B.S.B.A 2008, Finance and B.S.I.B.L. 2008, Spanish
About the only thing constant in Kenneth Knoll’s life lately is change.
A young entrepreneur himself, Knoll recently accepted a job helping technology start-ups get off the ground. His new title is manager of concept investments at i2E Inc., a private not-for-profit corporation focused on wealth creation by growing the technology-based entrepreneurial economy in Oklahoma.
Knoll (BS ’08) ran his own business while attending The University of Tulsa. “Although I entered TU as an aspiring entrepreneur, operating a business I began while still in high school, my involvement with the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup built the skill set I would need to identify and develop a higher-impact, technology-based venture,” he said. “It takes a self-mover to seek out and capitalize on the opportunities at TU; however, thanks to the small size and quality of faculty, it’s all there for the taking.”
His company, Edge Sight & Sound, has grown to the point that it could be self-sustained with lesser interaction on Knoll’s part. “Although it is a great business, I needed to open up my time for other opportunities and to focus on progressing my professional and entrepreneurial career,” he said. “I currently plan to keep this business staffed and eventually explore the opportunity either sell the business or invite another area company as a partner to oversee the business.”
As a TU student, Knoll was named a 2005 ConocoPhillips Spirit Scholar and subsequently worked two summers as a finance intern for the energy giant: first, as a joint venture auditor, recovering more than $1.5 million for the company; then in the company’s Treasury Services, recovering and tracking a variety of unclaimed properties.
Knoll studied abroad in Alicante, Spain and served as a TU delegate to INNOVATE 2007, a two-week conference held in Shanghai, China, and Bangalore, India, that focused on international technology, globalization and leadership. He was co-founder and team leader of the student-run Molecuprint LLC, for which he secured $70,000 in start-up funding through the 2007 Governor’s Cup Competition. Molecuprint developed diagnostic processes for early detection of prostate cancer and won first place in the undergraduate division.
Knoll went on to work at ConocoPhillips for 2½ years. “I participated on audit engagements across five continents and gained a lot of valuable knowledge through these experiences. From financial reviews to operational and warehousing reviews, I gained an enormous amount of exposure,” he said. “During my time at ConocoPhillips, I was selected from a pool of finance candidates within the company from around the world to participate in an intensive eight-week training session and ranked in the top 10 percent of the class.”
The company Knoll now works for, i2E, hosted the 2007 Governor's Cup. Knoll apparently made a good impression during the competition and interned at the corporation while he was a student. “Understanding I needed a large corporate experience under my belt, I went to work for ConocoPhillips out of college but maintained contact with the company (i2E) from time to time, always knowing I would eventually want to get back into the entrepreneurial community after spending some time in the large corporate arena,” he said.
In his new role, Knoll will oversee i2E’s in-house angel fund of $6.5 million and analyze potential investment opportunities across client companies.
“Technology and entrepreneurship are a passion of mine. This new position with i2E Inc. is a rare opportunity that will allow me to apply my technical abilities within the startup environment, interact with entrepreneurs and become an active part of the innovation activity here in Oklahoma,” Knoll said. “More importantly, it will keep me moving one step closer to the day that my ‘moonlighting’ activities are truly successful.”
Change also is in the air in Knoll’s personal life. Knoll and his bride, Andrea, were married in 2009 and are relocating to Oklahoma City for his new job.