Earlier this week Dallas-based VentureSpur accelerator annouced LaunchOklahoma, as a dedicated Oklahoma accelerator. VentureSpur accelerator has launched 11 high-tech startups in the last two years, all of which are continuing to grow and 4 of which have raised more than $1.7M on multi-million dollar valuations.
LaunchOklahoma retains VentureSpur’s Managing Director, Kraettli L. Epperson, who is joined by prior VentureSpur board members Gabe Bass and Mike Whitaker on the LaunchOklahoma board of directors.
The VentureSpur accelerator will continue in Dallas as VentureSpur Texas, and will be operated by VC fund Trailblazer Capital, with a focus on mobility and technology for restaurants, retail and hospitality.
Dallas is a major hub for national restaurant, retail and hospitality headquarters and more than half of Trailblazer Capital’s portfolio is in these areas, creating great opportunity for an industry-focused accelerator. As a spinoff, LaunchOklahoma will be focused on recruiting tech startups in Oklahoma.
“In a very short period of time and on a very lean budget, we have been able to create a national profile and to launch multiple thriving startups that are attracting clients, hiring staff and raising money,” said Epperson, “We will be carrying that effort forward, with a distinctly Oklahoma flavor.”
LaunchOklahoma is currently reviewing all startup applications not related to VentureSpur Texas’ focus area and will be making program admissions on the announced 2014 schedule. The program will include a Pitch Day in October, at which participating startups will have an opportunity to pitch their company to potential investors and clients. The accelerator is targeting 3 to 4 companies for 2014, in line with prior years’ programs in Oklahoma.
“Our mentors, sponsors and investor network are happy to see a new effort dedicated to Oklahoma. There is a smaller local capital market in Oklahoma, but we have great entrepreneurs and startups. A lot of our focus will be on supporting the innovators here with outreach to our national capital networks while also developing crowdfunding strategies. Startup investment is rapidly democratizing and crowdfunding is quickly becoming the most accessible source of early-stage seed funding. Our acceleration strategy will be geared towards those new opportunities,” said Epperson.
LaunchOklahoma Board Member Gabe Bass, managing partner of Bass Law and president of the Entrepreneur’s Organization of Oklahoma, said, “Successful tech startups, especially ones that raise significant early stage capital, rarely emerge from a vacuum. They require an ecosystem of experienced entrepreneurs, advisors, and capital sources willing to engage and mentor them. This was the reason that VentureSpur was launched, to help create that ecosystem in Oklahoma. LaunchOklahoma will build on that effort and momentum.”
LaunchOklahoma will also serve as a testing ground for new technologies including a mobile app dedicated to managing the intensive coordination, networking, scheduling and especially the accountability required for acceleration success.
The accelerator also plans a future presence in other cities in the state.
LaunchOklahoma Board Member Mike Whitaker, a successful Oklahoma entrepreneur and investor, said, “We’re very interested in working more closely with the great startup efforts in Tulsa, Norman and Stillwater. The development of a robust entrepreneurial community must be a state-wide effort. Bringing Oklahoma startups investment capital from outside Oklahoma is what puts us on the entrepreneurial map.”