Member Spotlight: Viktoria Carlson

Each month, StarSpace46 shines a spotlight on members who are making a difference in the community. Representing a wide variety of businesses and backgrounds, each member has a unique story to tell. If you are interested in sharing your experience at SS46, send your story to info@starspace46.com. This month's we share the story of Viktoria Carlson, a member since 2016.

While it may seem like hyperbole when you read about an organization who claims to bring together industry leaders from “all over the world,” at StarSpace46, that is most certainly true. Viktoria Carlson, currently the Business Operations Director for Hoegg Software, spent most of her childhood in Sweden. After moving to Stirling, Scotland to earn a BA in Journalism Studies, Viktoria began a journey that eventually led her to the coworking space here in Oklahoma City.

 “I moved to Glasgow in hopes of pursuing a career in communications. I applied for a job in media with the Commonwealth Games but ended up being recruited to work for their Events Operations team instead. It ended up being something I enjoyed far more than if I had succeeded in my original goal. After the Games, I ended up staying in Glasgow another couple of years working on other large-scale sporting and cultural events such as the World Bagpipe Championships and the BBC Proms in the Park, before eventually deciding to move to the States, where my mother is from. I’m not one of those lucky people who’ve known what they wanted to do since the age of 4 - the route so far is certainly a little haphazard and winding. Rather, I like to frequently assess whatever path I’m on for two criteria - Am I learning? Do I enjoy it? The worst thing I can imagine in any job, or for any areas of life for that matter, is stagnancy. If I’m challenged and enjoy the work, I like to believe the path will take me in the right direction. It seems to be working so far. But if it doesn’t...well at least I’m enjoying it. And isn’t that the point after all?

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In 2016, Viktoria began working for Cityscope, a company developing an Event Listing app for Oklahoma City. The company had offices at StarSpace46, one of the very first technology firms to become a member. As the Cityscope project was coming to an end, a chance meeting led to new opportunities.  

 “I was at Will Rogers Airport waiting for a flight when I bumped into Jeff Yenzer, a StarSpace46 partner, and Hoegg Software’s HR Consultant. He asked if I was still looking for work, and if so, would I want to send my resume to Hoegg Software. Two weeks later I had an interview - and I was nervous. I had learned from their website that they did DevOps and IT Integration Consulting...but I still felt pretty clueless to what DevOps entailed, even after some research. What I did have was a huge interest in continuing working with tech and startups. My ten previous months at StarSpace46 had given me the taste of the startup working environment, and it was anything but stagnant. I was constantly learning, plus, I really enjoyed it. I got the job, and here I am a year later. And with a better knowledge of DevOps, too.  

Hoegg Software operates with a specific set of values. Their mission is to help all constituents become healthier, stronger, and safer through empirical decision making and transformative IT infrastructure. Viktoria approaches this objective passionately.

 “Hoegg Software’s goal is to make their clients software better. Ryan Hoegg describes software as a central nervous system keeping all the different ‘tribes’ of today’s society connected, and wants to see a world where humans and software live in symbiosis. By bettering today’s software, our mission is to equip our customers and their software to be healthier, stronger, and safer for such a future. Hoegg Software as it is today, quite frankly, would not exist without StarSpace46. It is fantastic being in a space where people are constantly helping each other out. You can find a whole array of different skill sets and levels of experience in the space, and many people volunteer their time and knowledge simply because business and innovation is their passion. Startups can come with their own unique sets of problems and I think it is very reassuring being around people who may have experienced what your company is going through before. In addition, StarSpace46 offers in-house fractional services such as bookkeeping and HR consulting, a huge benefit when a company is still in its growing phase and not ready to hire such services on a full-time basis.  

“I believe the relaxed working environment of StarSpace46 is very conducive to getting real help for real problems. I find there is a lot less pretense and reason to put on a facade about how your company is doing. Members are open to sharing their struggles with their coworkers and I believe are finding solutions at a much faster rate because of this. I find on a personal level that working in a place where you can be open and honest, and not worry too much about hiding behind a company’s image or trying to impress the right people, to be very refreshing.”

WordPress Fans "Plugin" to OKC User Group

Serving as the content management system for over 60 million websites, WordPress is the most popular web publishing system in the world. For Oklahomans who are interested in learning more about this ubiquitous platform, the OKC WordPress Users Group is a place to call home. Since 2009, this group has offered Meetups on a regular basis, with the goal of connecting fans of WordPress in the OKC area. Their mission, according to the group page, is to share an enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, "the Internet's awesomest dynamic content management system."

