36° North Opens for Entrepreneurs
CHEERS! 36? North founders and leaders cheered the opening of the facility Jan. 25. From left are Dustin Curzon, executive director; Aaron Miller, George Kaiser Family Foundation; Kathy Taylor, former Tulsa mayor and representing the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation; Brian Paschal, Tulsa Regional Chamber; and Dr. Steve Tiger, Tulsa Tech.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
(Editor’s Note: Much of the information in this article appeared on the front page of the November 2015 Midtown Monitor and was written by Managing Editor Emily Ramsey.)
36° North (36°N), Tulsa’s base camp for entrepreneurs, recently held its grand opening at the facility located at 36 E. Cameron St.
The purpose of 36° N is to help startups and existing companies find direction, assemble a team and venture forth to build successful businesses.
36° N literature explains, “With over 11,000 square feet of vibrant work, collaboration, and event space in the heart of the Brady Arts District, we are the central gathering point for Tulsa’s entrepreneurial community, resources, and programs.
“We exist to make it ridiculously easy for new and experienced entrepreneurs to find the right people, best practices, capital resources, and work space so they can move forward in their startup journeys. 36°N is the best place for entrepreneurs to meet and work with mentors, funders, technologists, designers, marketers, lawyers, accountants – and many more – to outfit their ventures for success.”
The stage for 36°N began to take shape in March 2014, when the Tulsa Regional Chamber held a pop-up coworking day in the long-vacant building, which was built in 1917 and was originally home to a Ford and Model T automobiles store.
A month later, the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation published a report on the current status of Tulsa’s entrepreneurial community, called Assessing Tulsa’s Entrepreneurial Landscape.
“The study focused on the strengths and weaknesses of Tulsa’s entrepreneurial community and what areas need to be addressed,” says Dustin Curzon, 36°N executive director.
Two weaknesses that the report found were the lack of “a clear , . . . physical space for entrepreneurs and an inability (for entrepreneurs) to connect with mentors and advisors,” which it stated were “holding back the growth and development of the community.”
“They saw that the resources for entrepreneurs are available in the community, but entrepreneurs were having a hard time finding them,” Curzon says, who could relate to the entrepreneurial struggles. Curzon owns Narrable, a software tech company, which he started in 2011.
“As an entrepreneur, I was working out of my home for a year and a half,” he says. “It’s a lonely experience, and I didn’t know what resources were available to me.”
Once the idea for a physical, centralized entrepreneurial location that would bring area resources under one roof was born, then got involved for two reasons, continues Curzon. They saw this project as a way to further the revitalization of the Brady District and to attract and retain additional high-caliber talent to the area.
“Today, it’s the entrepreneurial community that attracts young people to a city,” he says.
The 11,500-square-foot space features coworking space, designated private offices and desks available for rental, event space and conference rooms, and offices for 36°N partners, including Oklahoma State University.
As a member of 36°N, individuals will have access to workshops and speakers and have mentorship opportunities with business executives, entrepreneurs and investors. “These individuals have committed to being in the space for so many hours per month, and members can schedule to meet with them,” says Curzon. “These are people that most of us would have a hard time getting a meeting with otherwise.”
Curzon expects to see 500 events held in the space in 2016. Some events will be open to the public while others will only be available to members.
A monthly membership costs $149 per month; although, an early enrollment rate of $99 per month is currently being offered.
Individuals can also purchase a one-day pass to use the space’s coworking area.
“If entrepreneurs don’t have a network to help them, they’re not going to find all the resources,” says Curzon. “If you’re here, you’re going to find the right people.”
Moreover, the “right people” may come in many different, unexpected forms, which is why project founders have intentionally allowed for a broad membership base.
“We want the retailer sitting next to the tech guy sitting next to the food truck owner. They all can learn from each other,” Curzon says.
The 36? North staff includes Executive Director Dustin Curzon and Communications Coordinator Shanese Slaton.
The Board of Advisors includes Aaron Miller, George Kaiser Family Foundation; Elizabeth Ellison, Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation; Brian Paschal, Tulsa Regional Chamber; Joyce McClellan, Tulsa Technology Center; Blake Ewing, Blue Ox Dining Group; Curtis Kline, Kline Technology; Taylor Potter, Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth; Alexces Bartley, Riata Center for Entrepreneurship; Joey Wignarajah, Argonaut Private Equity; and Roger Rodich, Workspace Resource.