“Where I’m From…”: Reflections from an Oklahoman Entrepreneur

Family heritage and the physical spaces in which we were raised have a great impact on us, as entrepreneurs, for better or worse. Technology consultant and EO Oklahoma member, Mr. Kraettli Epperson, shares why his home state produces such unique entrepreneurs:

As a fourth-generation Oklahoman, whose grandparents, great uncles, and great-grandparents included a turn-of-the-century Oklahoma oilfield wildcatter, a Norman furniture maker and store owner, an Oklahoma aviation pioneer, and various other rascals, Oklahoma entrepreneurs have a special place in my heart.

There are great entrepreneurs all over the nation and the world. So, what makes Oklahoma entrepreneurs unique? I decided to make a list. Here are my top 5:

1. We’re gritty. We get businesses built in the face of what are, sometimes, overwhelming odds. Sometimes those odds involve raising capital, recruiting talent or business challenges that others say cannot be overcome. Oklahoma entrepreneurs are uncommonly persistent and resilient in the face of challenges, and it makes all the difference.

2. We’re hands-on. We’ve got red dirt under our fingernails. Oklahomans won’t wait for somebody else to do it for them. Among entrepreneurs, owner/operators dominate here, which means that skills and productivity are highly prized. There are certainly some financial entrepreneurs, who mainly buy and sell companies, but the majority of Oklahoma entrepreneurs are hands-on, made-in-Oklahoma maker-doers, who have a vision, build something, and then hustle to get it to market.

3. We’re thrifty. While I know this isn’t always a virtue, if you know how to stretch a dollar, you can get amazing things done that other people just can’t. I’ve seen Oklahoma entrepreneurs build highly competitive technologies and assets for US$50,000 that they were told would cost US$1 million. Yep – Oklahomans know how to stretch a dollar.

4. We’re casual and approachable. Oklahoma entrepreneurs don’t stand on ceremony. Heck, we don’t even keep our boots on half the time! We’re comfortable, friendly, down-to-earth and focused on the job, not on appearances. I like that.

5. We’re generous. In my experience, Oklahoma entrepreneurs are always looking out for both other entrepreneurs and for the disadvantaged in our community. I’ve worked with entrepreneurs all over the world, and you won’t find a more generous entrepreneur corps anywhere.

Pictured is Mr. Epperson’s grandfather, great-aunts and great-uncle on their farm. Follow Kraettli Epperson on Twitter @klepperson

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