Floating Around Bentonville with Rob Mahler of Naz-T's FloaT Shop

August 8th, 2022

Summary
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell was joined by Rob Mahler, founder and lead tech for Naz-T’s FloaT Shop, a local Onewheel rental and repair shop that specializes in repairing and customizing PEV vehicles. James and Rob talked about the vision, challenges, and future of building Naz-T’s FloaT Shop, the development of NWA, and the growth of Onewheels.
Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes:

(1:11) Introducing Rob Mahler
(1:27) A Passion for Onewheels
(4:11) About Naz-T’s FloaT Shop
(7:18) The Growth of Onewheels
(9:22) About FloatLife Fest
(13:23) Challenges with Building Naz-T’s FloaT Shop
(15:55) Development in NWA over the Years
(22:08) Mountain Biking Capital of the World
(24:54) Future of Naz-T’s FloaT Shop
(34:59) Most Important Lesson Learned
(37:59) Closing Thoughts

Links
James Bell
Rob Mahler

Naz-T's FloaT Shop
FloatLife Fest

Quotes

“They say this is my stomping ground. I wanna show you around so you can connect with us at any time. If you come to town to rent one, they’ll link up with you and they’ll go ride with you. They just want to ride, so they’ll show you around town and the whole piece.” - Rob Mahler, (8:41)

“It started out of a need to do certain things, but then we needed to do certain things for others. So we get paid for a service then go buy some inventory that we might need. So the greatest challenge is keeping inventory on hand so that we can get it out to the customers fast.” - Rob Mahler, (13:28)

“...we’ve taken the time to really build toward quality of life and quality of place for the last 15 years, which really helped us out during the pandemic because we were positioned to take in all those people that wanted to leave places like San Francisco and said ‘I’m done and I’m not going back.’” - James Bell, (24:00)


Dreaming Big with Naz-T’s FloaT Shop
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell was joined by Rob Mahler, founder and lead tech for Naz-T’s FloaT Shop, a local Onewheel rental and repair shop that specializes in repairing and customizing PEV vehicles. James and Rob talked about the vision, challenges, and future of building Naz-T’s FloaT Shop, the development of NWA, and the growth of Onewheels. 

About Naz-T’s FloaT Shop
At the moment, Naz-T’s FloaT Shop is focusing on rentals with their mission to get everyone on a Onewheel. Part of their strategy is to attend community events like First Friday to demo Onewheels and let people try them for free. Onewheels are a big conversation starter to begin with, and Rob loves being flagged down on the sidewalk or in a parking lot to be asked for a tutorial on how the Onewheel works and how to ride it. Along with rentals, Naz-T’s FloaT Shop also services Onewheels and provides a local option for Onewheel repair because most companies want you to send the Onewheel back to them for maintenance or fixing. As a result of this, the consumer is not able to get back on their Onewheel quickly.

Naz-T’s FloaT Shop offers services ranging from a tire repair to a battery change, and they are not limited to only Onewheels. Any personal electric vehicle (PEV), like e-bikes, can be brought into Naz-T’s FloaT Shop for repair or even customization. Since their start, Naz-T’s FloaT Shop has only become more and more available to the community and have been able to get customers excited about new things that are coming out. For their future plans, Naz-T’s FloaT Shop is dreaming big. Short term, they want to host their own festival, and in the long term, they would love to develop a Onewheel wonderland where people can come and train with their Onewheels on a variety of obstacles.

The Growth of Onewheels and Diversity in NWA
The sport of riding Onewheels is growing at an exponential rate, especially here in Arkansas due to the abundance of trails and their continued construction. True to Bentonville form, people are coming from all corners to ride the bike trails, and some people are looking to something a bit different and extreme while they’re here. NWA has become a mecca for all things that are on wheels that can be ridden on trails because of the vast amount of trails and the welcoming community that encourages anyone, no matter how experienced, to branch out and try the trails.

One factor that contributes to the growth of Onewheels in Bentonville, and the outdoor industry as a whole, is that the population—and diversity within the population—has exploded. There is so much natural and positive growth happening that isn’t forced, and it makes NWA the perfect environment for new ideas to be developed organically. Around 62% of people who reside in Bentonville alone were not born in the state of Arkansas. They have come here from all over and brought their cultures, ideas, and businesses here, which continues to foster a community that encourages innovation and inclusivity. With its mix of Fortune 500 companies and medium-to-small businesses, NWA is not only an ideal place to come to play, but an ideal place to live. It’s imperative that Bentonville keep up this spirit of prosperity because that’s how the area will stay competitive and continue to draw in people from all different places and walks of life.

