New venture created when public and private sectors come together:

Company fosters innovation and entrepreneurship in Central Arkansas

Little Rock, AR (May 20, 2014) – The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce announced today the launch of the Arkansas Venture Center (AVC), an organization focused on facilitating the grassroots growth of entrepreneurial activity in Central Arkansas through the establishment of startup acceleration, corporate innovation and technical training programs.

Governor Mike Beebe pledged a $500,000 matching grant from the State of Arkansas to help in the funding of the AVC.

“Arkansas is built on a history of entrepreneurial success,” Governor Mike Beebe said. “This matching grant will help us remain dedicated to connecting startups and existing companies in ways that will further accelerate Arkansas’s business growth.”

With more than 200 Arkansans already taking advantage of the AVC’s offerings, in addition to the development of 28 different programs, including Global Entrepreneurship Week and the Venture Forum, the AVC is poised to add additional programming and mentorship opportunities to encourage other members to join.

“The Arkansas Venture Center, along with the Argenta Innovation Center and Little Rock Tech Park, is leading the way in navigating the Central Arkansas startup ecosystem and its path on the Main Street Creative Corridor,” said Lee Watson, co-founder of the Arkansas Venture Center. “Through the support of leading corporations, successful entrepreneurs, the state of Arkansas and many others, we have the opportunity to raise the quality of resources available to Central Arkansas’s entrepreneurial and small business community.”

The AVC has identified six major business sector opportunities in Central Arkansas, which include consumer intelligence, data efficiencies, financial services, embedded systems, healthcare and social enterprise – all where technology and data play a key role in their success. AVC’s support for startup acceleration and the development of collaborative technical training programs with companies already succeeding in these sectors will mean that the AVC can help facilitate business growth at many levels.

Co-founders Lee Watson and Mike Steely are governed by a six-member board of directors who provide additional guidance, direction and oversight to the organization and include:

• Jay Chesshir, President and Chief Executive Officer, Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce
• Chris Cline, Senior Vice President, FIS
• Rod Ford, Founder, nGage Labs
• James Hendren, Co-Founder, Arkansas Systems; Chairman, Accelerate Arkansas
• Millie Ward, President, Stone Ward
• Jim Womble, Co-Founder, Acxiom

The AVC also has a board of advisors, many of whom are known for their entrepreneurial expertise and include:

• Kristian Anderson, Founder, KA+A
• Michael Burcham, Chief Executive Officer, Nashville Entrepreneur Center
• Brad Feld, Co-Founder, Foundry Group & TechStars
• Norman Graham, Data Scientist, mongoDB
• Donna Harris, Co-Founder, 1776
• Charles Morgan, Co-Founder, Acxiom and Privacy Star

In addition, a volunteer-led Champions group assists with coordinating niche industry-specific areas of interest for the AVC. These members include:

• Mitchell Adams, Crowdfunding
• Chauncey Holloman, Minority Founders
• Ping Fong, Venture Forum
• Scott Shellabarger, mongoDB Meetup
• Alese Stroud, Women Founder’s Meetup

The annual membership cost to join the AVC is $150 and student and veteran discounts are available. The membership includes access to the AVC Mentoring Network and Member Portal, free registration to several programs including Build IT! CEO Fireside Chat series, Code IT! Technology workshops, Drink IT! Networking events, and Pitch IT! Elevator Pitch Workshops, along with preferred pricing and discounted rates on other events, meetings and community partner services.


Media Contact:

Heide Harrell, APR
Stone Ward
(501) 749-0230
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Made By Few Tech Conference Sets Dates, Expands to 2 Days

by Mark Carter  on Monday, Mar. 3, 2014 9:08 am

The 2014 Made By Few tech conference will be held Aug. 22-23 from the Ron Robinson Theater at the Arcade Building in Little Rock’s River Market District.

In its third year, Made By Few is a technology conference for designers, developers and entrepreneurs who design and create web and mobile applications. It drew attendees from 15 states to its 2013 edition held at the Clinton Presidential Center, and this year conference organizers are expanding the event to two days in an effort to attract more of a national — and perhaps even international — crowd.

