Ten Central Arkansas startups will soon have the opportunity to spark their business growth.
The Venture Center and Little Rock Regional Chamber are launching the second annual Spark! pre-accelerator program. Through this program, 10 local startups will receive “mentorship, publicity and subject matter expertise” over the course of a 10-week period.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spark! program will be held virtually. The virtual program will run from Tuesday, Sept. 15 through Wednesday, Nov. 18.
Launched in 2019, the Spark! program was designed to increase access for business and startup founders. During the first program, eight startup founder received office space at the Venture Center’s Little Rock office as well as mentorship and training.
“The inaugural Spark! Pre-accelerator was exceptionally valuable for our participating companies, and the second year of Spark! will be no different,” The Venture Center executive director Wayne Miller said in a statement “Central Arkansas entrepreneurs have incredible support through today’s unique challenges in this virtual program. We are thrilled to work with a new class of local entrepreneurs seeking to adapt and grow despite the obstacles of an ever-changing landscape.”
Participants will receive training in a variety of business disciplines, including pitching, media skills, legal matters and funding. Company founders will also have the opportunity to be matched with industry-specific mentors. According to Little Rock Chamber president and CEO Jay Chesshir, the Spark! program is a “targeted opportunity” that will prepare businesses for constantly shifting market conditions.
“We co-created this program to give small businesses a targeted opportunity to receive real-time assessments, mentoring and strategies to boost their traction and growth,” Chesshir said. “As with the 2020 cohort, these selected companies will gain knowledge and understanding which will enable them to better adapt to any market conditions.”
Spark! participants will have the chance to pitch at Pitch ‘N Pint on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
To qualify for Spark!, individuals must be full-time startup founders or CEOs and Central Arkansas residents. In addition, companies must have a revenue of $25,000 to $100,000 and must have been operating between one and five years.
Company founders/CEOs will be required to commit to one weekly virtual meeting each week during the pre-accelerator time frame. This meeting will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants will also be encouraged to participate in virtual social activities and in a new virtual mentorship platform, The Union.
The deadline to apply for the program is Wednesday, Sept. 2, and companies will be informed of their selection on Friday, Sept. 4.
To apply for Spark!, click here.