By Mark Carter
Innovate Arkansas client firm Movista of Bentonville has partnered with Walmart on a smartphone app that enables users to pre-order food and other merchandise.
Here's more from Just Good News. With the app, available through the App Store and Google Play, users can pre-order food from the new Walmart to GO concept store in Bentonville and other stuff -- anything you'd otherwise shop for in person -- from a regular Walmart.
"It’s super simple to use and eliminates line-time for customers," Movista co-founder April Seggebruch told Just Good News. "There are a lot of apps in the world but any app that gets me hot ribs and cold potato salad is magic in my book."
(Ribs and tater salad. From a c-store. That's awesome. We just love April and fellow co-founder Stan Zylowski, pictured above...)
More to come, but in the meantime here's more recent stuff on Movista:
By Mark Carter
G60 returned to its NWA roots on Monday night, filling up the 21c Hotel in Bentonville.
G60, of course, is the Shark-Tank-meets-American-Idol elevator pitch competition created by IA adviser Jeff Amerine in 2011. It's played all over the state, from NWA to El Dorado to Jonesboro and back, and even made a stop south of the border at La Tech in Ruston.
Organizer Brett Amerine of Startup Junkie tells us that about 170 were in attendance in Bentonville to hear 25 or so pitches. Solid numbers.
The winners, each of whom took home $1,000, were:
- People's Choice winner -- Michael Iseman of BioBotic Solutions, a UA startup.
- Judge's winner -- Yoon Kim of Infographic Posters.
Iseman and the BioBotic team (developing automation for pathology labs) have been busy of late: BioBotic placed second in the undergrad division of the 2014 DWR Governor's Cup, held recently in Little Rock, and then went on to win the prestigious VandV undergrad business-plan competition at TCU.
Kim, meanwhile, was wowing judges and audience members alike with his infographic poster for changing diapers. Brett: "It was hilarious."
Next up for G60 is a trip down 412 to Siloam Springs on June 11, where 28 Springs will be the host venue.
More info -- and register -- here. A few photos from Monday night, posted to Instagram by the ARK Challenge (hey Jeannette), below:
By Mark Carter
VentureBeat has this from Silicon Valley VC Sean Jacobsohn.
Jacobsohn provides a glimpse into the "pipeline" of a typical mid-sized VC and what's necessary just to see 10 investments: 1,200 leads, 500 sit-downs, 50 cases that warrant due dilligence.
We sought out an Arkansas perspective. Thankfully, we have IA adviser Jeff Amerine (that's him at right) at our beck and call. (Well, he responds to our emails, anyway.)
Jeff, as most of you know, is the director of Technology Ventures at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, founder of Startup Junkie Consulting, creator of the G60 pitch contest (which rolls in Bentonville tonight, 6:30-8:30 at the 21c), and a serial entrepreneur/investor.
He provided some 2013 numbers for a particular VC firm for which he had some first-hand knowledge:
- 960 deals reviewed
- 60 deep dive calls/meetings
- 14 term sheets issued (offers to invest)
- 3 investments made
"That is a three-tenths of 1 percent investment rate," he said. "The odds of getting into Harvard are better. Only the best-of-the-best get VC funding and even great companies sometimes aren’t a good fit. We’re trying to improve the odds and be a bit more of the masters of our own destiny by getting more out-of-state interest from various funds and by rolling our own funds. Even so, it will always be very, very selective."
So, remember, prospective entrepreneurs.....getting your startup venture funded is akin to a high-school athlete dreaming of the big leagues. It's a long shot.
But then again, what's the point in dreaming small?
The UA's College of Engineering recently honored Douglas Hutchings, CEO of Innovate Arkansas firm Silicon Solar Solutions and its sister startup, Picasolar, with an Early Career Award.
Very much deserved. (Doug and wife Kassie are shown with the award at right.)
Here's more from the UA:
College of Engineering Recognizes Douglas Hutchings
Follow the University of Arkansas on Twitter @uarkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas College of Engineering honored Douglas Hutchings of Fayetteville, Ark., founder and chief executive officer of Silicon Solar Solutions and Picasolar, at its annual banquet.
Hutchings received the Early Career Award. This award recognizes exceptional professional and personal achievements of engineers who have attended the College of Engineering in the past 20 years. The College of Engineering Alumni Awards Banquet was held Saturday, April 5 at the Springdale Holiday Inn and Convention Center.
