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Around the INOV8 Horn: Memorial Day, Picasolar, Iron Yard


A quick glance around the IA horn on a beautiful but cool, late spring Friday reveals some activity for Innovate Arkansas client firms.

But first, this Memorial Day weekend, let's take a minute to reflect on the sacrifices made by men and women over the past 240 years. Those sacrifices have ensured this luxury we enjoy of sitting comfortably in offices, in the greatest nation the world has ever known (despite its flaws and perhaps in part because of them), contemplating things like tech startups and entrepreneurship.

We remember and honor all those who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and to all those who serve today, thank you. 

“It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which
they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be
here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored
dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full
measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have
died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and
that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish
from the earth.”

                                                                                                                -- Abraham Lincoln

Now, around the horn we go:

So, enjoy the pool/lake/river this weekend (the water's gonna be....not warm), but don't forget to remember what it's all about. 

Fauxsee Innovations Awarded $100k in SBIR Funding


Innovate Arkansas client firm Fauxsee Innovations of Magnolia was been awarded SBIR Phase 1 funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fauxsee develops assistive devices for the visually impaired. The SBIR grant is for $100,000 to further develop its Roboglasses prototype.

More here from the ASBTDC blog:

The $100,000 USDA SBIR grant is the second SBIR Phase I award for assistive device company Fauxsee Innovations. Fauxsee won SBIR funding from the National Science Foundation in 2013 that allowed the company to develop a working prototype of its Roboglasses™ product. The visually impaired can wear Roboglasses just like sunglasses to receive sensory feedback that alerts them to upper-body obstacles.

The USDA funding will allow Fauxsee to expand on the Roboglasses prototype to develop a new product called RoboFind™. Out of 32 applications for USDA’s Community and Rural Development program, Fauxsee’s was one of just six that received funding, according to the agency’s national SBIR program leader. The new assistive device will address USDA’s goal to improve living and working conditions for individuals with sight impairment in rural areas and communities.

“RoboFind will allow the user to more efficiently find places and things in a rural setting, where it is much more difficult for an individual who is sight-impaired,” said Brandon Foshee, Fauxsee’s CEO and president.

For the RoboFind project, Fauxsee Innovations will partner with the engineering department at Southern Arkansas University. “Dr. Mahbub Ahmed will use SAU facilities and equipment to design and fabricate all the plastic components for this device,” said Foshee.

IABC New Media Workshop Scheduled for June 26


Innovate Arkansas is sponsoring a new media workshop from the Arkansas chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.

The workshop, "Navigating the New Media," is scheduled for Friday, June 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Heifer International Village in downtown Little Rock.

Cost to attend is $50 for students, $75 for IABC members and $100 for non-members.

Topics will include the strengths and weaknesses of different mediums, how to write differently for those mediums and how to build a messaging strategy.

More here from Arkansas Business. And more here from IABC.

Joining IA as sponsors are Arkansas Business, Jive Software, Custom XM, First Class Communication and Harding University.


Iron Yard, Winrock Offering $60k in Scholarships; LR Classes Start June 29


The Iron Yard coding school, opening this summer in central Arkansas, is partnering with Winrock International to offer $60,000 in scholarships for its first round of Little Rock classes.

Classes start on June 29 from the Iron Yard space in the Arkansas Capital Commerce Center on River Market Avenue in downtown Little Rock.

More from the IY blog here. Apply for a scholarship here.

More details from IY:

Needless to say, we’re incredibly excited to be a part of what’s happening in Arkansas.

Now, for some scholarship details.

Applicants will apply by answering the question, “What would you build for Little Rock if you learned how to code?” We will distribute scholarships in the form of discounted tuition in the following amounts:

• 2 students – Full Scholarship ($12,000)

• 2 students – Half Scholarship ($6,000)

• 8 students – Quarter Scholarship ($3,000)

And here's more from IA and Arkansas Business on the Iron Yard coming to Little Rock:

  • Iron Yard Coding School: A 'Game Changer' for Arkansas Tech Startup Scene

  • Iron Yard Names Mary Dunlap Its Little Rock Director

  • Tech Talent Development the Next Phase for Innovate Arkansas

  • KA on IA: Kristian Andersen on the Future of Arkansas Techpreneurship



Phyzit's Stewart Whaley Participating in Signal Conference in SF


Stewart Whaley, chief privacy officer for Little Rock startup and IA client firm Phyzit, is taking part in the Signal conference from Twilio this week in San Francisco.

More from Todd Jones at the ARScene here

 The title of Whaley’s session is entitled Building good karma and “profit” for non-profits: How we saved millions improving healthcare and legal services for at-risk children and families.

According to the website, Whaley will "review the Twilio-powered apps we used to save a few millions bucks and help thousands of people by improving efficiency, resource utilization, and outcomes in regards to health care, and legal aid for at-risk families. We’ll discuss challenges and opportunities for improving access for at-risk families, and how developers can join the movement to extend services where they are needed most."

Whaley, team leader for the Systems Development Group at Arkansas Children's Hospital, will speak Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

Whaley and the Phyzit team have developed an app that enables patients and doctors to communicate post-visit, and they've been active lately. Here's more:


Picasolar Expanding at UA Tech Park


UA startup and IA client Picasolar is expanding at the Arkansas Research & Technology Park in Fayetteville.

The company will host a reception and tour to dedicate its new space in the Enterprise Center (right) on Wednesday beginning at 11.

Scheduled to speak are Picasolar CEO Douglas Hutchings; Jim Rankin, UA vice provost for research and economic development; and Phillip Stafford, president of the UA Technology Development Foundation which runs the park.

