Arkansas Economic Development Commission

Northwest Arkansas Becomes a Hub for Tech Startups

October 17, 2017

Northwest Arkansas is rapidly becoming one of the best locations in the country for technology startup ventures. It’s easy to see why. The area is home to some of the largest companies in the retail, food, and logistics sectors; it is surrounded by tech-focused universities; and it has an entrepreneurial-minded workforce and a low cost of living. In fact, according to DataFox Digest, the city of Fayetteville, Arkansas, has nearly 10 times the number of early-stage startups compared to the average city. 

The area might seem like an unlikely hub for technology to some, but the concentration of Fortune 500 companies like Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt, show how important this area of the country is to the world. With companies shifting business online, information technology is a vital component of all these industries. The retail, food and logistics sectors make up the backbone contributing to the growth of tech companies in Northwest Arkansas and beyond. 

These heavy-hitting companies are part of the reason tech startups have been so successful in the area. They offer capital, mentoring and a market for budding startups. Established companies and young tech businesses have the opportunity to work directly with the biggest players in the game. But, it’s a two-way street; these startups are doing their fair share to foster growth for the area. New tech ventures are bringing in fresh ideas, adaptability and new talent to the area.

New incubation spaces are also helping tech startups in the area. The Exchange in Bentonville, Arkansas, is a new venue in the Northwest Arkansas startup community that connects entrepreneurs and enterprises to innovate together in new ways. The company offers free co-working space to select startups, mentorship with industry experts and community events that foster collaboration.

The Exchange works with other business ventures like RevUnit and Startup Junkie Consulting to cultivate business development and growth in the area. RevUnit is a startup that offers transformation programs to big businesses. They research, design, create and then implement programs that support strategy, user adoption and redemption. They have a solid list of large companies like Walmart, AutoZone, Zappos, Sam’s Club, Toll Brothers, Purina, United Van Lines and Virgin Hotels, using their services.  

Startup Junkie Consulting specializes in supporting ventures innovating around and within retail, consumer packaged goods, supply chain (transportation and logistics), food, and data analytics. The company’s team is comprised of investors, entrepreneurs and project managers with a shared mission to catalyze and foster emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems.

In 2014, a local startup accelerator, The ARK Challenge, was created to focus specifically on helping retail, food and logistics startups accelerate their growth. A full member of the Global Accelerator Network, The ARK is a mentorship-driven business accelerator program for technology startups serving the retail/logistics industries for Northwest Arkansas as well as finance IT/health IT/government services in Central Arkansas.

Combine all of the support for tech startups with the fact that Northwest Arkansas is known for having a high quality of life with a low cost of living, and you have the perfect location for a thriving startup community.

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