Three successful entrepreneurs returning home to Oklahoma from stints outside the state have launched a venture accelerator in Oklahoma City that will develop local startups by providing investment, mentorship, office space, free services and access to further venture capital. Called VentureSpur and modeled on successful venture accelerators throughout the US, the new Oklahoma City accelerator launches on February 1, 2012.
Founders include David Matthews, a partner in VC firm Trailblazer Capital and manager of the Oklahoma Opportunity Fund; Gabe Bass, managing partner of Bass Law, a law firm with offices in Oklahoma City and El Reno; and Kraettli L. Epperson, owner of Black Mesa Consulting, a new Oklahoma City information technology consulting company.
“Over the last several years, venture accelerators have become the leading tool to develop startups that are lean, fast, focused and efficient investment vehicles,” said Epperson. “We’re taking the lessons learned at other successful accelerators and applying them to Oklahoma. Our job is to spark the innovation economy by building businesses that keep and attract talent and investment in Oklahoma, and that produce in-demand goods and services,” said Epperson.
The accelerator aims to host two groups of three startup companies each year, which are selected through a rigorous screening process. Winning companies are admitted to a three-month “boot camp” program that provides a free office, weekly mentorship and workshops, development of prototypes, polishing of presentations, and culminates in a “Pitch Day” during which the teams will present their company to angel investors and venture capitalists.
“We think Oklahoma is ripe for an accelerator,” said co-founder Gabe Bass. “VentureSpur is modeled on Y Combinator, TechStars, Capital Factory and Tech Wildcatters, which have seen quick success with multiple companies receiving substantial follow-on investment or acquisitions. We want to do the same in Oklahoma,” said Bass.