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Posted on: Sep 08th 2022


On Friday, September 2, the Oklahoma news media and three times the expected audience descended upon 331 W. Boyd Street in Norman to cover the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for Boyd Street Ventures' new offices on Campus Corner.

We are honored to have had Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, University of Oklahoma President Joseph Harroz, Jr., and Norman Mayor Larry Heikkila take time out of their busy schedules to speak at the ceremony. All three leaders spoke very passionately and enthusiastically about the impact they see BSV having on their state, university and city, respectively.

They also teamed up with fellow speaker and  BSV Founder and Managing Partner James Spann, Jr. to share ribbon-cutting duties. 

Here's a summary of the key coverage our Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony - and BSV's vital mission - received:

  • TV news story on NBC affiliate KFOR
  • TV news story on Fox affiliate KOKH
  • TV news story on ABC affiliate KOCO (hasn't aired yet)
  • Article in Norman's leading newspaper, the Norman Transcript
  • Article in OU's leading newspaper, the OU Daily

In addition, two days before the Ribbon-Cutting we got a great article in the leading Oklahoma City business newspaper, the Journal Record.


My Journey Back Home To Nigeria, After 22 Years of Finding Success in America

Posted on: Sep 08th 2022


Via Innovator's Tribune
Written By Sean Akadiri

Ever since I was 4 years old, I have always seen the world differently, maybe we all did. But other questions came to my mind like how did I get here and why? Those are the questions I ask myself every day until I realize that who you are, is whomever you choose to be. 

Growing up in Nigeria for me was a strange experience, I was raised by my maternal grandma from birth until I was 4 years old. When she died, I moved in with my parents, I was the first child with two siblings. I left for boarding school when I was 11 years, I was in boarding school until age 16 and by age 19, I found myself attending college here in America, the greatest country in the world.

My Journey to Oklahoma was nothing but a dream, I was a kid that was very disconnected from my environment for various reasons. I felt in my mind that I didn’t belong there, not in a bad way but my calling and purpose was somewhere else. I remember in boarding school feeling very depressed, confused and isolated. I felt nobody understood me or my thought process. There were always conversations in my mind about why I am on this planet and for what purpose. 

I never had a role model growing up but I read about successful individuals who came from nothing or a difficult background. People that never fell victim to their environment and dared to dream big. The only thing that kept me alive mentally was to dream of a better world where I can be whoever and whatever I want to be with no judgements and limitations. 

Life has its way of moving you towards your purpose, you just have to be present. Growing up as a kid I struggled to understand why I had to go through certain things in life not knowing I needed to go through those things in order to become who I am today. Everyone has a story whether it is good, bad, or ugly, the most important thing is finding strength in every story. I could not believe after 22 years of leaving Nigeria for America I am finally on the plane back home. 

As a kid, I had a dream to go to the States, make something out of myself and come back home to inspire the next generation and now I found myself living my dream. My journey started 22 years ago when I came to Oklahoma to attend college. I had never been to Oklahoma before or knew anyone that lives there, but for some strange reason I love the way Oklahoma sounds, so I choose East Central University Ada Oklahoma as the place to go to school. 

I remember vividly how nervous and scared I was as a 19yr old coming to America for the first time with only $200 in my pocket, not knowing anyone in Oklahoma and in my mind, thinking how I was going to fit in and survive as an immigrant. I can remember calling my mom on the phone, worried and scared as hell about how I was going to pay for my school fees for next semester. 

I remember her crying and telling me that she had exhausted all her funds getting me to the States and partially paying for first semester’s school fees and that she now needed to focus on my siblings. That was one of the scariest days of my life, lots of questions came racing through my mind, hearing my mom cry because she had no means of supporting me, broke my heart and now at 19years old in a foreign country all alone, I had to figure out how I was going to survive. 

Over the years I struggled trying to survive and go to school, but I never gave up. One thing I kept telling myself as I continue on my journey is that if God gives you a vision, he will definitely make a provision.

