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The ARK Challenge 2013 Selection Results

The ARK Challenge received 92 applications from 15 different states across the nation and from 15 different countries by the April 14th, 2013, 11:59 pm PST, deadline. 18 applications came from teams outside the United States, coming from the United Kingdom, Singapore, Russia, Romania, Italy, Israel, India, Ghana, Egypt, Croatia, Chile, Canada, Australia and Argentina.

62 teams that applied are from the United States with 35 applications originating from here in Arkansas. Other states represented include New York, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado, California and Tennessee. We have been very busy reviewing the applications, interviewing founders and learning more about each of the tech startups.

The process has been a very difficult one because of the high quality of the applications, and we did not have as much time as we would like to commit to performing due diligence for each company. Therefore, we have had to make focused decisions based on the following criteria to identify our finalists:

  • A great, balanced team
  • A demonstrated ability to execute
  • An innovative idea in an area that fits within our regional strengths (key cluster/mentorship fit and/or high-potential markets)

Below are some common reasons why some applications were not selected as finalists:

There was something missing from the team.
Sure, there’s no boilerplate template for what makes an impeccable team, but often an issue regarding the team becomes obvious and results in our ranking that application lower than others with standout, well-balanced teams.

The team is awesome, but the idea simply is not a good fit for The ARK Challenge.
Since The ARK Challenge is focused on advancing regional competitiveness for Northwest Arkansas, we are compelled to look for startups that we are best positioned to help succeed. We’re especially interested in investing in the types of ideas and markets we believe make sense for our region and the available mentorship talent.

The startup was not technology-oriented.
Some of the applications were for ideas that simply did not fit The ARK Challenge program. If the idea did not revolve around mobile, software, web, or some form of information technology, this is not the right format for acceleration.

The application was incomplete or reflected only halfhearted efforts.
If the startup founders didn’t seem to put much effort into answering the application questions, then we were unable to take the company very seriously.

The founders were unresponsive, slow to respond or did not not seem coachable.
When we contacted the team regarding the application, the contact information was incorrect, we didn’t receive a response at all, response time was slow or responses were off-putting/served with a heavy helping of attitude. We’re looking for a team that is motivated to work and can work well with others.

The startup did not show promising ability to execute.
The ARK Challenge is more than open to accelerating a concept-stage company that has a good team and interesting idea, provided there are signs that the driving forces behind the startup can deliver the goods.

Other applications fit the criteria better or exhibited more wow factor.
Even if your application, team and idea were impressive, it’s possible that other applications were more attractive.

The interview went poorly.
During the Google Hangout interview, one or more of the founders did not make the effort to participate, communication skills were lacking or professionalism was inadequate.

If you submitted an application to The ARK Challenge for our 2013 program but received a notification of non-selection, please know we are very grateful to you for your time and energy. We hope you will still consider applying to participate in future sessions. We’re happy you threw your hat into the ring, and we fully expect to see you achieve great things in the near future. It is very possible we’ll be in touch with you to get involved in The ARK Challenge in a different capacity.

If feedback from our Selection Committee is available, we will be including that information for you and your team in the coming weeks.

The ARK Challenge Demo Day Scheduled for November 8th

Agricultural Food Systems
Agricultural Food Systems (AFS) is a company focused on transforming food quality measurement. AFS offers a new product to assess meat tenderness accurately: the TenderID.

Hugh Lawson Hembree, V | Siloam Springs, AR | founders@agfoodsystems.com

Btiques
Btiques is a powerful new way for independent fashion boutique stores to interact and sell limited quantity items online in the mobile and social media space.

Sara Beck and Will Carter | Kansas City, MO, and Fayetteville, AR | founders@btiques.com

CayMay Education
Offering accredited programs from primary schools to career training, CayMay Education is an open app platform where teachers create lessons & sell for $1 each.

Xuan Linh (Lincoln) Vu | Boca Raton, FL | lincoln@caymay.com

Earn & Play
Earn & Play is the first mobile app that connects brands with customers at the store shelf.

Pablo Arellano, Jr. | Cincinnati, OH | pablo@eandplay.com

EpicPledge
EpicPledge is a mobile application that leverages upon social forces to give people that extra push to accomplish their goals.

Weiting Tan and Anthony Chew | Singapore, Singapore | founders@epicpledge.com

Farmeto
Farmeto is a web-based tool for connecting small farmers with retailers in an online marketplace.

Colin Shaw, David Tanner and Sam Friday | Fayetteville, AR | founders@farmeto.com

Mass Vector
Mass Vector is a web-based Software-as-a-Service that provides real-time analytics and progressive demand prediction based on individual UPCs. Resulting data packages empower e-commerce companies to make critical decisions with ease.

Ben Hundley and Adam Vanderbush | Fayetteville, AR | founders@massvector.com

MineWhat
Minewhat provides a cloud-based, pattern-informed “re-engagement” platform to ecommerce businesses to increase user conversion rate and revenue.

