WeWork Labs launches first Arkansas location

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,095 views 

WeWork launched its first Arkansas location Thursday (Oct. 29) on the second floor of the historic Massey Building on West Central Avenue in downtown Bentonville.

WeWork Labs is WeWork’s global digital platform connecting and supporting early-stage startups and small businesses.

The Bentonville location is a partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Council and with support from the Walton Family Foundation. The equity-free incubator program will offer more than 50 early-stage entrepreneurs resources and networks to help their businesses grow.

Through the program, organizations will have access to a flexible and collaborative workspace, programming content, mentorship, membership exclusives and a global community, according to a news release.

“The partnership with WeWork Labs NWA will open the doors for many grassroots and startup businesses,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement. “This venture will give new business owners the necessary tools to succeed and flourish for years to come. This is an exciting and unique opportunity for Arkansans to learn world-class skills from leaders across the globe. I look forward to seeing the innovative techniques that WeWork Labs NWA will provide to its members.”

WeWork Labs offers microbatches — or specialized cohort classes —  focused on fashion, food, fundraising, e-commerce, founders of color, female founders, small and mid-sized business and property technology.

“WeWork Labs’ approach offers professional development opportunities to assist early-stage startups encountering a variety of challenges,” Jeannette Balleza Collins, entrepreneurial development director at the Northwest Arkansas Council, said in a statement. “This partnership will provide valuable entrepreneurial support along with access to mentorship and resource networks across the globe. We’re excited to see how WeWork Labs Northwest Arkansas complements our growing ecosystem.”

Carlos Estrada, an experienced founder with an extensive background in startup acceleration, enterprise digital transformation, and building innovation hubs globally, leads WeWork Labs NWA as labs manager. Estrada also launched Roots Venture Group, a Nebraska-based multifaceted incubator, accelerator and fund dedicated to startups in agriculture, food, and rural industries, as well as the WeWork Labs program in Texas.

Chandler Abbott, formerly an associate at Startup Junkie and community organizer for 1 Million Cups Bentonville, is WeWork Labs NWA lead.

WeWork Labs conducts over 200 global events every week in approximately 80 labs.

WeWork, the New York-based co-working giant, announced in April 2019 its intention to build a 228,000-square-foot office and mixed-use building at 224 S. Main St. in Bentonville, two blocks south of the downtown square.

Construction on the building recently started, although WeWork’s involvement with the project is uncertain.

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