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Brad Harvey Of Nerdies Makes AT's Visionary Arkansans List


Founder Brad Harvey of IA client firm Nerdies is featured in the Arkansas Times' Visionary Arkansans list for 2014.

Nerdies is a Fayetteville "alternative learning" startup that offers, well, nerd camps. Plus, there's Arties (think comic book art, improv comedy and more).

Here's more from the Harvey's profile:

Harvey, who has worked in management at various mobile media companies and Tyson Foods, founded Nerdies, a day camp in Fayetteville for kids "who think smart is cool." He raised about $20,000 through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to cover startup costs, aided by support from people he calls ONs — Original Nerds — who've told him they wished they'd had a Nerdies in their golden days.

"Part of our goal at Nerdies is to create passion," Harvey said. "If you can talk my ear off about something, to the point that I get bored, then you're a nerd in that area. Secondly, because it is Nerdies, we're generally taking what are historically marginalized kids and giving them a cool place to call their own."

Keep up the good work, you bunch'a nerds, you..... 

Here's More on ARA Scholar Carolina Cruz-Neira of UALR


The latest ARA Scholars were named earlier this week: Carolina Cruz-Neira and Gareth Morgan.

Cruz-Neira takes over for founder Mary Good at the UALR Emerging Analytics Center, and Morgan takes over for founder Bart Barlogie at the world-class UAMS Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy.

Give the EAC a few years, and it just may be considered world-class as well. Both Scholars are internationally renowned in their respective fields.

Here's more from Arkansas Business.

Meanwhile, here's the official presser from UALR on Cruz-Neira's appointment to lead the EAC:

International Pioneer Leading UALR Emerging Analytics Center

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Aug. 29, 2014) - Carolina Cruz-Neira, globally recognized as an international pioneer in the areas of virtual reality and interactive visualization, is the new director of the George W. Donaghey Emerging Analytics Center (EAC) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

On Aug. 27, the Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) and Gov. Mike Beebe announced her appointment as one of two new ARA Scholars who will share their knowledge and research to create new paths for the state’s economic success. The first ARA scholar from UALR,

Dr. Cruz is also Donaghey Distinguished Professor in Information Science.

UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson said Dr. Cruz brings a new dimension to the EAC that will benefit UALR students, faculty, and the entire state.

“Within five to 10 years, EAC’s vision is that UALR and the Little Rock region will be among the national and international leaders in advanced visualization and interactive technologies,” Dr. Anderson said.

Dr. Cruz said the center was founded to make a positive impact on large and small businesses in Arkansas.

“We’re doing the groundwork at this point to create exciting collaborative endeavors that will bring faculty, students, and industry professionals toward transforming innovative ideas into tangible research and development projects,” she said.

“We live in a global environment in which everything is intertwined. None of us can be an island of knowledge any more. We need to work in teams, partnerships, and collaborations in order to create innovation. Building a good network is key to succeed. We need to know who is best in each area of expertise to form successful teams. It is the only way to truly innovate and make a difference in today's world.”

She predicts endless opportunities. “As our expertise circle expands, we will be better prepared to become a focus of knowledge and research productivity spanning disciplines from engineering, science, arts and humanities, covering almost every aspect of human life.”

Prior to joining UALR, Dr. Cruz was William Hansen Hall Board of Regents Superchair in Telecommunications, Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the founding CEO of the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise. Last year she was asked to serve on the EAC board.

She succeeds Dr. Mary Good, who was appointed to lead the center when it opened in 2013. Good now serves as special assistant to Dr. Anderson.

The EAC was established through a $5 million gift from the George W. Donaghey Foundation to enable UALR and Arkansas to solve critical problems through research and innovation in virtual reality and interactive visualization.

BusinessWeek magazine named Dr. Cruz a “rising research star” in the next generation of computer science pioneers. She has been inducted as an ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery) Computer Pioneer and received the IEEE Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award among other national and international recognitions.

She has created and deployed a variety of technologies that have become standard tools in industry, government and academia.

Her work with advanced technologies, driven by simplicity and applicability, provides value to a wide range of disciplines and businesses. She has received multi-million dollar awards from the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Lab, the Department of Energy, and Deere and Company, among others.

Part of her career has been dedicated to transferring research results into daily use. Dr. Cruz has spearheaded several Open Source initiatives to disseminate and grow practical technologies by leading entrepreneurial initiatives to commercialize results. She serves in many international technology boards and government technology advisory committees.

