by Mark Carter
Posted 6/6/2014 09:07 am
Updated 6 months ago
Arkansas "techpreneur" pioneer James Hendren will kick off the Arkansas Venture Center's Build It series on Tuesday from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The AVC, officially launched May 20 with a $500,000 grant from the state, has been operating for months from temporary quarters in the chamber.
The Build It series is billed as a "fireside chat" with an Arkansas startup founder. The goal, according to AVC co-founder Lee Watson, is to tap the knowledge and experiences of important figures in the state's entrepreneurial development.
Hendren, chairman of Accelerate Arkansas, co-founded Arkansas Systems (acquired by Euronet in 1998). A serial tech-based entrepreneur and investor, he serves on numerous boards and executive committees including the boards of the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority, VIC Technology Venture Development in Fayetteville, the UAMS BioVentures incubator and Innovate Arkansas client firms Movista and Vivione Biosciences.
In addition, he serves as interim CEO of UALR startup Synanomet, which produces nano-carbon metal composites.
Hendren graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Ph.D. in physics. Watson calls him a "driving force" in the state's technology and entrepreneurship communities.
"What many don't know is that James played a key role in developing anti-ballistic missile systems tests," Watson said. "His code eventually became what was widely known as 'Star Wars' and today serves as a critical component to NORAD'S long-range radar orbital object tracking program."
Watson said the inaugural Build It will reveal the story behind Hendren's progression from engineer to entrepreneur to investor, and how he's built multiple companies that have exited through acquisition and IPO.
The Build It series is open to AVC members for free, and tickets are $45 for non-members. The chat will run from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and Watson said audience members are encouraged to network, ask questions and "learn."
In addition to launching the Build It series, the AVC has hosted events ranging from the weekly 1 Million Cups program to women founders meetups. Later this year, the AVC will occupy its own quarters located on the ground floor of the Block 2 building on East Markham in downtown Little Rock.
Its programs and services are designed to complement the growing network of startup and entrepreneurship-related services and resources in central Arkansas such as the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub and its Launch Pad maker space, the planned technology park along the Main Street corridor, the upcoming ARK Challenge accelerator and the recently launched Arkansas Fellowship program.
More information about AVC and the Build It series is available at VentureCenter.co.