New mentors enhance Oklahoma's entrepreneurial environment

When it comes to organizations that add value to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the more the merrier — especially when those organizations mentor budding entrepreneurs and accelerate deal flow in Oklahoma.
BY REX SMITHERMAN Published: October 16, 2012

A cornerstone of Blueprint for Business and VentureSpur is a comprehensive roster of engaged mentors. These business leaders, professional service providers and serial entrepreneurs are committed to provide coaching as well as a range of pro bono services that every startup founder needs.

And, yes, Blueprint for Business and VentureSpur also provide early-stage seed money to program participants.

Will all of the startups that subscribe to Blueprint for Business or VentureSpur succeed? Maybe not. But will there be more deal flow and entrepreneurial activity in our state? Yes — and entrepreneurial activity has been the primary driver of economic expansion and job creation in the U.S. for the last 25 years.

This opportunity for a more active entrepreneurial ecosystem and for more homegrown jobs should make all of us feel a bit merrier.

Rex Smitherman is interim president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Smitherman at

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By the year 2018, there will be 1.4M job openings for “computer specialists.” Jobs for application software developers alone are expected to grow by 30+ percent.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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