“...we’ve taken the time to really build toward quality of life and quality of place for the last 15 years, which really helped us out during the pandemic because we were positioned to take in all those people that wanted to leave places like San Francisco and said ‘I’m done and I’m not going back.’” - James Bell, (24:00)

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Delivering Bikes Across Northwest Arkansas with Encore Bike Rentals

August 1st, 2022

Summary
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell was joined by Morgan and Tyler Baumgardner, a husband and wife duo who recently launched Encore Bike Rentals, a service that meets you where you are with the bikes you need. James, Morgan, and Tyler talked about how they ended up in Bentonville, Encore Bike Rentals, and how everyone in Bentonville can benefit!
Thanks for turning in!

Show Notes:

(1:33) Introducing Morgan and Tyler
(2:41) All about Encore Bike Rentals
(9:22) How the Baumgardners Came to Bentonville
(19:44) The Baumgardners’ GORP Experience
(26:53) Morgan’s and Tyler’s Favorite Trails
(31:42) How Companies Should Be Capitalizing on Bentonville
(40:45) What’s Next for Encore Bike Rentals
(45:00) Because Bentonville 
(49:26) Morgan’s and Tyler’s Favorite Lesson Learned This Year

Links
James Bell
Morgan Baumgardner
Tyler Baumgardner
Encore Bike Rentals

Quotes

“What we’re trying to do with Encore is capture our experience the first time riding here, simple as that. I want people to rent from us and be able to go out on a bike that’s set up for them, that feels good for them, and will take them where they need to go on these trails and have that spark that we felt when we first rode here.” Tyler Baumgardner, (13:43)

“We just kept coming back to ‘experience.’ We want the experience to be wonderful for cycling and biking and mountain biking, all of it in Northwest Arkansas.” Morgan Baumgardner, (25:33)

“Part of the reason I think these trails are here is talent attraction in some aspects. Because people that have options with their career, they look at where they’re living and their quality of life and they’re like, ‘Hey, I really like mountain biking. I don’t really want to have a job in a place that doesn’t have it [or other outdoor activities].’ You can kind of name one besides snow sports and we’re good to go—we have pretty much everything.” Tyler, Baumgardner (32:57)


Delivering Bikes Across Northwest Arkansas with Encore Bike Rentals
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell was joined by Morgan and Tyler Baumgardner, a husband and wife duo who recently launched Encore Bike Rentals, a service that meets you where you are with the bikes you need. James, Morgan, and Tyler talked about how they ended up in Bentonville, Encore Bike Rentals, and how everyone in Bentonville can benefit!

Encore Bike Rentals
“What we’re trying to do with Encore is capture our experience the first time riding here, simple as that. I want people to rent from us and be able to go out on a bike that’s set up for them, that feels good for them, and will take them where they need to go on these trails and have that spark that we felt when we first rode here.” Tyler Baumgardner, (13:43)

It is clear that the Baumgardners care so much about the overall feel that their clients get from their services. The emotions that come with riding a bike, the closeness to the community, and the relationships formed with the outdoor community, all encompass the experience Tyler and Morgan hope their customers gain when working with them. As people who are not native to Arkansas, the magic that this place brings forth to attract them and so many enthusiasts is something they want to pass on to everyone around them.

“We just kept coming back to ‘experience.’ We want the experience to be wonderful for cycling and biking and mountain biking, all of it in Northwest Arkansas.” Morgan Baumgardner, (25:33)

Previously full-time RV-living travelers, Tyler and Morgan could have chosen anywhere to settle and put down roots, but when Bentonville crossed their radar as the place to visit for mountain biking athletes, they had to check it out. Brought together by a mutual love of outdoor sports in the first place, they knew that their decision to settle would be based on their shared passion. It is this drive to bring new and exciting things to Northwest Arkansas, paired with the desire to pour right back into the community that makes entrepreneurs successful in Bentonville.

Why Bentonville?
The Baumgardners credit the GORP Program with much of their success in building Encore Bike Rentals, and this program is no new concept to The Bentonville Beacon. With all of the talent and innovation coming to Northwest Arkansas, it is important to the leaders in the community to equip these new movers and shakers with everything they need to be successful. GORP encourages all of their participants to think big and aim to grow beyond just their initial product or service idea, especially when it will promote more growth and quality of life for those who live here.