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OBIC awarded $35M in Build Back Better Regional Challenge

Posted on: Sep 08th 2022


Via the OKC Innovation District

On Friday, September 2, 2022, President Biden announced the Oklahoma Biotech Innovation Cluster (OBIC) as one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades. The initiative was funded by President Biden's American Rescue Plan and administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA).

The OBIC Initiative is spearheaded by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, alongside primary coalition partners including the Oklahoma City Innovation District, University of Oklahoma, and with industry leadership from Echo Investment Capital. The OBIC coalition is supported by more than 40 partners across academia, tribal nations, government, industry, community, investors, and other key stakeholders involved in the continued development of the burgeoning biotechnology cluster in Oklahoma.

With $35 million in EDA funding, the Oklahoma Biotech Innovation Cluster will rapidly expand the region's biotechnology cluster, bolstering domestic resiliency within the biopharmaceutical supply chain, and making the cluster more globally competitive.

The grant proposal was designed to catalyze the bioscience sector in the Oklahoma City region, taking advantage of groundwork laid in the industry by Oklahoma City leaders over the last 25 years, the growth of new private investment in the region, and the opportunities presented by growing complexities and bottlenecks in the drug development and delivery process. The coalition's plan was developed to seize upon industry shifts that are increasingly advantaging cost-effective and streamlined development ecosystems, enabling life sciences innovators to move seamlessly from ideation to clinical trials and manufacturing, and eventually to market without leaving Oklahoma.

“Being one of the top 21 out of 529 applications chosen by the EDA makes an incredible statement out of Oklahoma City that our community is on the forefront of biotech advancement across the country,” Katy Boren, the President & CEO of the OKC Innovation District, said. “This is such exciting news for not only all of the organizations that helped spearhead this initiative, but also for the entire state of Oklahoma as we propel toward a more innovative future.”

The grant will fund six core investment projects, most of which are centered in the heart of the OKC Innovation District:

1. Biomanufacturing Workforce Training Center - a new program housed in the OKC Innovation District to meet the growing demand for skilled labor in the OBIC, which will enable the formation of inclusive, non-degreed careers.

2. OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center for Therapeutics - Translational Research Labs: development of 10 translational research labs dedicated to drug discovery within the OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center.

3. Oklahoma Biotech Startup Program - supportive programming to build a vibrant regional biotech startup pipeline led by the University of Oklahoma.

4. The University of Oklahoma Biotech Core Facility - a facility with state-of-the-art high-throughput, advanced bioprocessing equipment and services for OU instructors and researchers, local nonprofits and private companies.

5. OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center Early Phase Clinical Trial Network - an initiative to double the size of the existing clinical trial program at OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center and to commensurate with the demand for trials.

6. Oklahoma Bioscience Cluster Initiative - an initiative to lead regular convenings of industry leadership, conduct needs assessments, encourage regional connectivity, and spur policy advocacy.

Startup Innovator of the Year – John Habeck

Posted on: Aug 22nd 2022


Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander.

Via 405 Business Magazine

Headquartered in Oklahoma, Motive also already has expanded to Washington.

“We believe that the auto industry is a fantastic place to innovate,” Habeck said. “Across the sector, core activities and structures are threatened with obsolescence. The auto industry is experiencing a seismic shift from top to bottom, and it will undergo more change in the next 10 years than in the previous 100 years.”

Habeck said more than 80 percent of current car buyers first find the car they are interested in buying on the dealer’s website.

“Our platform is truly one of the most mission-critical applications in use across dealerships’ tech stacks,” he said. “We want Motive to become the digital layer for dealerships of the future, providing a tightly integrated end-to-end vehicle discovery and purchase experience.”

Motive looks to upend how cars are purchased, based on how consumers habits are also rapidly changing.

“Dealers are selling new cars in a radically different manner than they have in the past,” Habeck said. “Today, most new vehicles are built to order, and few are purchased off the lot. As a result, dealers have little surplus inventory.

Habeck said Oklahoma is poised to capitalize on the need for innovative companies to transform many industries, like Motive wants to do in auto sales.

