 plus resumes.

Passion, pivoting and pursuing a solution that solves real problems for real markets and customers. It’s happening across our state.

Did You Know?
Of all Google searches, 30 percent (about 300 million) per month are employment related.
SOURCE: Unbridled Talent

Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

Monscierge Receives Patent For Providing Mobile Services To Hospitality Customers http://i2e.org/news/monscierge-receives-patent-for-providing-mobile-services-to-hospitality-customers/ Thu, 22 Sep 2016 20:50:42 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29203 Monscierge Receives Patent For Providing Mobile Services To Hospitality Customers
By HospitalityNet
©1995-2016 Hospitality Net™ All rights reserved

Oklahoma City — Hospitality technology company Monscierge announced today the award of a patent for the communication process of receiving and servicing hospitality guests requests through the use of mobile technology. This is the company’s second U.S. Patent for mobile services provided to hospitality customers, the first having been awarded for providing local merchant recommendations to hospitality guests.

The newly granted patent, 9,436,958, covers receiving guests requests as well and servicing these requests. To illustrate a scenario, when a hotel receives a request for additional towels from guests using mobile devices, the request reaches a staff member who would then acknowledge the request, provide an estimated time of delivery and complete this delivery. Historically, mobile request communication between guests and staff have been made for services such as food & beverage, maintenance issues, additional room items, valet return and even customized guest requirements.

“Our goal is to make technology easy to use, easy to scale, and affordable for hospitality,” said Monscierge CEO, Marcus Robinson. “The mobile experience that connects a guest to their hotel is vital to the success of hotel brands over AirBNB and other peer-to-peer relationships. We are looking forward to working with other hospitality mobile solution providers and creating a world-class, industry standard of an excellent guest experience, every time.”

Monscierge is a global provider of hospitality technology, specializing in mobile and wearables, computer software and lobby devices. Their product suite, Connect, is a most recently known as the platform behind the newly launched Hello Rewards application by the Red Lion Hotel Company as well as the technology that aided in Candlewood Suites Dallas/Market Center’s winning the coveted IHG “5 of 5” award after the property’s implementation of Connect Staff.

The expectation for new mobile-based services in the hospitality industry continues to grow rapidly, and Monscierge’s Connect platform has shown proven methods behind reducing maintenance response times by up to 50%, as well as increasing guest satisfaction scores.

Monscierge is the exclusive hospitality partner for the Apple Mobility Partner Program.

Read the story at HospitalityNet

Oklahoma gets $1.9 million in grants for workforce training http://i2e.org/news/oklahoma-gets-1-9-million-in-grants-for-workforce-training/ Tue, 20 Sep 2016 20:35:22 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29200 Oklahoma gets $1.9 million in grants for workforce training
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Commerce Department is awarding $1.9 million in grants in Oklahoma to provide business and technical support to manufacturing and service companies.

The grants announced on Tuesday will also purchase critical equipment to boost workforce training opportunities in the medical sector.

The Oklahoma Center for Advancement of Science and Technology will receive $1 million for business and technical support to manufacturing and service companies to help diversify their products and expand sales globally. The project is expected to create higher-wage jobs by restructuring business models and targeting new markets.

In addition, Oklahoma State University will receive $940,000 for state-of-the-art teaching equipment for a new allied health facility. The equipment will support efforts to train students in fields like nurse science, diagnostic medical sonography, health care administration and dietetic technology.

Read the story at NewsOK.com

Oklahoma Entrepreneurial Summit designed to inspire, inform budding job creators http://i2e.org/news/oklahoma-entrepreneurial-summit-designed-to-inspire-inform-budding-job-creators/ Tue, 20 Sep 2016 14:02:17 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29198 Oklahoma Entrepreneurial Summit designed to inspire, inform budding job creators
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

In this column, I tend to write about the science or technology behind the innovation. I also like to highlight the new companies — the jobs they create, the markets they serve, the revenue they draw into Oklahoma from other parts of the country and the world. Behind it all are Oklahoma’s entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are the drivers of this phenomenon we have branded Innovation to Enterprise. They prove concepts. They convince investors to invest. They convert the doubtful. They persuade first customers to take a risk on their new ideas. They encourage founding teams to stay the course on the darkest days.

And entrepreneurs inspire. They show the rest of us what is possible and what is NOT impossible.

Their inspiration is what the 2016 Oklahoma Entrepreneurial Summit (Oct. 7) is all about.

The Summit is appropriate for all types of entrepreneurs and all stages of business. Entrepreneurs, investors, economic leaders and students will fill the room to enjoy an agenda that features Oklahoma entrepreneurs from three of our most promising startups.

Linear Health Sciences is a company co-founded by a physician who had an idea for improving treatments that use medical tubing, such as IV lines. WeGoLook (the company’s COO panelist if a former Governor’s Cup winner) is a sharing economy platform that is at the leading edge of the sharing economy, and Hire360, a hiring platform that provides companies access to top candidates and improves the hiring process from beginning to end.

A second panel discussion will provide education to go along with the inspiration, explaining the sources of funding here in Oklahoma, from the VC funds managed by i2E, to angel funds, to banks.