She received a Ph.D. in 1995 and a master’s degree in 1991, both in electrical engineering and computer science (ECCS) from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering in 1987 from Universidad Metropolitana.


Moon Gazing in Argenta with Innovation Hub Scheduled for Sept. 6


Get in a little moon gazing the night of Saturday, Sept. 6, from the Argenta Arts District in downtown North Little Rock with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, Launch Pad maker space, the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society and the UALR Physics & Astronomy Department.

It's all part of International Observe the Moon Night, and it's free, family-friendly and will include food trucks. Goes down from 7-10 p.m. from 6th and Main in Argenta.

(And our guess is Launch Pad director Joel Gordon and crew will have some cool hardware with which to gaze.) 

Here's more from CAAS:

Quick, what is not made of cheese and is only 1.3 light seconds away? It’s our closest celestial neighbor, the Moon!
The Moon has always been a comforting presence in our night sky and people have long gazed upon it with wonder, fascination, and more than a few romantic notions. But, like many things in our lives, we sometimes take it for granted.

Saturday, September 6th, 2014 is International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) when people from all across planet Earth turn their gaze skywards and pay tribute to our only natural satellite.

InOMN began in 2010 as an educational outreach event from multiple NASA and astronomical organizations with 300 events in over 40 different countries. Over the years it has grown even larger and for 2014 the Argenta Downtown Council will participate in this global event by hosting the 5th annual International Observe the Moon Night in North Little Rock’s historic Argenta District at the corner of 6th and Main Streets.

In partnership with the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society, the UALR Physics and Astronomy Department, and The Launch Pad of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, the Argenta Downtown Council will make the Moon accessible to anyone who wants to put their eye to a telescope and gaze upon the stark beauty of the lunar landscape.

The event runs from 7pm to 10pm on Saturday, September 6th. It’s free and family- friendly. Come out for a night of dining at one of the many area restaurants, or grab a bite from a food truck, and then let yourself be transported to another world when you and your family look through a telescope at our glorious Moon!

If the weather forecast is for inclement weather or clouds on the evening of Saturday, September 6th then the event will be moved to Friday September 5th. 


Here's More on Picasolar at SxSW Eco from the UA Newswire


Earlier this week, we shared news from Picasolar CEO Doug Hutchings about that Fayetteville startup's selection to pitch at the 2014 SxSW Eco Startup Showcase.

On Thursday, the UA Newswire reported on Picasolar's latest adventure.

Selection to participate represents quite an honor, and Picasolar -- sister company to IA client firm Silicon Solar Solutions -- will be among 24 startups from around the world competing in the green tech, clean web and social impact categories.

Picasolar, which developed a technology to improve the efficiency of solar cells by 15 percent, will compete in the green tech category.

The competition is scheduled for Oct. 6-8 in Austin, Texas.

Here's more from the UA Newswire: 

Picasolar is the only Arkansas company in the overall competition; the greentech category includes companies from California, Illinois, New York and Texas.

Each company presents a four-minute pitch and then engages in a four-minute question-and-answer session with the judges, who will determine the winner. In the past two years, participating companies have gone on to raise more than $27 million in funding and acquire global brands as clients.

Picasolar’s technology, a hydrogen selective emitter invented by chief technology officer Seth Shumate — a doctoral student in the microelectronics-photonics graduate program at the University of Arkansas — could improve the efficiency of solar cells by 15 percent. It is a key innovation in the fastest-growing segment of the fastest-growing energy source in the world.

Picasolar won more than $300,000 in cash while competing for the University of Arkansas at graduate business plan competitions in 2013, including $250,000 for winning the MIT NSTAR Clean Energy Prize. The team incorporated and is now located at the Genesis Technology Incubator at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park in Fayetteville.

Read the full story here.

Keep up the great work, and knock 'em dead in Austin, guys. 


Aaaaah, Feels Good: G60 Making First Stop in Spa City


G60, that pantheon of pitch hatched in the brain of IA adviser Jeff Amerine, will make its first stop in the Spa City, Hot Springs, on Thursday, Nov. 6.

G60 will roll at noon as part of the Hot Springs Business Fest from the Hot Springs Convention Center. Register here

G60 is an elevator pitch contest for entrepeneurs, aspiring and otherwise, created in 2011. It offers $1,000 cash prizes to top winners as selected by a panel of judges and audience preference.