The expansion will allow Picasolar to greatly reduce the time it takes to produce its patent-pending product that improves solar cell efficiency while reducing the amount of silver needed in the manufacture of solar panels, making them more marketable and affordable, according to the UA.

It's believed the technology could save solar panel manufacturers up to $120 million annually.

It's all free and parking is available at the north and south ends of the park. Stay tuned. More to come... 

UAMS BioVentures Featured in Arkansas Business


UAMS BioVentures, the incubator that helps grow startups and commercialize UAMS research, is featured in this week's issue of Arkansas Business.

BioVentures director Nancy Gray told AB's Sean Beherec that BioVentures startups, many of which are IA client firms, are growing and revenues are up.

Examples of IA firms coming out of BioVentures include RxResults, Angel Eye and InterveXion Therapeutics. (More on Angel Eye recently from AB here.)

An excerpt from this week's BioVentures piece:

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences BioVentures was launched more than a decade ago with that concept in mind and seeks to combine research at UAMS with entrepreneurship, technology licensing and economic development. BioVentures has since spun off 22 companies using technologies developed at the campus.

Nancy Gray, who became director for the program on Feb. 2, has worked in the biomedical industry for more than 30 years, most recently at the Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, Alabama.

BioVentures receives revenue from intellectual property developed at the university and licensed through BioVentures, and Gray said the university is reporting yearly gains. This fiscal year, which will end next month, BioVentures expects to collect more than $2 million in revenue from 18 license agreements, which includes seven that are now spinoff companies.

That revenue is nearly double the $1.1 million collected in fiscal 2013 and represents a steady increase from the $735,000 in revenue collected in fiscal 2011.

Good stuff. Full story here.

ARK Firm Skosay's App Is Live at Harps in Springdale


Innovate Arkansas client firm and ARK Challenge alum Skosay is live at Harps Grocery on Sunset in Springdale.

The Fayetteville startup, which went through the ARK 3 installment in NWA last year, has developed a platform for private, two-way feedback between businesses and customers. 

More on Skosay's platform here.

CEO Justin Urso tells us that Harps customers can send feedback to the grocery, produce, meat, bakery, deli and a general store-feedback department.

"Each of those departments has a manager on the other end waiting to hear from the customers and engage with them," he said. Get the app here (desktop) and here (mobile) and then use Skosay anywhere, he says. 

"We are continuously enhancing our service and building new products designed to enhance the customer experience," he said.

Good stuff. So, if you're in NWA, head on over to Harp's on Sunset and check it out. You know you need a grocery run for the weekend, anyway. And as Coach Hatfield says, at Harps, it's all about the quality. We'll say the same for Skosay...



A Look at Those Entrepreneurial 'A-ha' Moments


Innovate Arkansas clients Stephen Canon of Phyzit and Spencer Jones of Jones Innovative Medical Solutions had them.

Stephen's a pediatric urologist at Arkansas Children's Hospital and Spencer a surgical nurse at CHI St. Vincent in Little Rock, and in the course of their daily routine figured out ways to do their jobs better.

They experienced an "a-ha" moment, those flashes of "Eureka!" that led to things like the invention of the telegraph and the development of Apple, Microsft, even Airbnb.

UP Global provides this infographic on those entrepreneurial "a-ha" moments, which, really, are the essence of entrepreneurship.

Stephen's moment was figuring out with his dad a better way to communicate with patients, and Spencer figured out a more efficient and pain-free way to draw blood from hospital patients. Spencer's idea even led to an ARK Challenge win, where he won $150,000.

Their a-ha momenhts led to the founding of Phyzit, which has developed the Phyzit TCM app, and Spencer's starrtup, which is developing the partent-pending Bifurcated Venous Access Device.

Here's a sample from the UP Global post:

Before any entrepreneur became successful there was a time they did not know what to do. And then the aha moment happened. How?

The infographic shows how some fairly well known products and companies were hatched by light bulbs popping on in founders' heads.

Meanwhile, Stephen and Spencer recently sat down with HARK to talk about their ventures and health-care innovation in general.


StartupDad: Shoot for the Moon, Entrepreneurs


ARK Challenge mentor David Moody tells entrepreneurs to shoot for the moon in his latest post at StartupDad.

Which is appropriate given his past work with NASA on the space shuttle program. Moody is a serial techpreneur, former NASA analyst and consultant, ARK mentor, Arkansas startup scene supporter and perhaps most importantly, a Startup Dad.

David's son Josh is founder and CEO of IA client firm Overwatch. Josh joined with Joe Saumweber and Michael Paladino from another IA firm, RevUnit, to take Overwatch through the 2013 ARK Challenge in Fayetteville. 

And he did it as a 17-year-old senior at Little Rock's Catholic High. (Oh, and they won. $150k.)

David's StartupDad blog was launched earlier this year, and it's filled with really good stuff, not just for the perspective he lends as dad of a teenage entrepreneur and his family's experience with the ARK, but for his vast collective insight.

A sample from his call for entrepreneurs to aim high:

DREAM BIG, young entrepreneurs. Commit to the vision. Compel others to see it as well and want to be part of it. Allow the mission to be bigger than your ego, and surround yourself with the right people to execute successfully.  

Other recent posts include:

  • The Gorilla in Your Market
  • Entrepreneurship vs Major League Baseball
  • Tech Skills Build Products, Soft Skills Build Companies
  • A Mentor’s Role in Managing Risk

Good stuff. 

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