Arkansas Startups: From Dirt Roads to Interstates - Innovate Arkansas
Arkansas Startups: From Dirt Roads to Interstates
By Mark Carter, 12/3/2012 12:00:00 AM
From an entrepreneurial dirt road to an interstate — that's how Movista co-founders April Seggebruch and Stan Zylowski describe the emerging startup culture in northwest Arkansas.
The two UA Walton College MBA grads founded Movista in 2010 as Merchant View and have grown their retail tracking firm to the cusp of startup stardom. Earlier this year, Movista signed its first national client, Tempur-Pedic, the mattress makers.
Seggebruch said the environment for growing a business in Arkansas, specifically northwest Arkansas, is booming. She cited the creation of Gravity Ventures' Arkansas Fund and the success of the recent ARK Challenge business incubator that brought startups from the state, country and beyond to Fayetteville.
Things have changed a lot, even since Seggebruch and Zylowski hatched their idea for what would become Movista in a Walton College classroom almost three years ago.
"We love to joke that we grew up on the entrepreneurial dirt road and northwest Arkansas folks are now born on the interstate," Seggebruch said. "The ARK, Gravity and, for the most part, Innovate Arkansas have grown up along with us. We are terribly proud of all the work these folks are doing and try very hard to give back when we can."
Hark announced that it will launch a six-week tour of the Southeast beginning in July in partnership with Bespoke Video Production of Little Rock.
Nancy Gray, the new director of the BioVentures business incubator at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, is developing an entrepreneur-in-residence program to help mentor potential startup founders at the school.
Northwest Arkansas isn’t California’s Silicon Valley and has a long way to go before it can be considered remotely comparable, but technology industry leaders say the area is proving to be on the short list of best places in the field.
Wal-Mart needs vast numbers of technologically advanced workers and needs them as soon as possible, says SVP Rick Webb.