In the afternoon, we kick off Who Wants To Be (WWTB), which is open to college-level entrepreneurs, students and faculty members. The session includes the must-haves for a business plan, the how-to for developing financial documents, and the “do-this” for creating an energizing and compelling investor pitch. Our promise is that attendees will get some tips from us that they won’t learn on Shark Tank.

The transition point in the day is a networking luncheon where Summit panelists and other Oklahoma leaders in the various aspects of entrepreneurship host individual tables.

Attendees get the list ahead of time and join the table they are most interested in.

If history is a predictor, when the luncheon concludes, we will have a tough time getting folks to push back their chairs. They will still be talking when we clear the room.

Oklahoma’s “already entrepreneurs,” as well as our “wannabes” are eager to learn. And there’s a wealth of know-how here in the sooner state. It comes together October 7 at The Summit and WWTB, sponsored by Oklahoma EPSCOR, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, and i2E.

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

Si66: i2E and the Diversification of the Oklahoma Economy http://i2e.org/news/si66-i2e-and-the-diversification-of-the-oklahoma-economy/ Mon, 19 Sep 2016 19:34:18 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29196 i2E and the Diversification of the Oklahoma Economy
By Heidi Brandes
Copyright 2016 – Silicon66 News

The 1980s nearly destroyed Oklahoma.

As oil prices fluctuated like a dying bird, rising and then crashing, Oklahoma’s economy felt the brunt. Banks crumbled and failed like weak empires, businesses closed, bankruptcies flooded the population and unemployment soared.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Oklahoma was mostly an oil and gas and agriculture state. Famous for the miles and miles of oil wells since the 1920s and the infamous Dust Bowl immortalized by “The Grapes of Wrath,” the state relied too heavily on the easy black fortune of oil. Combined with unstable crop prices at the time, the oil bust of the 1980s had a dire, dangerous and lasting effect on the Oklahoma economy.

Oil is traditionally an up and down kind of market. Boom years bring riches; bust years bring despair. What the crippling oil bust of the 1980s made clear was that Oklahoma had to diversify its economy, to protect itself and its populace from the brutal uncertainty of only one or two major industries, especially one as moody as oil.

“A lot of people started thinking that Oklahoma has always been a boom and bust state based on energy prices, so wouldn’t it be nice if we diversified our economy so we didn’t have such a rollercoaster ride,” said Scott Meacham, former treasurer of Oklahoma. “In a rare moment of legislative clarity, the Oklahoma Legislature did a number of things in the early 1990s, and one of the things put in place was that the state should support commercialization activities of high-growth businesses.”

From that, i2E was born from an Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) initiative and has now become a nationally-recognized private not-for-profit corporation that invests in entrepreneurs who are building high-growth companies in Oklahoma.

i2E works directly with entrepreneurs, researchers and companies to help them commercialize their technologies, launch and grow new businesses and access needed capital.

But, much like the industries i2E assists, the corporation has changed dramatically from what it started as. Over 17 years, i2E morphed, grew and changed to become a powerhouse of innovation in Oklahoma that provides business expertise and funding to more than 650 emerging small businesses with more than $49 million of investment capital under management.


Meacham served as Oklahoma State Treasurer from  June 2005 to January 2011. In December 2012, he was appointed as President and CEO of i2E.

At its early stage, i2E was a connecting entity that paired would-be entrepreneurs to resources.

“At our genesis, we were sort of an early-stage commercialization company that was a connector,” Meacham said. “Then we started to morph over time. We found we needed to be an educator – we found there was a lack of knowledge about how to be an entrepreneur and people needed a more intensive education.”

Oklahoma also lacked entrepreneurs in industries outside of retail or energy. No one was starting innovation companies, and consequently, Oklahoma did not have deal flow either. Investors and ideas were in short supply.

“There are three key components you need to have,” Meacham said. “First, you need the idea factories, like universities, research institutions and government research labs. The second is people who can take those ideas forward, and the third is capital.”

At the time, Oklahoma’s capital was locked up in real estate and oil and gas, and the state’s best and brightest were exporting to other states. Venture capital was unheard of.

“The state of Oklahoma created the first small little tiny pot of capital. It was called the Technology Business Finance Program (TBFP),” Meacham said. “It was a tiny little pot, and we would invest up to $200,000 in these emerging companies. If they were successful, the state got paid back two times [the amount]; if they failed, the state got zero. It is one of the worst structures you can have.”

Amazingly, Meacham said, the payback rate on the tiny TBFP was 51 percent, and i2E began investing heavily in emerging tech companies and life science biotech startups.

“Part of our genesis behind i2e was that there was a spectacularly successful drug that was launched in Oklahoma that became a $30 billion company in Connecticut,” he said. “So we developed that drug here in Oklahoma, but exported it to Connecticut. What are we doing? We’re investing in these great ideas, but these great ideas were becoming companies somewhere else.”

Meacham couldn’t blame them, though. Oklahoma didn’t have the resources to support wildly successful startups. I2e was doing a good job of bringing innovation, but couldn’t keep the companies in the state.