It's played multiple cities in Arkansas, some multiple times, and even ventured south of the border to play Bossier City and Ruston in Louisiana.

Hot Springs is Arkansas' wonderful, jewel of a resort city that has served as both a de facto MLB training spot, a Mafia haven and an off-the-radar celebrity retreat. 

Seriously, the history of Hot Springs is fascinating. How it's not what Branson is now, only better, is beyond us.

Anyway, G60 is making a long overdue stop in Hot Springs. Here's more from the G60 registration page:

The Hot Springs Business Fest is excited to host the G60 Pitch Contest this year!!

The G60 Pitch Contest is an event created to promote startups, improve founder communication skills, and to increase "creative collisions" in emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems.

No slides. No notes. Come sling your story and seize some startup glory in 60 seconds or less.

Contestants: Open to Entrepreneurs or Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Attendees will be angel investors, business leaders, community supporters, entrepreneurs, and anyone looking to have a great time!!

PRIZES!!!! Two $1000 prizes will be given. $1000 will be awarded by audience vote. The second $1000 will be awarded by judges vote.

Come on out and have a great time!!!!



A Look at the ARK Challenge NWA Teams


Demo Day approaches for ARK 3, the third installment of the ARK Challenge accelerator in Fayetteville.

It's scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 4, from the Great Hall at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville. Meanwhile, ARK in Little Rock rolls on with a Demo Day scheduled for Nov. 12 at the Clinton Center.

Tuesday, we got a look at the ARK's Little Rock teams. Legal paperwork now aside, here's a look at the ARK's five NWA teams. The ARK 3 focused on teams with more traction and limited its number of teams to five so it could provide more seed money.

This year's lineup includes two startups that enjoyed IA client status before they applied to the ARK: HRM and Kernel.

Courtesy of ARK 3 director Jeannette Balleza-Collins, here's a look at ARK 3 teams with brief descriptions of each (remember, the ARK is all about pivoting if necessary):  

1) HIPAA Risk Management (HRM), Fayetteville, AR, and Austin, TX, and California.

Anna Drachenberg
Catherine Ganahl
Elizabeth Green

Cloud-enabled online data security tool used by healthcare organizations to protect electronic health information (nearly 100 customers and close to closing half-million-dollar round.

2) KernelSpringdale, AR, and Aurora, CO.

Justin Farmer
Travis Fischer

Creator of Neo network risk assessment bot. Hardware/software solution offering cybersecurity made simple for small business owners.

3) SkosayFayetteville, AR.

Justin Urso
Jason Kohrig

Private 2-way feedback channel for customers and business that digitizes traditional comment card process.

4) HumanLinkRogers, AR, and Dallas, TX.

Venkatesh Vadlamani
Murali Kota
Taylor Johnson

Online community for matching families and elders with quality in-home caregivers.

5) CrowdToGoSeattle, Washington, and Philippines.

Jet Castro

On-time crowdsourced local deliveries.

ARK Challenge NWA Demo Day Set; Preview of LR Teams


The ARK 4 -- the fourth installment of the ARK Challenge startup accelerator which is overlapping with ARK 3 in Fayetteville -- has officially released the names of its participating teams. 

Meanwhile, ARK 3's Demo Day in NWA is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 4, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., once again from Crystal Bridges in Bentonville. It's free to attend, and trust us -- it's a blast. Register here

Demo Day in Little Rock will go down Nov. 12, we know, but the time and place are still being ironed out. That's still a ways off -- the Little Rock teams just entered week 4 of their 14-week boot camp.

ARK 4 represents the program's first foray into central Arkansas, and ARK 4 director Warwick Sabin says the teams have already made much progress. 

Here's a look at the LR teams:

  • Acorn Metrics (Acorn Hours), Little Rock -- mobile/web app that enables schools to track students' progress and keep a record of their service projects. Video here
  • Jones Innovative Medical Solutions, Little Rock -- unique intravenous access catheter system to monitor blood values for use by health-care professionals.
  • Linked Cause, Minneapolis, Minn. -- fundraising campaign system for nonprofits that allows them to collaborate and create campaigns at no up-front cost.
  • Tagless, Little Rock -- From two of the guys behind the Few agency (MxF, DxF), a clothing service where a personal stylist handpicks trendy clothes from stores that benefit those in need.
  • My Color of Beauty, Little Rock -- platform for women of color to find beauty products online specific to their unique needs. Video here
  • Fair Share Data, Bentonville -- aggregator that uses consumer transaction data to provide insight into public companies and the economy at large. Video here.
  •, Rogers -- Monitors legislation and identitfies key bills prior to votes in House and Senate; polls users and provides summary of each bill; poll results are forwarded to lawmakers who are then scored on how often they vote with their constituents. 

