Thunder Launchpad Takes Off With First Batch of Founders
New Thunder business initiative partners with StitchCrew to invest in tech entrepreneurs and accelerate their business success
Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 13, 2018 – The Thunder Launchpad, a new business initiative from the Oklahoma City Thunder, has taken off, as the first batch of tech entrepreneurs has been selected for its inaugural accelerator program, the team announced today.
The Thunder has partnered in the accelerator program with StitchCrew, an Oklahoma City company that seeks to foster technology-driven entrepreneurs in getting their ideas off the ground and ready to be venture-backed.
The 10 founders come to the Launchpad from locations across Oklahoma, representing diverse industries. During the accelerator program, they will receive free space, shared services and mentoring from a variety of business leaders, as they base out of the Launchpad space at the Monterey Building in Midtown OKC. At the end of the 12-week program, the founders will have an opportunity to present their plans to the investment and business community in Oklahoma and across the U.S.
“The Oklahoma City Thunder is proud to create programs that positively impact our community and cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit fueling innovation in our home state,“ said Brian Byrnes, senior vice president for the Thunder. “We are looking forward to providing support to these talented and promising Oklahoma founders.”
"We had an outstanding response to our application for this first batch of founders," said Erika Lucas, founder of StitchCrew. “These 10 companies represent a broad range of ideas and industries, and we are proud that they really represent the depth of talent and ideas that exist in the Oklahoma tech community."
The first batch of startups and founders includes:
Founder: Sean Akadiri
Category: AgTech, Data Analytics
AgBoost is a data analytics platform enhancing the productivity and performance of the livestock industry through genetic profiling for breeding, valuation and forecasting, lineage tracking and nutrition. When our nation was founded 241 years ago, farming was the economy’s primary driver. By 1870, nearly half of the employed population held jobs in agriculture. Today, it’s a $3 trillion industry - but only 2% of Americans hold a farm-oriented job. Adakari intends to play a role in empowering the industry. Originally from South Africa, he is a graduate of the East Central University, studied Chemical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma and earned an MBA from Mid-America Christian University.
Founder: Tony Weedn
Category: Social Media, Military
BaseConnect is a secure, military-only social media platform designed to connect troops to each other, their base and the local community. Many military members must relocate every three years, forcing them to find housing, banking services, schools, and other services in their new communities. From a career in the AirForce and Special Forces, Weedn is now on a new mission to connect members of the military and their families with resources and information from base to base.
Austin Green, Co-Founder and CEO,
Kahn Nguyen, Co-Founder and CAIO,
Steven Kastelic, Co-Founder and COO,
Category: IoT, Transportation
BlyncSync Technologies increases transportation safety through biometric wearables and machine learning technology. The technology provides real-time feedback to fleet management systems to indicate when drivers are sleepy or distracted. Green, an entrepreneur and technology enthusiast has partnered with Nguyen, a software developer with more than 25 years of experience and Kastelic a startup operations veteran, to lead the way in transportation safety.
Keagan Henson, Co-Founder and CEO,
Kelly Thomas, Co-Founder and CTO
Category: Software, Insurance
BriteBee is a two-way quote platform, enabling customers to compare insurance quotes anonymously online with one profile, free of lead generation calls and spam emails. Insurance professionals also benefit from the platform through a referral stream. As an insurance professional, Henson understands that searching for insurance can be time consuming and frustrating. Worried about the sustainability of his services, he set out on a journey to enhance the insurance search experience for the masses.
John Cope, Co-Founder and CEO
Philip Martin, Co-Founder and CTO
Category: Software, Construction Management
Buildaga is a construction and remodeling software application making communication between construction professionals and customers easier and more organized. Growing up in Albany, TX, Cope’s first job was remodeling and building custom homes with his dad. He still recalls the day his dad left the business after serious problems with ineffective project tracking and difficult communication with customers, problems that consistently plague construction professionals to this day. In order to scale and enhance product, Cope partnered with his co-founder Phillip Martin, a computer science engineer with more than 18 years of experience in precision agriculture, telecom, payroll and energy applications.
Ashley Smith, Co-Founder and CEO,
Tim Strange, Co-Founder
Category: Software, Crowdfunding
Crowdseekr has the largest aggregation of real estate crowdfunding data, making it easier for investors to search and find investment opportunities that fit their strategy all under one platform. By 2025, the crowdfunding industry as a whole is anticipated to be valued at more than $300 billion and online real estate marketplaces are primed to capitalize on that explosive growth. Ashley Smith, a lawyer and a lifelong Oklahoman and Tim Strange, a real estate broker, investor and manager, founded Crowdseekr to give investors access to a searchable, filterable database of real estate investment opportunities.
Founder: Greg Hallman
Category: EdTech, Virtual Reality
Ocupath is a virtual reality platform that gives students virtual job shadowing and training experiences to provide realistic glimpses into different professional positions and environments. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Hallman is a proud product of the Oklahoma City Public Schools and first-generation college graduate from the University of Oklahoma. Thanks to the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation, Hallman was able to complete graduate school in New York City in education and communication and is on his way to finish his doctorate in human cognition. Virtual reality is one of the hottest Edtech trends. The technology will allow students to immerse themselves in subjects and travel the world from their desk. Hallman wants to be at the forefront of this technology to expand opportunities to students well beyond the classroom.
Jonathan Yarbor, Co-Founder and CEO
James Ross, Co-Founder and COO
Benjamin Riffey, Co-Founder and CCO
Gaming is a huge industry that is growing every year, but the servers for online, multiplayer gaming have not kept up with the rest of the industry. Nodecraft solves these issues with a cloud-based game server platform that hosts online multiplayer servers for faster, more reliable multiplayer experience. Players subscribe and create a server for any game and save data on the platform so that they can freely swap between games, without losing their progress. Frustrated with multiplayer online gaming servers, Yarbor, Ross and Riffey are the perfect founder trio of web developers, tech enthusiasts and game junkies
Nick Salis, Co-Founder and CEO,
Hans Brende, Co-Founder and CTO,
Malachi Blakenship, Co-Founder and VP of Marketing
Category: Geo Tourism
Combine the business, marketing and user experience talent of three University of Tulsa graduates and you create UTown, a social navigation app that acts as a private concierge for deals and events related to the users’ interests. It lets users explore, share and interact with people, places and events in the city. Wrapping up dinner one night at a restaurant in downtown Tulsa, Nick and and his co-founders wanted to keep the party going. Leaving the restaurant, they struggled to find something of interest before randomly stumbling upon a free concert with an amazing local musician. The need for communities to better share and explore social happenings was discussed, and Utown was born.
Bob Eskew, Co-Founder and CEO
Brent Wheelbarger, Co-Founder and CTO
Category: HealthTech, Virtual Reality
Viribus Labs makes at-home therapy fun, easy and entertaining for children with Cerebral Palsy. After attending a 1993 neuroscience conference, Dr. Eskew, a renowned physical therapist specializing in Cerebral Palsy among children got the idea to use virtual reality for rehabilitation. Unfortunately, the technology did not exist then. Having grown up with CP, Dr. Eskew knows first-hand the challenges and importance of follow-through therapy work at home, especially for children. Research strongly indicates that performing at-home physical therapy can give patients significant improvements. Twenty five years later, Bob reunited with a long time friend specializing in augmented and virtual reality. Bob and Brent are on a mission to enable Cerebral Palsy patients to practice essential postural physical therapy and occupational therapy control exercises at home through a VR gaming experience while giving therapists the ability to monitor progress remotely.
More information on the Thunder Launchpad and StitchCrew is available atThunderLaunchpad.com.