“It’s hard to make much of an impact with just $100,000 or $200,000 in the TBFP,” he said. “Literally, a new therapeutic may cost $10 to $15 million to get it to market, and even a small startup, maybe an IT startup, would still be several hundred thousand.”

In 2006, the idea of a seed fund was created, another state fund, but in the form of a traditional venture capital fund.  Oklahoma would invest essential seed capital to start and scale a company and create equity. i2E became the contract manager of those capital funds.


Today, i2E boasts more than $49 million of investment capital under management to serve Oklahoma companies in all phases of the business life cycle, from startups looking for their first round of capital to established businesses seeking funding to expand their markets or products.

For the first time, i2E and Oklahoma could do more high-impact investing, providing up to half of a company’s capital needs. Oklahoma was writing big enough checks to keep significant companies within the arms of the red dirt state.

Among those companies: WeGoLook, a sharing economy platform that dispatches thousands of “lookers” to a location to do a physical inspection of things, such as property that’s for sale or vehicles that need to be inspected for insurance claims.

The Oklahoma City-based startup began in 2009, and thanks to funding for expansion by i2E, WeGoLook now works with numerous Fortune 500 companies and hired its 100th full-time employee in June.

“We needed those funds to expand,” said WeGoLook President and Co-Founder Robin Smith. “Without it, it would have been a much slower process.  I had to build a platform that could support 7,000 users for just one of our companies. I needed help getting angel investors, and i2E helped us do that. Without their support, we would have ramped up much more slowly.”

i2E also received a portion of the federal States Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), a U.S. Treasury-funded initiative that provides critical capital and co-investment for Oklahoma entrepreneurs at specific stages of their companies’ life cycles.

Called ‘Accelerate Oklahoma!’, the program is designed to invest, but also accelerate emerging growth, in promising Oklahoma companies. To date, i2E has committed over $11.2 million of the $13.2 million allocated to the Program.

Also offered through i2E is SeedStep Angels, a group of accredited angel investors comprised of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders in Oklahoma. Members provide investment capital, strategic advice and mentoring to emerging growth companies to help them achieve market leadership.

Companies blooming with the assistance of i2E include bio companies like Accele Biopharma and Arthrokinex in Oklahoma City, computer software companies like SOF of Oklahoma City and Avansic of Tulsa, defense and aerospace companies like Amethyst Research Incorporated of Ardmore and more.

“What I saw was a state that after all those years never figured out a way to diversify from oil and gas, and we really needed to invest in diversification,” Meacham said. “I saw i2E as the best diversification tool the state had, where it could push and make a difference.

“Most people would say that the oil bust we’re going through right now isn’t as bad as the 80s, in part because we have other sectors in our economy like aerospace, biotech and things like that. You want to develop these other sectors that will be ballasts whenever the price waves hit the energy sector.

We were a key piece in that. If you look at biosciences and the software IT space of Oklahoma, absolutely i2E was instrumental. We are huge player in those spaces.”

Read the story at Silicon 66

Survey shows young companies adding jobs, wealth to Oklahoma economy http://i2e.org/news/survey-shows-young-companies-adding-jobs-wealth-to-oklahoma-economy/ Tue, 13 Sep 2016 14:33:43 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29185 Survey shows young companies adding jobs, wealth to Oklahoma economy
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

Nearly the last thing I want to hear more about right now is surveys and polls, and I’m guessing that many others feel the same way. So let me warn you, this is a column about a poll — the 22-question survey that i2E sends every spring to its active and past clients.

We survey annually to evaluate the effect of our services on the state’s economy. It’s important that state leaders and taxpayers have the information they need to assess the impact of Oklahoma’s investment in technology-based startup businesses.

This year we sent 153 surveys and had approximately a 76 percent response rate.

One of the best yardsticks of startup impact of i2E’s assistance is the money those young firms have raised. The respondents to this year’s survey (the data reflects 2015 results) reported raising $40.1 million in equity and debt capital and $8.7 million in grants. This in a state that has zero Oklahoma-based seed stage venture capital firms other than i2E.

The startups put that capital to work generating $129.1 million in 2015 revenue, 70 percent of which was reported to have come from outside Oklahoma.

A significant chunk of that revenue went to pay an aggregate annualized payroll of $70.3 million with an average annual wage of $64,245. That’s 51 percent higher than the 2015 Oklahoma average annual wage of $42,458.

Those wages went into the wallets, purses, and bank accounts of employees holding 975 current full-time equivalent positions in these 153 responding companies.

These better-than-average wages fed Oklahoma’s economy through the payment or purchase of things like rent, groceries, gasoline, backpacks, tennis shoes, clothing, medical bills, and housing and many more items.

That’s the virtuous cycle of an innovation economy.

So what are the take-aways?

The young companies that responded to this survey are wealth creators for Oklahoma. The nearly 500 new products and services and 143 issued patents that these firms have introduced into the marketplace are pulling dollars into Oklahoma with more than 80 percent of sales coming from other states and nations.

