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InvoTek's Be Extraordinary Organization Receives First Grant


Be Extraordinary, the non-profit organization that originated from IA client firm InvoTek of Alma, has received its first grant, a $16,000 award from the Degen Foundation of Fort Smith.

The world, of course, is full of good guys and bad guys. These guys represent some of the very best of the good guys.

Here's more from InvoTek:


Grant Will Fund Assistance to People with Disabilities in the River Valley

Fort Smith, Ark. - July 29, 2014 - Be Extraordinary, an organization whose mission is to help people with disabilities reach a life goal, has received a grant from the Fort Smith-based The Degen Foundation. The grant will help provide Be Extraordinary's services to six people in the seven county River Valley Region of Western Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma.

"We truly appreciate The Degen Foundation's generosity," said Jennifer Kistler, Be Extraordinary's board President. "This grant will enable six individuals to become more independent and in turn help others who are on a similar journey of living with a disability."

The Degen Foundation's Executive Director, Thomas Webb, Jr. remarked, "Be Extraordinary's work aligns perfectly with the Foundation's mission to provide for our region's healthcare needs by investing in practical solutions today with a vision for tomorrow."

Be Extraordinary works with individuals to set a life goal, create a plan to accomplish that goal, implement the plan, and then provide ongoing advocacy services to its clients. Alma-based InvoTek provides assistive technology devices and services on behalf of Be Extraordinary.

Be Extraordinary is a 501(c)(3) organization that helps people with severe disabilities who want to accomplish a life goal. The goal can be wide ranging -- improved participation in their health care, access to books, better communication with family or friends, the ability to advocate on their own behalf, or accomplish an educational or vocational goal. Be Extraordinary uses tax-deductible contributions from generous donors to fund these projects.

For more information on Be Extraordinary or The Degen Foundation and, please visit or

As always, our hats are tipped...

BarCamp LR: 'Key Event' for Central Arkansas Entrepreneurship

Jordan Carlisle speaks at BarCamp Little Rock 2014. (Photo courtesy of RetroCat Media)

Jordan Carlisle, director of entrepreneurship and innovation for the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and local startup champion, helped bring BarCamp back to Little Rock over the weekend.

Jordan (shown above addressing BarCampers -- thanks to Lukas Deem and RetroCat Media for the pic) reports that more than 70 turned out at UALR. He called BarCamp a "key event" for the growth of tech-based entrepreneurship in central Arkansas.

Here's his report from the front lines:

Last Saturday, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, along with UALR, The Venture Center, Innovate Arkansas, and The Innovation Hub hosted the first BarCamp Little Rock since 2008.

BarCamp is the epitome of different interest groups coming together to learn something new. As Little Rock's tech and businesses "Meetups" become more popular, we expect BarCamps to be a key event for bringing people together around entrepreneurship and technology.

Over 70 participants from the Central Arkansas community gathered to hear talks on a variety of topics, including startup communities, mobile game development, conversion rate optimization, mesh radio, massive online open courses, JavaScript frameworks, startup fundraising, social media impact, and technology outsourcing. 

The Week Ahead: Women Founders, 1MC, WordCamp Fayetteville


The week ahead for Arkansas entrepreneurs is highlighted by tonight's Little Rock Women Founders Meetup, the weekly 1 Million Cups presentations on Wednesday and this weekend's WordCamp Fayetteville.

Keep up to date on everything happening in the Arkansas startup community at Startup Digest Arkansas.

Here's more on those highlights:

Little Rock Women Founders Meetup -- Juliana Echeverri of will speak about the landscape of social entrepreneurship: why it exists, the different schools of thought and an overview of different models. It's free and goes down beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.

1 Million Cups -- 1MC is "a simple way to engage entrepreneurs in communities around the world. Each week, the 1MC program offers two local entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their startups to a diverse audience of mentors, advisors and entrepreneurs." Brought to Little Rock by the Arkansas Venture Center,  it's free and runs from 9-10 a.m. on Wednesday from the Chamber.

