By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2018, The Oklahoman
I’m a numbers guy; lately, the number 22,000 has been stuck in my mind.
That’s how many Oklahoma jobs have been created so far through the public/private partnerships of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST).
When you think about it, 22,000 is really a remarkable result, especially when you consider it all resulted from the efforts of a state agency that was a startup 30 years ago.
A lot of moving parts go into creating thousands of jobs from Oklahoma companies that didn’t exist — investment in research, local sources of venture capital, STEM education and university curriculum that showcases entrepreneurship as a highly desirable career path, just to name a few.
One of the most decisive levers of job creation from the innovation economy is the passion and grit put forth by the founding teams — the tenacity and optimism that drive Oklahoma’s young technology companies gain enough momentum to grow and create jobs.
Tailwind, a 25-person Oklahoma firm that’s doubling in size year over year, typifies this startup energy. Tailwind provides a marketing platform with a sophisticated data engine that makes it easy for virtually any business owner to develop world class digital marketing strategies and campaigns.
As a member of Tailwind’s board, I have a firsthand perspective on how the company’s growth and expansion of talent is an affirmation of Oklahoma’s economic diversification. This is how it is supposed to work.
“It’s exciting being part of Oklahoma’s growing tech community,” Tailwind CEO Danny Maloney told me recently. “A lot of people don’t realize how much traction there is in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.”
Now trusted by more than 300,000 of the world’s leading brands, Tailwind has shifted into growth mode, continuously hiring across diverse roles ranging from software engineers and architects, to product managers and designers, to digital marketing experts who want to work with customers.
“With the growth we’re seeing, we have to be hiring constantly to capture the opportunity before us,” Danny said. “We have the opportunity to positively impact millions of businesses worldwide, helping them create jobs in their local communities. We owe it to our customers to grow to meet the demand.”
Tailwind’s customers range from Fortune 500 brands to individuals who sell on Etsy.com or Shopify, and bloggers who are building independent media empires around their passions. This diversity highlights the extent to which marketing continues to go digital, across all industries and company stages.
Danny and I have both heard people mistakenly say that, from a hiring and recruiting standpoint, Oklahoma is a small market for technology; our experience shouts otherwise. Tailwind has found exceptionally talented people available in the job market here.
“The quality of people we have been able to hire in Oklahoma is outstanding,” Danny, who is an east coast transplant, said. “We are also increasingly getting applications from folks thinking of relocating to Oklahoma for improved quality of life, and the opportunity to play a bigger role in building the local tech ecosystem. I tell them to look at me — I came and fell in love with it.”
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 support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.