They are also job creators. Of the nearly 1,000 full-time equivalent positions across these firms, 218 were 2015 additions.

Innovative startups lead statewide economic diversification. While concentrated in two major sectors — software/information technology (42 percent) and life sciences (34 percent), we have startups in chemicals, manufacturing materials and components, and energy and environment. None of them are directly in oil and gas production.

And here’s one more takeaway.

Every business and individual in Oklahoma can boost the impact of these innovative firms. How? Find a way to do business with them. Act as a mentor. Become an investor or development partner. Be an outspoken advocate for OCAST and i2E funding when the next budget cycle rolls around to allow these positive impacts to be continued and expanded across the state.

There are lots of ways to get off the sidelines and get into this game.

Read the story at NewsOK.com

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

Annual state study measures progress of innovation economy http://i2e.org/news/annual-state-study-measures-progress-of-innovation-economy/ Wed, 07 Sep 2016 14:47:54 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29156 Annual state study measures progress of innovation economy
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

Building an innovation economy is never a sprint. It’s a long relay, a marathon. It’s extra innings, multiple-game tiebreakers, overtime plays. It’s the Indy 500, not the Kentucky Derby. It’s time-lapse photography instead of fast-motion video.

For venture and economic development organizations like i2E, a key aspect of our responsibility is acceleration. It’s figuring how to find the best athletes, amp up their training, speed up the track, improve the car.

We also measure and communicate the metrics of innovation progress over time by distributing an economic impact survey to our entire population of client companies every year. In March, we submitted the 2016 economic impact survey to 153 active clients.

The largest industry sectors for scalable startups in Oklahoma are broadly defined as software/IT and life sciences. They tend to be distributed between Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

IT/software and life sciences make up more than 70 percent of the Oklahoma City mix. The state’s life sciences startups are predominantly focused in Oklahoma City — not surprising, given the concentration of the world-class research facilities located here (for example, OMRF and the University of Oklahoma Science Research Center).

About half of i2E’s current clients are located in the Oklahoma City metropolitan statistical area. In this year’s survey, of the 117 respondents, 70 were from that Oklahoma City area.

Those startups reported annualized revenue of $71.5 million, with 88 percent of that coming from outside Oklahoma. With a current annualized payroll of $34.7 million, employing 495 full-time equivalents with an average salary $63,566. Of those jobs, 134 were new in 2015.

i2E has invested $22.1 million in Oklahoma City startups. That capital has been leverage to achieve $163 million in total equity investment.

Standouts in bioscience are companies like Biolytx, a firm that is developing new therapeutics to fight increasingly drug resistant strains of harmful bacteria.

In IT/software, WeGoLook is a sharing economy platform that dispatches thousands of “lookers” to provide visual confirmation and a personalized report, completed by a real human to verify a product, person, place, or thing. WeGoLook hired its 100th employee in June.

And then there’s Monscierge, a hospitality software company that develops and markets advanced interaction technologies for touch screen and muti-touch platforms, connecting hotels and their guests to produce the best in guest experience.

These young companies are just three of the cutting-edge examples of the innovation bubbling here.

Entrepreneurship is the Ironman of economic development. But the road to success requires time and dedication. We know, because for more than 18 years, we’ve helped our state’s remarkable entrepreneurs put the numbers on the board.

Did You Know?
Since inception, i2E has served 678 Oklahoma technology-based, high-growth potential startup companies.

Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

UAS Tech Form in Oklahoma City, Sept. 7-8 http://i2e.org/news/uas-tech-form-in-oklahoma-city-sept-7-8/ Thu, 01 Sep 2016 20:44:14 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29152 Oklahoma fares well in startup activity, entrepreneurial index finds http://i2e.org/news/oklahoma-fares-well-in-startup-activity-entrepreneurial-index-finds/ Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:06:16 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29137 Oklahoma fares well in startup activity, entrepreneurial index finds
By Paul Monies
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

An energy slump in Oklahoma hasn’t dented the state’s environment for startup companies, with the Sooner State ranking well for entrepreneurial activity in a new survey of states and metropolitan areas.

Oklahoma came in fourth among smaller states in the ranking by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. That’s up from No. 8 in 2015. In all, 30 states saw higher aggregate levels of new business activity compared to the previous year.

Among the 25 smaller states grouped by the Kauffman Foundation, Oklahoma was third for the rate of new entrepreneurs, behind Montana and Alaska. Oklahoma ranked No. 10 for the opportunity rate of new entrepreneurs, which measures how many owners of new businesses were unemployed before starting their business.

State 6th in density

As far as startup density, Oklahoma ranked sixth among the smaller states. That index measures startups per 1,000 firms.

“These reports are critical to solving the puzzle of why entrepreneurship thrives in some places and not in others,” said Victor Hwang, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation. “Policymakers, practitioners and entrepreneurial support organizations can use the findings as tools to take the pulse of their local ecosystems to strengthen startup activity.”

The foundation said national startup activity rose for the second straight year, following several years of declines in the wake of the 2007-08 recession.