If you are unfamiliar with the world of WordPress, it is free, open-source software designed with accessibility, performance, and security in mind. The basic design is intuitive and straightforward, which is why it has become so popular. Because so many developers have embraced WordPress, there are now millions of advanced plugins and options available to users.

 Adam White with Main Street Enterprises

Adam White with Main Street Enterprises

Meeting monthly at StarSpace46, the OKC WordPress Users Group discusses a variety of topics. These range from basic site setup, to content creation, and advanced topics like analytics integration. While each presentation is designed to help users who do not consider themselves WP experts, experienced users state that they learn something new every time they attend.

Crystal Oakes, the owner of Crystal Oakes Creative House, spoke at the OKC Wordpress Users Group Meetup earlier this year. She shared insightful best practices when designing WordPress websites. Oakes said she loves developing websites with WP because “Wordpress is an extremely powerful and cost-effective tool for businesses to have a website presence. It can also be complicated to figure out on your own. There are many basic design principles that you can use in a site design. However, the best advice I can give is to keep the design simple. Don’t try to overdo it, this alone will give you a professional look without all of the bells and whistles.”

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The organizers, led by Sara Graybill, have a fondness for the open-source nature of WordPress, and all the benefits that come with a flexible website management system. Previous co-organizer, Tim Priebe, said that "We've found people pick WordPress for a variety of reasons, but they stick with it when they find it easy to use. And it doesn't hurt that open source software is free, either." Each Meetup includes a Q & A session, where anyone can ask the presenter, or other WordPress users in the room, for helpful advice.

Member Spotlight: Verge Law Group

Each month, StarSpace46 shines a spotlight on members who are making a difference in the community. Representing a wide variety of businesses and backgrounds, each member has a unique story to tell. If you are interested in sharing your experience at SS46, send your story to info@starspace46.com. This month's we share the story of Matt Jones, Business and Real Estate Attorney at Verge Law Group, P.C.

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Before launching Verge Law Group, Matt Jones felt like a cog in the machine of a mid-sized law firm: “It was less than thrilling,” Jones describes. After careful consideration, he decided to branch out, and create a type of business that filled a specific need in the Oklahoma City landscape. “I want to revolutionize how entrepreneurs and startups can get great legal counsel. The legal industry is inefficient, cumbersome, antiquated, and not set up to serve entrepreneurs well. I want to change that. I started representing a venture capital firm out of San Francisco early in my career and worked on deals in traditional startup communities. I saw the same types of deals begin to surface in OKC, so I knew I could carve out a niche here exclusively serving the startup and entrepreneur ecosystem.”

The term “verge” can mean a variety of things. It sometimes refers to an extreme limit that, if crossed, will lead to a significant change of action. Verge can also refer to the act of getting uncommonly close something important. Both of these definitions are suitable for describing the work that Jones, a business and real estate attorney, does at Verge Law Group. “Our mission is to contribute meaningfully to the flourishing of our community through the legal work we do for entrepreneurs and businesses,” Jones explains. “We hope our community is a better place as a result of how we operate our firm and the value we add to the creative business leaders shaping its future.”

 Matt Jones of Verge Law Group

Matt Jones of Verge Law Group

Verge Law Group specializes in internet and online business law, social entrepreneurship, and intellectual property rights, areas of particular importance to those trying to navigate the digital business world. Other areas of expertise include contracts, mergers and acquisitions, registrations, and licensing, legal realms that impact all businesses large and small. This background gave Jones an immediate sense of familiarity at StarSpace46. After attending a number of events, he knew this would be an excellent place to help his business flourish. “SS46 sets the stage for daily interactions with entrepreneurs and creative business leaders. Being present in the most vibrant and active entrepreneur hub in this area has further solidified my position as a leading attorney in our city for startups and entrepreneurs,” he said.   

I asked Matt to tell me the most unexpected benefit that has grown out of his membership at StarSpace46. The answer was simple: “The ability to collaborate on deals outside the scope of legal services with like-minded community builders.” He believes that for businesses to succeed, they must build a team of experts, and continually develop that core group. That’s why the infrastructure of Verge Law Group was deliberately designed to give maximum value to businesses by facilitating a team relationship with each and every client.