By Brian Rogers
Director, ASU Catalyst Innovation Accelerator, and IDEA Tech Festival organizer
Last weekend was IDEA Tech Fest in Northeast Arkansas, which included one of Innovate Arkansas’s G60 pitch contests and a Bar Camp.
G60 was the kickoff event on Friday night at the Brickhouse Grill in downtown Jonesboro and the Bar Camp was all day Saturday at the Delta Center for Economic Development on the ASU campus.
This was the second G60 event for Northeast Arkansas, the first one being a smashing success back in April. Twenty-three contestants signed up in advance and after all of the walk-ups, a whopping 39 contestants pitched! Contestants included some stiff competition such as ARK Challenge accelerator graduate Michael Eason of Passenger Baggage Xpress (PBX) and current Memphis Seed Hatchery accelerator members Audrey Jones or Kids360 and Tameesha Desangles of WeddingWorthy.
In the end, it was LuLu Wang with her innovative, energy-saving, home climate control system that took the top prize of $1000. Second prize went to JJ Thompson and third to Ioana (“Yo”) Teo. The people’s choice award went to Danielle Clark of Launchpad. Thank you to everyone that rolled out and competed in the event.
Rick Christian, a local radio personality, was a hit as master of ceremonies. The panel of judges included Brandon French, founder of New Wave Wireless; Ted Herget, founder of Gearhead; and Jeff Stinson, administrator of the Fund for Arkansas’s Future. Many thanks are due to the volunteers that made it happen, especially tallying the audience votes and keeping all of the contestants in order among the chaos, cancellations, and walk-ups: Christy and Jake Valentine, Ann Barre, and Cesar Nopo-Olazabal.
The Brickhouse is a perfect venue for the event and did a great job with the audio and video. Thanks to Arkansas Capital Corporation for once again sending their video guru, Will Tracy, to record the event for posterity.
The Bar Camp conference portion of IDEA Tech Fest on Saturday totaled about 60 in attendance. Whereas earlier NEA Bar Camps were primarily attended by technology developers and designers, this year’s Bar Camp was diverse and included many with a business oriented background. The conference content consisted of three tracks: Marketing and Creative; Development and Technology; and Business and Finance.
Thanks to Conway’s Luke Irvin, a Bar Camp veteran, for stepping up to help lead Saturday’s proceedings, along with Lee Quessenberry of Barton’s in Jonesboro. [Check here for Luke's blog about the event.] The panel of presenters was impressive and included CIOs, CEOs, technology entrepreneurs, accelerator coaches, and university faculty from Memphis and Jonesboro.
Thanks and best wishes for good health to the IDEA Tech Fest planning team: Steven Trotter, Michael Quessenberry, and Lee Quessenberry. Thank you to all of our employers that supported the event in more ways than one: Pleth, Baron’s, Rural Sourcing, and ASU’s Delta Center for Economic Development.
And thank you to all of our other sponsors: WinRock International, KA+A, ABC Financial, and Bidsketch. We are shooting for the spring, possibly March, for the next IDEA Tech Fest. Keep your eyes peeled for that: ideatechfest.com.