i2E was born from an Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) initiative and has now become a nationally-recognized private not-for-profit corporation that invests in entrepreneurs who are building high-growth companies in Oklahoma. i2E works directly with entrepreneurs, researchers and companies to help them commercialize their technologies, launch and grow new businesses and access needed capital.
The i2E Angel Fund I provides seed-stage capital with professional management and diversification, plus offering the satisfaction of investing in job and wealth creation in Oklahoma. The fund benefits from i2E’s deal flow of quality, well-vetted startups. (The fund’s primary focus is on Oklahoma companies, but to ensure adequate deal flow, the fund may invest outside the state.)
Ten years ago, Oklahoma’s landscape for seed capital was like Black Mesa. We were high and dry. There was no venture capital money here. SeedStep Angels hadn’t been organized yet. Entrepreneurs simply didn’t have access to the investment capital to fund the milestones that move young companies from concept to startup to potential successes in the marketplace.
Angel investors are called angels for a reason. These accredited investors are the primary source of early stage capital for startup firms. The metric for angel investing is return on investment; however, angels, who are often former entrepreneurs or retired business persons, also show a strong desire to help entrepreneurs.
Sometimes, Oklahoma investors don’t realize the great opportunities for early-stage companies that exist in this state. When Oklahoma money goes “off-shore” to invest in entrepreneurs, startups, and innovation in Texas, Colorado or California, we need to speak up and remind people to take a good hard look at the early stage opportunities that exist right here before they help create jobs and wealth in some other state.
When you are in the business of increasing the number of new, sustainable advanced technology businesses, as we are at i2E, there are two top-line measures by which to assess our progress. Dollars and deals.