“The event has been growing steadily and while we love that this started as an Arkansas conference, we are looking to start drawing even more folks in from out of state and across the world,” said Arlton Lowry, local designer, serial entrepreneur and event co-organizer. “We want to put Little Rock on the map as an innovative center for the Midwest.”

Five of 10 speakers have been scheduled, a mix of nationally prominent designers, illustrators, developers and entrepreneurs:

  • James Victore, independent designer
  • Michael Parenteau, creative director, Relevance
  • John Allison, founder,
  • Tuesday Bassen, senior designer, Tinybop
  • James White, designer, SignalNoise, who spoke at last year’s conference.

Event co-organizer Abbi Siler said ticket costs will include admission to each day of the conference, the Designed by Few competition for local designers, the conference after-party, lunch and breakfast on both days, plus a conference t-shirt and other give-aways.

“In addition to the great line-up, there are some exciting things shaping up for the after party,” she said.

The 2014 Made By Few site is up and running, and sponsorships information is availablehere (PDF).

Post by Brett Amerine

Northwest Arkansas is a pit stop for StartupBus North America, and with the help of The ARK Challenge, Startup Junkie Consulting, Innovate Arkansas and Arkansas Startup Weekend, we are hosting 60+ entrepreneurs from New York and Kansas City next Tuesday morning,March 4th, at Apple Blossom Brewing Company.

Join us, and be the first to hear these buspreneurs’ pitches as they prepare to pitch at SXSW 2014. Thanks to our generous sponsors, the event is free, and breakfast will be provided.

Register here now – seating is limited:

Originally posted by Mark Carter on the Innovate Arkansas Blog

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Stacy Sells- Public relations consultant and educator advocating for empowerment
  • through civic engagement.
  • Todd Brogdon- CEO of Westrock Coffee Company.
  • Mark Gilman- Public librarian and community activist promoting a ʻNew Social Realityʼ.
  • Barb Allen- Consultant and academic researcher focusing on ʻMoral Leadershipʼ.
  • Hen Mazzig- Former Israeli Defense Forces officer and anti-semitism activist
  • Jackie Nyamutumbu- Hendrix student and Zimbabwe native who believes in the power
  • of asking questions.
  • Sami Kennedy- Hendrix student and aspiring physician who advocates for improving
  • care for chronic illnesses.

About TEDx

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

More Information




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DataRank raises $1.4m from New Road Ventures


Arkansas’s very own DataRank, which helps companies track online conversations and meaningful competitive analysis,  announced a $1.4 million round in seed funding Monday, February 3, 2014 . The funding was led by another Arkansas original,  New Road Ventures, with additional participation from FundersClub and other angel investors.

For those not familiar with DataRank’s success, the company founded by Ryan Frazier, Kenny Cason, and Chuong Nguyen in 2011, was the first Arkansas startup accepted into Y Combinator, the most recognized and well networked accelerator programs around. Even more impressive was DataRank being one of the few companies actually profitable during their time at YC. Other notable companies that sprung from the same program include Reddit, Dropbox, Heroku, Air BnB, Coinbase, and the highly anticipated Coin Card, but none were or are as stable in their early stages like DataRank.

Currently, DataRank serves 14 enterprise customers including Callaway Golf, ConAgra Foods, and Clorox, but doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.  With their recently acquired funds, DataRank intends to hire more top-notch sales associates, as it builds on its 300% sales growth since  2012. As we look into the future of Arkansas startups, DataRank will  surely be a leader in innovating around the Northwest Arkansas retail cluster, and providing inspiration for other startups looking to capitalize on the presence of the world’s largest retailer.

For more information broken by TechCrunch check out this in-depth article -


Arkansas Family Previews Gift-Giving Website at Party

LITTLE ROCK, AR – January 30, 2014- After a year and a half of hard work, a Little Rock family is preparing to launch a gift-giving website called “CherryPic’d.”  Beth Arnold and her daughters, Blair and Bret Graves, have assembled a topnotch creative, tech, and marketing team to build a site designed to bring about “the end of re-gifting.” It all started in 2012 when the idea came to elder daughter Blair in the shower.  “I just wondered why it was so damned hard to give someone a gift they would actually want and enjoy.”

