Tom Walker has been a leader in entrepreneurship and turning innovation-based discoveries into commercial opportunities for the last twenty years. From his work with teams of scientists at an international science and technology enterprise exploring emerging scientific areas, to his leadership as CEO of TechColumbus, Tom has consistently identified, developed, and launched promising business opportunities and start-ups. He is a seasoned founder and manager of venture funds, from proof-of-concept through growth, and has served on the boards of numerous startup companies.
As President and CEO of TechColumbus, Inc., Tom applies his cross-functional experience to create and carry out entrepreneurial initiatives to accelerate Central Ohio’s innovation economy. TechColumbus works directly with high growth entrepreneurs in fifteen counties to help them grow their businesses and operates a state-of-the-art incubator which also houses companies. TechColumbus provides very early stage capital to startups as well as mentoring and advice through the entrepreneurs-in-residence program and a series of events and programs designed to accelerate technology in the region.
Throughout his career, Tom has worked with key state, national, and international research and development and entrepreneurial communities to further an increased recognition of innovation and entrepreneurship as a path to economic growth. He has been adept at securing private and federal funding to support on-the-ground state initiatives.
Prior to joining TechColumbus, Tom was President and CEO of i2E, an Oklahoma private not-for-profit company focused on growing high-growth companies through venture advisory services, access to capital, and entrepreneurial development. Under Tom’s leadership, i2E experienced the largest growth in programs and infrastructure in its history. The company substantially increased the risk capital available to entrepreneurs in Oklahoma. Tom’s focus on establishing an entrepreneurial infrastructure for advanced technology opportunities resulted in international recognition for innovative venture development. With an increased emphasis on corporate governance, i2E was also awarded National Certification from the Standards for Excellence Institute, the first Venture Development Organization in the U.S. to receive such distinction.
Tom organized his first angel investment group and fund in the late nineties and has been involved with angel and early stage investing ever since. He served as advisor to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (EMKF), the country’s largest foundation entirely devoted to new business creation and entrepreneurial education. He was also a founding board member of the Angel Capital Association (ACA) and chaired two ACA Summits, the organization’s annual event which is the largest gathering of angel investors in the world. An experienced investment fund manager, Tom founded SeedStep Angels. With chapters throughout Oklahoma, SeedStep Angels is that region’s most organized and largest angel group and actively invests in start-up companies.
Tom has shared his insights and enthusiasm for building an innovation economy in a weekly column in The Oklahoman and blogs on entrepreneurial topics regularly. He is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Handbook, an easy-to-understand step-by-step guide to commercialization for entrepreneurs with big ideas.
Tom’s hands-on experience makes him a sought-out participant and speaker in the national and international entrepreneurial scene. He has testified before state and federal legislatures and has served on and advised multiple national task forces. Tom has assisted and advised numerous states and regions, including the Southeast England Economic Development Agency (SEEDA). SEEDA’s implementation of Enterprise Hubs became the largest entrepreneur support network under one brand in Europe. This network assists over 2500 high growth, technology startups at any given time.
Tom was recognized as one of Oklahoma’s Most Admired CEO’s in 2012 and as one of Oklahoma’s business leaders under the age of 40 and the Tulsa People magazine’s 40 business leaders under 40 in 2007.
Tom holds a B.S. in Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma, and a Master of Business Administration from Oklahoma City University. He began his career at Battelle Memorial Institute, an international science and technology enterprise that explores emerging areas of science, and develops and commercializes technology.