We build innovation economies.
DCN seeds the growth of entrepreneurs by attracting technology, capital, and talent to help communities build innovation economies. We collaborate with a team that includes Cimarron Capital Partners, a manager of targeted venture fund investments, and Innovate, Inc., a nonprofit that facilitates technology transfer. The in-depth experience of our national team is combined with local talent in the communities we serve as well as an extensive network of innovators and investors.
DCN is a specialized firm focused on driving economic development with market-based solutions.
  • Work through public-private partnerships
  • Achieve development impact with market returns
  • Build evergreen funds that reinvest for the long term
  • Generate impact in communities of any size
  • Comply with public reporting and audits
  • Leverage capital to spur economic growth


SSBCI Development Funds

We build and manage debt and equity funds that serve local entrepreneurs. DCN manages programs funded by the U.S. Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) through the Wyoming Smart Capital Network and the North Dakota Red River Corridor Fund, the latter in partnership with Praxis Strategy Group. Our principals have built and managed similar debt funds in Oklahoma and Oregon. Our partner, Cimarron Capital, designed and managed VC/PE fund of funds for the states of Oklahoma, Iowa, and Arkansas.

Debt: leveraged $199 million in debt financing to 1,191 companies, creating or retaining 3,921 jobs. Equity: deployed $123 million in investments to 37 venture and private equity funds, resulting in over $3.5 billion in economic impact for those states.

Angel Investor Networks & Funds

over 3,000 angel investors trained DCN facilitates the creation and management of networks of angel investors and angel funds that invest in entrepreneurial ventures. The network includes UAS Angel Network, focused on investing in the unmanned aerial system (UAS) industry, and Cowboy Technology Angels, comprised of alumni and friends of Oklahoma State University who desire to see the University's research, innovation and talent put to good work by investor-ready entrepreneurs.

Ecosystem Development

At DCN, we understand the importance of building the right ecosystem. We have trained thousands of angel investors and entrepreneurs in our seminars Seed Investment as a Team Sport and Swing for the Fences – Seed Investing for Entrepreneurs. Our Innovation Finance Reference Guide serves as the primary curriculum for the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) seed and venture capital finance course. And we have built national trade associations that help local practitioners learn best methods for delivering capital to startups and growing companies.

We managed CDFA from 2001 to 2017, growing membership from
80 to over 500.

CDFA logo
We founded the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds and managed it from 1997 to 2009.

NASVF logo
We built the Latin American Venture Capital Association
from 2002 to 2009.

LAVCA logo
We launched and manage the UAS Cluster Initiative and the DronePort Network.

UAS Cluster Initiative logo
DronePort Network logo

Technology Commercialization

500 technology commercialization plans developed. 800 technologies showcased to investors. DCN has developed and operated technology accelerators, commercialization programs, and open innovation activities. Our system for identification and transfer of technologies from research institutions to companies includes market and competitor analysis, advice on strategic patenting, partner identification and vetting, patent valuation, and license negotiation. Our primary technology events include the WBT Innovation Marketplace and Open Innovation Forums. Innovate Inc. complements our team with its outreach to federal labs and events to connect companies with technologies.




DCN serves as manager of the Wyoming Smart Capital Network (WSCN). The Fund was launched to create jobs by helping small businesses in Wyoming gain access to capital. The WSCN was funded by the U.S. Department of Treasury as part of the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The WSCN consists of a coalition of 16 Wyoming municipalities that joined together to bring this capital resource to their communities. The fund provides both debt and equity. wyosmartcapital.org

North Dakota

DCN serves as co-manager with Praxis Strategy Group of the Red River Corridor Fund (RRCF). The Fund was launched to create jobs by helping small businesses across North Dakota gain access to capital. The RRCF was funded by the U.S. Department of Treasury as part of the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The RRCF consists of a coalition of 36 North Dakota municipalities that joined together to bring this capital resource to their communities. redrivercorridorfund.com


WBTangels is a network of angel funds that work together to invest in entrepreneurial ventures. Each angel fund has the opportunity to leverage a national network of technology, talent, and capital sources provided through the WBT Innovation Marketplace and other partners. All members have the chance to interact with entrepreneurs and contribute knowledge and time to analyzing, building and managing their group's portfolio.