“Part of the reason I think these trails are here is talent attraction in some aspects. Because people that have options with their career, they look at where they’re living and their quality of life and they’re like, ‘Hey, I really like mountain biking. I don’t really want to have a job in a place that doesn’t have it [or other outdoor activities].’ You can kind of name one besides snow sports and we’re good to go—we have pretty much everything.” Tyler, Baumgardner (32:57)

While initially impressed with the outdoor activity opportunities in Bentonville, Tyler and Morgan stayed because of the community and the opportunity to build a life here. It is always a joy to see small businesses create opportunities to enjoy amazing quality of life for the employees of the Fortune 500 company that laid the groundwork for the small businesses to thrive. It is this kind of symbiotic relationship that makes Bentonville the best place in the world to live.

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Bonus Episode | Boosting Your Mountain Biking Skills with Rich Drew and The Ride Series

July 29th, 2022

Summary
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sat down with Rich Drew, professional mountain biker and YouTuber, and founder of The Ride Series, a service to teach mountain biking skills for athletes of all skill levels. James and Rich had the opportunity to talk about all things mountain biking, pouring into the community, and of course, Bentonville.
Thanks for joining us!

Show Notes:
(1:45) Introducing Rich Drew
(4:45) How Rich Ended Up in Bentonville
(6:59) Rich’s Ride Series
(18:55) Mountain Biking and the Brain
(34:00) Nutrition and Riding 
(41:04) Rich’s Favorite Trails(
47:55) How Cycling Companies Should Be Taking Advantage of Bentonville
(57:13) What’s Next for Rich and The Ride Series
(1:04:55) Rich’s Favorite Lesson Learned This Year
(1:09:00) Because Bentonville 

Links
James Bell
Rich Drew
The Ride Series
Rich Drew Youtube

Quotes

“The success of our YouTube channel for me doesn’t come from views or subscribers, it comes from the feedback, the comments, some of the relationships we have built through that. It’s exciting because I’ve been able to try to stay true to what we wanted in the beginning, and that was making things that were positive, things that were educational, things that were entertaining, and something that I would always be ok with my son watching.” Rich Drew, (14:40)

“The idea is we want to remove all the impediments. We want you to just be able to focus on the technique. If you can focus on the technique, you can have time under task. You can be doing it right. And then you can go to the trail and potentially do it right. So…should you just go ride? You should, but you should just go ride doing things properly.” Rich Drew (20:19)

“When you come here you realize the vast majority of mountain bike riders, they don’t want to ride mountains. They want to ride trails that are accessible, that aren’t dangerous, but that are exciting for them and their level. They want to do it in the vicinity of amenities that are world-class and abundant. And nowhere in the world does it like this place.” Rich Drew (50:01)

“When I’ve had the opportunity to have conversations with those business leaders, all I’ve said to them is ‘do something that makes an impact.’ If you come in and your efforts are to make a positive impact on the community, I think everything else will take care of itself because people here can see through that.” Rich Drew, (51:32)

“All I did was highlight what so many amazing people have poured into. The amount of people that have put effort into making this place what it is, to be able to showcase that, and have people [and their] kids see it and come here, that’s just a true honor, and it’s a responsibility that I relish.” Rich Drew, (1:10:43)


Boosting Your Mountain Biking Skills with Rich Drew and The Ride Series
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sat down with Rich Drew, professional mountain biker and YouTuber, and founder of The Ride Series, a service to teach mountain biking skills for athletes of all skill levels. James and Rich had the opportunity to talk about all things mountain biking, pouring into the community, and of course, Bentonville.

Rich Drew and The Ride Series
“The success of our YouTube channel for me doesn’t come from views or subscribers, it comes from the feedback, the comments, some of the relationships we have built through that. It’s exciting because I’ve been able to try to stay true to what we wanted in the beginning, and that was making things that were positive, things that were educational, things that were entertaining, and something that I would always be ok with my son watching.” Rich Drew, (14:40)

Rich Drew has been on two wheels practically since he could walk. He used the skills he built, along with his affinity for keeping physically fit, to build a YouTube empire and turn his passion into his profession. What sets him apart from the rest is his drive to stick to what matters most to him and let go of the rest. Not letting his true passions be drowned out by the noise of trends, ads, and follower count is what Drew claims as his key to success.

“The idea is we want to remove all the impediments. We want you to just be able to focus on the technique. If you can focus on the technique, you can have time under task. You can be doing it right. And then you can go to the trail and potentially do it right. So…should you just go ride? You should, but you should just go ride doing things properly.” Rich Drew (20:19)

Rich’s passion in everything he does is all working toward the goal of teaching others to enjoy mountain biking, and to be able to do that for a long time. As he says, he wants to be out riding with his son well into retirement age, and making sure his form and fitness are in check will help him achieve that. It is this mindset that he passes onto all of his students and viewers. Handing them this confidence on a bike is his “why,” and his thousands of supporters are better for it.

