By Scott Meacham
Copyright © The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Every year around the middle of October, I start writing in my head at least one holiday-focused column before the end of the year. I try to jot down a few ideas, feeling good that I have started well in advance, and then the whirlwind of the fourth quarter takes over.
Last year, the intensity was in supporting portfolio companies, WeGoLook and Selexys, as they concluded powerful exits within days of each other — exits that positioned each of these Oklahoma companies to reshape the industries and customers they serve.
This year, it’s been an across-the-board drive as i2E has closed a typical year’s worth of investments since August while helping portfolio companies clear the significant milestones that contribute to creating the groundbreaking exits of the future — companies that include Progentec Diagnostics, a startup working to provide a breakthrough diagnostic test that enables physicians to better manage the complicated and damaging autoimmune disease of lupus, and iRecommend Software, a company that is revolutionizing online predictive analytics through the use of artificial intelligence in matching algorithms.
These young i2E client companies, and dozens more like them, truly have the potential to change people’s lives. And that brings me to my holiday message for this Thanksgiving week.
I’m thankful. On the personal side, I’m thankful for my family and our good health, and on the business side, I’m grateful to work with such an amazing group of talented and experienced staff at i2E, Oklahoma entrepreneurs, startup companies, and the many partners that have helped build us into the national success that we have become over the last nearly 20 years.
Together we are reshaping Oklahoma’s economy with new companies, new technologies, and new jobs that pay more than 50 percent of the state’s average.
Our brand of new business creation is anchored by capital and expertise. I’m grateful that i2E has approximately $60 million in funds under management and that our portfolio is made up of 89 companies representing 44 active equity investments and another 45 active debt investments.
I especially appreciate the energy and expertise from i2E’s investment underwriting and portfolio management team that, to date, has produced 250 investments totaling more than $45.8 million in 159 unique companies.
These experts have more than 80 combined years of experience. They know how to attract and evaluate Oklahoma’s very best investment opportunities, and then conduct rigorous due diligence so that we invest in the best entrepreneurial deals with the highest chance for success and impact on our state.
They negotiate and structure investments so that our deals are fair to the entrepreneur and are attractive as syndication opportunities with other angels and venture capital firms. They deliver the financial guidance and ongoing management that help entrepreneurs build the sustainable companies that have created 975 full time equivalent employees over the last 18 years.
And while I’m reflecting on gratitude, I want to give voice in this column to something that’s in so many of our hearts. I’m thankful I live in Oklahoma. We have our challenges, from tornadoes to the state budget, but we also have some of the finest people anywhere, and I am honored to be a fifth-generation Oklahoman.
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.