Tulsa StartUp – Past Winners Testimonials
A brief look back at some StartUp Series winners, their experience with StartUpSeries, and their takeaways from the contest.
Winner of the 2017 Social Enterprise Category
T-Town Tacos is the social enterprise of Youth Services of Tulsa in close partnership with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. We operate from trikes in the downtown Tulsa area. We had been in business for just over a year when we applied to the Tulsa StartUp Series. We entered into the competition principally for the community exposure as well as the mentorship offered in addition to the prize money. The prize money was of course beneficial and allowed us to test new launch recipes and locations. The greatest benefit of SUS was the mentorship from David LeCount as well as the market validation classes provided by i2e. The submission process was extensive but also helped us refine our business model.Be in love with your idea but not married to it. Being nimble in the early days of your venture is an advantage; be prepared to pivot.
Winner of the 2017 Wild Card Category
Overworld is an augmented reality platform that helps enhance the fan experience at sports venues by overlaying digital content into their real-world surroundings. Through the use of AR, fans have the ability to find ways to both interact and build a deeper connection with their favorite players, teams, or athletic organizations. Developing AR is still a daunting task for most organizations to jump into themselves so we are also developing web-based software that dramatically simplifies the process of AR content creation. Additionally, Overworld helps bridge the gap between organizations and sponsors by hosting content related to promotional ads, rewards programs, prize giveaways, or discounts. As a result, end users are given an opportunity to communicate with these companies beyond just seeing their logo on the sideline or within the stadium.
When we first applied to the Tulsa StartUp Series, we had a working demo but had not officially launched our mobile application. We used our prize money to purchase digital and physical assets to host a pop-up museum exhibit called The Museum of Augmented Reality. The prize money helped us to dramatically step up our game and produce an exhibit that ended up getting hosted at Science Museum Oklahoma, sponsored by Griffin Communications, and featured by 5 television spots and 6 news articles. Without the support of the Tulsa StartUp series, this month-long event wouldn’t have been nearly so successful. Ultimately, the outcome of the exhibit gave us more information about the museum industry which we have since pivoted away from but it was a monumental stepping stone for us that we are incredibly thankful for.
We entered the competition because it is the only of its kind where startups can win non-dilutive funds in Oklahoma. It ended up being far more than that however. The intangible support of advice, mentorship, and exposure was exponentially more valuable than cash alone. The submission process was incredibly easy and representatives from the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation did a great job of explaining the entire process of the competition.
I would recommend the StartUp Series to any entrepreneur. Whether you have an idea, a lifestyle business, or a highly scalable startup, there is a place for you in this competition. The organization does a fantastic job of both getting you ready for their events and putting together an amazing event.
My biggest advice would be to not sell yourself short. If you dream big, and work hard, there are some amazing resources to help you achieve your goals. By winning the Wild Card competition, we also won entry into the i2E Venture Assessment Program. Going through this program played a large part in our pivot from offering services to museums to a more scalable technology solution for the athletic industry. We were also able to get involved with Kiva because of the Tulsa StartUp Series and secured an $8,000 zero-interest loan on the same night as the Demo Day Finals. These funds also went into our Museum of Augmented Reality, helping make the event even bigger and better.
@Overworldapp on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
Winner of 2017 Demo Day
Press Cafe x Yoga is a minimalist cafe and hot yoga studio, now located in the Archer Building in downtown Tulsa. At the time we applied for the Tulsa StartUp Series, we were still in the concept phase and had a business plan, but the barrier of entry for your idea is so low, I would encourage anyone to apply. To have won first the $2,500 then $15,000 really gave us a cushion when we were opening and allowed us to serve many more people. It gave us such a load of confidence, as we won two weeks before we opened, so it was great to have that to ride on into opening our doors.
Winner of 2016 Demo Day
The Pop House is your friendly neighborhood ice pop stand, with over 20 different fruity and creamy flavors to choose from. Our flagship location is in Brookside at 37th and Peoria, and we also have shops in the Rose District and 91st and Memorial areas this year.
When we applied for start up series we were still in our pilot test, strictly selling our pops from our mobile trike. Winning the start-up series allowed us to open our flagship tiny house pop stand in Brookside! We entered the competition because the business was at a point where it needed capital in order to get to the next level. We also knew we would benefit from the additional publicity around the competition. The submission process involved putting our business plan into the format of a pitch deck. After that, we had two live pitches before winning the competition.
We had a great experience with Start Up Series. I’m fairly confident that if we had not won we would not be in business today. Obviously the money was a huge benefit, but also the entire experience of pitching live and taking questions about the business was extremely valuable, and the publicity was a great benefit to our business.
Be patient and take the time to test your concept. Everyone wants to create the next big thing but there’s a real value is taking your time and growing at a sustainable pace. And definitely immerse yourself in the amazing entrepreneurial community we have in Tulsa! It’s truly something that sets us apart from other cities.
Our social media is @thepophouseok for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
Adam Teague and Tim Paslay took second place in the 2013 competition with their start-up company that makes unique men’s clothing accessories in the Tulsa metro area. Two Guys Bow Ties has reinvented the classic bow tie starting with handcrafted wooden bow ties made from a variety of exotic hardwoods and expanded its products to include hand painted and wooden inlaid bow ties. Since the StartUp Cup competition, the company has enjoyed national media attention including Shark Tank, MTAV, NBA and others, and launched new lines of products including wooden lapel flowers, wood-brimmed fedoras, kids’ bow ties and beard care products.