By Brian Brus
Courtesy of The Journal Record
OKLAHOMA CITY – Set aside for a moment anything that Ashok Kamal and Nicholas Seet may have learned about entrepreneurship at VentureSpur. The most obvious proof of their fiduciary responsibility can be found in the photo they took while visiting Oklahoma City for the first time.
New York resident Kamal and Seet, from Los Alamos, N.M., came to the metro area this summer to participate in the VentureSpur accelerator program downtown. The men heard about the program through friends at Rice University. A quick review of housing costs near Bricktown prompted the men to load up an RV and live out of the vehicle parked across the street from the accelerator office.
“Yeah, we’d just got funding,” Kamal said. “But you can never have too much cash as a startup.”
That attitude should serve them well as they launch SIVI Corp., which the men refer to as a gamified e-learning platform for aspiring entrepreneurs and startups. Kamal and Seet’s goal is to make money helping others make money.
Gamification refers to using gamelike processes, attitudes and goals in nongame contexts to enforce a competitive mind-set that leads to new solutions. Kamal said gamers are motivated by rewards, points and badges that represent levels of achievement and prestige. A fully developed, operational business normally provides enough feedback via revenue and profit, but before the real money starts flowing it’s useful for entrepreneurs to work within a virtual environment to reinforce the same drive.
“There’s a lack of cohesion among the resources that are out there; we’re building a one-stop shop portal to gain access to all that,” Kamal said. “In one part of the platform we’re building, entrepreneurs earn points by asking questions … which give them access to rewards ranging from discounts on startup vendor software to professional accounting services.”
Kamal estimated the rewards’ value in thousands of dollars.
Incubators tend to provide foundational resources for their clients, such as office space and advisers to help refine business models over a year or more. Accelerators, on the other hand, focus more on the speed aspect of the name, attracting venture capital from multiple sources to see profit from more tech-based business concepts that are already on their feet. Accelerator programs are usually just a few weeks long.
The incubator/accelerator market is large enough to afford room for SIVI, Kamal said, who estimates that only 2 percent of applicants are accepted into such programs.
“The vast majority of aspiring entrepreneurs, who number in the millions around the world, don’t have access to a quality, personalized, engaging business training experience,” he said. “Our platform will make entrepreneurship education all those things.”