ARK Challenge II Names 3 Winners: Info Assembly, Overwatch, Langhar

Info Assembly, Overwatch and Langhar were named winners of the second installment of the ARK Challenge startup accelerator Thursday in Bentonville.

Each winning startup will receive $150,000 in funding.

The three, along with six other competing teams, already received $20,000 in seed funding and access to product development and a host of mentors during a three-month boot camp, much of which was held again at the Iceberg co-working space in Fayetteville.

The ARK Challenge is a federally funded startup bootcamp and part of the Department of Commerce Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge. It completed its second year at Thursday's Demo Day, held at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. During the event, the nine teams from Arkansas, South America and India pitched their products in a competition for $150,000 in funding.

ARK Challenge teams are focused in the northwest Arkansas industry clusters of retail, food processing and transportation and logistics. Their work over the course of the three-month boot camp is designed to meet industry needs in those areas.

Info Assembly is a venture led by Aditya Goel and Karthik Vaidyanath from Delhi, India. It has developed a search and analytics platform for investment research.

Langhar, also from Delhi and led by Karanpreet Singh, Pankaj Sharma, Pawan Saini, and Sunil Kumar, developed a mobile app to access a marketplace where users can order home-cooked meals for delivery or pick-up.

Overwatch was the lone Arkansas winner. Overwatch is a mobile app that combines core game features from combat video games for enhanced live-action paintball, airsoft and laser tag games. 

The idea was hatched by Catholic High School senior Josh Moody, who teamed with RevUnit co-founders Joe Saumweber and Michael Paladino (himself a Catholic High grad) to develop the startup. For his participation in the ARK, Catholic High allowed Moody to work a flex school schedule.

Moody said he physically has been to school at CHS for seven days so far this school year. Moody's father is David Moody, president of Innovate Arkansas firm LGWI and a startup and technology business consultant.

Josh Moody credited Saumweber and Paladino with the success of Overwatch, which has already signed a marketing deal with Cybergun, a maker of air soft guns.

"It started out as just an idea," Josh Moody said. "It's been an incredible journey and it's just beginning."

The first installment of the ARK last fall featured 15 teams from Arkansas, the U.S. and across the globe. Aside from the three winners, three more teams received individual funding from investors in the ARK aftermath.

The ARK was funded to name two $150,000 winners, but like last year, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission agreed to fund a third. 

Innovate Arkansas director Tom Dalton announced Thursday that the ARK likely will be extended for two installments -- another in northwest Arkansas and one in central Arkansas. Nothing is yet official, but the additional boot camps would be funded by the state. 

The remaining 2013 ARK Challenge teams are:

  • Passenger Baggage Xpress of Little Rock -- the "luggage passport" app, it tracks fliers' luggage. On Thursday, PBX was awarded a $25,000 prize from the University of Arkansas RFID research center.
  • WeGreek of Conway and Little Rock -- A group management tool for fraternities and sororities.
  • PressBaby of Hardy and Little Rock -- multimedia digital content creation and distribution engine for newspaper and magazine publishers.
  • VisuaLogistic Technologies, Fayetteville -- networked traffic warning system.
  • Gamerius, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay -- community-curated marketplace where gamers can choose, fund and purchase games.
  • Craftistas, Fayetteville and Syracuse, N.Y. -- monetization platform for discovering and purchasing craft materials.