“While there is considerable variation from one locale to the next, the aggregate data bodes well for business startup activity around the country,” said Arnobio Morelix, a senior research analyst at the foundation.

For smaller states, Montana led the way in this year’s index. It was followed by Nevada, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Alaska, the foundation said. Eleven smaller states had higher startup activity this year than 2015.

Among large states, Texas, Florida, California, New York and Colorado took the top five spots in this year’s index. Nineteen out of the 25 largest states had higher levels of startup activity compared to 2015.

Read the story at NewsOK.com

Oklahoma-based tech company offers ideas for perfect date night http://i2e.org/news/oklahoma-based-tech-company-offers-ideas-for-perfect-date-night/ Tue, 30 Aug 2016 13:55:19 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29135 Oklahoma-based tech company offers ideas for perfect date night
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

The online dating industry generates about $2 billion in revenue each year and has expanded about 5 percent per year for the last five.

But what happens after folks find the right person?

“People are interested in taking intentional steps to invest consistently in the relationships they tried so hard to create — we all know what ‘date night’ is, said Brett Kolomyjec, co-founder of DateBox, but life gets busy with jobs, kids, and plenty more.”

Kolomyjec and his partners recognized an opportunity. “We realized that even if couples aren’t carving out time to have date night, many of them had an idea of what it would look like and what it would be,” Kolomyjec said.

DateBox is a budget-friendly subscription service that once a month delivers a box containing eight to 10 items and creative plans for one great date.

The sushi-making course was very popular, as was a DateBox that included everything to channel a couple’s internal Van Gogh.

A gingerbread house box generated more than 3,400 Instagram posts, earning the post with the most “likes” a trip to Maui.

In business for about eight months, DateBox has delivered about 76,000 dates.

3-location start

Getting DateBox up and going wasn’t as simple as “just” coding an algorithm or an application with artificial intelligence that gets smarter about delighting its customers the more it is used.

Kolomyjec and his partners started out in three locations (Seattle, Texas, and Oklahoma), working on their laptops from coffee shops and homes. Then they made the decision to relocate to Oklahoma, consolidate operations and headquarters here, and establish a warehousing and logistics facility.

Sourcing pricing, design and suppliers to consistently achieve quality and margins came next. About 70 contractors work two weeks a month to inventory and pick from about 100,000 to 150,000 well-vetted and curated products, packing about eight to 10 items in each DateBox.

Kolomyjec has built marketing relationships with bloggers and influencer couples, including winners from “The Bachelor,” putting social media to work, attracting both subscribers as well as product manufacturers who are seeking ways to build recognition for their products and brands.

The DateBox team has grown from three to more than a dozen employees. Kolomyjec expects to double that by the end of the year.

“There are a lot of qualified technical people, software developers and other technical talent who want to work on projects and apps,” he said.

“For a startup, Oklahoma feels like an up-and-coming place with a small-town feel,” Kolomyjec said.

“The people are really great. People understand what we are trying to do and build. We are excited about becoming part of the community and laying down our roots,” Kolomyjec said.

Did You Know?
The subscription business model predates the internet — Columbia Record Club was founded in 1955 and Wine of the Month Club, the oldest mail order wine club, has been shipping since 1972.

Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Subscription required)

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

Gallogly College of Engineering Graduate Student Meet & Greet on Sept. 15 http://i2e.org/news/gallogly-college-of-engineering-graduate-student-meet-greet-on-sept-15/ Mon, 29 Aug 2016 21:04:45 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29129

When: Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016
Time: 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Location: Lloyd Noble Center, Clinton Lounge

This event offers employers a unique opportunity to promote internships and full-time positions exclusively to GCoE master’s and Ph.D. students. Because many career fairs are targeted toward students finishing undergraduate degrees, we created this event to ensure our graduate students meet companies seeking employees with advanced degrees.

Please RSVP. Each representative from your company should register individually. Contact Cerry Leffler if you have any questions at 405-325-4536 or cerry@ou.edu

Oklahoma ranks No. 4 in Kauffman Index of Startup Activity http://i2e.org/news/oklahoma-ranks-no-4-in-kauffman-index-of-startup-activity/ Fri, 26 Aug 2016 15:43:18 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29117 Alternative energy firm reflects state’s pioneer spirit http://i2e.org/news/alternative-energy-firm-reflects-states-pioneer-spirit/ Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:30:36 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29111 Alternative energy firm reflects state’s pioneer spirit
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

In the words of founder Dirk Spiers, the last 12 months for Spiers New Technologies have been one crazy ride.

The young company, which provides a one-stop solution to battery life cycle management including the “4Rs” of services (repair, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and repurposing) for advanced battery packs used in hybrid and electric vehicles, is in full stretch.

Spiers New Technology is adding new customers, expanding services for existing customers, and developing new products. With more than 40 employees, jobs have more than doubled in a year.

“You can even see it in the parking lot,” said Spiers. “The north building is full. The lot around the new south building (more than 70,000 square feet) is full, and now the company is adding a third facility. It’s starting to be a campus.”