Stay tuned. More to come...




Picasolar Selected for 2014 SxSW Eco Startup Showcase


Fayetteville solar startup Picasolar has been selected from an international pool of hundreds to pitch at the 2014 SxSW Eco Startup Showcase.

"We are excited to be a part of this event which attracts innovators, investors and enthusiasts from around the globe," Picasolar CEO Douglas Hutchings told INOV8. "We have been able to greatly accelerate our progress over the past 12 months by leveraging the SunShot Incubator and we look forward to sharing our venture at SXSW Eco."

Indeed, it's been a big year.

Picasolar and its sister company, IA client firm Silicon Solar Solutions, he SunShot Incubator, were chosen last fall to participate in the prestigious Department of Energy SunShot initiative

And earlier this year, Picasolar named former Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter to its board.

SxSW Eco will run Oct. 6-8 in Austin, Texas. (Go Hogs.) 

Here's more from SxSW:

The Startup Showcase, now in its third year, is a rapid-fire pitch competition spotlighting innovative early stage companies in the areas of greentech, cleanweb and social impact. Finalists in these categories were selected out of a pool of hundreds of applicants from around the world and will compete at SXSW Eco in front of a live audience and panel of Judges from companies the likes of Target, Shell Technology Ventures, the Whole Planet Foundation, New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Sprint. In the past two years, participating companies have gone on to raise over $27M in funding and acquire global brands as clients.

“Each year, we are honored to spotlight the companies that are offering the most innovative new solutions to our social and environmental challenges,” said Carolyn Harrold, SXSW Eco Startup Programming Producer. “This year’s finalists were selected out of our most competitive applicant pool yet, and we look forward to the excitement they will bring to the stage and the change they will drive in the coming year.” 

More to come. As usual, keep up the good work, guys.

The Week Ahead: Women Founders, Code IT, MongoDB


It's official.

Even though Sam Houston State traveled to Eastern Washington over the weekend for a little 1-AA action, and Arkansas Baptist College opened its juco season at War Memorial with a 45-14 win over Georgia Prep Academy, college football "officially" debuts this week.

Can I get an amen? God's sport commences, and God's team opens in south Alabama against the Plainsmen Saturday at 3

In the meantime, courtesy of Startup Digest Arkansas, here's a rundown of the week ahead for events related to the Arkansas entrepreneurial/tech/startup scene:

  • The next Little Rock Women Founders Meetup is tonight (Monday) at 5:30 from the Little Rock Chamber. The focus: the Lean Canvas model. More here
  • AVC's Code IT on Tuesday will feature big data guru big data guru Tim Donar, senior big data solution strategist for Hewlett-Packard. More from AVC's Lee Watson: "Tim’s career has covered a wide array of big data technologies for storage and analytics. Tim and his team at HP have developed a stream plugin for HP Vertica. Tim will provide a demo and talk about tools for leveraging social content." Register here
  • Chris Monroe of IA client Rx Results will be at 1 Million Cups Wednesday from the Chamber. Rx is a "next-generation pharmacy risk management company." Here's a piece from Arkansas Business on Rx and its role in "health-care reform."
  • The Little Rock MongoDB User Group will meet Thursday at 5:30 from the LR Chamber. Expect pizza, networking, presentations. More here

Check out the full entrepreneurial calendar at Startup Digest Arkansas...and enjoy the official full start of football season this weekend. 


Swimming in a Sea of Data: Ryan Frazier of DataRank


Ryan Frazier of IA client firm (and Y Combinator) alum DataRank joins IA adviser Jeff Amerine for this week's Swimming in a Sea of Data, part of 8th & Walton's Saturday Morning Meeting show.

DataRank, based in Fayetteville, is at the forefront of "social listening," the practice of monitoring consumers' social networks and online conversations to determine trends and other information about the products they are purchasing.

The 6-minute Swimming segment kicks in at about the 4:30 mark, but as always, watch the entire show. You'll learn a thing or two. The show airs every Saturday morning at 6:30 on KNWA in northwest Arkansas and worldwide each week right here.

Well, of course, there's YouTube too...


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