“Our alumni are one of our college’s biggest strengths and their accomplishments speak directly to the quality of our academic program,” said Dean John English at the banquet, which honored 14 alumni. “We are proud of all our alumni but this group is a sample of our very best.”
Hutchings grew up in England. He received bachelor’s degrees in math and physics from Hendrix College before coming to the U of A to earn a master’s degree and doctorate in microelectronics-photonics in 2007 and 2010.
Hutchings developed a business plan for his first company, Silicon Solar Solutions LLC, as part of a business class team project. A second company, Picasolar, emerged from Silicon Solar Solutions in 2013. Picasolar is developing a technique to decrease the cost of solar cells by decreasing the amount of silver used in the gridlines.
By Mark Carter
A quick note about Little Rock native and Arkansas startup champion Max Farrell, who works for digital payment platform Dwolla in Des Moines.
In addition to helping organize and promote Startup Weekends in his home state, Max (@MaxOnTheTrack) is an accomplished hip hop artist. The video he crowdsourced through Fiverr with his Juke Joint partner, Little Rock's Jaye White (@paperclipjaye), is below.
"Goody Good" is available on iTunes here, and it's goody-good stuff (even for a classic rock dinosaur like me). Max tells us it was recorded at Little Rock's Joker Ent. Studio with owner/producer KEV supplying the beat.
Before we get to the video, we've got links to coverage of Max's innovative crowdsourcing from the Des Moines Register, and here's more from Max in the Dwolla blog.
(Maybe Juke Joint could hook up with MC Hammer next month in Conway. Just sayin'...)
By Todd E Jones
For the fourth time, Conway hosted it’s annual BarCamp Conway.
Started in 2010, BarCamp Conway has been around for five years, the same age as organizer Dan Decker’s son who was born just days before the first event. The event took place this past
weekend on the campus of UCA.
Decker told the Log Cabin Democrat’s Michelle Corbet:
We all have so much to learn from each other, it’s a really great way to spend a Saturday. We think of it as getting to hang out with over 200 of our closest friends.
Attendees and presenters came from as far away as Omaha, Neb. Ben Lueders was visiting a friend who insisted he attend. Lueders ended up presenting, "What I Learned My First Year As a Startup."
Other presentations included:
- Idea to Income -- James Eldridge, WearLit
- 3D Design & Printing, Gordan Fisher
- Explain SMM to Your Boss -- JS Stansel, UCA
- Creative Doodling -- Michael Clanton, Clanton Graphic
- Methodology of Design Process -- Li Zeng, UCA
- Educating Entrepreneurs -- David Allen, Acorn Hours (Hendrix)
- Rasberry Pi, Maker and Community Collaboration -- Shawn Goicoechea, The Locals
Along with Decker, Shawn Goicoechea and the team at The Locals helped with the organization of the event. The grassroots community effort by Conway residents contributed to the success. Also, Decker pointed out to the crowd, the only non-local sponsor was Sticker Mule which has been providing stickers from the beginning of BarCamp Conway.
Along with The Locals, the Chamber of Commerce and UCA were big sponsors. Giving out swag to attendees were dotStrategy, the new registry for the TLD .BUZZ, and abc Financial which also provided raffle prizes.
DotStrategy also gave participants a chance to secure their own .BUZZ name for free the first year though its partnership with Pleth, LLC.
Food was provided by Zaza’s Pizza and the Patio Cafe as well as Conway Family Chiropractic which paid to have bacon present when the meeting started. Participants enjoyed coffee by Springdale’s Onyx Coffee Lab.
The after party was sponsored by King’s and The Twisted Purl. Check out the photo gallery at AR
By Mark Carter
UA startup BioBotic Solutions wasted little time building on momentum created at last week's 2014 DWR Governor's Cup business-plan competition in Little Rock.
The UA team -- which includes a student from Hendrix and is developing UAMS technology -- flew to DFW from Little Rock to compete over the weekend at the Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures® Business Plan Competition (VandV) at TCU's Neeley School of Business.
UA entrepreneurship/business-plan guru Carol Reeves -- whose daughter Rachel Zweig is the Hendrix member of the BioBotic team -- calls VandV the top undergrad competition in the country.
Winning business-plan competitions is old hat for Reeves and the UA by now. Reeves' graduate-level success is well documented. But BioBotics' win represents the first UA undergrad win since 2009 and just the second ever outside of the state Governor's Cup or Tri-State Governor's Cup.
