Continuing the pioneer spirit, Oklahoma City booms toward a thriving tech community

Published: Friday, December 8, 2017 By: Laura Eastes Source: Oklahoma Gazette

In the early days of Twitter – one of the world’s most popular social networking sites – there were no @ replies, no retweets, no hashtags and no photos. In February 2008, when web-based application TwitPic went live, Twitter users began to point, click and share their life through photos.

As TwitPic came to prominence, founder Noah Everett arrived at okcCoco — Oklahoma City’s first co-working facility — for Open Beta, a conference attracting the city’s small but growing tech community. Soon after Everett began presenting, a wave of astonishment swept over the crowd, said Tommy Yi, one of the co-founders of okcCoCo.

“People assumed that TwitPic was out of Silicon Valley,” Yi said. “Noah Everett was a 24-year-old kid who lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and built TwitPic with two of his friends in Oklahoma City. TwitPic was an Oklahoma company, and everyone in the world was using it.”

The okcCoco space opened shortly before Everett’s speech in 2009. Reaction was mixed, mostly because “people didn’t think you could do tech startups in Oklahoma,” Yi said. Such was the impetus behind the co-working space, which strived to encourage more startups and entrepreneurs, as well as keep talent in the Sooner State.

Nearly a decade later, OKC has come to embrace the startup culture and is now a thriving ecosystem for entrepreneurs. Not only does OKC have the big-name tech companies like WeGoLook, Spiers New Technologies, Paycom and more to show for it, but also signs show that the tech cluster is here to stay.

“Five years ago, it didn’t exist,” said Yi from StarSpace46, his third co-working space for OKC. “Now, we have tech companies people look up to here.”

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