Why start a tech company in Northwest Arkansas?

by Carter Malloy ([email protected]) 1,296 views 

While many of us tend to consider our own place of residence “the center of the universe,” it probably isn’t.

At AcreTrader, we have farmland investors on our platform from all over the country, and we often get asked why we started a technology company here in Northwest Arkansas. It may seem obvious to us locally why it is a great place, but it most often isn’t apparent to others outside the region.

Those of us living in Northwest Arkansas should be promoting the area both to entrepreneurs and those wanting to work for new tech companies. This is an ideal place to start a technology business, or any kind of business for that matter. In fact, a few of us at AcreTrader moved to Northwest Arkansas from more well-known technology hubs to do just that.

Northwest Arkansas has a rapidly evolving network of business support systems. We already have great accelerators and entrepreneur support at organizations like Startup Junkie, Endeavor and Grit. These organizations assist businesses from product-market fit all the way through scaling to a multinational corporation.

In addition, we have a great ecosystem of successful tech founders from companies like RevUnit, Decision Science, Engine Commerce, Movista and Lofty. In fact, founders from each of these companies have been instrumental in our success by going out of their way to provide guidance and help to us. The expansion of this ecosystem creates important network effects that further amplify the growth of startups in the area.

With large and progressive employers in retail, supply chain, protein and banking, there is a sizeable workforce of hard-working people with a myriad of backgrounds and experiences. The University of Arkansas also turns out highly-qualified students every year who are looking for jobs.

In particular, growth in graduating students from the well-ranked computer sciences program and the Sam M. Walton College of Business provide applicable training in entrepreneurial and technology-focused skill sets that are important for growth in startup businesses.

The outdoors, arts, culture and music. Oh, and it’s beautiful here, the cost of living is cheap and the people are genuine. Some of us even walk or bike to work.

These are just a few of the reasons that U.S. News & World Report ranks Northwest Arkansas as No. 4 on its 2019 “Best Places to Live” list. Our company has attracted some great out-of-state talent to move to Northwest Arkansas, and we suspect that this trend of relocation will continue, thus further reinforcing the network effects mentioned above.

While we all love living here, to be clear, a well-functioning entrepreneurial ecosystem requires talent, ideas, capital and support systems. Additional work is needed on all of these fronts to enhance the momentum within our corner of the world.

The framework, though, is already in place, and we at AcreTrader can’t imagine building our business anywhere else.

Carter Malloy is founder and CEO of Fayetteville brokerage AcreTrader. The opinions expressed are those of the author.