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Hayseed Ventures Hosting Startup Lecture Series


John James is launching the Startup Lecture Series which will kickoff on Wednesday, Aug. 19, from Hayseed Venture's new HQ in the Old Post Office on the Fayetteville square.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m.

James, of course, is the founder and former CEO of IA client firm Acumen Brands of Fayetteville. Earlier this year, he formally launched Hayseed Ventures, moved its headquarters into the OPO and announced plans to create a startup hub there.

Oh, Haysdeed is in the middle of a $6 million raise as well.

More to come on Hayseed, but for now the lecture series will kickstart the OPO's planned future role as a startup hub. James is working with Startup Junkie Consulting, from IA advisor Jeff Amerine, to make that happen.

(The Innovation Hub is partnering with Startup Junkie as well and is teaming with the Fayetteville Chamber to open an NWA branch on the square.)

But for now...the lecture series. James will kick it off himself, speaking about online customer acquisition.

Plus, from 11-7 that day, Hayseed will host a startup head shot event, at which Sixth and Burnside Photography will take head shots (perfect for websites, LinkedIn...). Cost is $40 for individuals and $30 for groups of four or more.

Register to get your picture taken here.

More info on the lecture series is available on the event Facebook page here.

The OPO is located at 1 W. Center St. for those who might need to Google map it. And for those who can't make it in person, the event will be livestreamed on Periscope.


Alese Stroud on Disaster Recovery Planning


Little Rock startup Merger Match currently is wrapping up a beta test of its "corporate health assessment" with IA clients Movista of Bentonville and RxResults of Little Rock, as well as Bulldog Solutions from Austin, Texas.

More to come.

Meanwhile, co-founder Alese Stroud has some good material for CEOs and founders on disaster recovery planning at the Merger Match blog here.

A Venture Center member and graduate of the VC's Pre-Flight pre-accelerator course, Merger Match, from Stroud and Bridget Farris, aims to match companies with the best acquisition targets. Its services include corporate health assessments, which it is providing for Movista and RxResults.

RxResults provides pharmacy benefits risk management, and just announced the release of two new products -- MemberChoice to help companies offset rising drug costs, and Specialty Drug Management to help mitigate rising pharmacy benefit costs for employers.

(Read more about MemberChoice here and more about Specialty Drug Management here.) 

An excerpt of Alese's disaster recovery planning post:

If something fails, how long before you get back up and running?

By Alese Stroud, Merger Match

Team Merger Match would invite you to consider the implications of disaster recovery planning as it relates to your next acquisition or merger.

  • How deeply does your due diligence process dig into the seller’s current disaster recovery processes?
  • Do they have complete and current backups?
  • Do they have thorough documentation?
  • Are their restoration processes tested?
  • Do their personnel know how to recover?
  • Can you locate the backup files?
  • How quickly can your staff become sufficiently familiar with the seller’s recovery processes?
  • How will the transition impact backup and recovery processes?
  • What happens when a key system fails two weeks after you have bought the company?
  • How much will it cost you in hard dollars, lost sales and lost momentum to return to business-as-usual?

Full post here

IA Client RxResults Launches New Pharmacy Benefits Products


Innovate Arkansas client firm RxResults of Little Rock, a pharmacy benefits risk management firm, has unveiled two new products.

Its MemberChoice option for employers can "help their health plan members save money and feel better and also improve the company's bottom line." The new Specialty Drug Management tool can help keep specialty drug costs down.

More from RxResults CEO Tery Baskin:

Employers are torn between managing the cost of providing health care benefits and being able to retain talent in the workforce. They are faced with getting members more engaged in spending medical cost dollars wisely. We have put an incentive program in place along with education to help keep your members engaged and making the right decisions about pharmacy spending.

Most employers know little about what makes a drug a specialty drug, but most do know the costs are rising astronomically. The industry is predicting that specialty drugs may be the primary cause of rising medical costs over the next few years. Without a proactive approach to managing these dollars, employers will experience an exponential rise in cost year after year.

