State positioned to capture capital as investments grow
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
I was wondering recently if there was ever a time that people in this country did not believe that entrepreneurship and new business creation were the keys to economic growth — and I couldn’t come up with one.
In our nation’s early years, and this was doubly true for Oklahoma, the prospect of great natural resources — timber, farm and grazing land, and oil — were the drivers of new business.
Eventually, and emphatically in the last 30 or so years, technology, especially related to the internet, has become the power behind high growth.
Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, frames a three-wave impact of the internet (with reference to his newest book “Third Wave”) in his forward to Kauffman Foundation’s 2016 Index of Growth Entrepreneurship.
The first wave, Case says, from the ’80s through the ’90s, was driven by the building of the internet infrastructure.
The second wave, from about 2000 until now, has been all about the empowering layers.
Google made it easier for all of us to explore massive amounts of data. Amazon and eBay created one-stop shopping.
Facebook connected humans (a billion users).
And surrounding it all, there is the revolution of all the mobile apps.
Now, Case says, we’re at the threshold of a third wave — making, in his words, “‘internet-enabled’ sound as ludicrous as the term ‘electricity-enabled.’”
This third wave will be characterized by developments like the Internet of Things and “the Rise of the Rest” — a moniker for innovation hubs, accelerators and investment capital spreading from concentrations on either coast across the mountains, prairies and plains of America.
And that’s where the particular relevance to Oklahoma comes in.
As the cost of living continues to rise on either coast, but particularly in places like California and New York City, it is becoming more and more attractive for entrepreneurs to start companies somewhere else.
They need talent and capital to do that of course, but as those critical components are more in evidence, we’re seeing startup activity branching out geographically.
Oklahoma ranks fifth among the 25 smaller states in terms of entrepreneurial business growth on Kauffman’s Growth Entrepreneurship Index (with states divided 50/50 into two categories).
On Kauffman’s Index of Startup Activity, Oklahoma ranks fourth.
Realistically, entrepreneurial activity in Oklahoma is not likely to ever match the larger, more densely populated states, nor will our cities approach the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston or New York City in the number of deals per city.
But, as these research-based indexes show, Oklahoma is clearly in the game and making a difference.
No state can manufacture quality deal flow, but the right target initiatives can stimulate it.
Did You Know?
Key measures of new business creation in the US are up for the second year in a row — just two years after we were at the lowest level in two decades.
Source: Kauffman Foundation
Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)
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 appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at [email protected].