Boyd Street Ventures opens new headquarters on Campus Corner

·3 min read

Sep. 2—A venture capital firm focused on investing in Oklahoma innovations celebrated their new home on Campus Corner Friday.

Boyd Street Ventures is an investment firm that connects partners and University of Oklahoma alumni to funding opportunities for under-the-radar, early-stage startups. Strategically located on Campus Corner, the firm focuses on bringing "OU innovations into the real world."

The firm's founder and managing partner James Spann Jr. said those efforts come in the form of operational resources, fractional resources with people, support and capital to help launch companies.

BSV now has a headquarters centrally located at 331 W. Boyd St. to help retain and build the talent here in Norman. Spann and his team will engage with investors and work with entrepreneurs developing startup companies in the 3,574-square-foot space.

Spann said BSV launched their fundraising in January 2022. The target is $25 million for 2022 and another $25 million for 2023. BSV intends to make eight to 10 investments per year out of the OU ecosystem.

The call to action to the community, Spann said, is for OU alumni to learn more about BSV and investing in local innovations with university backgrounds.

Spann said alumni can use 401K or their IRA to make investments into the fund.

"We've set that vehicle up to make it really easy for alumni to make an investment," Spann said.

Scott Martin, president and CEO of the Norman Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is enthused and eager to see how BSV's new office helps with Norman job creation, retention, innovation and opportunities.

Spann said as an OU alumnus, it gives him great pleasure to help launch university-affiliated startup companies.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt spoke to the crowd of business, city and community leaders about how BSV can help drive economic development in the state.

"I started a company with $1,000 and a computer, and we know how hard it is in those early days to attract capital to get investments," Stitt said. "We've got a lot of ideas in OKlahoma, a lot of innovation, and we've got a great university that is kicking out entrepreneurs and ideas — to bring in the capital with guys like this is just so important."

OU president Joe Harroz described the celebration Friday as a watershed moment. He said Norman has had all the necessary elements for developing the perception as a hotspot for innovation and entrepreneurial ventures, but now it's coming together.

Harroz said that recipe consists of a research university talent pool and state level investment to allow a research enterprise to grow, which then attracts federal funding and finally, private money.

"That then allows you to spin off companies that flow from that — you can't skip steps," Harroz said. "We have no affiliation with this enterprise, Boyd Street Ventures.

"They're coming here, because they love the university and they see an opportunity to help grow this state with the private sector, like going out of the research enterprise."

Mayor Larry Heikkila said he looks forward to working with Boyd Street Ventures to develop both OU and Norman's vision.

Spann began his career in the same building that now houses BSV's headquarters. It used to be Harold's department store, where he worked as an OU student. Spann said after proposing the idea to landlord Rainey Powell in July 2021, he offered his support of the BSV vision.

"Rainey Powell was kind enough and gracious enough to give us the space for Boyd Street Ventures — now he's my landlord," Spann said. "I want to give thanks to (Powell) for supporting BSV as well as the Powell family."

BSV will host a tailgate at their new office Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., before OU Football's season opener against the University of Texas El Paso.