Funding Fuels John James to Run Engine Venture


Funding Fuels John James to Run Engine Venture
John James, CEO of Engine, said it's difficult to raise capital in Arkansas. (Beth Hall)

You may have heard that entrepreneur John James is raising $2 million for his e-commerce company.

But did you know that the Fayetteville company has commitments for nearly half of its goal, despite its being “nearly impossible to raise capital in Arkansas,” according to James.

The money will be used for his new venture, called Engine, that started this month and James will lead as CEO.

Engine offers “basically everything you need software-wise to run an e-commerce company,” James said, from content management to processing orders and payments. Engine will target customers that have around $1 million or more in revenue.

“We probably wouldn’t service a client as large as Dillard’s, but we could,” James said.

The angel investor fund, Fund for Arkansas’ Future LLC of North Little Rock, has provided money for the company, James said.

Engine already has four employees and plans to have about 10 in the next month or so.

An executive officer and director of the company is Jim Kane, who was the chief technology officer and first employee at James’ e-commerce company, Acumen Brands.

“We built all our own e-commerce software there, so this is kind of a reboot of a pretty great partnership between the two of us,” James said.

James resigned as CEO of Acumen Brands in 2014 and turned his attention to another company he started, Hayseed Ventures, which assisted startup companies.

While James hasn’t had any problems raising money for his company, others can’t say the same thing.

“It’s something that Arkansas really, really needs to work on,” James said.

“I can imagine the lack of options or raising capital is what’s holding back a lot of young entrepreneurs locally.”


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