Ark Tank set for second year of tourism competition event

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 510 views 

Arkansas Tourism, in partnership with Innovate Arkansas, is accepting applications for Ark Tank, a business pitch competition to be held March 2 at the Fort Smith Convention Center as a part of the 2020 Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

The competition, now in its second year, is open to new and existing tourism businesses that have an idea, project or product to develop. The contestant with the best business pitch will win a cash prize of $5,000, a guarantee for mentorship from professionals in the field related to the winning business idea and ongoing advisement with Arkansas Tourism Research and Development, said a media release from Arkansas Tourism.

“Innovation and creativity are key to continued success, and this competition allows Arkansas tourism businesses the opportunity to grow and learn as they develop new ideas,” said Arkansas Tourism Director Jim Dailey. “Ark Tank is a highlight of our annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism and we can’t wait to see the projects that will be presented this year.”

There were 21 applicants for the 2019 competition with ideas for everything from fishing pole holders for the garage to promote fishing throughout Arkansas to a concierge service for things to do, hotels and attractions throughout the state.

“Last year’s Ark Tank competition introduced the startup spirit to a foundational industry in our state’s economy and we were excited by the energy we saw in the room of tourism professionals,” said David Sanders, director of Innovate Arkansas at Winrock International. “Winrock and Innovate Arkansas’s team is dedicated to helping startup founders grow their businesses in Arkansas. We are excited to partner with Arkansas Tourism again this year to help find and support innovative ideas for tourism-based businesses.”

The application deadline is Jan. 10.

Startup or existing businesses that are related to tourism in Arkansas will be considered for the competition.

“For purposes of this competition, a tourism-related business is defined as one that directly interacts with tourists, deals with businesses that cater to tourists, encourages tourism in and travel to Arkansas, and/or supports tourism-related activities in Arkansas,” the release said.

Applicants selected to move on to round two will be contacted by Jan. 24. The semifinalist must complete a “lean canvas” for their business model. Finalists selected for the pitch competition will be notified by Feb. 7.
The competition will be streamed live with audience members able to text their vote for a winner after the competition. An audience favorite winner will be announced at the same time as the grand prize judges’ winner is announced.

Link here to apply for the competition.