“Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction. But be prepared for a lot of folks to wave you down and tell you you’re headed the wrong way. I guess in all my years, what I heard more often than anything was: a town of less than 50,000 population cannot support a discount store for very long.” – Sam Walton
The founder Sam Walton, at his core, was an entrepreneur and that entrepreneurial spirit permeates Northwest Arkansas to this day. Hear the incredible story and legacy of the great Sam M. Walton on the most recent NWA Alive episode HERE.
Following in Sam’s footsteps, a new crop of entrepreneurs are swimming upstream and setting out to prove that Northwest Arkansas is fertile ground for the growth of their businesses. Learn about a few of them below. And though the population has grown to over 500,000, the tone of the naysayers Sam spoke of is much the same.
Arkansas Economic Development Commission recently interviewed Douglas Huchings and Corey Thompson, two Arkansas startup CEOs in the solar industry. Their companies, Picasolar and WattGlass, are both located in Arkansas Research and Technology Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas, both are recipients of highly competitive SunShot awards from the U.S. Department of Energy, both have committed to build their companies in Arkansas, and both have businesses with global implications. Read the full interview HERE.
John James, a serial entrepreneur from Fayetteville, Arkansas, has raised $2 million in venture capital for his new startup, Engine, which he aims to turn into a billion dollar company. “James’ goal is ambitious — not just to build a billion-dollar-plus company, but also to make his hometown a hub for ecommerce startups, as he spoke about at length in an interview this week with VentureBeat.” Investors have asked multiple times for the founders to move Engine to the coast, but this has only cemented their belief that the best thing they can do to help grow the startup community in Northwest Arkansas is to prove that people can build a startup here. Read the full interview HERE.
In conclusion, we’ll part with one more Sam Walton quote for those considering making Northwest Arkansas a home to their startup, “We’re all working together; that’s the secret.” If you don’t believe us, ask the guys mentioned above.