FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Arkansas Money and Politics)
By Caleb Talley and Tyler Hale
Fayetteville has spent the last few years working towards the goal of becoming the ultimate destination for the nation’s brightest innovators and entrepreneurs. And the Northwest Arkansas city is beginning to see that dream realized with the help of Startup Junkie, the University of Arkansas and a number of city, state and corporate partners.
Their efforts have culminated in one of the most attractive startup cultures anywhere in the nation. That culture will be on full display during this year’s Northwest Arkansas Startup Crawl – the largest entrepreneurial event in the state.
“The idea for Startup Crawl came from South by Southwest, which has their own,” says Haley Allgood, executive director of Startup Junkie, the local nonprofit entrepreneurial organization that’s helped turn dreams into realities for a number of area innovators. She and her team are the brains behind this second annual event.
“A lot of entrepreneurs are extremely creative, innovative thinkers and people who can execute and drive results,” says Allgood. “I think that is what’s so important about the community movement, whether you are starting a company yourself or working for a startup company. That’s a good mindset to have… You want the whole community to rally around those entrepreneurs and businesses.”
This year’s event will kick off at 4 p.m., on Friday, Sept. 14. The event is spread across 10 stops, introducing crawlers to 13 established startups and innovation hubs.
Crawlers will also have the opportunity to interact with a number of early stage startups at the Pryor Center “mega location” on the Fayetteville Town Square. There, dozens of budding entrepreneurs will be presenting their ideas to a broader audience.
“The theme of the crawl is to highlight technology and innovation in Arkansas,” says Allgood.” Companies that are startups or support startups, contributing to the ecosystem of innovation, that are located in downtown Fayetteville were invited. But we’re also bringing in startups and fast-growing companies from all over Northwest Arkansas to showcase at the Pryor Center.”
The mega location will feature a number of unique and exciting young companies that demonstrate the region’s innovative spirit and proximity to well-established industry powerhouses.
Startups like SupplyPike, a cloud-based supply chain software solutions company, have seized on existing industries ripe for innovation. Engine, an e-commerce platform for vertically integrated, digitally native brands, is bridging the gap for area retailers by helping their brands succeed. FanSpotz, the “Airbnb of parking,” is meeting a major regional need by connecting event attendees with property owners with valuable parking spaces.
These companies, which can be found inside the Pryor Center during Startup Crawl, are a part of a community movement, a movement that is putting the rest of the country on notice. In Arkansas, especially Northwest Arkansas, big things are happening. Investors, Allgood says, would be wise to take notice.
“We’re highlighting some of the best companies in our area. These are some really fantastic entrepreneurs, innovative companies,” she says. “If there are high net worth individuals out there who are interested in investing, becoming an angel investor, this is a great opportunity for them to come out and talk to people… You can see a company there in their earliest stages. One company in particular is launching their Kickstarter. It’s a huge benefit to be introduced to a company early that you might not otherwise know about.”
But for innovators in the grind, events like Startup Crawl are an incredible opportunity to recruit talented young employees.
Read the rest of the article on Arkansas Money and Politics here, and learn more about some of the exciting companies featured along this year’s Startup Crawl.