Join us for part 2 as we learn tips and tricks from Tulsa's venture capital & lending experts! We will hear from Malachi Blankenship (i2E), Jeffrey Burdge (Kiva Tulsa), Rudy Upshaw (Prosperity Bank), and Candice Matthews-Brackeen (Lightship Capital) so bring your questions for the Q&A session. No need to have attended the first series to enjoy this one.
Where: VIRTUAL MEETING (Zoom link will be sent before the meeting)
When: Thursday, May 28, 5:30 - 7:30 PM
What is Startup Grind: Startup Grind is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs.
Our monthly fireside chat provides ample opportunities to connect with amazing startups and the people behind them, tap into a strong support network, form meaningful connections, and gain inspiration for the startup journey ahead.
VP of Commercial Lending
Program Director & Capital Access Manager
Founder & CEO
Rudy Upshaw is a career Commercial Banker with a proven track record of helping companies reach their growth for over 25 years. Rudy describes himself as a trusted advisor to businesses helping them reach their God-given purpose. He loves working with business leaders and has worked with business from startups to well established companies with decades of experience. Rudy uses his talents and experience to help owners grow their business, avoid issues before they happen and work through challenges when they arise. Rudy specializes in helping leadership teams understand their financial position and resources as well as sourcing capital to meet the owner’s strategic goals. He is also an entrepreneur working with business owners in his own consulting business outside of his daily duties as a commercial banker. He can be reached at RudyUpshaw.com or by mobile at (918) 970-0790.
Rudy grew up in northwest Arkansas and received is BSBA in Financial Management from the University of Arkansas. Rudy has worked with commercial clients in community, regional and national banks. He moved to Tulsa in 2014 to work with commercial clients in the market. He and his wife Patricia live in Bixby. Rudy and Patricia have 7 children and 4 grandchildren between them. When Rudy is not meeting with business leaders or having large family gatherings, you’ll find him on the trails mountain biking, cycling or running to keep fit for his clients!
Malachi Blankenship is a Venture Advisor for i2E, investing in startups. At i2E, he supports the overall business commercialization efforts for local startups including the development of business strategies, capitalization and milestone planning, market research, competitor analysis, preparation of investor presentations and facilitating access to the Angel and Venture Capital markets. He specializes in areas related to software and technology. Malachi is market-facing in his activities and outreach efforts to ensure the entrepreneurial sector in Oklahoma is aware of i2E’s capabilities and how to access those. Malachi actively engages with several ecosystem building initiatives including: Oklahoma Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Forum, Tulsa Startup Series, The Black upStart, Techstars Startup Weekend, HYPE, Tulsa Collab, Youth Entrepreneurs and Love's Cup. Prior to joining i2E, Malachi was the co-founder for a technology startup that launched a geo-tourism platform to better connect communities in real time. He received his undergraduate and MBA from The University of Tulsa while competing as a student-athlete. He is an active volunteer and mentor for One Hope Tulsa (a non-profit that helps underserved children through tutoring and sports training). He also serves on the board for 36 Degrees North, The Forge, Oklahoma Venture Advisory Council and TYPROS.
Jeff Burdge is the Kiva Tulsa Lead for the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation. Prior to his position as Kiva Tulsa Lead, he was the claims manager for John Christner Trucking in Sapulpa, OK. Before that he served multiple claims positions for State Farm Insurance. Jeff graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2010 with a BS in Geography and a minor in Emergency Management.
Jeff is a Tulsa native, graduating from Tulsa Union. He is involved with multiple nonprofit organizations & events including Health Outreach Prevention Education, Arthritis Foundation, and CREATE Gala for ahha Tulsa. He was named one of Tulsa’s New Leaders in 2014 and was also awarded a Governor’s Commendation in 2014.
Outside of work Jeff is a dog dad to Phoebe, his yellow Labrador, an avid foodie, lover of travel, and a Potterhead.
Candice Matthews-Brackeen is the Founder and CEO of Lightship, the Cincinnati based portfolio service firm and fund whose family of companies include entrepreneur education programs Hillman and NewMe. Lightship companies work together in support of tech driven startups led by underrepresented entrepreneurs.
As CEO of Hillman, the first entrepreneur education program in the Midwest providing support exclusively to WMBEs, Candice has influenced state policy around economic inclusion in addition to establishing meaningful partnerships with companies like Procter & Gamble, Kroger, and Chase in support of Hillman’s work.
Candice has over 15 years of entrepreneurial experience including co-founding Hello Parent, a national safety technology partner of the Brady Campaign to Reduce Gun Violence, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. She later founded the Cincinnati Chapter of the Black Founders Network (BFN), to address the need for increased diversity and inclusion efforts in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Candice currently serves on the board of the Cincinnati Squash Academy, the Advisory Board for the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Northern Kentucky University, and has recently served on the Board of Directors at Beech Acres Parenting Center where she chaired the Parenting Innovation and Technology Committee. She also holds a Director seat on the board of the Justin T. Wright Suicide Prevention Initiative and Depression Research Foundation. She is a recipient of both the Venture Ohio Catalyst of the Year and the Cincinnati Business Courier Women Who Mean Business awards, and maintains a busy fundraising schedule, working diligently to identify and develop transformative tech startups. She sits on the Advisory Board of the Global Accelerator Network and also serves on the Cincinnati Squash Academy Board. Candice holds a BA Economics from the University of Cincinnati where she was a Hewitt-Kautz Fellow.
True North Ventures
Alex Lobodiak heads the business development & sales for GeoSafe and owns a boutique consulting company, True North Ventures. He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs with their go-to-market and growth strategies.
Alex is also involved as an advisor, mentor, director, or board member for Startup Grind, 36 Degrees North, Oklahoma Entrepreneurship Mentorship Program, Oklahoma Venture Forum, and All Kidz. He earned his MIS degree and an entrepreneurship-focused MBA, both from OU (Boomer!).
Please say hello if you come to an event!