Up-and-coming entrepreneurs are establishing Tulsa as a hub for technological advancement.
Chase Curtiss’ app Sway Balance, which is in the FDA testing phase for medical use, can test balance for a variety of patients, including athletes and those with chronic diseases.
(page 1 of 5)
Technology is going up, out and all over.
In Tulsa, technological entrepreneurship is progressing at full speed ahead, with new apps, software and websites melting, molding and restructuring how we do business.
This is the dawn of a small yet global business environment in Tulsa. And it’s rush hour.
“Tulsa was founded, its DNA is, on risk takers,” says Brian Paschal, executive director of The Forge, Tulsa’s Young Professionals’ (TYPros) business development center, which will move to its new location at 125 W. Third St. late this month. “The oil industry and entrepreneurial technology, film and music startup companies — there’s a similarity.
“You can drill for oil a dozen times and never find it. Then you can drill once and make a big score. ... It’s not out of the realm of Tulsa to be focused on these creative endeavors. It’s not unlike drilling for oil.”
As Paschal meets with businesses interested in joining The Forge, he says that more and more of those blooming ventures are led by young entrepreneurs focused on technology, an industry that can thrive from any location.
Oklahoma’s low cost of living makes it a perfect locale for risk takers to risk with a greater chance of return, Paschal says. And it’s working. Oklahoma is listed in the Top 10 states for job growth and business creation, according to 2011 U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.
But Tulsa’s benefits don’t stop there.
“The emergence of a community focus on entrepreneurship and the emergence of a support ecosystem … all work together to facilitate entrepreneurship,” says Zac Carman, CEO of ConsumerAffairs, a consumer and advocacy website founded in 1998.
Among the resources are state-driven programs, such as i2e, a private, nonprofit corporation focused on growing high-growth companies in Oklahoma; Tulsa-grown initiatives, such as Launch at Tulsa Community College, the TCC Startup Cup, the Tulsey Awards and Global Entrepreneurship Week; and educational groups, such as the Hardesty Center for Fab Lab Tulsa and the Tulsa Web Devs, a group of web developers that meets and networks to improve web development in Tulsa, organized by Luke Crouch.
Carman is a former member of the Collaboratorium, a private, Tulsa-based nonprofit corporation that operates a resource center to provide coaching, education, discounted office space and networking to startups and businesses.
Terry Rackley sees the evidence of these developments firsthand. As the Verizon Wireless district manager for the Tulsa area, he says Tulsa is definitely on the digital map.
“Tulsa already is a leader in the app industry,” he says. “Specifically, Verizon has worked with businesses throughout Tulsa and northeast Oklahoma to create specialized business solutions for their needs. We currently see app development spiking in order to meet the needs of all kinds of businesses, and I honestly don’t see that slowing anytime soon.”
With more businesses going mobile, Rackley says app development isn’t peaking and hasn’t yet hit a stride. It’s on the surge and still rocketing, with more and more life and business pursuits conducted via mobile devices.
“People are going to continue streamlining their lives through mobile technology (smartphones, tablets, apps),” he says. “No longer are trends and business dictated by geography. In fact, I think we’re going to start seeing an even larger surge in app development. The future of app development is promising for Tulsa, and it’s very exciting to watch from the ground floor.”
Paschal agrees. He says the possibilities in Tulsa for young entrepreneurs in the technology industry are, quite literally, limitless.
“Why shouldn’t the ambition of Tulsa be to nurture, embrace or create the next Instagram or Google?” he says. “We have the talent here. There’s no reason the next big tech company can’t be based out of Oklahoma.”
Will Tulsa become the next Silicon Valley? These entrepreneurs are doing their part to take on that challenge.