Seekingsitters Wins The Tulsa Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

TULSA | Thursday, November 08, 2007

Kauffman Foundation Representatives Praise Tulsa's Efforts to Support Local, Regional Entrepreneurs

Local entrepreneurs Adrienne and David Kallweit received the 2007 Tulsa Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, a business plan competition sponsored by SpiritBank and Mayor Kathy Taylor's office, netting their new startup $25,000, office space for a year, and support from the SpiritBank Business Resource Center Strategic Partner Network.

The Kallweits own SeekingSitters, a network of local, in-home babysitters who provide child care for families, corporations, and individuals. Seeking Sitters provides its members with sitter screening, selection, and scheduling based on specific requirements. One-time, part-time or full-time memberships are available.

"The jobs of tomorrow aren't the ones that we fly around the world and try to bring here," Mayor Kathy Taylor told the 300 people gathered at the Gilcrease Museum Wednesday evening for the awards ceremony. "The jobs of tomorrow are the ones being created by our local entrepreneurs." The competition started with 60 entrants in March. A committee of representatives from SpiritBank, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST), the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, MO, the city of Tulsa, and the Tulsa Economic Development Corp. (TEDC) narrowed the field to 23.

Following oral presentations, the committee selected six semi-finalists: Emerge Interactive Media, an advertising and public relations startup focusing on small- and medium-sized businesses, owned by Jessica Powell and Diane White; Lunchman, a Web-based application that provides eating decision and social networking features for its users while capturing data that provides specialized feedback, owned by Brandon Pollet, Corey Redintgon, Cody Pollet, and Dr. John Hale; LuXsine Energy Company, which has developed a proprietary solar-thermal conversion device that minimizes reflective and re-radiation energy losses experienced by other solar technologies, owned by Travis W. Mecham and Joseph T. Redman; SeekingSitters; The Skunk Whisperer®, which performs humane removal and prevention of wildlife problems in both urban and rural areas, owned by Ned and Betsey Bruha; Tulsa Biofuels, a manufacturer of biodiesel fuel with a 10,000-gallon-per-year capacity, owned by Todd Stephens and Randy Kimberlin.

The six companies worked with consultants at the SpiritBank Business Resource Center Strategic Partner Network who helped them refine their business plans and presentations. The six presented their ideas one more time to the committee, which ultimately selected SeekingSitters as the 2007 winner.

During his remarks, Kell Kelly, SpiritBank CEO, announced that SpiritBank will again sponsor the competition for 2008.

"When you talk about entrepreneurship, you're really talking about an idea of what you want your city and your state to be," Kelly says. "From those ideas a state grows, the economy becomes vibrant, and the future secure." Jeffrey Horvath, Vice President of the Entrepreneurial Education Foundation and Fast Trac®, a program of the Kauffman Foundation, announced that the Tulsa Economic Development Corp. (TEDC) plans to provide the semi-finalists with low-interest loans to further develop their businesses.

Another Kauffman Foundation representative, Stefanie Weaver, praised Tulsa for its efforts to support entrepreneurs through the Tulsa Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, first proposed a year ago, and other initiatives.

"When we met a year ago to first discuss what Tulsa could do to help its entrepreneurs develop, Tulsa brought the right people, the right champions to the table," Weaver says. "We meet with communities all over the world literally every day, and that doesn't happen very often. The progress you've made in just a year is phenomenal proving that Tulsa and this region is an excellent place for entrepreneurs."

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