WBTangels is facilitating angel funds in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming. wbtangels.com

Cowboy Technology Angels

Cowboy Technology Angels is comprised of alumni and other friends of Oklahoma State University. We desire to see the wealth of research, innovation and talent developed at the university put to good work by investor-ready entrepreneurs and their young companies. cowboytechnologyangels.com

UAS Angel Network

The UAS Angel Network is a collection of individual investors, angel groups and seed funds interested in becoming more knowledgeable about the unmanned aerial system industry for the purpose of increasing their investing acumen in that field. uasangelnet.com


DCN serves as manager of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Cluster Initiative of Oklahoma and Kansas (UASCI), funded in part through a contract with the U.S. Small Business Administration, accelerates the growth of the Unmanned Aerial System industry in the U.S. by enabling established companies and emerging entrepreneurs in Oklahoma and Kansas to connect, work together, and gain access to national technology, global capital, advanced business models and global markets. uascluster.com


The DronePort Network brings together community and thought leaders as well as entrepreneurial companies and government officials to unlock economic prosperity and create jobs in the emerging Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) industry. The Network enables collaboration, education, and advocacy for the purpose of shaping the future of droneport development. droneports.org


To compete in today’s global economy American business seeks new markets, new products, and new processes. Success often turns on gaining access to new technologies.

Open Innovation is a system for finding and acquiring new technologies from anywhere in the world to enhance a company’s product pipeline at home.

DCN produces Open Innovation events hosted by regional economic development organizations and industry groups. An Open Innovation Forum introduces the concepts and methods of Open Innovation to local companies, with a focus on an existing or emerging sector of strength within the region. wbtoi.com


DCN provides executive leadership, program services, financial administration and information technology services to organizations concerned with economic and entrepreneurial development. DCN delivers accounting, tax prep and audit prep service for development funds, and a full suite of IT services for the Council of Development Finance Agencies.


The Council of Development Finance Agencies is a national association dedicated to the advancement of development finance concerns and interests. CDFA represents public, private and non-profit entities engaged in development finance at local and state levels. In 2001 DCN was recruited by the CDFA board to help restart the organization. From that year through mid-2017, DCN provided the executive management for CDFA and the full complement of programs for members. DCN grew the member list from 80 to over 500 and produced hundreds of conferences, seminars and workshops. In 2017 the board accepted direct responsibility for the staff and programs. cdfa.net


What began as an idea in early 2002, the WBT Innovation Marketplace (WBT) has served as a premier event showcasing a large collection of vetted and mentored companies and technologies emanating from top universities, labs, research institutions, and the private sector from across the country and around the globe.

The WBT Innovation Marketplace represents the collaborative, year-long effort of investors, licensees, and tech commercialization professionals. The WBT is deal-focused and diverse, showcasing companies and technologies that vary by geography, funding source, and type of research institution. Participating technologies, each supported by private funding, federal R&D grants or both. Technologies are selected by and presented to seasoned venture investors and Fortune 500 licensing scouts representing a variety of industries. wbtshowcase.com


The Latin American Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (LAVCA) (formerly the Latin American Venture Capital Association) is a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to supporting the growth of private capital investing (including private equity, venture capital, and real assets) in Latin America and the Caribbean. Formed by DCN in 2002 at the request of the Inter-American Development Bank, DCN provided full executive staff and program services through 2010. During that time, founding execs Christina Kappaz and Ramona DeNies grew membership from zero to over 100, gained multi-year financial support from the Multi-Lateral Investment Fund, held annual conference and research forums and launched the annual benchmark analysis of country by country readiness for venture capital and entrepreneurial development. In 2010 direct responsibility for staff and programs was transferred to the board. lavca.org


NASVF brought together innovation capital leaders: private, public and non-profit organizations committed to building their local economies by investing in entrepreneurs.

