by Mark Carter
Posted 10/16/2013 09:40 am
Updated 9 months ago
The event, hosted by The Joint coffee house in the Argenta neighborhood of North Little Rock, provided a venue for entrepreneurs, aspiring and otherwise, to pitch their business ideas to an audience of peers and potential investors.
Formerly known as Gone in 60 Seconds but now marketed simply as "G60," the competition has become a social and networking phenomenon in the state's startup community. The Argenta edition produced two winners, each of whom took home $1,000, from a pool of 20 presenters.
The judge's winner was Passenger Baggage Xpress, an Innovate Arkansas startup from Little Rock that has created an airline luggage tracking app. PBX's first place finish on Tuesday night marked its third consecutive G60 win. The startup, from brothers Brandon and Michael Eason, also won G60s in Fayetteville and Russellville.
G60s generally produce two winners, one selected by a panel of judges and the other chosen by audience votes. Tuesday's audience winner was Whitnie Hall and Arganics. The North Little Rock venture produces ethnic hair care products.
G60 Argenta organizer and emcee Jamie Fugitt, the Startup Lawyer for the Little Rock law firm Williams & Anderson, said the enthusiasm surrounding the event was indicative of the metro's entrepreneurial momentum. Recently, plans for the Argenta Innovation Center, the first phase of the planned Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, were announced.
"We had a lot of great ideas and quality pitches," he said. "People seem to be excited about the growth of entrepreneurship in central Arkansas."
Argenta presenters represented Little Rock, North Little Rock and Conway, and ideas ranged from a digital child-care check-in service to a low-calorie cocktail recipe service delivered via iPhone app.
PBX CEO and co-founder Michael Eason is now a G60 veteran, having participated in several contests. The prize money is nice, but he and his brother value the experience even more.
"Every competition is unique in different areas," he said. "Each one gives you a chance to see what's out there in a certain area and measure yourself against other ideas."
G60s also provide opportunities for startups to hone their pitch. So far, the PBX pitch has been well received. PBX "soft launched" its app -- marketed to airports -- at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) in August. Eason said PBX is working with Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, XNA and Clinton National Airport in Little Rock to create a network in which to launch the app.
The Eason brothers will be in Jonesboro on Nov. 8 for the next G60.
G60 Argenta sponsors were Innovate Arkansas, Argenta Arts Fund, Bourbon & Boots, Argenta Wealth Management, Williams & Anderson, The Joint, Arkansas Capital Corporation, Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, Jerry Adams and Curtis Arnold.