Wordcamp Fayetteville -- Still time to register (cost is $35) for this WordPress conference hosted by WordPress users. It goes down Saturday from the Reynolds Center at the UA's Walton Business College. A meetup will kick things off Friday night and a "guru gallery" closes it out Sunday morning. 




Innovation Hub Hosts Young Makers Camp


The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub hosted its first Young Makers Camp last week, and we're guessing that camp director Joel Gordon of the Hub's Launch Pad maker space probably had as much fun as the kids.

Here's coverage from the Arkansas Times.

A sample:

Gordon said that over the past few years, people have fallen into an “internet mindset,” especially as Apple, Android and the app market have boomed. According to the online statistics database Statista, there were a cumulative 10 million app downloads from the app store in July, 2008, compared to 75 billion in June, 2014. But he said now we’re entering an era wherein people want to use their smartphones to control physical objects.

“That’s the future, man,” he said. “We’re out of the internet, and we’re coming into physical things ... We’re in 1957. That’s when all the cool cars came out. That’s when everybody started getting appliances. Dishwashers. Washing machines. We’ve got 3D printers and laser cutters. These are things that manufacturers have been using for a while, but now it’s becoming ubiquitous. You’re starting to see people with 3D printers in their homes.”

Great stuff.

The Hub started what seems like a tidal wave of startup/tech/entrepreneurial activity in central Arkansas. We can't wait to see how it all -- the Hub, the AVC, the ARK Challenge and tech park -- blossoms over the next couple of years. 


Swimming in a Sea of Data: Jeff Amerine Talks Data Analysis with Clint Lazenby


This week, Innovate Arkansas adviser Jeff Amerine welcomes #ONSHELF managing partner Clint Lazenby to his weekly Swimming in a Sea of Data segment on 8th & Walton's Saturday Morning Meeting show aired Saturdays on KNWA.

In the series, Amerine -- Director of Technology Ventures at the UofA, serial entrepreneur and investor -- focuses on the macro-economic issues facing the retail and CPG industries.

This week, Amerine was joined by Lazenby, and their roughly six-minute segment starts at about the 4 minute mark below. Saturday Morning Meeting, by the way, is aired Saturday mornings at 6:30 (yikes) on KNWA and posted to the 8th & Walton YouTube channel by the following Monday, and in this space on Monday afternoons.

Jeff and Clint discuss data analysis, growing local talent, and take a stab at demystifying "big data." Good stuff.


Unique Patent Issued for Noel Hamm of IA Client Sales Tax DataLink


This week, U.S. patent No. 8,788,412 B1 was issued to Noel Hamm of IA client firm Sales Tax DataLink of Bentonville.

Noel says it's a significant one as only 15 patents for sales/use tax technology have been issued in the last 40 years.

IA maintains a database of U.S. patents issued to Arkansas individuals and companies, and it's updated each week

Here's the abstract to Hamm's patent, a new filing system, officially issued on Tuesday.

And here's Arkansas Business coverage from April of Noel and STDL:

To Noel and his crew at STDL, keep up the good work.


Work Begins on JLLR's Nonprofit Startup Center

The JLLR building in downtown Little Rock.

Work has begun on development of a nonprofit startup center on the third floor of the historic Junior League of Little Rock building in downtown Little Rock.

We told you about JLLR's plans back in February.

Well, Arkansas Business reports that work has begun (and includes a report from KTHV). 

Plus, here's coverage from our cousin site Little Rock Soiree.

Yet another component to the entrepreneurial momentum overtaking downtown Little Rock and central Arkansas that includes a budding startup scene in Conway, the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in Argenta, and the Arkansas Venture Center, expansion of the ARK Challenge accelerator, site selection for the Little Rock tech park and development of the Main Street creative corridor in downtown Little Rock.

