The Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation and the OSU Riata Center for Entrepreneurship for Demo Day hosted the final live pitch event of the Tulsa StartUp Series season. The five winners of the 2019 bi-monthly pitch categories competed for a $15,000 prize, along with a yearlong desk membership at 36 Degrees North, additional resources to launch their business and a dedicated yearlong mentor. The event was held Nov.20 at the Tulsa Community College Thomas K. McKeon Center for Creativity.
The winner this year was the recently-opened Silhouette Sneakers & Art, based in the Greenwood District and offering a fresh, energetic, creative hub featuring limited edition sneakers, streetwear, art and more. The company, owned by Venita Cooper, took home the top prize in the 2019 Tulsa StartUp Series Demo Day Finals, receiving $15,000 of startup capital. Cooper presented her business pitch at the Tulsa Community College Center for Creativity to a judging panel that included Senior Policy Advisor of Entrepreneurship, Small Business and Economic Innovation for City of Tulsa Clay Holk, 36 Degrees North CEO Devon Laney, TEDC Creative Capital Executive Director Rose Washington, and Black upStart CEO Kezia Williams.
Cooper said, “I’m filled with gratitude to win the Demo Day Finals this year. Thank you to the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, OSU’s Riata Center for Entrepreneurship, the judges, and anyone else involved with the program. It’s programs like this that make Tulsa’s entrepreneurship landscape stand out from other cities. The $2,500 from the Food & Retail round this summer was instrumental to the launch of Silhouette, and this $15,000 prize will play a pivotal role in establishing us as a retail staple in Tulsa and in the broader sneaker marketplace by funding a modern, functional website that communicates our brand effectively.”
In addition to the $15,000 cash prize, Cooper received a year-long desk membership at 36 Degrees North, additional resources to launch her business, and a dedicated mentor who will be available to meet with the organization for a year. The other Demo Day finalists included Breach Management, My Buddy Towel, Kind Human and Strides. Strides, owned by Rachel Brown, captured second place, winning $4,000 of startup capital. Third place was awarded to Kind Human, owned by Jennifer Mayor, who received $2,500.
Felizsta, owned by Jason and Lizette Corcoran, captured the Crowd Favorite award, competing against Black Women Business Owners of America, Hyperclean, MAC Intergenerational Program and Tropical Origins. Felizsta received $1,500 of startup capital. The Crowd Favorite participants were set up in the room trade-show style, and pitched to audience members one-on-one during program breaks throughout the evening. Attendees then had the opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite.
“Demo Day Finals is a great night for our community to come together and celebrate entrepreneurship in Tulsa,” said LTFF COO Meredith Peebles. “Tulsa StartUp Series exists to help decrease barriers for promising entrepreneurs by giving them an easy-entry platform to pitch their business ideas, and then receive feedback and connections to resources. Seeing Silhouette capture first place is a wonderful example of an entrepreneur who is working hard to build and scale an innovative company right here in Tulsa, and we’re glad to play a part in that.”
“It is such an honor to sponsor the Tulsa Startup Series. It’s important for the Riata Center to help foster entrepreneurship in the Tulsa community by giving people like Venita the opportunity to not only dream big, but equip them with the proper tools in order to make their ideas become a reality. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for her and the other finalists,” said Sarah Teague, Tulsa Manager for the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship.
Addional Demo Day finalists pitching live for the prize package included the following 2019 Tulsa StartUp Series bi-monthly category winners: Breach Management, by Geoffrey Simpson (Cyber Security Winner; My Buddy Towel, by Angelyn Myers (Physical Product Winner); Kind Human, by Jennifer Mayo (Social Enterprise Winner) – Kind Human is a platform that facilitates kindness in action; Strides, by Rachel Brown (Wild Card Winner).
There was also an additional “Crowd Favorite” award, featuring five additional businesses set up trade show-style in the room. They included:
• Black Women Business Owners of America, by Charity Marcus
• Felizsta, by Jason and Lizette Corcoran
• Hyperclean, by Marshall Hill
• MAC Intergenerational Program, by Sha’Ron McKnight
• Tropical Origins, by Fallon Dickson