Why Bentonville?
“When you come here you realize the vast majority of mountain bike riders, they don’t want to ride mountains. They want to ride trails that are accessible, that aren’t dangerous, but that are exciting for them and their level. They want to do it in the vicinity of amenities that are world-class and abundant. And nowhere in the world does it like this place.” Rich Drew (50:01)

As someone who is not an NWA native and came here by choice, Rich is all too familiar with what drives people to say ‘yes’ to Bentonville. He has a passion for introducing people to the area and showing them not only the incredible outdoor opportunities here in the Mountain Biking Capital of the World, but the arts, culinary, and cultural attractions as well. He has a particular knack for convincing doubters in the biking space to bet on Bentonville.

“When I’ve had the opportunity to have conversations with those business leaders, all I’ve said to them is ‘do something that makes an impact.’ If you come in and your efforts are to make a positive impact on the community, I think everything else will take care of itself because people here can see through that.” Rich Drew, (51:32)

When Drew came to Northwest Arkansas, his goal was simply to pour everything he had into his new community. Investing in Bentonville is something that has always impressed him about the local Fortune 500s, and it is a quality he has already replicated with his platform and business. When speaking to anyone hoping to be successful here, he instills in them an importance to not just fake their involvement to garnish sales, but to actually acclimate and dive into everything going on in Bentonville.

“All I did was highlight what so many amazing people have poured into. The amount of people that have put effort into making this place what it is, to be able to showcase that, and have people [and their] kids see it and come here, that’s just a true honor, and it’s a responsibility that I relish.” Rich Drew, (1:10:43)


Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Leveling Up Delivery in Northwest Arkansas with DroneUp

July 25th, 2022

Summary
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell showcased the founders and leaders of DroneUp, a company that provides flexible flight services and works with many power players in retail, medical, and other important areas. Tom Walker, DroneUp’s CEO served in the Navy and was a White House Advisor in technological areas of expertise, along with serving as the president of Web-Tex prior to forming DroneUp. His partner, John Vernon, serves as DroneUp’s CTO following serving on multiple boards in the areas of aviation and technology, as well as working as the COO of Web-Tex. James, Tom, and John discussed the future of drones, how they can help people and greatly improve the quality of life, and the benefits of working with business giants in Bentonville.
Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes:
(2:47) Introducing John Walker and Tom Vernon
(4:39) Learning about DroneUp and What They Do 
(6:04) What Challenges DroneUp Has Faced to Get Where They Are Today
(9:17) The Benefits and Practicality of Drones
(15:01) All about the Safety Measures and Best Practices of Drones 
(31:09) What Made NWA Ideal to Build DroneUp
(35:53) What’s to Come for DroneUp
(48:58) Because Bentonville(
55:06) Tom’s and John’s’ Favorite Lessons Learned This Year and Closing Thoughts

Links
James Bell
Tom Walker
John Vernon
DroneUp

Quotes
“[NWA] gave us a huge opportunity to expand, very much a crawl-walk-run approach to how we were going to move this. And to learn all of the lessons, not just about the drone, those are the things we kind of knew…You can build all of these amazing technologies and apps, but like any other agile and innovative company, all of the lessons you learn actually happen when you start doing it.” John Vernon, (31:27)

“Our culture really aligns well with Walmart’s. Ours is about doing it safely and then growing it appropriately…By being associated with Walmart, I don’t think we were looked at as sort of this rogue drone company that’s going to start flying all over, but we were partnered with Walmart and therefore we were expected to behave like Walmart, and just by virtue of our culture and how we operated, we did.” Tom Walker, (32:48)

“Make no mistake about it…Northwest Arkansas is very very innovative. It’s interesting because in some ways it still has the laid back feel of the parts of Arkansas that I used to really like; it wasn’t a super fast-pace; it didn’t feel that way. But if you look at the innovation that’s going on around here…It’s almost like this subtle underground community of hyper-innovation that’s super impressive for the area.” Tom Walker, (34:33)

“I think that sense of accomplishment overcomes the fear, uncertainty, or doubt of what’s going to be next. Focusing whatever you can do to be the best that you can be in the moment that you’re in has really been an enriching experience for everybody involved, and I think in emerging industries, it’s another drawing factor that brings people in and helps people feel like they’re a part of something that’s more than just a day-to-day job.” John Vernon, (52:15)

