ARK Challenge Sees 92 Startups Apply

The Northwest Arkansas entrepreneurial boot camp received 92 applications for its program that starts in June.

Called The ARK Challenge, the 14-week boot camp assists technology startups with expertise in applications benefitting retail, logistics and food processing. The ARK participants will be the second group brought to Northwest Arkansas to develop their companies, said Jeannette Balleza, The ARK Challenge director.

Teams selected to participate receive $20,000 apiece to cover the costs of living in Northwest Arkansas while they build prototypes. The ARK Challenge receives a 6 percent stake in the companies for the investment.

Of the 92 applicants, 14 are teams from other countries. They represent the United Kingdom, Singapore, Russia, Romania, Italy, Israel, India, Ghana, Egypt, Croatia, Chile, Australia, Argentina and Canada.

Thirty-five teams are from Arkansas. The teams represent 15 states.

Northwest Arkansas is making itself more known for its support of entrepreneurs, and The ARK is a key part of that effort. The availability of The Iceberg, the Fayetteville workspace where The ARK is based; new venture capital pursuits; and a region’s growing interest in assisting new companies are gaining national attention.

Fast Company in 2012 described Northwest Arkansas as the home of Walmart, but also “the home of an array of cutting-edge retail and tech companies that got their start in part because Walmart is here.” Red Clay, Collective Bias and Field Agent are considered by many to be among the best young companies in the region.

The ARK started last year and the boot camp’s three winners were each offered $150,000 investments. Those winners were Btiques, MineWhat and StackSearch.

The ARK Challenge is a full member of the Global Accelerator Network.