i2E, Inc., an Oklahoma nonprofit providing funding for innovation and entrepreneurship in the state, began 25 years ago designed to help startups and drive economic growth in Oklahoma.
Since its inception, i2E has helped launch and scale almost 800 high-growth companies in industries such as software/IT, healthcare services and devices, energy and environment, manufacturing and biotechnology. These companies have collectively raised more than $1.2 billion in private capital, creating thousands of jobs and enhancing the state’s economic landscape.
“This milestone anniversary is a testament to the dedication of our team, the support of our partners, and the incredible entrepreneurs who have trusted us with their visions,” said i2E president Rex Smitherman. “We are proud of the role we’ve played in driving innovation and entrepreneurship in Oklahoma and look forward to the next 25 years of assisting entrepreneurs with building, launching and growing their great ideas.”
The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology has been a key partner in i2E’s mission to accelerate the growth of startups in the state since i2E’s inception.
“i2E has been a vital source of crucial support and mentorship for entrepreneurs,” said Jennifer McGrail, OCAST Executive Director. “We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the i2E team for their incredible 25-year journey and applaud the profound impact their efforts have had on bolstering our state’s economy and enhancing its reputation.”
As the needs of Oklahoma entrepreneurs have evolved over the last 25 years, so have the resources available through i2E. In i2E’s E3 bootcamp accelerator, innovators participate in customer discovery to explore product-market fit and identify new customers. The recently launched Bridge2 pre-accelerator allows high-growth startups to refine their pitch to seek acceptance into Oklahoma accelerator programs and to secure investment capital.
For earlier entrepreneurs, i2E manages the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup, a statewide collegiate business plan competition that simulates the real-world process of researching a market, writing a business plan and making a presentation to potential investors. Additionally, Plains Ventures, an independent investment subsidiary of i2E, Inc., is a private, for-profit venture capital fund that invests in early-stage companies solving high-value problems.
“i2E blazed the trail for venture capital in Oklahoma and illuminated the path for countless others. What makes this especially impressive is that it was done during a time where conventional wisdom suggested that it couldn’t work in a place like Oklahoma,” Justin Wilson, president and managing director of Plains Ventures said. “Without i2E’s herculean efforts, many of today’s prominent venture capital firms, incubators, and accelerators might not exist. Plains Ventures is certainly a testament to this legacy, helping to prove that venture capital can thrive in our state.”