“Keep humble. I wouldn’t say ‘Be humble,’ it’s ‘Keep humble.’ We’ve come a long way but we’ve got a long way to go…I think more than anything, especially with the growth that we’ve experienced over the last year, it’s very easy to get caught up in the big number that you see around growth and people count, but its also very humbling.” John Vernon, (55:06)


Leveling Up Delivery in Northwest Arkansas with DroneUp
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell showcased the founders and leaders of DroneUp, a company that provides flexible flight services and works with many power players in retail, medical, and other important areas. Tom Walker, DroneUp’s CEO served in the Navy and was a White House Advisor in technological areas of expertise, along with serving as the president of Web-Tex prior to forming DroneUp. His partner, John Vernon, serves as DroneUp’s CTO following serving on multiple boards in the areas of aviation and technology, as well as working as the COO of Web-Tex. James, Tom, and John discussed the future of drones, how they can help people and greatly improve the quality of life, and the benefits of working with business giants in Bentonville.

DroneUp!
“[NWA] gave us a huge opportunity to expand, very much a crawl-walk-run approach to how we were going to move this. And to learn all of the lessons, not just about the drone, those are the things we kind of knew…You can build all of these amazing technologies and apps, but like any other agile and innovative company, all of the lessons you learn actually happen when you start doing it.” John Vernon, (31:27)

DroneUp is another example of a company whose idea was born outside of the area, but has found its home and success in Bentonville. Like many businesses, DroneUp has discovered that its success came from the structure within the company as much or more as the connections on the outside. The founders, Tom Walker and John Vernon echo countless leaders before them who realized that doing their craft is almost the easy part—the learning curve comes when they have to build a real business around that craft and curate a company culture that matters.

“I think that sense of accomplishment overcomes the fear, uncertainty, or doubt of what’s going to be next. Focusing whatever you can do to be the best that you can be in the moment that you’re in has really been an enriching experience for everybody involved, and I think in emerging industries, it’s another drawing factor that brings people in and helps people feel like they’re a part of something that’s more than just a day-to-day job.” John Vernon, (52:15) 

John and Tom expressed that when running a tech startup, it is difficult to plan business moves five years ahead in such a rapidly-changing field. However, the parts that are important to prepare for and focus on are the ones that keep the public safe and the team engaged. They love providing something in drone services that will help shape the future, but staying in the present is what keeps their company alive and thriving.

“Keep Humble. I wouldn’t say ‘Be humble,’ it’s ‘Keep humble.’ We’ve come a long way but we’ve got a long way to go…I think more than anything, especially with the growth that we’ve experienced over the last year, it’s very  easy to get caught up in the big number that you see around growth and people count, but its also very humbling ” John Vernon (55:06)

Why Bentonville?
“Our culture really aligns well with Walmart’s. Ours is about doing it safely and then growing it appropriately…By being associated with Walmart, I don’t think we were looked at as sort of this rogue drone company that’s going to start flying all over, but we were partnered with Walmart and therefore we were expected to behave like Walmart, and just by virtue of our culture and how we operated, we did.” Tom Walker, (32:48)

When speaking to employees moving to Bentonville to get a quick leg-up on the DroneUp ladder before moving back to their home city, Tom found many of them instead wanted to stay and build their lives and careers here. Walmart sets the stage really well for how to do business and more importantly, how to pour into the community and the people that make the business possible. Everyone in Bentonville benefits because this business model attracts other companies like it to the area until the entire city is full of people wholeheartedly invested in where they live.

Make no mistake about it…Northwest Arkansas is very very innovative. It’s interesting because in some ways it still has the laid back feel of the parts of Arkansas that I used to really like; it wasn’t a super fast-pace; it didn’t feel that way. But if you look at the innovation that’s going on around here…It’s almost like this subtle underground community of hyper-innovation that’s super impressive for the area.” Tom Walker, (34:33)

John joked that NWA is the Ozarks Silicon Valley, which is interesting because the area is known for its innovative nature, always pushing the boundaries and looking forward. But what’s missing about that Silicon Valley feel is how nice, helpful, and genuinely happy the people in Bentonville tend to be. It is what makes this area so ripe for new things.

