Incubators, incubators, everywhere! Yes, even in Northwest Arkansas!
Earlier this year, we wrote about The Ark Challenge, an incubator/accelerator launched in Arkansas with the support of non-profit Winrock International, as well as the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and NorthWest Arkansas Community College. Today, the program is graduating its first class of startups, wrapping up the accelerator with a demo day in Bentonville, Arkansas.
The program is focused on driving innovation in a number of locally-supported industries, including retail, transportation, and food processing. As home to companies like Walmart, J.B. Hunt, and Tyson Foods, there’s a ton of wealth in the area, but not a whole lot of entrepreneurial activity. The Ark Challenge has sought to change that.
To do so, The Ark Challenge raised $2.1 million in funding from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and Employment and Training Administration (ETA), as well as from Winrock International, Gravity Ventures, and Fund for Arkansas’ Future. Its first class of startups began in August, and has culminated in a demo day today.
Here are the lucky 15 companies that will be presenting:
- Agricultural Food Systems – A company focused on transforming food-quality measurement, with a new product to assess meat tenderness accurately: the TenderID.
- Btiques – A platform for independent fashion boutique stores to interact and sell limited-quantity items online in the mobile and social media space.
- CayMay Education – Offering accredited programs from primary schools to career training, CayMay Education is an open app platform where teachers create and sell lessons for $1 each.
- Earn & Play – A mobile app that connects brands with customers at the store shelf.
- EpicPledge – A mobile app that leverages social forces and gives people that extra push to accomplish their goals.
- Farmeto – A web-based tool for connecting small farmers with retailers in an online marketplace.
- Mass Vector – Software-as-a-Service that provides real-time analytics and progressive demand prediction based on individual UPCs. Resulting data packages empower e-commerce companies to make critical decisions with ease.
- MineWhat – A cloud-based, pattern-informed “re-engagement” platform to ecommerce businesses to increase user conversion rate and revenue.
- Refurrl – Leverages your social networks to make it easy for you to sell to and buy from the people you trust the most, your friends.
- SavvySync – Provides startups with targeted discovery of beta users and customers. SavvySync sifts through Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Foursquare and LinkedIn to find early adopters that experience pain points that startups’ products solve.
- Sooligan – Digitizes word-of-mouth to help businesses find and share information about any city in the world with newcomers and locals.
- SpareTime – An engagement platform for advancing social good that provides organizations with a way to market their projects to the newest generation of volunteers and donors.
- StackSearch – A cloud-powered product search server that will reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions for our ecommerce clients.
- Streamix – A crowd-curated, streamlined way for creating the perfect music experience.
- Truckily – Marketing software and social network for food trucks to interact with customers.