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Guest post by Tom Douglass, Founder and CEO at Catapult Consulting LLC of Arkansas

When I stood back and thought about what should be different for the 2019 NWA Tech Summit, I wasn’t sure where to begin, so I did what every good consultant does—I asked the clients. It was great to have honest and constructive feedback.

As a result, let me tell you what has changed this year:

  • We have a multi-faceted outdoor tech and trek welcoming social event.
  • For the first five years we used only one venue; this year we are giving our guests a true NWA experience and using 14 new and different venues.
  • For the first time, we are visiting two of our progressive and innovative schools.
  • We will have five podcasts during the event, two prior to the event (previously no on-premise podcasts were produced).
  • Two art installations will take place for the summit.
  • Five separate bands and entertainers will be on hand during summit sponsored events.
  • We estimate there will be 2 million trackable impressions outside of NWA, a record for the event.
  • We have added 21 new sponsors to the event.
  • We increased the funding from the anchor sponsors by 10%.

What I’m looking forward to most is seeing all our attendees experience a new version of our tech summit. I hope that every person who ventures out and is part of this event finds this year’s tech summit to be inspiring, educational and fun.

I want to thank all of you that responded to my request for feedback. Now that I’ve told you what’s next, I’m looking forward to the feedback on this year’s summit, so we can start planning What’s Next…After Next.

Tom Douglass is the founder of Catapult Consulting and former Director of Emerging Technology for Walmart. He is considered an expert in matching startup businesses and emerging technologies with current and future enterprise-size opportunities. He has been an active advisor to startup companies by working closely with the Fuel Accelerator and the Techstars/WalmartID8 Partnership. At Catapult Consulting, Tom's mission is to identify new technology pathways with startup and venture-funded companies in order to enable them to create meaningful experiences.

He is currently the Chairman of the 2019 NWA Tech Summit and has had seats on the NWA Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Task Force, the GE Client Advisory Board, and the GS1 Innovations Board.

Tom DouglassNWA Tech Summit Chairman

The NWA Tech Summit will feature 60+ speakers from across the globe!

Backstage Capital

Arlan Hamilton, CEO

Arlan Hamilton is a remarkable entrepreneur who built a venture capital fund from the ground up, while homeless. She is the Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a venture capital firm dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBT.

Started in 2015, Backstage has now invested nearly $5M into 100 startups led by underestimated founders and has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, Inc., Entrepreneur, and Quartz.

Walmart

Bill Groves, Chief Data & Analytics Officer

Bill Groves is the Chief Data & Analytics Officer for Walmart — and has previously served in positions at FICO, comScore, D&B, Solera Holdings, and Honeywell.

“Northwest Arkansas is ripe to become a hub for deep technologists and data scientists because of the diverse group of large employers — Walmart, Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt, Arvest Bank, Mercy, Simmons Foods, and multiple startups in retail, finance, and supply chain tech – with operations in need of digital and analytical talent to grow their businesses”, says Groves. “Along with the major employers, The Northwest Arkansas Council and the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber recognize both the need for tech talent across the region and the opportunity that our region’s high quality of life, low cost of living equation offers.”

Walmart

Bill Groves, Chief Data & Analytics Officer

Bill Groves is the Chief Data & Analytics Officer for Walmart — and has previously served in positions at FICO, comScore, D&B, Solera Holdings, and Honeywell.

“Northwest Arkansas is ripe to become a hub for deep technologists and data scientists because of the diverse group of large employers — Walmart, Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt, Arvest Bank, Mercy, Simmons Foods, and multiple startups in retail, finance, and supply chain tech – with operations in need of digital and analytical talent to grow their businesses”, says Groves. “Along with the major employers, The Northwest Arkansas Council and the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber recognize both the need for tech talent across the region and the opportunity that our region’s high quality of life, low cost of living equation offers.”

More featured speakers!

Dr. Mary Lacity

Director of the Blockchain Center of Excellence

Dr. Mary Lacity — Walton Professor of Information Systems and Director of the Blockchain Center of Excellence in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at The University of Arkansas.⠀

Dr. Mary Lacity was previously Curators’ Distinguished Professor at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. She has held visiting positions at MIT, the London School of Economics, Washington University, and Oxford University. Her recent research focuses on improving business services using Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Cognitive Automation (CA), and Blockchain technologies.

Ben Marcus

Co-Founder at AirMap

Ben Marcus — co-founder and Chairman of AirMap, the world’s leading airspace management platform for UAS.

Millions of UAS, hundreds of industry developers, and hundreds of airspace managers and stakeholders rely on AirMap’s airspace intelligence and services to fly safely and communicate with others in low-altitude airspace.

AirMap connects the majority of the world’s UAS to airspace authorities through integrations with major drone manufacturers and applications. Deployed in Switzerland, Czech Republic, Japan, and the United States, AirMap leads the industry in delivering technology solutions globally for UAS Traffic Management (UTM) and U - space to enable safe and responsible drone operations at scale.

Sujata Gosalia

EVP at Cox Communications

Sujata Gosalia is Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for Cox Communications. Gosalia brings more than 18 years of experience in driving growth, innovation, and value creation within media, technology, communications, and business services companies. Her depth and breadth of experience and perspective serve the company well as it explores new strategies, sets priorities, pursues, growth, and continues new business opportunities to meet the evolving communications, connectivity, and entertainment needs of customers.

Michael Horvath

Co-founder at Strava

Michael Horvath is the Co-founder of Strava, the fitness social network designed by athletes for athletes. Strava is committed to building a fitness community fueled by emotional connection.⠀

What distinguishes Strava from other fitness trackers and social media platforms is the positive emotional connection it engenders. Encouraging and community oriented, it’s devoid of the negativity and toxicity that plagues most sharing networks.⠀

Horvath says the bottom line is: People crave interaction of a meaningful kind.

Karen Gillespie

Immigration Counsel at Kitestring

Karen Gillespie is the Corporate Counsel for Kitestring Technical Services in Bentonville, Arkansas. She focuses on nonimmigrant and immigrant business visa issues including extensive experience with corporate restructuring, payroll consolidation, mergers and acquisitions, and layoffs. Karen is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and serves as the Arkansas State Coordinator for its MidSouth Chapter.

Fernando Moncayo Castillo

Co-founder at Inspectorio

Managing Director & Co-founder at Inspectorio, Inc. will join the 2019 NWA Technology Summit to discuss how AI will disrupt retail supply chains of the future.⠀

Inspectorio is a leader in the inspection software industry. Their cloud-based platforms are disrupting quality inspections by increasing productivity, transparency, and efficiency. Like many great solutions, Inspectorio was born from the frustration of three serial entrepreneurs who had to deal with the slow, manual process of quality inspections – while receiving little to no visibility. Today, Inspectorio is the platform used by some of the world’s most recognized retailers and brands, inspection agencies and vendors and factories.⠀
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