“Oklahoma entrepreneurs have a secret that the rest of the country has not yet discovered,” he said. “Businesses here have a unique combination of intrinsic advantages that other states cannot replicate: a low cost of living, a dense concentration of intelligent people and a general culture of challenging the status quo. So, if your goal is to build a business juggernaut, Oklahoma is the place to do it.”

Startup Innovator of the Year Finalists:


Posted on: Jul 27th 2022


Via Velocity by the Greater OKC Chamber

A new Chamber effort to help local businesses rethink their strategies and purchasing goals through diversifying their supplier base will launch later this month with an informational forum.

On July 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Vast, the Chamber is hosting a kickoff luncheon for its Corporate Community Strategy, “The Impact of Supplier Diversity: The Business Case for OKC Companies.”

The event will feature a keynote by Karen Box, president of the Southwest Minority Supplier Development Council (SMSDC), whose mission is to create opportunities and an environment for minority business enterprises to grow and to actively add value for corporate members through positive business relationships. As SMSDC performs its commitment to certify, connect, develop, and advocate; the certified MBEs and corporate members develop and build relationships that positively influence their bottom line.

Box will share why diversifying the supplier base is an important decision not only for your company’s health but also the health of our community. With a global supply chain crisis, expanding your supplier options is smart business and ensures your company can withstand any future disruptions.

During the event, attendees will also hear from a panel which will discuss their first-hand, local perspective of diversifying suppliers and how that has impacted their business and the communities that make up our city. Panelists will include:

  • Phil Busey, Sr., founder, chairman and CEO, Delaware Resource Group
  • Angie Christopher, vice president of human resources, 180 Medical
  • Nedra Dickson, global supplier diversity and sustainability managing director, Accenture
  • Indria Hollingsworth, senior regional diversity, equity, and inclusion manager of the south-central region, JE Dunn Construction
  • John Lopez, president, Lopez-Dorada Foods

Register for the event at Tickets are $40 for members and $50 for nonmembers.

We appreciate the support of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Benefactors: American Fidelity Assurance Company, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Devon Energy Corporation.

Tribal Nations and aerospace innovation in Oklahoma

Posted on: Jul 27th 2022


Oklahomans are betting on the aerospace industry as a cornerstone of technological innovation and economic growth. We interviewed Dr. Jamey Jacob, the founding Director of Oklahoma State University’s multi-disciplinary Unmanned Systems Research Institute (USRI) last month.

At the forefront of that movement are many of the 39 Tribal Nations of Oklahoma, who are investing not only in aerospace companies but also educational and workforce development programs.

We spoke to Philip Busey, Jr., Executive Vice President of Oklahoma City-based Delaware Resource Group (DRG) and himself a Citizen of the Cherokee Nation, about how his family’s company, which focuses on government-sponsored flight simulator training and maintenance, is helping to grow the aerospace workforce and innovation in Oklahoma.

Read more via Flyover Future.

OKC Developers Create App to Increase Traffic Stop Safety

Posted on: Jul 27th 2022


Three Oklahoma City men have created an app, called BlueJay, with thepurpose of making traffic stops safer for police officers and drivers. The appis a two-sided platform that allows police officers to communicate with thedriver while the driver can inform the officer of valuable information, like ifthe driver has a language barrier, etc.
Read More

Photo Credit: The Oklahoman


Posted on: Jul 27th 2022


Wednesday, July 13, 2022 via OCAST 

Oklahoma City (July 12, 2022) ­- Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Innovation, Elizabeth Hutt Pollard and the Oklahoma Science and Technology Research Board of Directors (OSTRaD) have named Jennifer McGrail, MBA as the new Executive Director of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST).  McGrail takes over for C. Michael Carolina who retired at the end of June.  

Jennifer McGrail comes to OCAST following more than four years as the Director of AXIS Powered by Francis Tuttle Technology Center, where she provided leadership, vision, and oversight for the pre-accelerator, state-certified business incubator, and entrepreneurial ecosystem building efforts.  She brings an abundance of experience in leadership and economic development.