Spiers New Technology made a big bet on disruption in the energy and automotive marketplace and that bet is paying off. Yet, Spiers believes that we haven’t seen anything yet and that the real growth in the market of electrification and energy storage is yet to happen. When it does Spiers New Technology will be poised to pivot and play.

“We are at the beginning of this,” said Spiers. “The OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are making billion dollar investments in electric vehicles. GM, Mercedes, Ford, Tesla and others keep doubling down on electric cars. Mercedes just announced an electric truck in California that is amazing.”

And then there’s solar.

“Just look at what happened last year,” he said. “In some parts of the world it is the cheapest form of energy. People don’t understand yet what a disruption the world of solar is. The Saudi’s are embracing solar energy storage to have a more diversified economy; when Saudi Arabia is doing it, why shouldn’t Oklahoma?”

Spiers New Technologies isn’t betting on a particular technology; the company is betting on a direction, a trend.

“Everything risks being disrupted, including ourselves. The most important thing is balance between exploiting what you have right now and exploration of the new. The minute you start protecting your core there is stagnation. We all know what happened with the Blockbuster’s and Kodak’s of this world. Change is inevitable so better embrace it than fight it. You have to be agile and not afraid.”

Agile and not afraid. Disruption and diversification. It’s true for a company and true for a state.

Oklahoma can be a leader in the diversification and disruption of the energy industry. We are the fourth sunniest state in the nation. We have a lot of wind. There’s opportunity for us at every level. The “Sooners” and wildcatters we learned about in Oklahoma History were all about charging forward, pushing the envelope, and taking risks. Taking big risks fits within the character of our state.

We need to plug into our pioneer spirit and seize the opportunities that lie ahead in alternative energy sources.  That’s exactly what Spiers New Technologies is doing.

Did you know?
Half the 8600 GM designers and engineers working on products and controls that make GM cars and trucks move are involved with alternative and electric propulsion systems. 
SOURCE: Fortune

Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Email Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

i2E invests in medical innovation http://i2e.org/news/i2e-invests-in-medical-innovation/ Mon, 22 Aug 2016 14:37:43 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29100 i2E invests in medical innovation
in Oklahoma Business Briefs
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

i2E Inc. recently led a $1.25 million seed round investment in Linear Health Sciences, a Norman-based innovative medical technology startup.

Founded in 2015 by Ryan Dennis, M.D., Linear Health Sciences developed a patented, nonmetallic breakaway device for medical IVs that connect hospital patients to therapeutics. The company’s technology addresses a problem involving up to 25 percent of the more than 1 billion IV connections placed in hospital patients annually when patient IV’s are accidentally disconnected.

The seed round included $515,000 invested by the i2E-managed Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund, along with $250,000 from the Oklahoma Angel Fund, a new investment vehicle created and managed by i2E. Other participants include $105,000 from the i2E-managed SeedStep Angels and other angel investment of $380,000.

“We plan to put most of this investment to work in developing manufacture grade tooling and molds for our Orchid Valve IV connection,” Dennis said.  “The remaining amount of the investment will be used to finance the FDA approval process and the consultants who are assisting us.”

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

Oklahoma City’s WeGoLook is an innovative business success story http://i2e.org/news/oklahoma-citys-wegolook-is-an-innovative-business-success-story/ Tue, 16 Aug 2016 13:58:25 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29091 Oklahoma City’s WeGoLook is an innovative business success story
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

It’s exciting when a young Oklahoma company signs up Fortune 500 companies as customers — Hyundai Motor Co., Ritchie Bros., the world’s largest industrial auctioneer, eBay Motors and JPMorgan Chase.

It’s even more exciting when that young Oklahoma company is at the leading edge of a monumental shift in the way the world works. That’s the story of WeGoLook, a company that started in 2009 and in June hired its 100th employee.

WeGoLook is a sharing economy platform that dispatches thousands of “lookers” to physically go to a particular location to inspect a used car that’s for sale, a homeowner’s insurance claim, a building that’s up for purchase, or a giant piece of road-leveling equipment, just to name a few. Lookers — there are more than 26,000 of them now — earn an average of $25 to $40 per job, with some reaching $200 or more per look.

“As the sharing economy business model trends upward, we are light years ahead,” said co-founder Robin Smith. “We are on a new frontier. WeGoLook is able to add any kind of workforce or skill set into our community. We are adding licensed drone operators. We have bilingual lookers. If one of our clients needs someone who speaks Mandarin to do a task or capture data, we have a person we can send on demand.”

Enterprise companies are utilizing on-demand workers to augment and supplement their own labor force. While WeGoLook’s first customers were folks who wanted to verify that the items that they were buying on eBay or Craigslist were as advertised, the company has evolved into a mobile technology business and moved solidly into the enterprise space, with the well-earned attention of Inc., Forbes, and others.

Companies use WeGoLook’s technology to create customized requests for information and then engage WeGoLook’s vetted and expert lookers to go out and capture the data.

“Say you are a company that needs a national footprint to go out and look at cellphone towers or residential sites. We can put those data fields into our platform tonight, and tomorrow our lookers have the app and go out and capture that data anywhere,” Smith said. “Our customers are amazed. I’ve had executives tell me that it can take six weeks just to get a meeting to talk about changing a mobile app.”