Interestingly, BioBotic finished second in the undergrad track at this year's Governor's Cup; a true testament to the strength of Arkansas teams. Undergrad winner Arleesa of JBU will join BioBotics and top two grad winners Lumadrop and DataVis of the UA at Tri-State next month in Las Vegas.
BioBotic is developing a robotocs technology that will help reduce human error in pathology labs. They made a big impression at TCU.
"The team was nothing short of superb, and they received real investment interest from some people at the competition," Reeves told us. She noted that event co-funder Lisa Barrantine is a UA alum whose son attends school on the Hill.
"We all called the Hogs on stage when it was over," Reeves said. "Pretty cool."
Indeed, Carol. Indeed.
Here's the official VandV presser from the UA:
University of Arkansas Team Wins $25,000 Undergraduate Prize at Texas Competition
BioBotic Solutions includes business, engineering students
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – BioBotic Solutions, an undergraduate business plan competition team at the University of Arkansas, beat more than two dozen teams from across the United States to take the $25,000 grand prize at the Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition.
BioBotic Solutions won for a business plan built around a container and robot that automate tissue handling, one of the few areas in a pathology lab that is not already automated. The concept, which is based on existing technology, would decrease pathology lab errors from 1 percent to 0.005 percent.
Michael Iseman, a senior finance major in the Sam M. Walton College of Business and Honors College, said he and fellow members of the team would like to go forward with the plan as a real business.
“Every time we pitch this I believe in it more and more,” Iseman said. “I think that is why we do so well; we believe in this product. We’ve spoken with health care recruiters about hiring a CEO, and we’re looking for someone with experience in fundraising and pathology. With the money [from the award] and the time we’ve spent here, I could not be more excited about the future.”
Twenty-seven teams competed April 11-12 at the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Teams that were invited to the competition had to demonstrate a societal or environmental need to be filled, as well as the profitability of the business.
Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas and one of the team’s advisers, said the win was the most significant for an undergraduate team at the U of A.
“The team was simply superb,” Reeves said. “Many judges told me their plan was ‘Wall Street-ready’ and better than most plans they see from professionals.”
Just days earlier, BioBotic Solutions won $22,000 at the 2014 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition, including the $15,000 second-place prize in the undergraduate division.
BioBotic Solutions developed its plan in close cooperation with the U of A’s department of biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering. Reeves and Jeff Amerine, who directs Technology Ventures, the U of A’s technology transfer office, co-advised the team.
In addition to Iseman, BioBotic Solutions includes:
• Kelley Coakley, a senior biomedical engineering major in the College of Engineering
• Aundria Eoff, a senior biomedical engineering major in the College of Engineering
• Rachel Zweig, who is majoring in chemistry and mathematics at Hendrix College
The team and results would not have been possible without the strong input and support from three units across the campuses of the U of A, Hendrix College and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Dr. Shree Sharma, a renal pathologist at UAMS, provided mentoring for the team and the technology on which the business was based.
“His support for the team was nothing short of amazing,” Reeves said.
The prototype for the company’s product was built in the senior design class taught by Jeff Wolchok, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the U of A. The students created a prototype using a 3-D printer in the class.
“Jeff Wolchok’s students developed an impressive prototype, and their knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval process was critical,” Reeves said.
Iseman is in Amerine’s honors undergraduate New Venture Development class. Maria Driesel, an exchange student from Germany who is in the class, assisted in advising the team.
By Mark Carter
Little Rock tech conference Made By Few has added more big names in the tech world to its 2014 lineup.
MxF 2014 is scheduled for August 22-23 from the River Market District. Newly added speakers include Marc Hemeon of Google, Jeffrey Kalmikoff of Betable and Jina Bolton of Salesforce.
See pics and get more info here.
Meanwhile, here's the official presser from Abbi at MxF:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Made by Few Brings Big Names in Technology to Little Rock
Contact: Abbi Siler, 501.786.3412 or firstname.lastname@example.org
There has been a ton of innovation and growth in the technology startup scene this past year. With pitch events, pop up competitions and general enthusiasm growing across the region, entrepreneurship has never been so sexy. Made by Few is now in its third year and is bringing a huge cast of speakers to the great state of Arkansas.
The two-day conference being held August 22-23rd in Little Rock already boasts great names like James Victore, Michael Parenteau, James White among others. This morning the team at Made by Few announced a new wave of speakers – some that will make your jaw drop:
- Marc Hemeon, Senior UX Designer at Google, has been working on design products for YouTube, Chromecast, Google X and Google Analytics. Marc was also a designer at Digg and co-founded a startup named fflick which was acquired by Google in 2011. In addition, he is co-founder of the popular t-shirt site teefury.com.