Janakiram (Ram) Ganesan and Pavan Kumar Thiruvuru Vijayan | Bangalore, India | founders@minewhat.com

Refurrl
Refurrl leverages your social networks to make it easy for you to sell to and buy from the people you trust the most, your friends.

Zackery Hill, Alex Chalupka, Jonathan Peoples and Gabe Couch | Conway, AR | founders@refurrl.com

SavvySync
SavvySync provides startups with targeted discovery of beta users and customers. SavvySync sifts through Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Foursquare and LinkedIn to find early adopters that experience pain points startups’ products solve.

Jonathan (Yoni) Trope and Pavan (Niel) Malhotra | Manhattan, NY | founders@savvysync.com

Sooligan
Sooligan digitalizes word-of-mouth. We make it easier, quicker, and fun for you to find and share information about any city in the world with newcomers and locals.

Natasia Malaihollo and Nikka Umil | Berkeley, CA | founders@sooligan.com

SpareTime
SpareTime is an engagement platform for advancing social good that provides organizations with a way to market their projects to the newest generation of volunteers and donors.

Aron Shelton and Alyssa Snyder | Fayetteville, AR | founders@gosparetime.com

StackSearch
StackSearch has invented a cloud-powered product search server that will reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions for our ecommerce clients.

Mark Brandon and Sloan Ahrens | Fayetteville, AR | founders@stacksearch.com

Streamix
Streamix is a crowd-curated, streamlined way for creating the perfect music experience.

Chuong Nguyen, Josh Pham and Kenny Cason | Fayetteville, AR | founders@streamix.fm

Truckily
By building a marketing software, and social network for food trucks and their customers to interact, Truckily will build exploration and location sharing into an easy to digest app for the hungry to find great mobile bites.

Derek Kean and Matthew Berkland | Kansas City, MO | founders@truckily.com

Demo Day Schedule
8:00 Registration
9:00:00 Welcome
9:15:00 Startup pitches
12:15:00 Dr. Rankin with UofA to introduce Governor Mike Beebe
12:30:00 Closing remarks and lunch
1:30:00 Announcement of selected companies
Networking
4:00 Pack up

8:00 Afterparty at Table Mesa on Bentonville Square

Register NOW – Limited seating

Protected: Selection Committee

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Getting to the Final Fifteen – The Whys Behind Non-Selection

The ARK Challenge received 83 applications from 14 different states across the nation and from 14 different countries by the June 17th, 2012, 11:59 pm PST, deadline. 18 applications came from teams outside the United States, coming from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, United Kingdom and beyond. 65 teams that applied are from the United States with 36 applications originating from here in Arkansas. Other states represented include California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. We have been very busy reviewing the applications and learning more about each of the tech startups and their founders.

The process has been a very difficult one because of the high quality of the applications, and we did not have as much time as we would like to commit to performing due diligence for each company. Therefore, we have had to make focused decisions based on the following criteria to identify our finalists:

  • A great, balanced team
  • A demonstrated ability to execute
  • An innovative idea in an area that fits within our regional strengths (key cluster/mentorship fit and/or high-potential markets)

Below are some common reasons why some applications were not selected as finalists:

There was something missing from the team.
Sure, there’s no boilerplate template for what makes an impeccable team, but often an issue regarding the team becomes obvious and results in our ranking that application lower than others with standout, well-balanced teams.

The team is awesome, but the idea simply is not a good fit for The ARK Challenge.
Since The ARK Challenge is focused on advancing regional competitiveness for Northwest Arkansas, we are compelled to look for startups that we are best positioned to help succeed. We’re especially interested in investing in the types of ideas and markets we believe make sense for our region and the available mentorship talent.

The startup was not technology-oriented.
Some of the applications were for ideas that simply did not fit The ARK Challenge program. If the idea did not revolve around mobile, software, web, or some form of information technology, this is not the right format for acceleration.

The application was incomplete or reflected only halfhearted efforts.
If the startup founders didn’t seem to put much effort into answering the application questions, then we were unable to take the company very seriously.

The founders were unresponsive, slow to respond or did not not seem coachable.
When we contacted the team regarding the application, the contact information was incorrect, we didn’t receive a response at all, response time was slow or responses were off-putting/served with a heavy helping of attitude. We’re looking for a team that is motivated to work and can work well with others.

The startup did not show promising ability to execute.
The ARK Challenge is more than open to accelerating a concept-stage company that has a good team and interesting idea, provided there are signs that the driving forces behind the startup can deliver the goods.

Other applications fit the criteria better or exhibited more wow factor.
Even if your application, team and idea were impressive, it’s possible that other applications were more attractive.

If you submitted an application to The ARK Challenge for our inaugural cohort but received a notification of non-selection, please know we are very grateful to you for your time and energy. We hope you will still consider applying to participate in future sessions. We’re happy you threw your hat into the ring, and we fully expect to see you achieve great things in the near future. It is very possible we’ll be in touch with you to get involved in The ARK Challenge in a different capacity.

