BarCamp Little Rock Touts Tips For Budding Entrepreneurs

by Todd Jones (tejones1971@gmail.com) 49 views 

The 2015 edition of BarCamp Little Rock was held Saturday, June 20th on the campus of the University of Arkansas Little Rock. The popular “unconference” featured several speakers from the Central Arkansas area.

Hosted by the Venture Center, the event drew a good assortment of designers, developers and entrepreneurs including several students from UALR.

The topics ranged from social media, Bitcoin, networking, virtual reality, 3D printing, the future of media and grilled cheese sandwiches.

There were several prizes awarded, including books, a Raspberry Pi and two Iron Yard scholarships.

Among the many speakers at BarCamp this year were Noble Impact President Chad Williamson, Venture Center President Lee Watson, Founder of Apptegy Jeston George, CEO of the Strengthen App Jordan Carlisle, CdotsMedia CEO Nicholas Norfolk, Founder of TEDx MarkhamSt Salil Joshi, IOS Developer and Entrepreneur Luke Irvin, author and 3D printing expert Gordon Fisher, and HARK CEO Tim Freeman.

In his session on Entrepreneurs and Storytelling, Chad Williamson shared at least two stories that displayed the power of how storytelling can change things. First, he shared how Cincinnati Bengal Dhani Jones used bowties to start a foundation that helps raise money for a cause, in the case of the story, Juvenile Diabetes. Williamson and Jones created ties to sell for a gala and an impromptu bidding took place for the remaining, unsold bowties.

In the process, Jones, a University of Michigan graduate, crushed any stereotype that the crowd may have had about a professional athlete and started a movement selling uniquely designed bowties to raise money for various causes.

The second story was how Williamson met with Steve Clark in a chance encounter leading to the starting of Noble Impact. Two Arkansans in Cincinnati, Williamson was beginning to look for a new challenge when Clark told him about the idea of a high school that conducted education differently. The rest, as they say, is history.

Salil Joshi talked about how he streamlined his networking process to meet people who could help him start TEDx MarkhamSt. He told the group “a cup of coffee is a great way to meet with someone.” Joshi was able to meet and make the necessary connections to put together his TEDx conference in a new city in just a matter of a few months.

The key is to approach the meeting asking what you can do for the person with whom you are meeting. Other aspects of the meeting is body language and being more focused on the meeting rather than the meeting agenda, he said.

Lee Watson and Jeston George spoke about raising money for a startup in Central Arkansas. Watson shared how the Venture Center can help facilitate the process and pointed to George as a great of example of putting things into place to get the necessary funding.

Apptegy was once turned down for funding even when the investor believed the idea was good. Jeston talked about how he went back, engaged in the mentorship program with the Venture Center, conducted market research and got a product with customers which enabled him to present to investors again. The result is that Apptegy has almost raised the required capital to scale.

The hashtag on Twitter for the event was #bclr15. Nicholas Norfolk maintained a live blog which was published at Medium. The BarCamp organizers used Yapp, a mobile app, to list the sessions.

According to Carlisle, there is a plan for a 2016 BarCamp Little Rock and an offer was made to help anyone wishing to do their own BarCamp in another community.

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