The i2E e3 Series helps Oklahoma startup founders perform market validation of their ideas and solutions before they start creating products that their customers may not want to buy.
Now in its fifth year, this program is the most robust in the region and boasts more than 160 participating companies, comprised of both seasoned founders and first-time entrepreneurs, all of whom have gained valuable insight from e3.
This past month, i2E concluded the latest virtual e3 cohort featuring six new startups from across the state. Among them were winners from the recent 2020 Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup business plan and pitch competition, Cadenzo and Novel Nuero, both based in Tulsa.
“After gaining momentum in the Love’s Cup, we were excited to explore the viability of our business plan in the real world but were unsure where to start,” said Brittanie Whitney, co-founder and CEO for Novel Neuro. Her team won first place in the High Growth Undergraduate Division for their business plan around a cognitive assessment platform that enhances the confidence of providers in the medical, personal injury, and insurance industries in accurately identifying falsified claims of brain injury. Brittanie, along with her co-founders, Sophie Zehentner and Faith Nichols, are moving forward with Novel Neuro and, through the e3 workshops, they were able to narrow the focus of their business strategy and value proposition. Additionally, the cohort design enabled them to network with other Oklahoma entrepreneurs across various disciplines.
“Our peers’ input and feedback helped us shape our approach and brought new perspectives to our business. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this program,” said Whitney.
Another Love’s Cup team moving forward with their business idea is Cadenzo, the second-place winner in the High Growth Undergraduate Division. In his e3 pitch, Marc LaManque, founder and CEO, explained that the word Cadenzo is derived from an Italian word that indicates the end of a musical phrase and the beginning of a new one. And Cadenzo intends to do just that by creating a new standard for concert tickets. This startup utilizes high-tech e-tickets which gives venues control over both primary and secondary ticket sales. This business will allow venues and concert promoters to capture a percentage of resold ticket markup and the valuable data that comes along with it. During e3, LaManque, along with co-founders Andres Gonzalez and Troy Smith, developed efficient and reliable methods to test customer interest levels. They also received valuable advice from expert mentors helping them to firm up their value proposition, find the perfect first customer, and develop a plausible path to success.
“We are more confident in our business and are excited to move forward with the knowledge and connections e3 and i2E brought us.” said LaManque.
From nearby Bartlesville, co-founders, Erin Pallayi and Ephraim Goodenough are developing an all-in-one product designed for photographers to run their business more effectively. Their solution, Neuromatics, connects all the pieces required to maintain and grow a photography business. “e3 is a great program for startups,” said Pallayi, “and helped us think through the initial stages of our company and how we must re-align ourselves to accomplish the first tasks all the way through to understanding the investors’ expectations.”
Micheal Ude is the founder of Fan Fair, an Oklahoma City startup that helps musicians grow their fan base by facilitating promotional cross-posting between music influencers. The music industry requires artists to have a large existing fan base to be successful financially, even with a record deal. Most new artists have neither the time nor resources to grow that fan following alone. They currently solve this problem by self-promoting on social media, playing shows in different locations, and opening for more established artists. Fan Fare allows musicians to connect with each other and instantly promote each other on their various platforms in a secure, private, and reciprocal manner. Ude shared that he was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the 6-week program and accomplished more in that short amount of time from a target market perspective than he had in the previous year. He added, the instructors are knowledgeable and invested not only in his success through the course, but also in his success as a startup.
Also from Oklahoma City, Jay White, founder of Focal Software, a SaaS business management tool for eCommerce sellers, explained that the e3 Series was extremely helpful from a growth and learning standpoint. “The process of truly figuring out product-market fit through customer discovery as well as competitive analysis and fine tuning our pitch proved to be very valuable.” He mentioned the videos and assignments prepared them for each class and ultimately equipped them to be successful moving forward.
Cole Stevens, founder and president of Hiike, located in Oklahoma City, has five years of experience in transportation senior management, in addition to extensive sales and leadership training. His startup is a long-distance rideshare company that utilizes Class 8 CMV’s to transport passengers along the same route that Carriers already transport property. “The team at i2E is incredibly willing to help entrepreneurs succeed in all levels of their business,” Cole said, “and their e3 series provided clarity on how to better guide my business, prepare for scaling within the right market, and how to tailor the product to the proper customer base.”
The staff at i2E looks forward to assisting these startups grow into successful Oklahoma businesses. As a part of the 31st e3 cohort, these entrepreneurs are ahead of the game.
If you are starting a scalable company, please consider applying to the e3 program. Visit www.i2e.org/e3 to see how i2E can help.