Startup Weekend Returns to Little Rock Sept. 12-14

by Mark Carter  on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 10:05 am  

The winning Simple Service (later Acorn Hours) team at the 2013 Startup Weekend Little Rock event, held at the Clinton School of Public Service. (Photo by Chad Williamson)

Startup Weekend returns to Little Rock in September.

The 54-hour event, at which ideas are turned into potential tech-based startup ventures, is scheduled for Sept. 12-14 from the Charles Morgan Auditorium at Acxiom's River Market corporate headquarters.

Startup Weekend was introduced to Little Rock in 2013 by Jordan Carlisle, now director of entrepreneurship for the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Max Farrell. Both are co-organizers for the 2014 event.

Later in 2013, Startup Weekend had another successful launch in northwest Arkansas, and this spring, the first-ever High School Startup Weekend launched in Little Rock.

Carlisle and Farrell believe the recent wave of entrepreneurial momentum in central Arkansas -- expansion of the ARK Challenge, launches of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub and the Arkansas Venture Center, the planned Little Rock tech park along the Main Street corridor -- promises an even bigger event in 2014.  

"After Little Rock Startup Weekend 2013, two teams raised $20,000 each and completed the ARK Challenge,” Farrell said in a news release. "Startup Weekend transformed corporate employees into co-founders. Strangers became friends and then became collaborators. The hype for the upcoming event has all the makings to surpass what was accomplished in previous Startup Weekends." 

Startup Weekend, sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs, is a global, grassroots event (upcoming events are scheduled for Iran, New Zealand, Romania and India) at which developers, designers, entrepreneurs and anyone interested in launching a startup come together in one location to pitch an idea and potentially launch a business, all in one weekend. Cost is $50 and registration for the Little Rock event is available here

Carlisle said more than $230 million has been invested in Arkansas startups since 2008, some of which got their start at Startup Weekend.

"It is a great opportunity to test startup ideas, meet potential co-founders, build the Little Rock community and launch your next startup," Carlisle said.

Participants receive perks such as $100 Amazon web service credits, $500 Google Developer Credits, event swag, access to amazing community mentors and a chance to win $10,000 in prizes for their startup.

David Allan, a Houston, Texas, native and Hendrix College student (and currently an ARK Challenge LR participant), co-founded the 2013 event's winning team that started as Simple Service and became Acorn Hours.

"Little Rock Startup Weekend is where my journey with Acorn Hours began," he said. "It gave me a chance to work on something I was passionate about outside the classroom and now I have the opportunity to build a tech company that all started with an idea."

Allan said the mentors he worked with at Startup Weekend still support his startup in multiple ways.

"If it weren’t for Startup Weekend, I probably would have gotten a job outside of Arkansas instead of doing something really care about," he said.



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