The state’s emphasis on tech startup development beginning in the late 2000s led to some significant success stories, Little Rock’s Apptegy one of the biggest. An education-tech startup founded in 2015, Apptegy has been recognized as one of the country’s fastest growing startup in the ed-tech sector.
It all started in Jeston George’s spare bedroom. George raised in-state venture capital to launch the firm after finding it hard to gather information on his nephew’s school programs with time enough to plan for them. He discovered that schools lacked a centralized tool for sharing information with students’ families and launched Apptegy — from that spare room — to address what he guessed was a big-market need. He guessed right. Apptegy’s Thrillshare software allows schools to enter news, stories and other forms of media into a single platform which distributes the information to linked tools such as social media, SMS, voice calls and websites.
George started with seven Arkansas school districts willing to give his product a try. Today, Apptegy serves more than 1,000 school districts from 49 states and employs 135 in downtown Little Rock. In the spring of 2017, after receiving several rounds of in-state investment, Apptegy announced an investment round of $5.7 million from Kansas City-based Five Elms Capital. With it, Apptegy will support continued sales-and-marketing efforts for Thrillshare and launch further product development.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson recognized the startup as an Arkansas success story.
“Apptegy’s story shows the power of Arkansans coming together,” he said. “The school leaders who chose to work with an Arkansas-based company helped pave the way for high-paying technology jobs in the state.”
(An earlier version of this story listed inaccurate numbers of employees and states in which Apptegy is used.)