By Scott Meacham
Copyright (©) 2015, BH Media Group Holdings, Inc.
Every now and then, we connect with an entrepreneur who has a vision so compelling and bold that it makes me think, “Wow — what if he or she really could make that happen?”
Dave King, founder and CEO of Exaptive, is one of those entrepreneurs.
“The question that we are trying to answer at Exaptive,” Dave told us, “is how can we best use technology to help people have good ideas? How can we best use software to help facilitate innovation?”
There is no shortage of technology to connect people: to dates (Match.com), to rides (Uber) or to music (Pandora). There are plenty of social networks that link us with our friends, family and associates.
What we need, Dave says, are more cognitive networks. Networks that span disciplines and cross domains, especially in this world of ever increasing degrees of specialization.
“Lots of small ‘aha moments’ get triggered by hard work and linear focus,” he says “but I’m convinced that the big aha moments are almost always triggered by cross-disciplinary pollination and lateral thinking. Most people know that Gutenberg invented the printing press, but it was seeing a wine press that first gave him the idea of squishing ink onto paper.”
It was serendipity that Gutenberg happened to visit a winery — but what if he hadn’t? Would we have had to wait another 10 years for printed books?
Serendipity is great, but instead of depending on chance, Exaptive wants to stack the odds in favor of serendipitous moments by taking the tangible building blocks of ideas: data sources, algorithms, visualizations and creating a technical platform to connect people to those ideas in new and novel ways.
An electrical engineer from MIT who has been involved in entrepreneurial ventures for 15-plus years, Dave started Exaptive in 2011. The first step toward proving Exaptive’s technology was to help customers analyze and mine data.
Exaptive made some money, Dave bootstrapped the company, grew the team and it became profitable because Exaptive solved some real problems for real customers — not by building custom monolithic software, but by building a modular software platform that allowed Exaptive to easily combine and recombine code components in new ways as new customer needs arose.
When a career opportunity brought Dave’s wife to Oklahoma, he and Exaptive came, too.
“I’ve come to believe there is something special about the Sooner mentality,” he says. “They were a group of people who saw a vast stretch of empty land and had the vision, the initiative to say, ‘I could make a home there.’ And they didn’t wait. They just went in and made it happen.”
Kind of like Exaptive. It recently received investment led by i2E, continues to grow, and is looking for entrepreneurial Sooners to join its technical team.
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. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.