More info on MemberChoice here, and more on Specialty Drug Management here.

Good stuff from one of IA's success stories.

Stay tuned. More to come...


Startup Junkie Podcast: The Business of Microbrewing


The Startup Junkie podcast is back with IA advisor Jeff Amerine of Fayetteville's Startup Junkie Consulting and Jon Cadieux of 455 Media Group in Bentonville.

This time, the junkies discuss the business of microbrewing.

Listen on iTunes or check out any of the first three episodes right here.

Here's more info on the podcast:

The Startup Junkie podcast is a collaboration between Jon Cadieux of 455 Media Group and Jeff Amerine of Startup Junkie Consulting. We’ll cover topics ranging from getting started, planning, growing your business, proving your concept, leadership, marketing, exit strategies and so much more. Both Jeff and Jon have many years experience as entrepreneurs and business consultants. Combined they make a great team. At times they are on the same page and other, not so much. In addition, they’ll interview business owners, entrepreneurs, experts and people we think will bring value to our audience. Subscribe and together we will move your business to the next level. 

Startup Dad David Moody Talks Startup Grind


David Moody's latest post at his Startup Dad blog surely resonates with many entrepreneurs, young ones especially.

David, an ARK Challenge mentor whose son Josh launched IA client firm Overwatch at the ripe old age of 17, addresses the "startup grind" that can challenge gung-ho entrepreneurs who launch so enthusiastically.

David notes some aspects of that grind that have been challenging to Josh:

  • Incremental pace of new product developments
  • Working alone most of the time
  • Lack of young entrepreneurial peers in the area
  • Friends have gone to college in cities hours away
  • General feeling of a lack of accomplishment (his opinion relative to his expectations).

More from David on Josh's journey:

He continues to display the resilience and drive necessary to push through the grind with his core values intact. While this experience so far has certainly taken a toll on him at times with periods of negativity and poor diet and exercise habits, he continues to assess, adjust and make good decisions. He knows he has much more to learn. My observation is that he has adapted many of the Lean Canvas concepts we teach in product development to his development as a man and entrepreneur. Pretty cool!

Read the full post here. As always, good stuff. 

More From 2015 MentorCamp NWA: Breaking It Down


Startup Junkie last week hosted the 2015 edition of MentorCamp NWA in Fayetteville, and the week-long event brought together international mentors, startup leaders and founders.

MentorCamp founder, global investor/entrepreneur and self-professed Arkansas goodwill ambassador Permjot Valia of London was on hand and of course, so was Startup Junkie founder and IA advisor Jeff Amerine.

Mentor bios are available here.  Mentors hailed from Arkansas, across the U.S., England and Canada and included IA client firm founders.

Jeff compiled a 2015 MentorCamp NWA "box score," which we shared in this space on Wednesday

He also put together a break down of each day, which we share below.

Good stuff. Enjoy:

Kick-Off, Tuesday, July 20
International mentors began arriving from 4 countries, a majority from Canada and England. These mentors were given a tour of the Walmart Museum and Downtown Bentonville before arriving at CROSSMARK Center for Collaboration in Bentonville for the official kick-off of MentorCamp NWA. (Above right, April Seggebruch of IA client firm Movista leads a discussion at the kick-off on Tuesday night.)

International mentors, as well as a select number of regional mentors, were invited to kick off MentorCamp NWA with 60-second pitches and a welcome dinner where mentors were the presenting companies were given a chance to network with the mentors.

Presenting companies included:

  • Gracie Furniture
  • Real Agent Guard 9an IA client)
  • Con Quesos
  • Lynxus
  • Boston Mountain Biotech (another IA client).

Watch 60-second pitches from Lynxus here.

MentorCamp Day 2, July 22
Day 2 consisted of a full day of presentations, mentoring, and networking. This portion of MentorCamp was held at the University of Arkansas and Hayseed Ventures.

