Four Northwest Arkansas startups have been selected for the inaugural cohort of the Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program. The program, or GORP, is a business incubator led by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Arkansas that is focused on entrepreneurs within the outdoor recreation industry.
The companies represent outdoor activities such as mountain biking and climbing, hunting and fishing, and feature an eclectic mix of entrepreneurs creating physical and digital solutions to consumer and industry problems.
“The Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program has the opportunity to be a major piece in building a cluster of manufacturing and services businesses for outdoor recreation in Northwest Arkansas,” said Phil Shellhammer, GORP’s director. “I see this first cohort as the start of a much larger opportunity we have as a community to support innovative entrepreneurs who will provide our area economic opportunities through job creation and tourism expansion and lay the foundation for outdoor innovation in the Heartland.”
GORP’s Spring 2022 cohort:
- American Hunt Inc. — Fayetteville
- American Hunt aims to stimulate rural economies by connecting landowners with outdoor enthusiasts for short-term rentals and guided services. Co-founded by Nick Olano, Justin Conner and Jared Edwards, American Hunt makes it easier to access land that’s normally inaccessible for adventures like hunting, fishing, archery, camping and more.
- Encore Bike Rentals — Bella Vista
- Encore Bikes wants residents and visitors to maximize their time on the trails, and they do that by renting high-quality mountain bikes via concierge service to riders in Bella Vista, Bentonville and Rogers. Co-founded by husband and wife team Tyler and Morgan Baumgardner, the company incorporates user-friendly online booking and will deliver and pickup directly to the trailhead, vacation rentals and other favorite spots of riders.
- Lacaida Ropes — Bentonville
- Lacaida seeks to refocus innovation for sport climbers by providing locally made dynamic ropes with custom designs and prints. Established by Pedro Somarriba, a procurement manager and U.S. Army veteran, Lacaida also provides rope manufacturers with the machines they need to create their own rope designs.
- Trail Tours LLC — Bentonville
- Trail Tours is a GPS-enabled mountain-biking app that provides guided tours of the trails from a local expert. Co-founded by Mark Marsiglio and Erica Schmitz, the tour consists of audio snippets that play as the rider approaches the portion of a trail where guidance is needed. The audio includes information on upcoming features, option lines, hazards and turns.
GORP will support these startups with workshop training, team mentoring and dedicated product/service development to help them scale globally. Housed at the Collaborative, U of A’s education and research hub in Bentonville, the 12-week program also provides up to $15,000 in “non-dilutive seed funding” per company, funding that doesn’t require the owner to give up equity in the company.
Photo credit: Raleigh Woods