While at first the notion might raise some eyebrows, The ARK Challenge has been recognized as a premier choice for accelerating tech startups in America by Fast Company, Entrepreneur and Upstart Business Journal. Here are three big reasons why entrepreneurs should make the leap to accelerate in Northwest Arkansas.
1) In the 90 days following The ARK Challenge’s first Demo Day in 2012, six of the 15 companies received follow-on funding.
Meet the entire cohort of The ARK Challenge 2012 startups here on TechCrunch.
The ARK Challenge alumni that received additional funding, along with the investors, include:
Sara Beck and Will Carter
ARK Investment Fund
Janakiram Ganesan and Pavan Kumar T V
ARK Investment Fund and Gravity Ventures
Mark Brandon and Sloan Ahrens
ARK Investment Fund
Natasia Malaihollo and Nikka Umil
Individual angels from Natural State Angel Association
Agricultural Food Systems
$15,000 for testing of TenderID
Arkansas Development Finance Authority
RTF Logic (creator of Truckily)
Matthew Berkland and Derek Kean
2) It has been a big month for Arkansas’ venture ecosystem, proving why Northwest Arkansas is THE tech startup destination for retail, logistics and food ventures. Three sizable venture deals closed in Northwest Arkansas, including the following:
b) Collective Bias closed on $10.5M from Updata
Cofounder of Collective Bias Amy Callahan, recently listed in Forbes as one of 11 Women Who Started Amazing Companies, is a mentor at The ARK Challenge.
Startups selected for The ARK Challenge have the opportunity to learn from mentors from each of the above companies, as well as such well-respected names as Rick Webb, SVP of Global Processes at Walmart, Binh Tran of Klout.com, Running Lean author Ash Maurya, Phoebe Espiritu of New York’s HackStars, The Fifth Wave author Collins Hemingway, Get Lucky author Lane Becker of GetSatisfaction.com and Nimeshh Patel, former COO of AOL Europe.
3) The ARK Challenge is positioned to help tech startups not only forge strategic mentor relationships but also to attract those all-important first customers.
With proximity to Walmart and the offices of its thousands of suppliers, world headquarters of Tyson Foods and base operations for J.B. Hunt, mere 20-30 minutes from The ARK Challenge’s downtown office space, Northwest Arkansas is a hotbed for customer development. In the words of alumni founder Janakiram Ganesan of MineWhat, who relocated to Fayetteville, AR, from Bangalore, India: “The problem is to build a business, which is more than the technology. So that’s where we need connections. That’s where we need relationships.”
The application deadline for The ARK Challenge 2013 is 11:59 PST April 14th, 2013, and 10 teams will comprise the next cohort of promising tech startups to accelerate in the Ozarks. So far, The ARK Challenge has received 56 applications from 8 states and 11 countries. Tech startups focused on the retail, logistics and food sectors should apply before the end of the weekend for a chance to receive $20K in seed funding, world-class mentorship and a three-month entrepreneurial bootcamp in Northwest Arkansas, which will include an international MentorCamp. You can apply to the Ark Challenge here.