Introduction and 5-minute pitches by companies including:

  • Portray Advertising
  • Zuni Learning Tree
  • Lauren James
  • Skosay (IA and ARK Challenge firm)
  • DataRank (IA firm)
  • Little Bird Systems
  • Apptegy
  • Menguin
  • Watt Glass

Mentoring sessions
A total of 8 companies were mentored by 38 mentors in groups of approximately 4 mentors at a time in 30-minute time blocks. The global insights and access the startup companies received in this time frame was invaluable.

Presentation by Joe Stump
Joe Stump is a seasoned technical leader and serial entrepreneur who has cofounded three venture-backed startups,,,, and was Lead Architect of Digg. Joes has invested in and advised dozens of companies. He presented at lunch on the practical lessons he has learned as a startup founder.

Natural State Angel Association
MentorCamp intentionally overlapped the bi-monthly Natural State Angel Association (NSAA) meeting. NSAA is an association of 400+ accredited angel investors across the region of Northwest Arkansas that meets once every other month over dinner to review investment pitches from invited entrepreneurs.

The investors provide feedback to the presenting companies, and interested investors collaborate in deals. From 2011-2015 NSAA members invested more than $2 million in early-stage ventures. At this meeting, 6 companies were given the chance to present and
receive feedback.

This was also an opportunity for the mentors and companies at MentorCamp to network with each other as well as the angel investors and major stakeholders in this region. The meeting was held at Hayseed Ventures and had approximately 90 attendees.

MentorCamp Day 3, July 23
Introduction and 5-minute pitches by companies including:

  • Cyclewood Solutions (IA firm)
  • RaftUp
  • Re:iimmune
  • Cause Signal
  • Ozark Integrated Circuits
  • Piltdown

Mentoring Sessions
On Day 3, 6 companies were mentored by 32 mentors in groups of approximately 5 mentors at a time in 20-minute time blocks. Again, the global insights and access the startup companies received in this time frame was invaluable.

Presentation by Rick Webb
Rick joined Walmart in January 2004 after more than 20 years of consulting in the retail industry.

He is currently the Senior Vice President of Global Business Processes, responsible for increasing associate and inventory productivity, while enhancing the customer shopping experience and increasing the effectiveness of the Walmart supply chain and home office operations around the world.

Prior to this assignment, he was Senior Vice President of Walmart U.S. Innovations. Rick is a board member for the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter and the Arkansas Research Alliance. He is very active in building the entrepreneurial ecosystem for Arkansas. He spoke on private economic development at MentorCamp NWA.

Presentation by Dr. Carol Reeves
Carol is the Associate Vice-Provost for Entrepreneurship as well as a Professor and holder of the Cecil and Gwendolyn Cupp Professorship in Entrepreneurship in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

Reeves has mentored over 70 interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate business plan teams, who have won more than $2.4 million in cash, started 18 high-growth businesses, and raised over $40 million to build their businesses. She hosts a very successful four-campus interdisciplinary faculty commercialization retreat that has led
to businesses, interdisciplinary research, and grants.

During her presentation at MentorCamp, she spoke about the future of entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas.

Visit to Walmart Lab 415-C
MentorCamp tours the Walmart Lab 415-C, also known as the innovation lab. During this tour, we were honored to have Karenann Terrell, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Walmart Stores Inc., come speak with our group.

Mentor appreciation dinner at Dromborg Castle

MentorCamp Day 4, July 24
Tour of Crystal Bridges: International mentors were given the chance to visit Crystal Bridges before leaving Northwest Arkansas. They were given a group tour and even had the opportunity to visit the Andy Warhol exhibit.




Still Time to Register for 100 Girls of Code NWA


Still time to register for the first 100 Girls of Code workshop in northwest Arkansas.

But seats are going fast. It'll go down Aug. 8 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. from Startup Junkie on the Fayetteville square. Register here. It's open to girls ages 10 to 18 and it's free.

The NWA launch is being held in conjunction with #GirlsDayofCode. 

