By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2018, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
As regular readers of this column already know, I am a huge advocate of education.
My emphasis tends toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), but I am equally passionate about sparking the fire of innovation in the hearts and minds of the students in Oklahoma’s colleges and universities.
It’s inspiring every fall when that spark turns into a bonfire at the Entrepreneurial Summit and the simultaneous Who Wants to Be an Entrepreneur? (WWTB) event.
This year’s program on Friday, September 28 at the Reed Conference Center (plainsventurepartners.com/upcoming-events), features a packed agenda of local success stories. This event is free and appropriate for all types of entrepreneurs, investors, economic leaders, college students and faculty.
We’ll kick off with four Oklahoma entrepreneurs sharing their personal stories of how they started their businesses. While there are high-tech aspects to each of these companies, they provide products that everyone can relate to — sales tools, great new houses that people can afford, and customized, personal TV programming.
Brian Bomar, CEO of Whiteboard Technologies, will talk about how he took what he learned from 13-years in the mortgage industry and years more in software sales to create a best-practices customer relationship management platform that helps sales in the mortgage industry.
Jalal and Mohamad Farzaneh, the co-founders of Home Creations, create jobs by building homes. From the earliest founding days, the Farzaneh’s story is all about understanding their customers and creating a high value, high quality home that those customers want to buy.
Jeff Weber, CEO of zone·tv, was in the first graduating class of the Management Information Systems program at the University of Oklahoma College of Business. Now, as CEO of zone·tv, Jeff is tapping into his Oklahoma roots to bring a highly personalized viewing experience to customers who want more than traditional TV programming.
In the afternoon, the WWTB presenters are inspiring. Oklahoma native Stacey Brandhorst, a Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup alum who has worked in startups and on i2E’s advisory team, will cover how to write a business plan and deliver an investor presentation.
An in-depth tutorial on simplifying financial statements for entrepreneurs, will be led by John Nelligan, founder, and investor in numerous B2B technology companies. A venture capitalist and member of a leading accelerator, Techstars, Nelligan moved to Oklahoma after working the startup scene in both Palo Alto and Boston.
Love’s Travel Stop, sponsors of the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup, will also join the afternoon session to talk about internships and full time positions at the company. With 22,000 employees and 460 locations in 40 states, Love’s is a great example of the diversified opportunities a non-oil company can offer Oklahoma students.
If you haven’t ever attended the Entrepreneurial Summit/WWTB event, this is the year to come. You will be inspired by the excellent presenters on the stage. You will also be blown away by the caliber and enthusiasm of the college students in the audience.
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.