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ICYMI: Northwest Arkansas launched into the first month of the new decade with a string of entrepreneurship-related firsts. Did you catch them all?

Cover photo by @bryancollom on IG

First AI and Machine Learning Accelerator

14 companies from across the United States, Europe and Asia are on their way to Northwest Arkansas to participate in the first-ever Arkansas-based artificial intelligence and machine learning accelerator.

The Fuel Accelerator, led by RevUnit and Startup Junkie, is a 12-week, enterprise-ready accelerator that will provide the cohort with access to other startup founders, industry experts, institutions of higher education and public policy officials.

Learn more about the program and the participating companies below.

Fuel Accelerator

First Visit to Northwest Arkansas

Steve Case and his Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm Revolution are bringing their “Rise of the Rest” bus tour to Northwest Arkansas for the first time since the road trips began in 2014.

The tour will focus on how Heartland cities are attracting talent and how legacy corporations are working with local startup ecosystems to create environments that are appealing to people looking for cities that promise a lower cost of living and other lifestyle benefits.

Applications to pitch for a $100,000 investment during the upcoming Rise of the Rest Road Trip are now open. Click below for more information about startup eligibility and the pitch competition.

Rise of the Rest

First Visit to Northwest Arkansas

Steve Case and his Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm Revolution are bringing their “Rise of the Rest” bus tour to Northwest Arkansas for the first time since the road trips began in 2014.

The tour will focus on how Heartland cities are attracting talent and how legacy corporations are working with local startup ecosystems to create environments that are appealing to people looking for cities that promise a lower cost of living and other lifestyle benefits.

Applications to pitch for a $100,000 investment during the upcoming Rise of the Rest Road Trip are now open. Click below for more information about startup eligibility and the pitch competition.

Rise of the Rest

First Action Item on Entrepreneurship

Last October, University of Arkansas Chancellor Joe Steinmetz announced at his State of the University address 10 action items he wanted the university to focus on moving forward. He recently published an expanded explanation of his first action item focused on entrepreneurship, detailing specific actions the university is taking to strengthen the culture of entrepreneurism on campus, in the region and around the state.

The list of programs and activities underway is mind-boggling. It includes the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OEI), New Venture Development class, Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, U of A Startup Village*, department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Venture Innovation (SEVI) and Heartland Challenge in partnership with the Heartland Summit. Read the full explanation below.

*U of A Startup Village has a handful of remaining slots open for startup companies with a U of A affiliation! Learn more HERE.

Focus on the Future

First Appearance on Shark Tank

It’s not every day you see a teenager on ABC’s “Shark Tank”— but Northwest Arkansas native Sofia Overton, a 14-year-old entrepreneur who founded Wise Pocket Products, made her debut on Shark Tank on Jan. 12.

After an initial offer, the local kidtrepreneur countered and ultimately, secured a five-figure deal from Sharks Lori Greiner and Daymond John for a 25% stake in her company.

“I’m in heaven,” Overton said after securing the deal. “I’m so excited.”

Shark Tank

First Appearance on Shark Tank

It’s not every day you see a teenager on ABC’s “Shark Tank”— but Northwest Arkansas native Sofia Overton, a 14-year-old entrepreneur who founded Wise Pocket Products, made her debut in the Shark Tank on Jan. 12.

After an initial offer, the kidtrepreneur countered and ultimately, secured a five-figure deal from Sharks Lori Greiner and Daymond John for a 25% stake in her company.

“I’m in heaven,” Overton said after securing the deal. “I’m so excited.”

Shark Tank

First Kiva Hub Borrower

In December, Startup Junkie announced the launch of a Kiva Northwest Arkansas hub to help underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners gain access to much-needed capital.

Through Kiva Northwest Arkansas, members of the community can sign up to lend money to local entrepreneurs. These loans are offered to those who have difficulty securing traditional loans and are offered at zero percent interest with no fees—and contributions are being matched by the Walton Family Foundation.

We are excited to share that the first Northwest Arkansas Kiva Hub borrower has been approved and is currently raising funds. Laura, founder of Bites & Bowls, aims to use her loan to provide even more healthy food options for our diverse Northwest Arkansas community. Click below to learn more about Laura’s story and her loan request.

Update: Laura was fully-funded by the end of the first day!

Kiva Hub

If you are interested in getting plugged into the regional entrepreneurial community, check out some of the upcoming events below.

Upcoming Events