By Molly Allis
Recently Scott Meacham sat down with we to share his thoughts about WeGoLook, economy platforms and Oklahoma City versus the Silicon Valley. Mr. Meacham is the former State Treasurer of Oklahoma serving from 2005-2011. He is currently the President and CEO of i2E providing business expertise and funding for Oklahoma’s emerging small businesses.
WeGoLook: From your perspective, can you tell us more about the tech startup environment in OKC?
Scott Meacham: One of the things that really surprised me is how the tech startup space has really taken off in the last few years. Historically at i2E (and we are a statewide organization), about 40% of our portfolio is life sciences and 40% was software/IT. Most of the software/IT was coming from the Tulsa market and of course, most of the life sciences were coming from OKC. In the last 2 years since I have been at i2E we have seen a surge in software/IT in Oklahoma City market. It has been not only the number of deals, but quality of deals unlike what we have seen before. Something is happening in this market that is driving a lot of new startups in this space, which is what we are really excited about. That is our fastest growing area of new clients and new investment: the Oklahoma City software/IT space.
WGL: What do you attribute that growth to?
SM: I think it is like most things, you have to have an ecosystem and it starts feeding on itself. Look at the investments that OKC has made in itself to remake Bricktown and bring in the Thunder. I remember it was probably around a decade ago there was an opinion piece in the Oklahoman that we are losing our best and brightest, college graduates. They were going to Dallas, Austin, or wherever and we had to figure out how to keep them here in Oklahoma. The dramatic investment made in Bricktown, revitalizing downtown, and bringing in the Thunder change the dynamic. Instead of young graduates looking out, they started looking in and looking for ways to stay home. Then, people from outside the state started staying, “Gosh, there are some great things going on in Oklahoma City right now. It would be nice if we could come back and raise our family there. I think that was the catalyst that started this ecosystem of now a growing vibrant community of both existing entrepreneurs coming in and saying, “You know, Oklahoma City is a good place to start a new tech startup.”