WeGoLook is staying ahead of the curve, adding mobile target technology and more. Part of the “more” is going global, and another aspect is the company’s human side. The looker roster includes many veterans and military families — and these lookers receive first notification of a new look opportunity.

This is what innovation is all about. With a better idea, a better technology that offers better service to the consumer, and Oklahoma values, WeGoLook is disrupting the inspection marketplace — and becoming a leader in the sharing economy.

Did you know?
The sharing economy is expected to add more than $330 billion to the global economy over the next decade.
SOURCE: pwc.com/CISsharing

Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

Ada company develops lead-free fuel to power general aviation industry http://i2e.org/news/ada-company-develops-lead-free-fuel-to-power-general-aviation-industry/ Fri, 12 Aug 2016 14:10:45 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29078 Ada company develops lead-free fuel to power general aviation industry
By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

ADA — A new fuel that might power the future of the world’s general aviation industry filled a small jar in a hangar at Ada Municipal Airport, looking as if it could have been a mug of amber ale.

Tim Roehl, co-founder and president of General Aviation Modifications Inc. (GAMI) placed the jar of newly developed fuel on a table next to a jar of current aviation fuel. The current fuel was tinted blue to indicate it contains lead.

The new fuel was developed solely by Ada’s GAMI and is called G100UL for GAMI’s 100 Motor Octane Unleaded. It is awaiting certification by the Federal Aviation Administration and is lead-free.

The general aviation world is the final transportation industry holdout still using leaded gasoline, called 100 Low-Lead, as its primary fuel for piston-engine aircraft.

However, the exemption for the use of a leaded fuel allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for general aviation aircraft is expiring. That deadline prompted an industrywide consortium to begin working on development of an alternative fuel about a decade ago.

“We became very frustrated with where we saw the industry going in terms of the inability to come up with a successful solution,” Roehl said. “So we began to try to formulate a successful replacement fuel on our own. And after only about six months, we seized upon a formulation and some chemistries that looked to us to be a viable replacement for the 100 Low Lead.”

GAMI patented the formulation and began working on the process to gain FAA certification — called a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) — for the fuel. Roehl expects to gain initial certification within six months. “And that will be big news,” he said.

So how did a tiny general aviation company located at a municipal airport in this southeastern Oklahoma community of 17,000 people become a leader in development of aviation fuel?

GAMI’s footprint across the general aviation world is much larger than the three hangars and 45 employees it maintains at Ada Municipal Airport. Over the past 20 years, it has developed some of the industry’s most innovative engine power management technologies.

Founded in 1996 by Roehl and business partner George Braly, the company quickly made an impact with development of its patented GAMIjector fuel injectors, which are replacement fuel injectors for piston engine aircraft.

The GAMIjectors allow pilots to fine tune the performance of their engines to run “lean of peak,” which means engines run cooler and use less fuel.

“We have continued to enjoy good sales with the GAMIjectors, with our 25,000th set recently sold,” Roehl said. “We sell them all over the world. We invented it, we patented it and basically wrote the book on it.”

Roehl is a longtime pilot and Oklahoma native who opened an Ada-based aviation manufacturing business called Dynamic Flight Structures in the late 1980s before selling the company.

Braly is an Ada native and is GAMI’s chief engineer who has been a certified flight instructor since he was 19 years old. He earned an aeronautical engineering degree from Brown University in 1970, just as NASA was winding down the Apollo space program and laying off hundreds of engineers.

Braly returned to Oklahoma, earned a law degree and began practicing law while continuing to fly. Braly and Roehl connected in the early-1990s and decided to partner in the venture that became GAMI.

“The fuel injector project turned into a springboard and got us going,” Braly said. “We kept expanding the business. Tim kept reaching out and finding things to bring in.”

The aviation business partners eventually opened a second successful Ada business in 1998 called Tornado Alley Turbo that builds and installs advanced turbonormalizing systems for piston engine aircraft.

A third company called Advanced Pilot Seminar, brings pilots from all over the world to Ada for three days of classes to learn how to operate aircraft engines in the safest manner and protect them from adverse operating conditions.

“We are well recognized in the pilot community for unique things we do,” Roehl said.

If and when GAMI’s unleaded fuel is certified by the FAA for fleet use, Roehl anticipates licensing the formulation to major fuel producers such as Phillips, Shell and Exxon. “We are quite confident that our fuel has all the characteristics that are key to becoming a successful fuel,” he said.

Read the full story at NewsOK.com

Jim Stafford writes about Oklahoma innovation and research and development topics on behalf of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology (OCAST).

Oklahoma City software company helps customers meet goals http://i2e.org/news/oklahoma-city-software-company-helps-customers-meet-goals/ Tue, 09 Aug 2016 14:12:32 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28979 Oklahoma City software company helps customers meet goals
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

Altimeter Software has a very straightforward elevator pitch: “Helping Your People Achieve Their Goals.”

The startup’s mobile application software was developed by the information technology group at Oklahoma Christian University to help OC students keep track of their spiritual development goals.