NASVF began informally in 1993 as an ad-hoc group of practitioners seeking the best models to encourage capital formation in their states, particularly for new technology ventures. In 1997 the group incorporated and engaged members of the DCN Team as managers. DCN grew membership from zero to over 250, delivered over 100 field seminars on seed investing for new angels, and dozens of annual conferences and research workshops. In 2009 the board accepted direct responsibility for the staff and programs.


The National Science Foundation awards SBIR/STTR grants to small companies to perform research and development. DCN has consulted with over 500 of these awardees as they made preparations to submit Phase II proposals. Services included mentoring, market research, assessing milestones, and proposal writing assistance toward development of a technology commercialization plan. seedfund.nsf.gov


Through its work in technology commercialization, DCN developed systems for facilitating the identification and transfer of technologies from research institutions to companies. This system included market and competitor analysis, advice on strategic patenting, partner identification and vetting, patent valuation, and license negotiation. The system was eventually bundled into a service and named Bird Dog Innovation Strategies. Jeff Carpenter, a valued employee at DCN who served as the point person on the system, purchased the Bird Dog business from DCN in early 2014. birddoginnovation.com


Events map


1997Launched the team that became Development Capital Networks (DCN)
1997Formed the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds (NASVF)
2001Launched the WBT Innovation Marketplace Accelerator
2001Began management of the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA)
2002Launched the Latin American Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (LAVCA)
2006Launched the Technology Commercialization Assistance service for NSF SBIR Awardees
2010Founded Bird Dog Innovation Strategies
2011Formed WBTangels
2013Launched SSBCI investment funds in North Dakota and Wyoming
2013Held first WBT Open Innovation Forum
2015Launched the Unmanned Aerial Systems Cluster Initiative (UASCI)
2019Launched the DronePort Network


Robert G. Heard

Founder, Co-Managing Director, Development Capital Networks
Team member since 1997
Robert Heard is a Managing Director and Founder of Development Capital Partners (DCN) and Cimarron Capital Partners, two affiliated firms with over 30 years of experience in development lending and equity investing. He is a pioneer in designing innovative programs that drive economic development by attracting capital and business-building talent to local economies. He frequently speaks on capital formation, portfolio optimization, technology transfer and state venture capital strategies.

With Cimarron, he designs and manages VC/PE accounts for clients that have included Iowa Fund of Funds, Arkansas Institutional Fund, Oklahoma Capital Investment Board, and Cimarron Business Capital. Robert has advised national development banks in Mexico and Colombia on building a venture capital industry and designing funds of funds. He has served on the advisory committees of numerous venture capital funds.

His leadership of DCN has included design and oversight of the Wyoming Smart Capital Network and North Dakota Red River Corridor Fund, both focused on development lending to small businesses under the US Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). He helped launch the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Cluster Initiative for Oklahoma and Kansas, and the Droneport Network.

Robert is committed to building organizations that support the growth of the entrepreneurial economy. He was a founder of the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds (NASVF), the Latin American Venture Capital Association (LAVCA), and the WBT Innovation Marketplace. He was a Board member of CDFA for four years and provided guidance to the organization for 18 years through DCN association management services. He serves on the National Advisory Council of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer.

Robert is an angel investor in technology companies and a member of Cowboy Technology Angels and the Houston Angel Network. His publications include the "Innovation Finance Reference Guide" authored with Jim Troxel for CDFA, an "Angel Investing Workbook" for NASVF, and the National Governors' Association study on "The Experience of States with Seed and Venture Capital" co-authored with Dr. John Sibert.

Robert has a B.A. from the University of Oklahoma and an MBA from Northwestern University.


Jim Troxel

Founder, Co-Managing Director, Development Capital Networks
Founder, Co-Managing Director, WBT Angels, LLC
Jim Troxel is an author and consultant to public service organizations and private companies worldwide.

He previously served as Training Director for the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds (NASVF) and has led close to 100 seminars for 3500 people on seed investing for entrepreneurs and angel investors.

His career in community and organizational development and leadership training spans 40 years and a dozen countries.

Jim has inspired more than 70,000 people in over 1000 seminars and workshops.