Sponsored by the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, the CherryPic’d preview party will take place at the Argenta Community Theater (405 Main Street, NLR) on Wednesday February 5th from 5pm-7pm. Aside from music, hors d’oeuvres, and libations, the CherryPic’d Team promises a short but knock-out program, commencing at 5:45. “Wait till you see our video!” says Beth Arnold.

The U.S. gift-giving economy is huge and growing. “According to the National Retail Federation, Valentine’s Day alone is an $18.6 billion holiday,” Arnold says. “And the number of Americans who now buy gifts online is astounding—this past Christmas, around 50 percent of all gift purchases were made online. But one-third of consumers return gifts, and who knows how many will be re-gifted? It’s just hard to buy gifts, even for your closest loved ones. CherryPic’d is designed to make gift-giving fun and easy.”

“CherryPic’d is sort of Pinterest meets Amazon Wish Lists meets Facebook meets Dynamic Calendars,” says Blair Graves. “We just want to help you actually mean what you say in your thank-you notes!”


Bret Graves

(501) 515-3503

- See more at:

Warwick Sabin and Innovate Arkansas has announced their plans to implement a Central Arkansas Business Accelerator out of a newly renovated space on Main Street in Little Rock.

The application opening has not bet set, but we should be hearing all the details about how you can start the next startup success story in Central Arkansas very soon.

For more details about the Innovate Arkansas and Mr. Sabin check out the article below


Originally seen on the Innovate Arkansas Blog By Alese StroudThe Stroud Group Consulting

INOV8 contributor Emily Reeves of Little Rock’s Stone Ward encouraged startup founders to use social media channels to build relationships with their community at Monday’s Little Rock Women Founders Meetup. Emily discussed the importance of engaging potential customers and investors with the progress of your startup by sharing your story. “Each media channel has its own half-life. Understand how that works and develop a communications plan that uses each channel to its own best advantage,” Reeves told the group of mostly women who gathered Monday evening at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce for a panel discussion on web and social media issues relating to startups. The Women Founders Meetup is organized by me with sponsorship from the Arkansas Venture Center and Create Little Rock. This ongoing event is designed to provide networking and support to Arkansas women who are interested in starting their own businesses. The first meetup was held in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week in Little Rock. Eric Caldwell, founder of Web-Jive, shared the panelists table on Monday, drawing the attendees’ attention to the questions they need to ask of professionals when they are selecting a website design firm.  Eric emphasized the advantages of working with local professionals when developing a web presence or search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. The next AVC Women Founders Meetup will take place in March, when the discussion will center on legal issues and idea protection for startups. – See more at:

Here’s what you need to know about NWA TechFest 2014 straight from their website. We can’t wait to see you there!

“Registration is open for NWA TechFest 2014, which will take place on Friday, January 31, 2014, at the UA Conferences Services (Global Campus) on the Square in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas. Check-in begins at 8AM, and sessions run through 4:30, followed by an after-party.

TechFests present major regional tech conference experiences without the typical tech conference price tag.  They are among the most important and favorite tech conferences for developers and IT professionals in the regions they serve.  NWA TechFest 2014 will provide continuing education on big data, content management, advance development, dev ops, mobile, tech entrepreneurship, and web usability, dev products and trends, and personal and professional development.

NWA TechFest’s training sessions will be formatted in various “tracks” for different subject areas along with two keynote sessions.  All speakers are regional or national tech thought leaders and professionals.  Organizers for the January 31 event expect about 40 prominent speakers and presenters and 250+ registrants.

TechFests are also noted for community support.  Admission is free, but registrants are   asked to bring “2 cans of food or 2 bucks.”  All canned food and proceeds support the community and will be donated to the NWA Food Bank.

The grandfather of TechFests is the Tulsa TechFest, now entering its 9th year, and the TechFest concept has rapidly spread across the country and into Canada.  These conferences are recognized for face-to-face interaction with noted speakers who present  useful content in break-out training sessions, lively keynote sessions, and souvenir t-shirts, accompanied by great food and networking opportunities.

Planned and executed solely by volunteers, NWA TechFest 2014 is presented by NWA TechFest, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.  Sponsorships at various levels are still available.  For additional information, go to the contact form. CLICK HERE.”