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VentureSpur hopes to spark startup growth in Oklahoma City

The second class of startup companies working with the Oklahoma City business accelerator have begun their quest for funding.
by Brianna Bailey Modified: July 30, 2013 at 4:00 pm •  Published: July 29, 2013

/articleid/3867266/1/pictures/2171348">Photo - Hal Gatewood, creator of Zalongo works on his laptop at VENTURESPUR in Oklahoma City.
PHOTO BY STEVE GOOCH, THE OKLAHOMAN <strong>Steve Gooch - The Oklahoman</strong>
Hal Gatewood, creator of Zalongo works on his laptop at VENTURESPUR in Oklahoma City. PHOTO BY STEVE GOOCH, THE OKLAHOMAN Steve Gooch - The Oklahoman

As part of the VentureSpur's 12-week program, the startups will gain access to its stable of business mentors who will help them create a business plan and product pitches and secure financing.

“It's great being around such creative and passionate people all day — they just talk and bounce ideas off one another,” Epperson said.

Other participants in VentureSpur include SPARXlife, an educational startup with founders based in Los Angeles and New York.

The company hopes that participating in the VentureSpur program will culminate in securing a series A round of funding from investors to help get the company off the ground.

While familiar with the multitude of accelerator programs in Silicon Valley and New York City, opting for an accelerator program in Oklahoma City was novel, said SPARXlife co-founder Shannon Meairs.

“I had no idea there was anything like this in Oklahoma,” she said.

Two locally grown startups are also part of this year's VentureSpur class, including Little Fish, an application that helps marketers find their target audiences on the Internet through a unique algorithm.

Little Fish hopes the program will help bring focus to the company and help it identify its target audience, said CEO Jared Rader.

“I need all of the help I can get,” Rader said.

This year, VentureSpur has also started a new program called VentureSpur Jumpstart for newer companies that might not be as far in development as participants in VentureSpur's regular accelerator program.

“These entrepreneurs might still be working their day job and are in the earlier stages — and we understand that,” Epperson said.

Oklahoma City-based Zalongo, which founder Hal Gatewood calls an “unsocial network” is participating in VentureSpur's Jumpstart program.

Gatewood, who works days at The Oklahoma Publishing Company, The Oklahoman's parent firm, hopes the program will help him turn Zalongo from a side project into a full-time business. Zalongo is similar to Facebook, but is a private site geared primarily for families to keep in touch and plan events.

“I'm ready to learn from the mentors here and take it to the next level,” Gatewood said.

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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