His editing credits include two books, Participation Works: Business Cases Around the World and Government Works: Profiles of People Making a Difference as well as several published articles.

Jim launched the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) now active in 30 countries, with a membership base of close to 2,000. The IAF awarded Jim the Certified Professional Facilitator status.

Jim received his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University and his graduate degree from DePaul University where we served as an adjunct faculty member for its School for New Learning.


Mark Huston

Enterprise Manager
Team member since 2005
Mark Huston is the Enterprise Manager for DCN development funds and is a member of the investment committee for Cimarron Capital Partners. He co-designed and manages DCN programs funded under the U.S. Treasury's State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI): the Wyoming Smart Capital Network, and North Dakota's Red River Corridor Fund, co-managed with our partner Praxis Strategy Group.

Former roles have included serving as Portfolio Manager on behalf of Cimarron for the Iowa Fund of Funds and Managing Director of Cimarron Business Capital, which managed a $50 million development loan program in Oklahoma. From 1983 to 2004, Mark served as the Manager of Business Finance at the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department (now known as Business Oregon). Under his management, thousands of Oregon companies were provided with over $1 billion of financing.

Mark served on the Board of Directors of the Council of Development Finance Agencies and is a former President of that organization. He was also a member of the Oregon State Bond Committee and is a Certified Development Finance Professional of the National Development Council.

Mark was born and raised in a small farming community in southern Idaho. He received a Bachelors of Science degree in Economics from the University of Idaho and a Masters of Public Administration degree from Arizona State University. Mark makes his home in Portland, Oregon.


Sallie Traxler

Managing Director
Team member since 2019
Sallie was a founding member of DCN, and returned in 2018 to launch the DronePort Network and oversee the UAS Cluster Initiative Team. She now serves as our managing director.

For over 25 years, Sallie has been a strategic mind behind organizations identifying and achieving their goals through thought partnership, innovation and change management. She was the executive director of the Council of Development Finance Agencies, executive director Association of College and University Housing Officers-International, and more recently, co-founder and executive director of the DronePort Network. She has also held senior management roles at the National Business Incubation Association and Tri-County Community Action Agency of Hocking, Athens and Perry Counties, in Ohio.

She is known for her ability to forge deep public-private partnerships with businesses, nonprofits, and local, state and federal agencies. Sallie has led and consulted with national and international entities to drive strategic growth by aligning industry, network and organizational resources to meet emerging needs. Her work has raised the national bond cap for development authorities nationwide, advanced the campus housing profession for educational institutions and corporations worldwide, secured partnerships with leading Fortune 100 companies in support of startup businesses and business incubators, successfully secured grants and federal contracts, and led community development efforts for rural renewal.

Sallie has an MBA from The Ohio State University, and an MA from Morehead State University in Kentucky.


Christina Kappaz

Managing Director
Team member since 2002
Christina has been a Director of DCN since its founding. She is currently serving as a Business Development Director at DCN and as a member of the investment committee at DCN's affiliated investment firm, Cimarron Capital Partners (CCP). Christina has 30 years of experience working in economic development, with a focus on entrepreneurship, job training, and venture capital. She led DCN and CCP teams in advising the governments of Mexico and Colombia on the development of their venture capital industries and the establishment of Funds of Funds designed to attract capital and business building talent to targeted regions. She was the founding executive director of the Latin American Venture Capital Association.

Christina started her career at the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank before working as a consultant, both independently and as a partner with Millennia Consulting. She recently worked with an international NGO, Youth Business International, where she continues to serve as a strategic advisor on projects that support disadvantaged youth entrepreneurs.

She is currently a member of the investment committee for the Colombian agriculture development bank Finagro, and on the credit committee for the NESsT Small Enterprise Loan Fund. Christina is fluent in Spanish. Her B.A. in Government is from Dartmouth College. She holds both an MBA and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.


