Software company from Austin, Texas, relocating to Tulsa

It took Texan Don Ward just over 50 years to make his first trip to Tulsa.

The city apparently made quite an impression.

Eight months after attending the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club and learning of Tulsa’s potential from municipal leaders, Ward has announced that Laundris, the software company for which he is CEO, is relocating here from Austin, Texas.

The firm’s office will be in the 36 Degrees North incubator at One Technology Center, 100 S. Cincinnati Ave.

“I really think what they are building here is pretty exciting,” Ward told the Tulsa World on Monday at 36 Degrees. “I would have never known unless I had come here to visit, because it wasn’t on my top 10 list to start with.”

The initial Tulsa connection for Ward and Laundris co-founder Joey Dominguez was Arthur Jackson, senior vice president of economic development for the Tulsa Regional Chamber who had formerly worked for the Austin chamber. Ward called Jackson last year to inquire about tickets and accommodations for the 2022 PGA Championship.

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Ward returned to Tulsa in the summer for a grand tour and deeper understanding of the city’s roots and economic development opportunities.

“A lot of it reminded me of where Austin was 10 years ago in terms of the tech ecosystem being built,” Ward said. “You start looking at what’s going on here, and you start looking at the historical significance of the city with Black Wall Street.

“That’s when I started thinking there could be an opportunity here to not only come to Tulsa and really make an impact on the tech ecosystem but also make a longer-lasting impact in terms of legacy.”

Laundris is a business-to-business, or B2B, Enterprise Industrial Automation software platform, providing a physical-to-digital transformation of inventory lifecycle for properties (hospitality, health care, short-term rentals), production facilities and supply chain vendors.

A type of electronic commerce, B2B is the exchange of products, services or information between businesses, rather than between businesses and consumers. The Laundris platform is designed to streamline inventory management by providing real-time article tracking, analytics, inventory state and location status.

“Over a period of time, you start building historical context with a specific property, with a processing facility, with supply chain,” Ward said. “It moves toward being an autonomous platform where we’re using artificial intelligence, along with scanning technology and tying that in to connected devices. You start taking all of the manual processes out of the current way companies are doing something.

“The second largest expense for a hotel is laundry. … Think of companies like Marriott, Hyatt Hotels that have 1,500 properties and now have the power, through digital transformation, to track operational inefficiencies in real time. That’s what we do.”

Tulsa’s Future, the Tulsa Regional Chamber-led regional economic development partnership, worked with the George Kaiser Family Foundation to help Laundris identify its new home at 36 Degrees North, which is specifically designed to support high-growth startups, small teams and solo entrepreneurs.

“Laundris is clearly an innovator and disruptor in the linen and technology industry,” Jackson said in a statement. “Their presence in Tulsa will not only mean good things for their company, but they will also add to the critical mass of tech-based companies we are attracting to our region.”

The firm has five full-time employees and plans to hire an additional 15 staffers in the areas of customer service, project management, sales and customer support beginning in early March.

“Thanks to the diligent work of our partners at 36 Degrees North and the Tulsa Regional Chamber, Tulsa has gained yet another tech-focused business,” Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum said in a statement. “I’m excited to welcome Laundris to Tulsa as we work to attract the next generation of tech businesses and jobs to our city.”

Founded in 2017, Laundris works with multiple technology partners, including HCL Technologies, Microsoft, Oracle and Google. Google named Ward one of the top 30 Black founders in America in 2021, and Laundris received an American Business Award in 2022.

“We could not be more excited to welcome Laundris’ move from Austin to Tulsa,” Jeff Stava, chief program officer for GKFF, said in a statement. “Their software, along with scanning and AI technology specifically designed to support and create efficiencies in the hospitality and entertainment industries, is a great complement to Tulsa’s burgeoning entrepreneurial tech start-up culture.”

Stories by Rhett Morgan, Michael Overall, Curtis Killman and Kevin Canfield


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