By Scott Meacham
Copyright ® 2014, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
When I write about companies in this column, my focus is on impact.
There’s the economic impact from our portfolio, $228 million at last count, driven by 2,400 jobs created, salaries that are more than 90 percent higher than the Oklahoma average, and revenue drawn into Oklahoma from other states and nations (82 percent).
Then there’s the impact of the amazing technologies created here. Moleculera is helping children with neurological conditions. DormaTarg is fighting metastasis-prone cancers. Well Check helps keep well sites operating and secure, and Monscierge is changing the hospitality industry and improving guest experiences around the world.
But there are also hundreds of companies that we engage with that I don’t write about. i2E is connected to some degree with nearly 200 entrepreneurial ideas and ventures in Tulsa, 300 in Oklahoma City, and another 100 or so across the state.
Our touch may be as light as a conversation at a networking event or as deep a dive as an engagement with the Oklahoma Proof of Concept Center.
I was raised Baptist, and our approach with entrepreneurs brings to mind the inclusive words of the old hymn that became Billy Graham’s epic altar call, “Just as I Am.”
Regardless of the quality of the idea, the experience of the entrepreneur, or the state of the business plan, we encourage any Oklahoma entrepreneur who’s thinking of starting up or expanding business with high growth potential to come and talk to us — just as they are.
Entrepreneurs sometimes think they need to have it all figured out. They may think they need a prototype, a fully baked business plan, and a roster of prospective customers. They may believe that they must have their intellectual property fully secured and all their legal documents in place.
Not so. If milestones have been accomplished, great. But if not, we meet entrepreneurs where they are. We’ll help them figure out the pieces they don’t have.
One of the earliest and best ways we help is through the three-week Immersion Venture Assessment Program. Participants don’t need users, customers, or prototypes. They just need to be in a type of business eligible to receive i2E services.
We’ll help assess the business opportunity, identify risks and determine the product market fit. The outcome should be “go/no go.” If it’s a “go”, the entrepreneur can more fully engage with i2E services.
If it’s a “no go” the good news is two-fold. The entrepreneur has learned how to assess a market, identify competition, and estimate preliminary profit potential. Plus, he or she has built a relationship with our venture adviser team.
When those entrepreneurs with no go deals, have their next great ideas — and we find that passionate entrepreneurs almost never stop at just one—they will know that they can come back to i2E for advice and help, just as they are.
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. Email Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
Did You Know: Seventy-eight percent of entrepreneurs surveyed rank learning from previous failures as an important factor for business success. SOURCE: Kauffman Foundation