By Brian Brus
Courtesy of The Journal Record
OKLAHOMA CITY – Business opportunities are growing for Oklahoma entrepreneurs at the upcoming annual South by Southwest Conferences and Festivals in Texas.
Josh O’Brien, i2E Inc. spokesman, said the deadline for entries in the first stage of an elevator pitch contest managed by the nonprofit business support agency is Feb. 6. Finalists will try to convince investors of the brilliant profitability of their ideas March 11 before a live audience at The 512 Bar in Austin for prizes worth $10,000. The event is sponsored by the Office of Entrepreneurial Development, a partnership between i2E and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
“We’re excited about showcasing Oklahoma talent before a SXSW audience that wants to see innovative, new concepts,” said O’Brien, director of i2E’s entrepreneurial development office. “The Buffalo Lounge Elevator Pitch competition will put Oklahoma entrepreneurs in front of an audience that otherwise might never be exposed to the best that our state has to offer.”
The 10-day festival last year brought together an estimated 50,000 registered business professionals for music, film and interactive media presentations, in addition to at least that many unregistered visitors attracted to free concerts and other promotional materials.
So competition has grown for space at the event, and that means more preparatory competitions for each vendor or participating organization leading up to SXSW.
The festival has evolved into a venue for business developers and creative content makers to come together and discuss product synergies, O’Brien said. Successful participants stand to bring economic development back to Oklahoma.
The Buffalo Lounge portable stage and work environment was born in 2010 when the Oklahoma Film & Music Office, the Idea Collective and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber collaborated on increasing the state’s presence at SXSW. Officials have since taken it on the road to events across the state.
“Once we started putting all the pieces together, we were surprised to realize just how many people from Oklahoma were going,” O’Brien said. “By focusing our efforts, we’ve provided participants a base of operations to work off of.
“We’re always trying to think of ways for our young startups to find success and attract attention and investors,” he said. “We’re optimistic that this will be another successful event for us.”
O’Brien said corporate sponsorships have been secured for the elevator pitch and promotion of SXSW, so it hasn’t depleted any of i2E’s other funds.
Applicants submitting video pitches will be ranked based on angel investor interest.
Criteria may include the quality of the pitch, business viability, market opportunity, competitive advantage and management. Finalists will be announced Feb. 8.
For more information about the Buffalo Lounge Elevator Pitch competition, Josh O’Brien can be reached at [email protected] or (405) 813-2412.