Determined to take their startup company to the next level, entrepreneurs Nicholas Seet and Ashok Kamal are living out of an RV in Oklahoma City for the next 12 weeks while participating in local business accelerator VentureSpur.
“My first company took 10 years to get off the ground, and this time I'm shooting for five years,” said Seet. Already a seasoned entrepreneur, Seet is a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of New Mexico at Los Alamos and sold part of his first company to Yahoo in 2011. Kamal is the CEO of another startup social media marketing company in New York City.
But they've chosen Oklahoma City as the launchpad for their next startup — Sivi, a web-based platform that connects other entrepreneurs with potential investors.
“We're here to bring that focus and discipline back into the equation,” Seet said.
For the next three months, VentureSpur's Film Row loft office will be home to handful of tech startup companies that hope to secure an initial round of funding to launch their dreams. Another four companies are teleconferencing in from VentureSpur's companion accelerator program in Dallas.
Seet and Kamal hope that living in close quarters and rubbing elbows with other startups will help them launch Sivi. VentureSpur's 12-week program culminates with Pitch Day — where the companies present their business plans to a group of angel investors.
“It's a synergistic environment,” Kamal said. “The other companies are learning things from us and we are learning things from them.”
This is VentureSpur's second class of companies since it was founded as one of Oklahoma City's first business accelerators in 2011. After going through a vetting process, VentureSpur takes a stake in the companies it deems qualified for the program — typically around 10 percent — and also provides seed money for the companies.
All four of the companies that participated in VenturSpur's first class are generating revenue, although not all are profitable yet, said Kraettli L. Epperson, co-founder and managing director for VentureSpur.
The companies in VentureSpur's first fund have collectively gone on to raise more than $750,000 in investment capital since the end of the program. VentureSpur's first pitch day last November attracted more than 150 attendees, including 15 individual angel investors and representatives from eight venture capital firms.