ARK Challenge Readies for Third Installment

by Mark Carter  on Monday, Jul. 7, 2014 12:00 am  

The ARK Challenge launched in 2012 and its third installment will begin next month in Fayetteville. (Photo by Beth Hall)

Collins noted several new organizations and programs that have sprung up and complemented the ARK, including the Natural State Angel Association, the NWA Entrepreneurship Alliance, G60 pitch contests, the Arkansas Angel Network, 1 Million Cups, the Arkansas Fellowship program, Noble Impact and new meetups devoted to women founders, student entrepreneurs and more.

"We have had an explosion of interest in giving back to the ecosystem via our state's growing mentor base, and it has been heartening to see the momentum growing across Arkansas," Collins said. "The talent here is abundant, and we love meeting new founders and aspiring entrepreneurs with every new inquiry or event. Additionally, we are seeing interesting inbound interest from outside of the region and state from all sides — new companies, venture investors and economic developers."

Organizers would like to see the ARK continue past 2014, and that all boils down to securing future funding.

"With every new installment of the ARK, there are two main needs for funding: program operations and private investment to seed the selected companies," Collins said. "Right now, we are focusing on delivering two successful ARK Challenge programs in 2014, and just as it is true for the startups we accelerate, we are running the day-to-day operations, raising funding, evolving with small, fast learning loops and looking for our next best iteration based on those learnings."



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