Local Startups Selected by Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Four local startups have been selected for the inaugural cohort of the Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program, a business incubator that is focused on entrepreneurs within the outdoor recreation industry and is led by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Arkansas.
The initial companies represent a breadth of outdoor activities — ranging from mountain biking and climbing, hunting and fishing — and feature an eclectic mix of entrepreneurs creating physical and digital solutions to solve consumer and industry problems.
“The Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program, or GORP, 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.
The cohort also will have support from the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s existing programs and services, including its Venture Intern Program and Venture Mentoring Service.
“I love the conversations I've had with each of these founders and can't wait to see them interacting with each other,” Shellhammer said. “The cross-pollination of ideas and their willingness to challenge current thinking within their own businesses and each other will make each cohort session impactful and memorable.”
About the U of A Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation: The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation creates and curates innovation and entrepreneurship experiences for students across all disciplines. Through the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, McMillon Innovation Studio, Startup Village, and Greenhouse at the Bentonville Collaborative, OEI provides free workshops and programs — including social and corporate innovation design teams, venture internships, competitions and startup coaching. A unit of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and Division of Economic Development, OEI also offers on-demand support for students who will be innovators within existing organizations and entrepreneurs who start something new.
About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.
Cari Humphry, marketing and creative services director
Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Brandon Howard, communications and social media specialist
World Trade Center Arkansas
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