Oklahoma continues to be a good place to start and grow an entrepreneurial business, a recent analysis by the Kauffman Foundation shows. The foundation issued its annual Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship this month, and based on the data, the Sooner State ranked among the top 10 for entrepreneurial growth among the nation’s 25 smallest states. The index looks at three factors in making its determinations: the rate of startup growth, which measures the average employment growth during startups’ first five years; the share of scale ups, which measures significant employment growth a company experiences during its first 10 years; and high-growth company density, which analyzes how many private companies have at least $2 million in annual revenue and 20-percent annualized growth during a three-year period.
“In Oklahoma, we’ve been a little late to the party because it took us a while to generate high-growth companies like ones that other people have been working on for a while,” said Scott Meacham, president and CEO of i2E Inc.
“But in Oklahoma City, I think we are entering the era of high-growth companies,” he said. “Our activity definitely has started taking off. Where we have come from, to where we have gotten in a relatively short number of years in Oklahoma is pretty impressive.”
Meacham, whose firm is a private not-for-profit corporation that works with entrepreneurs to build successful, high-growth companies in the state, said the index is a good momentum indicator.
Meacham said he’s seen growth in the Oklahoma City market involving companies that i2E works with and others, adding that he believes the factors helping companies to grow here are lower-than-average costs for energy, land and employees.
“When you look at all those, they are very cheap. And more and more, with technology, people don’t have to locate their businesses in high-cost areas like California,” he said. “More and more people are noticing and are taking advantage of that.”
‘Sense of community and passion’
Brett Kolomyjec, co-founder and chief executive officer of Datebox, Inc., brought his firm to Oklahoma in 2016. In less than two years, it went from having no paid employees to 16. Datebox offers date packages to online subscribers seeking interesting things to do.
“Oklahoma has been a great place to build a company,” Kolomyjec said. “When I moved here to continue growing Datebox, I immediately felt a sense of community and passion from the people of Oklahoma City. The creativity, talent and care that the community gives to local businesses is unbelievable.”
Kolomyjec said he believes Oklahoma is dedicated to diversifying its industries by allowing new ideas, concepts and passions to flourish with the resources they need to be successful.
“Plus, Oklahoma’s cost of living compared to large coastal cities, as well as it’s central location are also massive advantages for young companies,” he said.
Danny Maloney, CEO and co-founder of Tailwind, made similar observations.
“More than anything, it comes down to the people,” he said. “Oklahoma has a great mix of humble, hardworking and highly talented people who like to roll up their sleeves and solve problems.”
Tailwind’s mission is to help its clients plan, create, execute and optimize marketing campaigns on visual networks such as Instagram and Pinterest.
Maloney said the company he founded with Alex Topiler opened in 2013 and launched its core product in 2015. It now has 18 full-time team members, with offices in Oklahoma City and New York City.
Maloney said he’s seen a rapid growth across a number of types of industries within Oklahoma, and said that growth is attracting people to the state as they seek to build their careers.
“Couple that with a great quality of life and low costs, and Oklahoma should only become a stronger attraction for highly talented people, over time,” he said.