LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – Today, Governor Asa Hutchinson joined Apptegy, an education technology startup founded and headquartered in Little Rock, to celebrate the hiring of Apptegy’s 50th employee. Two years ago, the company was working with a handful of schools in Arkansas. Now, more than 1000 schools in 39 states use Apptegy’s products, making it one of the fastest growing technology companies in the state. At the event, several Arkansas school administrators were presented certificates of appreciation for supporting an Arkansas technology company in its earliest days.
Jeston George founded Apptegy after struggling to keep up with events at his nephew’s school. He met with Arkansas school superintendents and learned there was a widespread need for a simple platform for schools to manage engagement on the many devices and social networks that community members look to for information. In the summer of 2015, the company launched Thrillshare, its proprietary digital framework for schools, and began building the team in Little Rock.
“Apptegy’s story is different than other technology companies in the area because we are an Arkansas story through and through,” said George. “We started the company in a spare bedroom in my house here in Little Rock, raised all our early funds from Arkansas investors, and received support from Arkansas school superintendents who took a chance on working with a startup because they saw the importance of supporting an Arkansas company.”
In May, the company announced a $5.7 million growth investment from Kansas City-based venture capital firm Five Elms Capital. This is one of the largest out-of-state investments in an Arkansas technology company in the past decade. As part of the investment, shares purchased by the Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA) were bought back, providing a significant financial and economic development return to the state.
“Apptegy’s story shows the power of Arkansans coming together,” said Governor Hutchinson. “The school leaders who chose to work with an Arkansas-based company helped pave the way for high-paying technology jobs in the state. In a few years, we’ll see today’s students in the Computer Science Initiative working in companies like Apptegy.”
Apptegy expects to add 20 more jobs this year as it aggressively scales its product to schools across the country and around the world.
“Emerging businesses like Apptegy, are the most significant creators of new, well-paying jobs in both Arkansas and the nation,” said ADFA President Aaron Burkes. “Apptegy’s growth has exceeded our expectations and we are pleased to have been one of its early startup investors.”
ADFA administers the Arkansas Venture Capital Investment Trust (AVCIT) that made a $300,000 investment in Apptegy in 2016.
“I have personally seen the growth of Apptegy since I have been in office and I am very excited for our city to create and expand companies like Apptegy here,” said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola. “Having started as a one man shop in the Venture Center and Little Rock Technology Park, this is an example of the benefits of creating a start-up environment where companies like Apptegy can succeed. Apptegy has been active in creating that environment in Little Rock including at last year’s Mayor’s Summit on Entrepreneurship and I am happy for Jeston and his team.”
“Apptegy was one of the first companies to move into the Venture Center and the Little Rock Technology Park,” said John Riggs, Chairman of the Board for the Little Rock Regional Chamber. We are very proud to have a homegrown company like Apptegy expanding right here in Little Rock.”
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