“Jennifer has provided visionary leadership, mentoring and connections to client companies through her extensive work developing business incubators and accelerators in Oklahoma. She has formed strong and beneficial relationships across the state that are critical to furthering our innovation ecosystem,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Innovation, Elizabeth Hutt Pollard. “To continue executing the State's 2021-2026 Science and Innovation Strategic Plan and to ensure alignment through my cabinet, OCAST, and the entire Oklahoma innovation ecosystem, I have asked Jennifer McGrail to serve as my Deputy Secretary of Science and Innovation for Oklahoma.  I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work more closely with Jennifer in this capacity.”

“I’m immensely excited to accept the position as Executive Director of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and the Deputy Secretary of Science and Innovation role,” said McGrail. “OCAST has a successful 35-year history of helping entrepreneurs and innovators launch new technology-based businesses in Oklahoma that are at the forefront of innovation and development. We’ve seen company growth, job creation, and leading innovations in a variety of industries due to our state’s efforts, through OCAST. I look forward to building on this wonderful history to ensure we continue to be the leader in technology and innovation.”

McGrail joins an established staff at OCAST, whose programs and resources in the last few years helped Oklahoma technology-based businesses create or retain more than two-thousand jobs, saw the formation of 19 companies, and had a total financial impact of more than $1,002,255,392 for the state.

The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology is a state agency tasked with leading Oklahoma’s technology–based economic development efforts, supporting startups and entrepreneurs to transform promising innovations from concepts into commercial products.


Last Modified on Jul 13, 2022

Cortado’s Investment Thesis — a 5-minute explainer

Posted on: Jul 22nd 2022


Via Cortado Ventures Blog by Susan Moring.

Thinking about pitching your startup to our team at Cortado? Read on to gain a better understanding of the type of companies we’re most likely to invest in.

Since Cortado’s inception in 2020, we’ve invested in 27 companies, each one of which has helped us to further refine our investment thesis. While we are a generalist fund, there are specific things we look for beyond the basics of a good venture investment. We’ve synthesized our investments into three archetypes to help determine whether your startup is the right fit for our investment portfolio.

The Basics of VC Funding

Before we dive in, there are a few basics of a venture-backable startup that all VC firms will look for:

  • technology forward
  • highly scalable
  • operating in large markets
  • capable of providing 10x+ returns in 3–5 years, typically via an IPO or M&A event

Is your startup VC-backable?

Venture capital isn’t the only way to build a successful business

Startups that don’t meet the criteria for VC funding might consider other funding options such as revenue-based financing, SBA loans, or SBIR/STTR grants.

Archetype #1 — Our Sweet Spot

More than 50% of our portfolio is made of startups that meet our core thesis, or our “sweet spot”. These are Oklahoma-based companies building innovative products in legacy sectors. This is our sweet spot for a few key reasons: 1) we bring expertise in these sectors through our extensive LP base of current and former operators , 2) we believe legacy sectors are often the most ripe for innovation, 3) we want to play a role in connecting companies with customers in our region.


  • Oklahoma-based companies — our goal is for roughly 2/3 of our portfolio to be companies based in OK.
  • B2B business models that solve real problems
  • Midcontinent legacy sectors in which we have expertise or connections — these include energy, aerospace, manufacturing, logistics, life sciences, and healthcare
  • Pre-Seed through Series A — these labels can be somewhat arbitrary, but the earliest we will invest is once there’s a functioning MVP in pilot with at least one customer, or in vivo proof-of-principle for life sciences.

Our Investment Strategy

For startups in this category, we’re more likely to lead deals

Larger checks: Likely in the $1–3M range depending on deal stage.


Drov — Drov is an Oklahoma-City based technology company innovating the transportation industry with smart technology for tractor trailers and tankers.

Other portfolio companies in our sweet spot:

Sway (healthcare, Tulsa)

Sensulin (biotech, OKC)

Senslytics (energy tech, OKC)

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