Innovate Arkansas Launches New Website To Grow Arkansas Entrepreneurship

by Innovate Arkansas February 29, 2016 News

Innovate Arkansas, a state-funded initiative that helps scale promising Arkansas technology ventures, unveiled its new website today as a resource for Arkansas entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses. Since 2008, funded by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and administered by Winrock International, the program has assisted more than 140 startup clients, focused on turning these ventures into viable commercial enterprises. The new website not only showcases some of those success stories, but is also a platform for future innovation in the state.

The new Innovate Arkansas website reflects a series of lessons learned over the past seven years, helping new startups in the state," says Innovate Arkansas Director Tom Dalton. "Entrepreneurial ventures require available talent, ongoing acceleration of new product and idea development, and investment dollars when needed and at the amounts needed. This new site tells the accomplishment stories of entrepreneurs in Arkansas, but even more importantly, lays out the framework for more successes in the future."

The Team Behind The Site

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The Innovate Arkansas website was envisioned, designed, and developed in partnership with communications strategy firm Reader Writer Seeker, content strategy and project management consultancy Southern Swallow, and web design and development agency FLEX360. Digital Content Strategist Emily Reeves Dean of Reader Writer Seeker will provide ongoing content support to Innovate Arkansas as an account and content manager — she not only screens client applications and manages the application process, but also manages the organization's social media and content strategy to ensure Innovate Arkansas tells the stories of its clients and the Arkansas entrepreneurial ecosystem, while also providing valuable resources for the community.

Meanwhile, Erica Swallow of Southern Swallow and a design and development team led by Director Robert Blake at FLEX360 collaborated to provide the upfront vision, management, design, and development of the new website. Blake's team included Senior Designer Lance Corder, Senior Developer Jonathan Peoples, and himself acting as both a team lead and developer, while Swallow, as key content provider and project manager, pulled in Dan Ndombe of Beansprout Project to edit the site’s new homepage video, among other visuals.

"I've always been an avid reader of the Innovate Arkansas blog long before I worked for ABPG/FLEX360," says Blake. "We consider it a great responsibility to work on what we consider the love letter to the Arkansas startup community. We wanted to make sure this was the destination for all things entrepreneurship happening in the Arkansas community. The new design is a great foundation for what Innovate Arkansas needs to communicate its mission and stories to Arkansans and the world. We've given the Innovate Arkansas staff a great platform to tell the stories of Arkansas entrepreneurs."

Swallow, too, says the new site further defines Innovate Arkansas as the ultimate destination for entrepreneurship news and resources in Arkansas. "The Innovate Arkansas blog and newsletter were two of my first connection points into the entrepreneurial ecosystem when I moved back home to Arkansas last summer after a decade away. It was such an honor to collaborate with Innovate Arkansas, as well as FLEX360 and Reader Writer Seeker, to see the group's vision come to life," she says. From the events calendar to the blog, we've redesigned the site to be a central resource for Arkansas entrepreneurs — and all the while, it's beautiful to navigate! I can’t wait to see what creativity and innovation it sparks." 

The Next Chapter for Arkansas Entrepreneurship

As part of its site relaunch, Innovate Arkansas turned an eye towards its clients to tell the stories of Arkansas entrepreneurs in action. Interviewing founders from Boston Mountain Biotech, LineGard Med, Passenger Baggage Xpress, and RxResults, among others, the team hopes to encourage more would-be entrepreneurs to bite the bullet and get started on their entrepreneurial journeys.

Innovate Arkansas client and story interviewee Keith Hoelzeman, co-founder and CEO of Treatsie, says the new website is paving the way for an ever-growing startup ecosystem. "For entrepreneurs in Arkansas, there are quite a few more resources than there were several years ago," he says. "The new Innovate Arkansas site is a reflection of the maturing, but still growing, Arkansas scene — to me it represents the next step for an organization that helped to catalyze the current 'home-grown' opportunities movement."

As a result of Innovate Arkansas' programming, the state of Arkansas has benefited from the launch of more than 100 startup companies, the creation of more than 600 Arkansas jobs, a sizable $226 million in revenue generated by these growing ventures, and a total of $265 million raised by our clients in private investment, public investment, and federal grants.

The next chapter for Innovate Arkansas begins with this website, a platform for telling Arkansas' startup success stories and creating a base for more advancements.

"Innovate Arkansas touches so many startup businesses and entrepreneurs across the state, but we don’t tell those stories often enough," says Reeves Dean. "With our new site, we have a place to highlight our clients, share their stories, and show how Innovate Arkansas can help others. You will see our website content and social media reflect our focus on our clients and their growth as we help them wade through the startup phase of their businesses."

Header image courtesy of Flickr, Marcin Wichary

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