The Wild, Wild West: Guess Which City Might Be the Biggest New Tech Hub

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Entrepreneurs and investors are bringing ideas here -- the kind that would typically only be seen in cities twice their size.

By Natalie Cagle (Co- Founder, Ramblen)

Austin took everyone by surprise as becoming one of the biggest tech startup scenes in the country. But move over Austin. Tulsa is ready to give you a run for your money. Plus, the city boasts less traffic and better affordability.

The city’s entrepreneurial scene has been growing steadily over the past five years, particularly in downtown Tulsa. Old abandoned warehouses and the downtown’s red brick buildings have been converted into lofts, urban grocery stores, bars, restaurants, art galleries, coworking spaces and much more.

The word that would best describe it is simply “revitalization.” Entrepreneurs and investors are bringing ideas to Tulsa that would typically only be seen in cities twice their size. The atmosphere resembles the Wild West -- anything goes as long as you’re willing to try and if you do, there is help along the way.

Resources for Entrepreneurs in Tulsa

A number of growing organizations are fostering the growth of the Tulsa startup scene. Here are just a few to check out:

  • The Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth (CCEW): University of Oklahoma researchers and students are paired with the private sector creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
  • The Forge: This organization is designed to help young professionals who are entering the startup world and need access to office space, advisors and general guidance.
  • The Mine: This an organization applies the startup approach to social innovation and entrepreneurialism.
  • 1 Million Cups Tulsa: Every Wednesday morning local entrepreneurs, advisors, mentors and members of the community meet at Foolish Things Coffee shop for the 1 Million Cups Tulsa meeting. It’s an opportunity for a local startup or entrepreneur to get in front of peers and discuss their business and ask questions. In turn, the audience can ask questions of the speaker. It’s a simple but highly effective way of forging new and important relationships.
  • i2E: This not-for-profit organization aims to grow innovation within Oklahoma. They do this in the form of angel and seed funding and by offering an accelerator program.
  • Cultivate 918: This newly formed organization is headed up by The Lobeck-Taylor Foundation to break down the silos that can sometime exist in the startup scene. The collaboration by members of this community at Cultivate 918 aim to better facilitate entrepreneurs’ path to a successful business. This organization has brilliantly mapped out the entire ecosystem of the Tulsa Entrepreneurial scene which can be utilized to those who wish to start a company and for those who wish to fill the voids.

Resources for Developers in Tulsa

Tulsa is a good place to be a developer too. Really good. In fact, one developer recently gave me an analogy of what it’s like to be software developer in Tulsa. “If this was the gold rush, we’d be the people selling the axes at whatever price we wished.” Wild West, right?

Check out even more resources for developers:

  • Local groups such as The Tulsa Web Devs meet every Friday at the Fab Lab (a multi-use facility for all forms of businesses starting up). There they simply share work space or collaborate on code.
  • The wildly successful OK Coders Boot Camp that started in Oklahoma City is also coming to Tulsa. Originally this was a hands-on class designed to fill the need of more developers that OKC tech startups had. Within hours, the class had 27 applicants demonstrating the desire to learn to code and they realized they needed to expand. At this point you may be wondering what’s come out of Tulsa? Here’s a 100-foot-view and by no means all-encompassing.

Female-Founded Startups in Tulsa

There are newly launched tech-based female founded startups such as Ramblen and OwlPals.

Ramblen was co-founded by Natalie Cagle (that’s me) and Danielle Hastings. Ramblen provides information on how to maintain your workout routine and healthy lifestyle while traveling in an unfamiliar city.

As health-conscious travel takes off, Ramblen aims to be a trusted resource for wellness-minded travelers. It was featured on the travel industry publication Skift as a startup to watch.

OwlPal was co-founded by Mackenzie Ward and Jordy Albert. Owlpal created a mobile health solution for monitoring children’s asthma at night. They recently won the tri-state collegiate business plan competition held in Las Vegas.

More widely known are startups ICEdot and Sway Medical -- both from Tulsa.

ICEdot created the wearable technology the Crash Sensor, which is frequently featured as “best gear” in magazines such as “Outside Magazine,” “VeloNews” and “Men’s Journal.” The Crash Sensor attaches to any helmet and pairs with a smartphone. If a crash occurs it will notify emergency contacts that there has been an incident and GPS coordinates of where to the incident occurred. It’s gaining traction with cyclists, equestrian and snow sports whom often adventure alone.

Sway Medical created sensors in iPhones that enable someone to gauge a person’s sense of balance. This company was featured in “The Wall Street Journal” as a particularly useful tool for diagnosing concussions.

If you’re thinking of joining a startup or starting your own company, I’d highly recommend you take a trip to T-Town and check out all it has to offer. Affordable living, a beautiful riverfront a growing downtown and awesome art and music scene are just some of the perks.

Photo by Paul Blake Howard via Flickr.

What advantages do you see to starting up in a smaller city?

Catch Natalie Cagle at the Tulsa City Meetup on June 5 where she will be speaking. Grab your tickets now. tulsa

 


About the guest blogger: Natalie Cagle is the co-founder of Ramblen.co a travel startup that helps you stay fit while you travel. She is also a marketing consultant at Happy Place Marketing. Previously, Natalie spent nine years working in online marketing for companies such as Revolution Health, Everyday Health Inc. and ICEdot. Follow her startup adventures on Twitter: @thisnatalie.