Here's more on the program:

WHY: The U.S. Labor Department has estimated that there will be 1.4 million jobs openings for computer-related occupations this decade, and the median job for people with a computer-science degree pays around $80,000 to $100,000. Of the STEM fields, computer science and computer engineering have the highest median earnings for recent college graduates without advanced degrees, and only around 12% are women. We want to change this!

HOW: In our Workshops female coders conduct a fun and interactive learning experience that includes an introduction to computer programming, website construction, games, and so much more. By the end of the workshop, girls have a better understanding of programming, the future of Computer Science, and a desire to enter into a similar career field.

The 100 Girls of Code program, launched in 2014 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, debuted in Little Rock earlier this year. It now has 20 chapters nationwide.

Coding is catching on in Arkansas. The prestigious Iron Yard coding school launched in Little Rock this year, the Venture Center offers its Code IT series in Little Rock, and IA client firm Nerdies of Fayetteville launched its Blur State coding school



A Look Back at 2015 MentorCamp NWA


Entrepreneurial stars were out for the 2015 edition of MentorCamp NWA held last week in Fayetteville and hosted by Startup Junkie.

IA adviser Jeff Amerine and MentorCamp founder Permjot Valia (right) held court as startup mentors validated business models, prepared startups for future investment and made valuable introductions to help businesses thrive everywhere.

"This year’s event was very high impact and a huge success, which would not have been possible without the support from Innovate Arkansas," Amerine said. 

Hark and Go Rogue were there, too. Look for upcoming video and podcasts from them. 

Meantime, Amerine provided some highlights, testomonials and even some stats from the week:

MentorCamp numbers:

  • Entrepreneurs confirmed to participate: 100
  • Startup companies participating: 21
  • VC/angel investors participating: 22
  • VC/angel funds in attendance: 10
  • Mentors participating: 45
  • Countries represented: 4
  • Sponsors and partners: 19


  • Engagement with Karenann Terrell, Walmart Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, at the Walmart Lab 415-C; plus Walmart representation from Daniel Howell, Rick Webb and Jeff Charlson
  • Mark Macleod, former CFO of the worlds leading ecommerce platform, Shopify, in attendance
  • Mike Sikorsky, CEO of one of the fastest growing and most successful digital development firms in the world, Robots and Pencils, is considering opening an office in Arkansas now because of this trip
  • VC partners with approximately $1B in assets under management in attendance: Noro-Moseley, TechOperators, Fulcrum
  • Jan Lederman of Innovate Manitoba, one of Canada's leading and most successful economic development programs, in attendance.


  • “Thank you for the opportunity to meet, pitch, and get mentored over the past couple of days. I couldn't be happier with the results and the timing was perfect.” –  Corey Boelkens, Founder and CEO, RaftUp LLC
  • “Loved the energy and smarts at #mentorcamp and appreciate the opportunity to be a mentor.” – Stephanie McCratic, Founder, Acorn Influence
  • “Exciting concepts and great people. It was fun. I felt very useful and helpful. Business opportunities for me, too. I really loved it!”
  • “Great contacts. Great opportunities to hopefully help younger companies and make the connections to provide ongoing support. Loved the external activities....i.e Walmart visit and the various talks.”
  • “Lots of great perspectives, nice, informal and productive.”
  • “It's a great community of mentors and entrepreneurs.”
  • “Good talk from Joe Stump on building a startup. Huge number of nuggets of wisdom crammed into a few short minutes.” – Michael Paladino of IA clients RevUnit and Overwatch
  • “Pretty excited to work alongside such an impressive group at this year's MentorCamp.” – James Eldridge, Founder, Gracie Furniture

Obviously, an instructive and productive week on the Hill.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 on the big week that was 2015 MentorCamp NWA. We'll have a break down of activities -- so much room for activities! -- from each day.

Video: Build a Better Pitch with Elon Musk


Andy Raskin at Medium breaks down the analytics of a good pitch....and uses a pitch from Elon Musk to illustrate his points.

