Where Do You Go for Innovative Business Ideas in OKC?

Area business leaders talk about what motivates them to grow or helps them solve problems that arise.

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Illustrations by Kathy Lee

Traci Walton, Co-Founder of Plenty Mercantile: I think we go to the people that frequent our shops for inspiration. We follow their lead. I think we do that locally and we see how that applies to the markets that we go to. We see how we can facilitate that and how we can serve our customers.

I think we seek engagement to find inspiration too. We ask questions on social media. We take great stock in those things. We ask for feedback for things we find at market. What do you think of this? Would this work in your home space? But our inspiration comes from the people we see every day. I think we try to honor what is uniquely Oklahoma. We’re not trying to trend towards either coast; we try to embrace who we are and give some depth around that.

Steve Burris, Kevo Properties CEO & Founder: I don’t know if this is how everyone on the planet thinks, but this is how I think: I don’t ever wake up with creative ideas. I look at the world and when anyone says there is a problem with something I think, ‘How do you fix that?’ To solve problems, it really just comes from what is the roadblock and what is in the way? Start from the very beginning and go back to the basics. What is the core thing you are trying to do? In Oklahoma, we have too much regulation and that always hurts industries. I was a real estate commissioner, and I saw this all the time. People create a law to stop something, and you create five more problems you didn’t see and didn’t intend to do. Too many laws and too many regulations impede growth and stifle inspiration.

Shannon Rich, Oklahoma Hall of Fame President & CEO: I get inspiration when we are told what we can’t do, and then we figure out how to do it anyway. When COVID hit, we were a few weeks out from an event for 400 people and 30 breweries. We got together and we figured out how to pivot and move it all to our parking lot. So, I look for people who solve problems or have been creative in finding solutions and bring that back to what we do. Put the right team in place and let them be creative and then they make it happen. I am just fortunate to be surrounded by the best and brightest. Our people, it’s the unique thing that makes us Oklahomans. We get to see people in their zone and in their lane and it really brings out the best. For the Oklahoma Hall of Fame as this is our 95th year, this is our year of purpose. We are renewing our sense of purpose this year.