By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2013, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
The 2014 academic year has officially started. i2E’s annual efforts at helping to train and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs will officially kickoff Oct. 11, with the “Who Wants To Be An Entrepreneur?” seminar.
These annual efforts culminate in the Governor’s Cup competition. This year’s competition is the 10th anniversary of the Governor’s Cup, which, since inception, has attracted hundreds of college students from across Oklahoma.
The enthusiasm from Oklahoma’s undergraduate and graduate students and their advisers increases every year. The opportunity to compete for up to $200,000 in cash prizes, scholarships and fellowships is enough to light up any novice entrepreneur’s eyes.
We begin by seeking creative and productive ways to show students the path to successful entrepreneurship and to connect them with role model entrepreneurs. Nothing is more inspiring to students than to be around entrepreneurs who are in the thick of the challenges and rewards that come with creating a new company.
That’s why we made “Who Wants To Be An Entrepreneur?” a part of Oklahoma’s Entrepreneurial Summit, the premier event for our state’s entrepreneurs.
Seminar participants will join in their own sessions and then join many of the state’s finest entrepreneurs at a networking luncheon. The luncheon helps students realize that they are a welcome part of Oklahoma’s large and growing community of individuals who believe that starting a company here is not only possible, but a great and potentially very profitable career choice.
This year’s program will also include a session with Bob Dorf, serial entrepreneur and co-author with Steve Blank, of the best-seller “The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company.”
Claire Cornell, assistant director of entrepreneurship at the University of Tulsa and faculty adviser with the Governor’s Cup since 2005, is using the Dorf/Blank text with her students.
“This approach is a new tool for startups,” Cornell said. “Incorporating these ideas … is excellent training. Not only will students receive an early overview of what to expect from the Governor’s Cup competition, they will also learn the importance of talking to potential customers first. It is crucial to figure out the product/market fit by clearly identifying customer needs before you write a business plan.”
The more we find efficient ways to share new ideas and create connections between all participants in Oklahoma’s innovation economy, the stronger and more self-sufficient our state’s innovation economy will be.
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. Email Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
Did You Know? According to the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report, 43 percent of Americans believe there are good opportunities for entrepreneurship around them, the highest level recorded since GEM began in 1999.