By Scott Meacham
The Oklahoma entrepreneurial spirit is inspiring and contagious, no matter when or how it appears.
The Entrepreneur’s Cup continues to be a uniquely Oklahoma source of entrepreneurial inspiration. One of the best aspects of Love’s Cup is that the buzz carries on. Students who participate tell their friends.
That’s how two of the 2021 winning teams — Daedalus Droneworks (First Place, High Growth Undergraduate Division) and Swift and Sweet Events (Third Place, Small Business Division) came to compete.
“I have always wanted to compete in the Love’s Cup from the first time I heard about it,” said Lynsey Bonner, the team leader of Swift and Sweet Events, a one-stop, guaranteed, start-to-finish-in-30-days event planning business.
Bonner’s business plan for producing memorable and flawless events could not be more different than Daedalus Droneworks, an advanced technology business built on a hybrid engine technology that improves the flight times of drones.
However, as the Love’s Cup spotlights, entrepreneurship is a very large tent — especially when entrepreneurs apply customer research and first-hand experience to validate original solutions for the markets they intend to serve, as these two collegiate teams did.
Bonner started her own home baking business, Sassy Sifter, in high school.
“I bake all kinds of sweets, cookies, cupcakes, brownies with custom orders for birthdays, graduations, baby showers, and weddings,” she said. “I came up with Swift and Sweet Events after having many friends and family members who were service members or marrying service members had to delay or cancel their weddings because they didn’t have enough time to plan their wedding before their deployment. There needed to be a quicker option so they could still have the wedding of their dreams before they were deployed.”
The Daedalus Droneworks team leader, Avery Mayfield, performed free-lance drone work taking agricultural photographs used to evaluate plant health. His entrepreneurial spirit is inspiring.
“The amount of time that it took because of inefficient battery technology,” Mayfield said, “left me wanting more. Our team built our engine around the idea of energy density, using a light-weight gas generator specifically built for drones.”
Mayfield would be more than happy to pursue this company.
“We are seriously considering building a prototype with our winnings to give us something further to validate,” he said. “The team will be having next step discussions with i2E’s venture advisory team.”
Bonner, a woman of faith from East Central University, has specific post-graduation plans. Her entrepreneurial spirit is inspiring.
“I am saving for a food truck and one day hope to build my own bakery,” she said. Her ideas for Swift and Sweet Events include leasing a barn as a rustic and charming venue, creating a website and building an online process that allows clients to plan an event in an hour.
“I have learned that it takes more than a great idea to be successful,” she said. “You don’t just come up with an idea and go for it. You have to consider your market and the work, the highs and the lows, how to be profitable and stay profitable and continue to expand. Something else I have learned. I am definitely starting all my businesses right here in Oklahoma.”
Are you inspired yet? I certainly am.
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 [email protected].