In the video below. Musk debuts the Tesla Powerwall.

Raskin says that Musk's delivery isn't perfect but includes five things that every presenter should do:

  1. Name the enemy
  2. Ask, "Why now?"
  3. Show the promised land before explaining how you'll get there
  4. Identify obstacles, then explain how you’ll overcome them
  5. Present evidence that you’re not just blowing hot air.

Read the full post here. And here's the video. See for yourself...

Charles Morgan and Stephen Canon Talk IA Firms PrivacyStar and Phyzit at TEDx


Little Rock hosted its first independently organized TED event on Friday and Innovate Arkansas client firms PrivacyStar and Phyzit were represented. 

TEDxMarkhamSt sold out the Ron Robinson Theater in the River Market and featured speakers such as global gardening and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith of Little Rock; civil rights activist Minnijean Brown Trickey, a member of the Little Rock Nine in 1957; Clinton School of Public Service Dean Skip Rutherford; and IA client firm founders Charles Morgan of PrivacyStar and Dr. Stephen Canon on Phyzit.

Coverage of the morning session from Arkansas Business is available here, and see more on the full lineup of speakers here.

Morgan and Canon were among the last speakers, part of the fourth session that ran into Friday evening.

Morgan (at right with event organizer Salil Joshi -- thanks Mike), best known as the former CEO of big data giant Acxiom, shared nuggets of his entreprenurial wisdom:

  • Have a plan and clear vision and focus.
  • Surround yourself with outstanding people; people matter most.
  • Business culture matters.
  • People gravitate to a strong leader.
  • No plan is good for long: Be prepared to change your plan when necessary.
  • Empower people at all levels.
  • Eliminate the things that get in the way.
  • You have to be willing to take measured risks but don't bet more than you can afford to lose.

Morgan said building a successful business culture is one of the most important things a founder will do, and he admitted to following in Sam Walton's footsteps.

At Acxiom, employees were called associates and customers were referred to as partners. 

Morgan said he's tried to apply all the things he learned at PrivacyStar. 

"Sometimes you forget how hard it is to be an entrepreneur," he said.

After some initial growing pains, Morgan said his startup -- which developed a smartphone app enabling users to block unwanted calls and texts -- is in growth mode. It helped that Morgan was able to infuse some of his own capital to keep the company afloat, he admitted.

His patience paid off. 

"Our little company is growing like crazy, doubling and tripling revenue every year," he said.

PrivacyStar is moving with Inuvo, a targeted mobile marketing firm on whose board Morgan sits, from Conway to the Museum Center in the River Market District. Morgan is excited about being in downtown Little Rock and the growth of the tech startup ecosystem in central Arkansas.

He advised entrepreneurs to test their ideas against reality before launching.

"I hear so many new 'great ideas,'" Morgan said. "Your idea can be 10 times better than anyone else's but you've got to have the money and resources to make it happen. There's just so much noise out there."

Canon talked health-care tech, something his Little Rock startup aims to advance by making it easier for doctors and patients to communicate post-hospital release. Transitional care management is dysfunctional, and the Phyzit TCM app is the solution, Canon believes.

Canon said when it comes to health care, doctors seem to work for the tech and not vice versa.

"The power of the cell phone has not been realized in health care as it has been in banking or education," he said. 

The Affordable Care Act may have its critics, but Canon said everyone could agree that health care needs to improve. He said health care's "triple aim" should be:

  • Enhance the patient experience.
  • Improve the health of the general population.
  • Reduce costs.

And if the quality of work life for health-care professionals could be improved in the process, than all the better, he said. Health care can be so dysfuctional, Canon said, that he believes one day people will stop seeking it out as a career option.

Phyzit aims to reduce hospital readmissions by enabling patients to connect with a doctor without having to drive to an office and wait. Currenbtly, Phyzit is used in 20 offices in five states.

"Any kind of connection with a patient at home is a huge step forward," he said.

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