10 OKC entrepreneurs participate in National Accelerator Program - 405 Magazine

10 OKC entrepreneurs participate in National Accelerator Program

Entrepreneurs are working on ideas like a digital shopping bag, an on-demand service for Black hair care products and an app that connects places that provide shelter to those in need.

Entrepreneurs are working on ideas like a digital shopping bag, an on-demand service for Black hair care products and an app that connects places that provide shelter to those in need.

Ten Oklahoma City entrepreneurs will enter a national idea accelerator program aimed at taking their ideas from concept to action.

In Oklahoma City, those ideas include a digital shopping bag that lets you add items from multiple e-commerce stores, a digital platform connecting landowners with outdoor enthusiasts, software that creates standards-compliant temporary traffic control plans, an on-demand or subscription-based service for Black hair care products and an app that connects places that can provide shelter to those in need. The participants from Oklahoma City will join builders from Tulsa; Iowa City, Iowa; and Oxford, Mississippi, in the three-month program that kicks off Jan. 20. 

The program is a partnership between Heartland Forward, Builders + Backers and local sponsors the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and the Inasmuch Foundation. Heartland Forward will bring its groundbreaking Community Growth Program and Toolkit, a first-of-its-kind idea accelerator, Pebble Fund and Buildership program, powered by Builders + Backers, to Oklahoma City. The cohort of 10 builders in Oklahoma City is part of Heartland Forward’s commitment to funding and supporting 1,000 builders across the heartland by 2023.

“Solving problems with an entrepreneurial mindset is key to putting our communities in a position to thrive and rebuild our local economies,” said Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward. “Our Oklahoma City builders have innovative ideas that can have real impact on their communities, and we are proud to have them as a part of the 1,000 builders we will be supporting across the heartland by 2023.”

The Oklahoma City cohort will also include a blockchain-based payment exchange for healthcare systems to use to reduce mistakes and provide transparency, a digital marketplace connecting U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs with manufacturers based in Mexico, a refillable candle service to reduce waste, a service connecting Hollywood-level production studios coming to Oklahoma with industry-grade video rental equipment to attract more filmmakers and a spherical drone that can roll over surfaces and better aid public safety.

“Every community has potential game-changing ideas that are lying dormant,” said Donna Harris, CEO of Builders + Backers. “We received some exciting submissions in Oklahoma City, and we can’t wait to get to work helping these new builders put their ideas into action. This is where the premise behind our Idea Accelerator program gets so interesting. For less than a single venture investment, we’re going to unleash and fuel thousands of ideas across the country and see new ventures, initiatives and companies emerge. And it all starts here in Oklahoma City!”

Entrepreneurs participating in the program: 

  • Tiya Lacroix
  • Robert Washington
  • Jenae Goodin
  • Jose Becerril
  • Logan Rust
  • Sam Eagleson
  • Ty McMahan
  • Karina Burns
  • Ben Loh
  • Jennifer Chance

“We congratulate the inaugural participants in Oklahoma City’s Idea Accelerator program,” said Jeff Seymour, executive vice president of economic development for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “We look forward to watching these entrepreneurs make their way through this new program and are excited to see them take this first step towards using their ideas to create a stronger, better community.”

At the heart of the CGPT are the Builders + Backers four program pillars, designed to mobilize and equip Builders through: 

  • Idea Accelerator: This cohort-based program combines a 45-day Builder Bootcamp to teach participants how to put ideas into action, followed by 45 days of actively executing their ideas through a single experiment.
  • Pebble Fund: All of the Builders are supported by a $5,000 Pebble Grant to test their ideas. Participants are mentored by Master Builders throughout the program. 
  • Storytelling: A comprehensive media program that curates, captures and distributes stories of Buildership, both from within the programs and in communities everywhere. Through video, written stories, social media and media partnerships, the program inspires people to become Builders. 
  • Buildership Workshops: Workshops and other events introduce people to the ideas of Buildership and demonstrate that anyone can generate creative solutions through entrepreneurial experimentation that contribute to the sustainability of communities. 

“The Idea Accelerator is an amazing opportunity to connect individuals who may not see themselves as entrepreneurs yet with the resources to test their ideas, and begin to make their dreams a reality,” said Tyler Tokarczyk, Inasmuch Foundation program officer.  “The strength of the proposals received for this program speaks to the need for continued investment in our entrepreneurial ecosystem. We’re excited to see this cohort take the next step in their journey.”