Startup Junkie launches website with nonprofit partner, hopes joint effort will boost entrepreneurial ecosystem

by Jennifer Joyner (JJoyner@nwabj.com) 95 views 

Startup Junkie Consulting and the Community Venture Foundation of Fayetteville have joined to form the NWA Venture Team, launching a new website, NWAVentureTeam.org.

While the two organizations will remain separate entities, the NWA Venture Team initiative and website were created in order to centralize their joint efforts in developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northwest Arkansas.

Through the new website, the NWA Venture Team intends to provide a “single point” for entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs to seek assistance and tap into the region’s venture community, according to its website. The site will also feature entrepreneurial success stories for the region.

“The NWA Venture Team is a partnership that has been an integral piece of the NWA entrepreneurship community for over a year now,” said Jessica Boyd, executive director of the Community Venture Foundation. “We launched the website so our community has one place they can go to see all the entrepreneurial resources, opportunities and success stories across our region.”

Startup Junkie Consulting, founded in 2008 by principal Jeff Amerine, provides free mentoring and programs for entrepreneurs, and Community Venture Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded last year that works closely with Startup Junkie. Its mission is to build the entrepreneurial community through project-based programs — including STEM-based youth initiatives — with an ultimate goal of using entrepreneurship as a tool for social and economic empowerment.

Brett Amerine, chief operating officer for Startup Junkie, chairs the organization’s board of directors.

“The Community Venture Foundation mission is aligned with ours, and we’ve been working together for the last year and a half,” Brett Amerine said. “The entrepreneurial ecosystem is more vibrant than ever.”

The new website is meant to direct newcomers to the region and individuals who have lived in Northwest Arkansas but are not aware of the startup scene to resources available to the venture and innovation community.

Amerine said the NWA Venture Team is led by Startup Junkie and Community Venture Foundation, but is intended to be represent a coalition of organizations involved in the effort. The NWA Venture Team’s strategic partners include Hayseed Ventures, the University of Arkansas, NorthWest Arkansas Community College, John Brown University, RevUnit, Metova, NWA Creative Arts Network and the Innovation Hub. Funding partners include the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Walton Family Foundation, Winrock International and Innovate Arkansas.

Since it began tracking its engagement with the entrepreneurship community in 2014, Startup Junkie Consulting has logged more than 6,000 hours of mentoring and has provided mentoring and training to more than 1,000 small businesses and led more than 300 programs and events, according to the NWA Venture Team website. Brett Amerine said, “mentoring is most effective when it’s one-on-one, and we provide that at no cost.”

The Startup Junkie team estimates that companies that have participated in NWA Venture Team activities and programs brought in a combined $172 million in revenue since 2014, created more than 600 jobs and raised $67 million in private capital and $8 million in public grants.

The team also says those companies created more than 600 new product service and business lines, entered 608 markets, licensed 45 new technologies and had 23 patents approved since 2014.

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