By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Autumn is a great time to be in Oklahoma. There’s something for everyone from football to Tulsa’s Octoberfest to a breathtaking drive along the Talimena National Scenic Byway for fall foliage that stretches as far as you can see.
Fall is also the time for Oklahoma’s premier entrepreneurial event — the Entrepreneurial Summit. The Summit and the simultaneous Who Wants to Be an Entrepreneur? workshop will be October 6 at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City (i2e.org/event/entrepreneurial-summit-3)
This is the fifth year for the Summit, and we’ve been hosting the summit for more than a decade. Both audiences attend the Summit together and then there’s a networking lunch and an afternoon workshop designed for college students to learn the essentials of entrepreneurship.
Over the years, we’ve had outstanding content from a cadre of serial entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, and motivational speakers from across the U.S.
Every year, I think that this year’s agenda is better than the year before, but 2017 offers a line up that’s unusually special, and here’s why: This year, every entrepreneur on the stage has Oklahoma roots.
Our keynote speaker, Prerna Gupta, grew up in Shawnee and is a Shawnee High School graduate. As a serial entrepreneur, she has been founding consumer entertainment startups for over a decade.
Her latest is Hooked, a mobile app that tells stories as a conversation in text message form. It’s a new approach to “hooking” teenagers and millennials on fiction that the company says has reached more than 1 million downloads per week.
The Summit panel discussion will be moderated by Pat Fitzgerald, an Oklahoman who returned here after executive positions with firms that included Apple and Disney. Fitzgerald currently operates a consulting practice and is special adviser to Gov. Mary Fallin and the State for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Entertainment. Fitzgerald believes that Oklahoma is positioned to become a top technology corridor — with our research institutions, the ongoing reinvention of our cities, and the promising talent of our young people.
Summit panelists include three serial entrepreneurs, all Oklahomans with very diverse experiences in building multiple businesses.
Danny Maloney, another returned Oklahoman who is now CEO and co-founder of Tailwind, a visual marketing platform that provides bloggers, brands, and small businesses a complete marketing tool kit to maximize their impact on Pinterest and Instagram.
Brett Kolomyjec is co-founder of Oklahoma startup Datebox, a budget-friendly subscription service that monthly delivers a box with items and plans for one great date, and Rod Whitson, who now chairs Vistage Worldwide, advising top CEOs and business owners in Oklahoma.
If you ever wondered about the state of entrepreneurship in Oklahoma, just think about what this Summit roster says about Oklahoma’s expanding innovation economy. Then think about all the Oklahoma college students in the Summit and Who Wants to be an Entrepreneur audiences.
With talent and commitment like this, our state should be unstoppable.
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. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.