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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. 


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...


Arkansas Business: Made by Few Off to Good Start


Made by Few is off to a good start.

James Victore (right) and Alex Estrada filled the opening sessions Friday morning from the Argenta Community Theater. The event will run through 5 before turning it over to Designed by Few Friday night.

Then on Saturday, the actions runs all day "headlined" by James White of Signal Noise at 4.

Here's more from Arkansas Business' coverage of the opening morning at MxF:

James Victore, the renowned New York independent designer/artist, isn't a fan of working for the sake of a paycheck. Oh, he understands capitalism and even does a decent job of engaging it.

But good work comes from being authentic, he told designers, graphic artists and other "makers of the web" gathered for the 2014 Made by Few tech conference that began Friday at the Argenta Community Theater in downtown North Little Rock.

"Don't make stuff up," he said. "Your best stuff comes from inside."

The outspoken Victore, who used a more secular word for 'stuff,' and whose talk was peppered with profanity -- he dropped F-bombs like Allied planes over Germany, and to much comic effect, stressed that "your audience is dying for honest communication."

"Your clients' best move was to hire you," he said.

Victore's own award-winning work is considered edgy, including his AIDS awareness posters promoting the use of condoms and his "dead Indian" poster created in response to New York City's 1992 celebration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus' landing in the New World.

Check out the full story here, and check back with AB next week for more coverage.


Sold Out Made by Few Rolls Friday


Made by Few 2014 rolls Friday, and it's officially sold out.

For those of you attending, and those of you who'll miss out, here's a look from MxF at what to expect from the 2014 version of this fast-growing, national tech conference:

Made by Few is a single-track, two day conference taking place on August 22-23 in Little Rock, Arkansas at the Argenta Community Theater. The conference focuses on individuals who design and create web/mobile applications and sites.

There will be a total of 10 speakers, with 5 speakers presenting each day. The speakers will be a mix of designers, illustrators, developers, and entrepreneurs.

The ticket cost will include admission to each day of the conference, the Designed by Few Competition, the conference after-party, lunch & breakfast on both days, plus a conference t-shirt and schwag. We will also be doing a few giveaways throughout each day.

And, of course, Designed by Few runs Friday night from the Clark Room of the Ottenheimer Market Hall in the River Market. 

Look for coverage of MxF -- of which Innovate Arkansas is a proud sponsor -- Friday on

Full schedule and list of speakers -- and it's a good one -- here.

G60 Again Goes 'South of the Border' on Friday


G60, the awesome elevator pitch contest created by IA adviser Jeff Amerine, truly has become an icon of the Arkansas startup ecosystem. 

It's been all over the state, from Siloam Springs to El Dorado. Now administered by Winrock International's U.S. Programs division -- IA's mama, so to speak -- with help from Startup Junkie Consulting, it continues to cover the state's four corners.

Last week, it had another successful run at the NWA Business Expo in Rogers.

Well, Winrock being good at crossing borders and all, G60 is traveling south of the Arkansas border to Shreveport. (Well, Bossier City actually. We wonder if Bossier-ites are as sensitive about name of place as NLR'ians are in central Arkansas?)

Anyway, this will be G60's second out-of-state stop. Last year, it played Louisiana Tech in Ruston.

The Shreveport-Bossier event is scheduled for this Friday from 6-9 p.m. at the Bossier Arts Council. 

More info and registration available here


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