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Outlook 2014: Nonprofit considers Oklahoma for expansion of start-up fellowship program

Venture for America seeks Oklahoma companies interested in interviewing and hiring members of the enterprise’s recruits.
by Brianna Bailey Modified: April 20, 2014 at 10:44 pm •  Published: April 27, 2014

The national nonprofit Venture for America has begun searching for start-up companies to partner with in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

The organization is seeking businesses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa that are interested in interviewing and hiring members of its 2014 class.

Mike Tarullo, Venture for America’s vice president of corporate development, recently visited Oklahoma City and Tulsa to meet with local entrepreneurs and start-up founders. The George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Stephenson Family Foundation helped sponsor the trips.

Evaluating growth

Tarullo visited Oklahoma to gauge interest from local companies in Venture for America’s recruiting services and also to see if there is enough momentum in the local start-up community to support sending five to seven Venture for America fellows to the cities.

“One of the things that stood out to me is the cohesiveness of the communities in OKC and Tulsa,” Tarullo said. “We were impressed how everyone knew each other and knew what was going on with each others’ companies.”

The Venture for America program recruits skilled recent graduates with entrepreneurial aspirations to work for two years at emerging start-ups and early-stage companies in lower-cost cities. Venture for America does not charge companies to participate in the program. The organization is a nonprofit, and its recruiting services are funded by charitable donations and grants.

One of the program’s goals is to help start-up companies outside traditional hotbeds of development, such as California’s Silicon Valley, to recruit talent to grow their businesses, Tarullo said.

“Our tendency is toward cities with emerging entrepreneurial communities — not the Valley, not New York, not Austin,” he said. “There is great stuff going on in the rest of the country that we are trying to help develop.”

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by Brianna Bailey
Business Writer
Brianna Bailey has lived in Idaho, Germany and Southern California, but Oklahoma is her adopted home. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and has worked at several newspapers in Oklahoma and Southern...
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