Thanks to a recent fundraise, Kansas City-style innovation is heading south to the Sooner State.
After scoring new investment capital, Kansas City-based BetaBlox is expanding its incubator program to Tulsa this summer, bringing with it four years of experience in honing startups. BetaBlox founder Weston Bergmann said his for-equity incubator has partnered with the non-profit Oklahoma Innovation Institute to offer its program to startups in the Tulsa region.
“Tulsa is at a boiling point. It’s a little bit behind because it’s not as big of a city but it’s about to be there.” – Weston Bergmann
“About 10 to 15 high net worth individuals and angel groups have pooled money to fund BetaBlox in Kansas City, the expansion into Tulsa and the overhead in Tulsa until 2020,” Bergmann said. “We’re essentially being treated like a contractor to come in and help them create high net worth jobs.”
Bergmann declined to share the value of BetaBlox’s fundraise, but noted it represents a significant boost in the incubator’s operations. With a runway stretching until 2020, Bergmann said the funds will allow it to snag equity from hundreds of startups. BetaBlox offers a six-month incubator boot-camp, providing classes, connecting startups with opportunities and serving as an advocate with investors.
“We’ll be fully funded until we’ll own part of 400 to 500 companies,” Bergmann said. “[BetaBlox] will be one of the largest portfolios of early-stage equity incubators in the world.”
Bergmann said that BetaBlox will be accepting applications for its Fall class starting on July 1. The program in Tulsa and Kansas City will start Oct. 1.
Bergmann said BetaBlox’s business connections in Tulsa was the largest factor in the decision to expand. In addition, the Tulsa market currently lacks a business incubator, allowing BetaBlox to fill a gap.
Tulsa also helps ease logistical hurdles.
“We needed somewhere that was driving distance,” Bergmann said. “We need to be able to teach a class at night and drive to the other city to have a meeting in the next morning. … Our team is big, but not big enough to have a full-fledged team in Kansas City and in Tulsa. It would’ve been too hard to do plane tickets.”
Bergmann, who has moved to Tulsa to help launch the program, said he’s been impressed by the area’s startup culture. While it has room to grow, Bergmann said Tulsa reminded him of Kansas City in 2012 when it was starting to bubble up in national conversations on entrepreneurship.
“Tulsa is at a boiling point,” Bergmann said. “It’s a little bit behind because it’s not as big of a city but it’s about to be there.”