Fast 15: Kenny Cason

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 93 views 

A bona fide rocket scientist, Kenny Cason worked on missile defense at Lockheed Martin in Washington, D.C. But his entrepreneurial spirit grew bored with the corporate routine.

So he joined some like-minded college buddies and came back to Fayetteville to start a tech-based firm. TTAGG Inc. launched in October 2011.

Cason said he and partners Ryan Frazier, Britt Cagnina and Chuong Nguyen are close friends — part of their formula for success.

“That’s kind of our dynamic, that we’re a really close team,” he said.

TTAGG (pronounced tag) uses social media data to provide retailers and consumer packaged goods companies with customer insights and market research. Cason builds the computer applications.

“We’ve definitely seen some good growth,” he said, though he declined to give revenue figures.

The partners met at the University of Arkansas. Cason graduated in 2010 with a degree in computer science. He studied in Japan for a year, and is fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese.

He credits teachers at Pocahontas High School with encouraging his aptitude for science, and said his UA professors were equally supportive.

“Any success I’ve had has been [due to] really good mentors, people who gave me guidance in life,” he said. “I try to do that with students and friends now, try to give them good advice in terms of what to do and what to learn.”

Asked how he spends his down time, Cason chuckled.

“I don’t have a down time,” he said. “I work or study until I pass out, and when I wake up, I resume it all over again. My friends joke that I have two states, programming and sleeping.”

To give programmers more chances to collaborate and share ideas, Cason and friend Addam Hardy started a group called Hacktivate.

“By forming these relationships, you get information flowing, which only makes you better, only makes you more knowledgeable,” Cason said.

Hacktivate has between 50 and 100 members, he said, and holds “hackathons” about every other month. Hackathons have become a global phenomenon over the last decade or so.

Hacktivate’s are held in a 24-hour period in which programmers pair up to develop an idea or work out a new one. Or they can just watch and hang out with other programmers, Cason said.

Hacktivate posts events on its Web forum,

Cason hopes to be a major innovator in the computer science field.

“Right now I’m building a prototype for a collaborative translating site, so users can come on and collaborate as a community,” he said. “Anything to do with language, artificial intelligence — that’s where I want to be in the future.

“As long as I’m growing personally, I don’t really care. As long as I don’t feel stymied, I’m happy.”