Using beacon-supported technology, students find and check into and out of events and monitor their progress against their goals. The app includes a comprehensive dashboard and tools for school administration to view progress and provide help and encouragement where it is needed. 

The application worked so well that, with the guidance of Russ McGuire, OC’s entrepreneur-in-residence, OC formed its first Governor’s Cup team to create a business plan for Altimeter.

“I’ve always had a spirit for entrepreneurship from creating things to building things to selling things,” said Austin McRay, one member of the Governor’s Cup team and now Altimeter’s business development manager.

“I set up lemonade stands all day long,” he said, “and created duct tape wallets to sell to my friends. My sophomore year in college, I was a salesman for a roofing company. I fell in love with being on my own. My junior year, I created an online apparel business. I learned the process of forming a business, but there were a lot of bumps and it didn’t go as planned.”

Austin shut down the online apparel site and turned his passion to Altimeter. The team placed in the top six of the Governor’s Cup Small Business Division and Austin won the IBM Small Business Division pitch award.

“I was the one who was going to be an ongoing part of the business after graduation,” he said. “Practicing over and over refined my understanding of the business and prepared me for my current job, talking to customers, business professionals and investors.”

Early adopter program

Altimeter signed its first customer in March and has an early adopter program. The company is marketing the software primarily to deans of students at public and private universities and to principals and department heads in target high schools. Applications include community service, spiritual development, and sports loyalty programs.

Austin says the real world is different from the Governor’s Cup.

“I thought this was going to be easy,” he said. “I know there are so many schools and churches that could use our software, but the sales cycle isn’t that I just call on someone, and they say yes. Even when a startup has a great product, it requires a lot of work. But companies like ours that figure out how to make it past the hump, gain momentum. Being here in the OC incubator allows me to drown, but still breath.”

When Oklahoma promotes a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, great ideas and solutions can come from unexpected places. The Governor’s Cup is a catalyst for matching great ideas and passionate young entrepreneurs. This is how it’s supposed to work.

Read the story at NewsOK.com

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

WeGoLook Will Check Out That Sketchy Craigslist Car For You http://i2e.org/news/wegolook-will-check-out-that-sketchy-craigslist-car-for-you/ Mon, 08 Aug 2016 15:30:16 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28972 Arthrokinex Joint Health http://i2e.org/news/arthrokinex-joint-health/ Mon, 08 Aug 2016 14:40:15 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28970 Even great entrepreneurs need help, and the willingness to keep at it http://i2e.org/news/even-great-entrepreneurs-need-help-and-the-willingness-to-keep-at-it/ Fri, 05 Aug 2016 14:31:50 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28924 Even great entrepreneurs need help, and the willingness to keep at it
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

When Johnny Carson hosted “The Tonight Show,” he had a running gag called Carnac the Magnificent. Carson played a mystic in a feathered turban and cape who could divine the answer to the question contained in a sealed envelope. 

The segment (based on puns and wordplay) drew plenty of audience participation and lots of laughs as Carson held the sealed envelope up to his forehead, closed his eyes and gave the answer to a question he hadn’t seen.

I was thinking about Carnac recently during a business plan presentation by a passionate and very enthusiastic entrepreneur.

This particular entrepreneur had a ready answer to everything, even before the potential investors in the room had a chance to ask their questions.

And that brings me to the capstone of my series of columns on beliefs and behaviors that can and do lead startups and entrepreneurs to failure. The Achilles heel of entrepreneurship is thinking you know all the answers.

Everyone agrees that it takes phenomenal confidence and courage to start any business from scratch. But when confidence and courage become certitude and cockiness, it leads to disaster.

As most of us in the investment industry can tell you, we see too many entrepreneurs who believe that they have figured everything out.

They’ve read a book, taken a class, or even completed a college degree in entrepreneurship from a great business school.

Or maybe they are a terrific engineer with patents, a physician with a national reputation, or a scientist who has been awarded millions of dollars in federal grants.

Not only are they sure of their own knowledge, they reinforce their belief by surrounding themselves more with “yes” people.

They seek applause instead of people who question, poke at assumptions, challenge value propositions, or demand proof that there’s a market with real customers who will pay for the entrepreneur’s great new product or idea.

Investors look for entrepreneurs who are willing to say, “I have the answer, but here are the things I’m going to do to make sure — the experts I’m scheduled to call, the market survey that goes out next week, or the customer beta that’s underway.

For every know-it-all entrepreneur I’ve met, I’ve also worked with the opposite, entrepreneurs who want to accelerate their startups by learning from others’ experience and mistakes — entrepreneurs who leverage i2E’s venture advisory services to gain access to industry and technology experts who provide thousands of dollars of pro bono consulting because they want to help a scrappy entrepreneur succeed.

You don’t have to be a Carnac to know what’s inside that envelope — it’s a recipe for success.

Did You Know?
According to a 2014 survey, 70 percent of small businesses that receive mentoring survive more than five years — double the survival rate of nonmentored businesses.
SOURCE: www.sba.gov

Read the full story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.