- Jeffrey Kalmikoff is head of design at Betable, a startup that enables any developer to create games where players can win real money. In 2011, he joined as the first employee after leading product and design at SimpleGeo, which was acquired by UrbanAirship. Previously, Jeffrey served as head of design and UX at Digg and was one of the early employees at Threadless, where he worked as Chief Creative Officer until 2008.
- Jina Bolton is a Senior Product Designer with Salesforce where she enjoys creating beautiful user experiences. Previously, she worked with companies that include Apple, Engine Yard and Crush + Lovely. Jina is also co-author of two books: Fancy Form Design and The Art & Science of CSS. In her spare time, Jina organizes the San Francisco Sass meet up and leads Team Sass Design which is an open source task force that redesigned the Sass brand and website.
Made by Few will be held at the Ron Robinson Theater and there are only 300 seats available. Tickets are on sale now and include admission to each day of the event, the ‘Designed by Few’ competition, conference after-party, lunch and breakfast on both days and a conference t-shirt. In addition, there will be some pretty awesome giveaways throughout the day. Register online at http://madebyfew.com - tickets sell out fast.
G60 returns to NWA on Monday at the 21c in Bentonville.
Plenty of time to sign up to pitch or just attend. You can do either right here.
Winrock and Startup Junkie are organizing this one, and Windstream Hosted Solutions is the title sponsor.
Here's more info:
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 to 1 contestant. The second $1000 will be awarded by judges vote.
Free delicious hors d'oeuvres!
More details on the event here: http://www.g60contest.com/
Come on out and have a great time!!!!
Contestants & Guests please register here.
ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND & PITCH, BRING FRIENDS AND FAMILY!!
Deadline for contestants to register April 20th at 12pm.
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By MC Blogger (er, Mark Carter)
Indeed, other startup competitions can't touch this.
Hip-hop icon/tech entrepreneur MC Hammer is coming to Conway to help judge the inaugural LaunchPad startup competition set for May 3 as part of Toad Suck Daze.
Sponsored by creative agency Pleth (Batesville, Conway, Jonesboro) and .BUZZ (which will host a launch party on Tuesday), the LaunchPad (as opposed to the Innovation Hub's Launch Pad) represents another marker in the evolution of Conway as a major player in the Arkansas startup scene.
Hammer's real name is Stanley Burrell, and he's quite an accomplished man. In addition to his hip-hop credentials, Burrell is a successful entrepreneur/investor, clothier, promoter, even thoroughbred owner (wonder if he's ever been to Oaklawn).
A 21st century "Renaissance" man, you might say.
Read more about him in the official presser below:
MC Hammer to judge business start-up competition
“LaunchPad” offers $15K prize to winner
CONWAY, Ark. – When MC Hammer comes to Toad Suck Daze on May 3rd he’ll do more than just entertain festival goers. He’ll help choose one promising entrepreneur to take home $15,000. Hammer is one of three tech-savvy judges at “LaunchPad”, a start-up competition among ten Arkansas entrepreneurs.
“When we chose Hammer to perform at Toad Suck Daze, we had this event in mind,” said Brad Lacy President & CEO of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. “Most people know his music, but they don’t know that he is a major player in Silicon Valley.” Hammer (Stanley Burrell) has lectured about business and social media at Stanford and Harvard. He has been a founder and early investor in a number of successful tech ventures.
Joining Hammer on the panel will be Nada Stirrat, Chief Revenue Officer for Acxiom and Jonathan Sasse, a consultant who helped launch Slacker Radio and was President/CEO of iRiver America.
The ten participants will be composed of: six “invitational” participants from the Arkansas start-up community, a team from the Arkansas High School Start-Up Weekend and three “play-in” spots to be selected from video submissions. “We’re especially excited about the “play-in” spots,” said Lacy. “We’re encouraging any budding Arkansas entrepreneurs to submit a two-minute pitch video and a local panel will pick the three most promising.”
The LaunchPad competition has been organized by the Start-Up Conway Steering Team chaired by Jeff Standridge. "Toad Suck Daze is a festival founded on fun but grounded in education. LaunchPad will be an exciting way to celebrate new ideas and reward entrepreneurs," said Standridge. "Our panel of judges has the reputation and credibility to help these start-ups in a number of ways."
LaunchPad is presented by Pleth and .BUZZ. For more information about pitch submissions and competition details visit Startup.buzz.