Ten Arkansas tech and entrepreneurship organizations to watch in 2017

by Todd Jones (tejones1971@gmail.com) 112 views 

With 2017 right around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at businesses and organizations in Central Arkansas that should make an impact in 2017.

Not all of these are regular companies. Some are nonprofits, while others are private-public partnerships.

1. Entrepreneur Kid
Erica Swallow and Li Zeng have launched a project telling the stories of entrepreneur kids in a series of four books.

The books are written for children ages 4-8. Currently, Swallow and Zeng are meeting the inspirations for the books to get their stories. The series is set to launch sometime next summer.

Zeng and Swallow are showing their progress via their Facebook page and have competed in a couple of recent pitch contests.

2. Local First Arkansas
Local First is a nonprofit organization that serves independent, local small businesses through a network of like-minded individuals and enterprises. Additionally, the organization offers various types of training.

Local First Arkansas announced in October that it received a $50,000 grant from the Small Business Administration, which will be used to host the DeltaSpark Virtual Accelerator.

The virtual accelerator is slated for the Delta regional footprint in Arkansas.

3. Little Rock Tech Park
After almost ten years, the Little Rock Tech Park is about to open.

According to an article by Talk Business & Politics’ Wesley Brown, phase one is set to open on March 1st. And, it looks like the Tech Park has signed its first set of tenants.

Among those first tenants are LumoXchange and PFITR, members of the first FinTech Accelerator at the Venture Center.

4. FinTech Accelerator at the Venture Center
Speaking of the FinTech Accelerator, this is one of ten organizations to watch.

After concluding their successful first year, the accelerator is taking applications for a second year. In addition to getting lots of exposure, two companies have relocated to Little Rock to continue building their startups.

The application deadline is February 5th for the accelerator, which is scheduled to take place from May 8 – July 28.

5. Strengthen
Jordan Carlisle, CEO and founder of Strengthen, announced a big partnership this month with Arkansas Fitness & Athletics. The startup had been working with AFA for some time, but the partnership is now official.

Strengthen is poised to grow stronger in 2017.

6. RaftUp
Corey Boelkens has been working on his Raftup app for a couple of years now.

Raftup is developing a platform to help social outdoor safety and hoping to build that out this coming year.

Boelkens has already partnered with several 911 agencies using his real-time monitoring system. He told me that 80% of all 911 calls go out through mobile phones.

7. AR FoodJobs
CEO Christie Ison claims she is poised to take the arfoodjobs website model nationwide.

According to Ison, arfoodjobs.com, is starting a workforce development project called Food Jobs Work with a pilot program at Our House. The course is in partnership with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub.

Finally, Ison said the startup is looking to move into different markets.

“Along with that, we are looking to go national and help the national chef/cook shortage with local, relationship-based recruiting as well as the development of new talent,” she said.

8. Apptegy

Apptegy has been one of the fastest growing startups in Arkansas for the past couple of years. The company has over 30 employees and has recently moved into a larger space in the downtown Simmons Bank building.

Apptegy recently hosted a Winter Workshop chatting about education with various local leaders and entreprenerus.

The year 2017 should be another year of rapid growth for the tech education startup.

9. Conductor
UCA and Conway have launched an initiative that is a public-private partnership between several organizations including the University of Central Arkansas, Startup Junkies, Innovate Arkansas, Cadron Creek Capital, and Conway Development Corporation.

Conductor launched in November with a press conference and a G60 event. In December, Conductor hosted a Startup Grind event.

The Conductor leadership includes COO, Kim Lane, Jeff Standridge, members of the Startup Junkies team, UCA Entrepreneurship & Innovation Faculty, and local entrepreneurs.

10. LineusMedical

Spencer Jones has relocated to Fayetteville and is rolling up his sleeves to move the healthcare startup forward.

Fresh off building his leadership team and serving as Entrepreneur in Residence at the HubX LifeScience Accelerator, Jones is poised to make some big moves in 2017.

Look for lots of movement by the end of the year for LineusMedical.

We are looking forward to seeing the impact these organizations will make to the state business ecosystem.

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