Here's more from AB:

Renovations to the third floor of the Junior League's Scott Street location began last week. By next year, it is expected to be a 3,158-SF space open to various nonprofits. The floor will include seven offices, a conference room, resource center and restrooms.

"We hope it helps immensely in a place to foster ideas in the collaborative spirit, but we want them to outgrow it," Lindsey Gray, president of the Junior League, said. "In the meantime, they will have a chance to have a lower rent, shared equipment, board room and workspace, things they couldn't have on their own."

Nonprofits will be able to rent space in the center a price below market value. The exact cost will be determined by the square foot at the time of the signed lease agreement. The nonprofit center's seven offices will include four offices with two desks, two offices with three desks and one office with one desk.

Nonprofits interested in renting out space will be able to apply from October to November. Organizations will need to meet various criteria when applying, including proof of 501(c)(3) status, a mission or vision statement, copy of a strategic plan, internal controls and an operational budget, among other things.

Gray says there are no restrictions on types of nonprofits that can apply, although those with a mission similar to the Junior League may be favored.


Startup Weekend Little Rock 2014 Scheduled for Sept. 12-14

The winning Simple Service team from the inaugural SWLR last year.

It's baaaaaack.

Startup Weekend, that is, and it's scheduled to return to Little Rock Sept. 12-14 at Acxiom's corporate headquarters in the River Market District. (Hogs are at Texas Tech that weekend, by the way.)

Thanks to Nicholas Norfolk over at the Arkansas Scene for "breaking it." Nicholas has a good post on the Arkansas Venture Center's fast rise. Speaking of, Josh Moody of IA client firm Overwatch was one of the presenters at 1 Million Cups Little Rock on Wednesday.

Here's more from Arkansas Business on his presentation and what's up with Overwatch. (Lots, actually.)

Meanwhile, Startup Weekend Little Rock returns in September. Register here

Given the success over the past year of Startup Weekend Little Rock 2013, the first official Startup Weekend event in the state; Startup Weekend Northwest Arkansas; and the inaugural High School Startup Weekend, the event was destined to return. 

More to come, and more info here.

WordCamp Fayetteville Set for Aug. 1-3


WordCamp Fayetteville is just around the corner.

The event has been scheduled for Aug. 1-3 with the main conference set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2, from the Donald W. Reynolds Center at the University of Arkansas Walton Business College.

More info here

A $30 general admission ticket will get you:

  • Admission to the Welcome Meet-Up Friday Night
  • Admission to WordCamp Fayetteville on Saturday
  • Lunch on Saturday Afternoon.
  • A WordCamp Fayetteville 2014 T-shirt
  • Admission to the after party on Saturday Night
  • Admission to the Guru Gallery on Sunday Morning

The full press release is published at Cotton Rohrscheib's blog

Entrepreneurial Nuggets: BarCamp LR, Overwatch at 1MC, Women Founders Meetup


Entrepreneurial nuggets ready for the deep fryer on a sunny Tuesday:

  • BarCamp Little Rock goes down Saturday from noon to 5:30 at UALR with an after party at Creegan's Irish Pub in Argenta. More info here.
  • The next Women Founders Meetup through the AVC in Little Rock is scheduled for Monday, July 28, beginning at 5:30 p.m. from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. It'll feature Juliana Echeverri of More info here.
  • IA client firm InvoTek is at it again, helping people with disabilities become more mobile. (Our hats perpetually are tipped to Tom Jakobs and his crew.) The firm received a $175,000 federal grant to develop the Quad Rider. More here from
  • 1 Million Cups on Wednesday will feature wunderkind Josh Moody of IA client Overwatch and Brian Carpenter of 4DSales. Register here
  • And in case you missed it, the Noble Impact program at eStem High School in Little Rock resumed with the start of the 2014-15 school year last week. This year, Noble students at eStem are being kept in the Vault. And no, it's not for D-Hall. (Really, though, what an awesome D-Hall that could be. But we guess entrepreneurship is a good use of it, too....sigh.) Plus, video here on Noble from KARK
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