With construction on the Little Rock Technology Park underway at 415 and 417 Main St., it’s easy to forget that tenants have been coming and going at the park’s temporary space at 107 E. Markham St.
The newest arrival: Keith Fogg, a senior mobile developer for MobX, a group of freelance developers from all over the country that formed in March to develop mobile applications for iPhones and Android smartphones.
CEO Scott Davis of Little Rock said MobX rented a desk at the Tech Park “to collaborate with other developers and sort of keep our finger on the pulse of the startup community” and what’s going on in downtown Little Rock.
Davis said the Tech Park gives him and Fogg a place to meet face to face and with customers.
“The Tech Park gives us something more tangible when office space isn’t something that you necessarily need, being a distributive team,” Davis said. He also praised the high-speed internet offered by local startup Hyperleap.
Davis said one of the apps MobX worked on was built for minor league baseball, but that he couldn’t release details on any in-progress projects. He did reveal that MobX is working with ESPN.
While MobX has moved in, Spencer Jones and his two medical device companies have departed from 107 E. Markham. Accelerate Arkansas, a volunteer organization focused on bringing high-wage, knowledge-based and technology-centric jobs to the state, did the same.
Tenants remaining in the temporary Tech Park space are the Venture Center, Merger Match, iDatafy, CoAction, Noble Impact and OneTwoSee.
And Tech Park’s executive director, Brent Birch, has said he’s working with the Venture Center to bring in FinTech Accelerator.
The Venture Center offers programming, mentorship and other services to start-up companies that aren’t ready to operate independently. FinTech Accelerator is a 15-week, intensive program designed to accelerate the growth of early-stage financial technology ventures.
And what do current tenants think of the Tech Park?
Alese Stroud, the CEO of Merger Match, said the price is right and the opportunity the Tech Park offers for collaboration is valuable.
“Instead of going out and spending $2,000 or $3,000 a month on office space somewhere else, you can come pay $150 or so for a desk … and have the benefit of someplace to go that’s not a bedroom in your house,” she said, adding that startups can get the amenities they need at the Tech Park without having to pay “crazy money.”
Stroud has already engaged in collaboration.
She attended one of the Venture Center’s first classes. Now, Stroud is a mentor for the center and serves on its advisory board.
“It has to be a strong community,” Stroud said. “No matter how expert you are in a certain area, there are other people who know more or have a different experience you can learn from. So, the more we work together, the stronger the entrepreneurship community we build here in central Arkansas.”
Merger Match does “non-financial due diligence for companies that are looking to merge” and helps those preparing to sell, she said.
Soon, it will offer strategic planning, Stroud said.
Clay Simmons, an employee of Philadelphia-based OneTwoSee, has been at the Tech Park since December. He said his company, acquired by Comcast in February, makes infographics from sports stats for TV channels.
He said, “Working from home is kind of romanticized by a lot of people who don’t actually do it. It’s not always the greatest thing. There are a lot of distractions at home. Having somewhere to go that’s not my house, just to get out, is great for me when I’m working.”
Noble Impact CEO Eric Wilson, another tenant, said, “Every city needs a space like this if they want to be a startup hub.” Co-working space is the bridge between the coffee shop and a long-term office lease, he said.
Noble Impact’s goal is to build the next generation of entrepreneurs by engaging those in the classroom with the community, Wilson said. “The Tech Park is a hub of entrepreneurial activity that our students get to tap into,” he said.
Noble Impact was founded in June 2013, has served more than 1,000 students and provides a K-12 apprenticeship program through a partnership with eStem Public Charter Schools.