Interview with Chamber's innovation expert Evan Fay: 'Your efforts here will not be marginal'

Published: Friday, March 19, 2021 By: Marcus Elwell Source: VeloCity

For several years, momentum around Oklahoma City’s entrepreneurship community has been growing. Every month it seems new resources become available, new initiatives are launched and local companies are being put on the national stage.

Recently, VeloCity sat down with Evan Fay, manager of innovation and entrepreneurship for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. Fay is the Chamber’s point person when it comes to connecting with entrepreneurs in OKC and has been involved with the launch of several new initiatives to help keep the community’s momentum going.

Editor’s note: This is part two of the interview with Fay. Click here to read part one. Fay will also be participating in the March Chamber Forum on OKC's entrepreneurial outlook. You can learn more about the event here. 

VeloCity: You spend a lot of your time talking with founders and entrepreneurs from outside of the state who might not be familiar with Oklahoma City. What would you tell them about our entrepreneurial community?

Fay: We've come across a surprising amount of people that have moved here to work remotely. About a week ago, I was on the phone with a gentleman that works for Google. He used to go to work at the Google campus before the pandemic. He moved here because his partner works for Apple and used to go to the Apple corporate offices every day and now they both work remotely and have a family here. He loves it here so it was interesting to get his perspective. He said, “You can be something in Oklahoma City.” He never once mentioned the cost of living, and I see that as a defining moment for Oklahoma City in that someone did not immediately mention how affordable it is to live here.  

So I tell people, your efforts here will not be marginal. You can be a large portion of a movement. It is really hard to measure stuff like this but there's just a general willingness of people to build things here and pioneer new frontiers.

I think the number one thing that I would tell somebody is there is a general sense of optimism here. You will immediately get plugged in with a community that wants to see you succeed. I feel like that's different than it is in other markets.

From a practical perspective, what are our strong points?

I think we're starting to establish the right amount of talent. We're starting to build more pipelines, whether they're non-traditional coding boot camps, CareerTech systems stepping up or our universities creating more talent that the market needs and wants.

There are also a growing number of people who have founded companies and have either left or exited and are starting new companies. So there are more second and third-time entrepreneurs and that brings more experience to our market. And then there's more venture capital readily available than there ever has been from a couple of different sources. They are all interested in doing Oklahoma deals. People want to invest in growing successful companies here.

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