Tech Startups, Apply Now To Tap Top Minds In Retail, Transportation / Logistics And Food

Deadline Approaches For Applicants To The ARK Challenge Accelerator For Tech Startups
New Tech Accelerator In Northwest Arkansas Offers Rare Access To Top Minds In Retail, Transportation/Logistics And Food Processing

One of only 20 national projects selected by the Department of Commerce Jobs and Innovation Acceleration Challenge to advance regional competitiveness, The ARK Challenge is a recently launched mentorship-driven business accelerator program for technology startups. A full member of The Global Accelerator Network, The ARK Challenge is open to startups worldwide. Interested startup founders can apply online anytime at http://arkchallenge.org through June 17th, 2012.

“All of a sudden there is something very sexy about being a startup. There used to be a stigma of not being with a ‘real’ company,” said ARK Challenge Mentor Phoebe Espiritu. Espiritu is Manager of the HackStars program of TechStars New York City, and she has been named one of 25 women driving New York’s Tech Scene.

“Now there is a lot more prestige in being a misfit or a renegade. Obviously there’s something nice and validating about having capital.”

Up to 15 selected companies will receive over $18K each in seed funding, promotion, invaluable networking with advisors and potential funders, as well as intensive mentoring from a group of community-based and national mentors during a 14-week entrepreneurial bootcamp starting August 2012. Each of the selected companies also will benefit from services of Innovate Arkansas, a program of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Winrock International that encourages technology-based innovations and job creation in Arkansas. Two of the selected startups will be eligible for an additional $150K in funding.

The ARK Challenge’s 60+ mentors include:

Inspired by innovation across the heartland—Detroit, Austin, Raleigh and Silicon Prairie of the Midwest, Northwest Arkansas is cultivating its own startup ecosystem, building on its core strengths. The longstanding home to the corporate headquarters of Walmart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Northwest Arkansas is recognized worldwide for leadership and world-class expertise in the retail, food and logistics industries.

Additionally, The ARK Challenge has conducted interviews with representatives in each of these key industry clusters to identify the newest playgrounds for innovation for technology entrepreneurs. The resulting five-page technology assessment report is available for download here.

So, why Northwest Arkansas?

In the true spirit of the aphorism, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” The ARK Challenge is a coordinated initiative that brings together non-profit organizations, academic institutions, government agencies, private investors, entrepreneurs and more, including Winrock International, University of Arkansas, NorthWest Arkansas Community College, Economic Development Administration, Small Business Administration, Employment & Training Administration, Fund for Arkansas’ Future, Gravity Ventures and Arkansas Development Finance Authority. Just as the recent Big Omaha conference, which attracted over 600 attendees from 27 states and three countries, exhibited so poignantly, a deliberate focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and collaboration is integral for economic development and job creation in cities within the flyover states.

Grant Tennille, Executive Director of Arkansas Economic Development Commission, summed up the importance at the The ARK Challenge accelerator program at the grand opening of The Iceberg Coworking facility in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas. ”The best entrepreneurs that America has ever known come from here. This space and this project are going to generate the next generation.”

Visit http://arkchallenge.org for additional details and to apply, or contact The ARK Challenge Director Jeannette Balleza at jeannette@arkchallenge.org or 479.595.6063.

The City Wire: Innovate Arkansas Works to Spread Entrepreneurship To Region

The ARK Challenge Mentor Jeff Amerine discusses Arkansas’ venture ecosystem, regional startup SpatiaLink Solutions and tech entrepreneurship.

Tech startups, apply to The ARK Challenge by June 17th, 2012.

ARK Mentor Kristian Andersen Talks “Anatomy of a Startup Ecosystem” at Made By Few


View the slide deck here at SlideShare.

At the Made by Few conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, driving force and a key mentor of The ARK Kristian Andersen identifies 10 different stacks that make up a startup ecosystem and relates them to Arkansas.

So, where do YOU fit in? We want to know what you think and how you will contribute to our building of a strong, active startup ecosystem in The Natural State (or are we again the Land of Opportunity?). Because you’re a part of this.

Characterize the work you’re doing, where you fit in, what you think we need to do, what we’re doing right, how we can improve–you name it. Open call.

GigaOm Interview with Steve Blank: Entrepreneurs As Artists

18:45

“I believe that entrepreneurs, at their heart, are artists, not engineers…. If you think about how we’ve taught art and music for the last several hundred years, we teach theory, and we teach immersive practice. But when you graduate from art or music school, we don’t say then, ‘Make me something in G major,’ or ‘Paint me a picture that’s orange.’ What comes out from the great artist is something completely unexpected. We don’t say, ‘Make me Starry Night.’ So, I believe that world-class entrepreneurs, who are just really, really good, understand something that’s driven by passion. And by the way, if you believe that, that just kind of explains why we might need a different way to teach entrepreneurship and how you can almost spot the world’s best entrepreneurs. They’re creative. They’re passionate. They’re connected to their subject.”

Ozarks at Large Features the Launching of The ARK

Producer Iti Agnihotri Mudholkar of Ozarks at Large, a program of KUAF 91.3 FM National Public Radio, was kind enough to join us for the official launching of The ARK. If you missed the event, have a listen:

The ARK Comes to Northwest Arkansas