Craig Mahaney

Executive Director, UAS Cluster Initiative
Executive Director, DronePort Network
Team member since 2022
Craig joined Development Capital Networks (DCN) in January 2022 as the Executive Director for the Unmanned Aerial System Cluster Initiative (UASCI) of Oklahoma and the nationwide DronePort Network. Prior to joining DCN, Craig served as Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor within the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Aviation Policy and Plans. In 2020 he was selected as a Georgetown University Capitol Hill Fellow where he served as a policy advisor and professional staff to Senator James Lankford (R-OK), subcommittee Chairman on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. During Craig’s sixteen years with the FAA he held numerous operational and management positions focused on Air Traffic Control, Traffic Flow Management, UAS, and Strategic Planning. Before joining the federal government, he spent five years in the U.S. Navy as an Air Traffic Control Specialist and completed multiple deployments to the Middle East. Craig is a certified private pilot, graduate of the FAA's Aircraft Accident Investigation Course and has a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

Jan Lehenbauer

Team member since 2022
Jan Lehenbauer, CPA, is the Controller for Development Capital Networks. She brings over 20 years’ experience in accounting to DCN, having worked for a range of commercial enterprises managing financial reporting and budgeting, as well as conducting audits. Jan is a Certified Public Accountant, certified in Oklahoma.

Jan and her staff are responsible for the financial accounting for the DCN entities and sister organizations. This includes overseeing annual audits as well as ensuring tax returns are prepared and timely filed.

Jan received her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the Colorado State University - Pueblo. She is a Colorado native, but has lived and worked in Oklahoma since 2011.


Sam Weinstein

Development Loan Officer, Wyoming Smart Capital Network
Team member since 2024

Gary Betow

Senior Advisor, Development Capital Networks
Team member since 2022
Gary Betow is a senior advisor and consultant to Development Capital Networks, LLC, advising primarily with respect to DCN’s management of credit support and equity/venture capital programs pursuant to the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). Gary practiced law in the State of Oklahoma for almost 40 years and served as primary outside counsel to DCN from 1999 until his retirement from the practice of law in 2018.

Gary graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1976 and from Harvard Law School in 1979. While in legal practice, Gary primarily focused on business finance, including commercial lending, tribal lending (gaming and non-gaming), energy finance, real estate finance, public finance, venture capital, entity formation, mergers and acquisitions, consumer credit, and bank regulation. Prior to his retirement, Gary was listed in Best Lawyers in America©, SuperLawyers©, and Chambers USA (Band 1 rating). He brings to DCN extensive experience in working with banks and investors to analyze and resolve SSBCI underwriting, structuring and compliance issues.

Sam DeNies

IT Administrator
Team member since 2002
Sam DeNies is the head of the IT department for Development Capital Networks.  Through his work at DCN, he has been responsible for the IT infrastructure for Cimarron Capital Partners, Council of Development Finance Agencies, UAS Cluster Initiative, among others.  In his career of more than 20 years, he has designed and built numerous internal database applications and websites serving these clients, as well as maintained the health and security of servers, workstations and other networking devices, and provided technical support to staff.

He attended the University of Missouri at Rolla and University of Oklahoma.

Charles DeNies

IT Specialist
Team member since 2006
Charles DeNies is a design specialist for DCN's IT department. Charles provides web, graphic, identity, and database design for DCN affiliated organizations, and is responsible for general support to the IT department. Charles lives in Spokane, Washington.


Catherine Myers

Administrative Assistant, Accounting
Team member since 2002
Catherine Myers is DCN's Office Manager who also assists the DCN Controller with invoicing, event registration and payment processing. She is responsible for the production of administrative and clerical items, event planning and tasks for the company and staff. Catherine also serves as the Administrative Assistant to Robert Heard and is responsible for handling the logistics of events.

Catherine received her undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University.


Sallie Traxler


DCN sponsors and collaborates with Innovate Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Innovate:
  • Supports research activities at federal labs, universities and innovation centers.
  • Provides training in technology transfer and commercialization.
  • Targets the growth of job-creating enterprises.


DCN collaborates with Cimarron Capital Partners on projects involving venture capital and private equity fund design, implementation and management. Cimarron:
  • Builds funds-of-funds and similar portfolios for public and private clients
  • Invests in national, regional and local funds
  • Attracts professional venture investors to targeted regions