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Exploring the Future of Mobility with Cyrus Sigari

July 18th, 2022
July 18th, 2022

Summary
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell had the opportunity to introduce listeners to Cyrus Sigari, a man who wears many hats in the arena of the show’s second season topic: Mobility. Cyrus is an aviator, entrepreneur, and investor, as well as the cofounder and managing partner of Up Partners, serves as the chairman of The Future Mobility Council in Arkansas, and sits on the board of Game Composites. James and Cyrus took a deep dive into the future of mobility and Bentonville’s unique role in building it.

Thanks for joining us!

Show Notes:
(2:07) Introducing Cyrus Sigari
(3:35) Deep Dive into Up Partners and Everything They Do
(18:21) All about Flying Cars
(24:40) Future Mobility Council of Arkansas
(32:59) Arkansas as a Major Player in the Future of Mobility
(42:37) Because Bentonville
(46:05) Cyrus’ Favorite Lesson Learned this Year and Closing Thoughts

Links
James Bell
Cyrus Sigari
Up Partners
Future Mobility Council of Arkansas
Game Composites
Fly Oz

Quotes
“We believe that we’re at this really unique point of the existence of humanity where mobility is changing very rapidly and in such a way that it can really increase the quality of life for humanity.” Cyrus Sigari (3:59)

“[We ask the question] ‘Is it needed? Is this something that’s going to make the world a better place?’ I’m not interested in investing in another social media company or something else that’s just trying to steal peoples’ eyeballs to try and sell them something. Deeply in our hearts, we want to be supporting entrepreneurs and companies that are creating technologies that are increasing the quality of life for humanity.” Cyrus Sigari, (11:22)

“Mobility, and in particular aeromobility, makes the world a lot smaller. It brings people together and it makes borders disappear.” Cyrus Sigari, (21:47)

“[We need to move in the] right direction when it comes to educating our children around things that really matter, [like not] telling them to go sell stuff instead of go build stuff and create a future that’s worth getting up and excited about. That’s pretty darn important, and I’m really excited to see the outcome of that set of initiatives.” Cyrus Sigari, (30:20) 

“Silicon Valley is no longer a place, it’s a headset around innovation and disrupting what was in the past for a greater future. It’s no longer a thing that is completely monopolized by the coasts anymore. The heartland is really getting the opportunity to be a home for innovation and technology and support humanity in a very different way.” Cyrus Sigari (33:59)


Exploring the Future of Mobility with Cyrus Sigari
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell had the opportunity to introduce listeners to Cyrus Sigari, a man who wears many hats in the arena of the show’s second season topic: Mobility. Cyrus is an aviator, entrepreneur, and investor, as well as the cofounder and managing partner of Up Partners, serves as chairman of The Future Mobility Council in Arkansas, and sits on the board of Game Composites. James and Cyrus discussed the future of mobility and Bentonville’s unique role in building it.

Cyrus Sigari, Up Partners, and the Future Mobility Council
“[We ask the question] ‘Is it needed? Is this something that’s going to make the world a better place?’ I’m not interested in investing in another social media company or something else that’s just trying to steal peoples’ eyeballs to try and sell them something. Deeply in our hearts, we want to be supporting entrepreneurs and companies that are creating technologies that are increasing the quality of life for humanity.” Cyrus Sigari, (11:22)

Cyrus Sigari is a man who focuses on his “why” in every step he takes. He co-founded his company with a mission to be early stage investors in companies who are creating ways to move people and goods in cleaner, safer, faster, and cheaper ways. Many who enter into the VC world struggle to stick with their “why” and not simply follow the money, but Cyrus and his partners continue to shake things up with their investment choices.

“[We need to move in the] right direction when it comes to educating our children around things that really matter, [like not] telling them to go sell stuff instead of go build stuff and create a future that’s worth getting up and excited about. That’s pretty darn important, and I’m really excited to see the outcome of that set of initiatives.” Cyrus Sigari, (30:20)

Part of making the world a better place is investing in the innovators of the future. Cyrus impresses the importance of putting the right tools into the hands of the next generation and prioritizing what is dragging humanity down less. As a kid who wanted to be an astronaut and went on to become one of the youngest pilots in the country, he knows that his dream of seeing a world with better access to mobility that tears down borders only comes by equipping people to build it.

“Mobility and in particular aeromobility makes the world a lot smaller. It brings people together and it makes borders disappear.” Cyrus Sigari, (21:47)


Why Bentonville?
“We believe that we’re at this really unique point of the existence of humanity where mobility is changing very rapidly and in such a way that it can really increase the quality of life for humanity.” Cyrus Sigari (3:59)

Cyrus praises Arkansas’ commitment to keeping up with the future of mobility and how people live and grow using it. In Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas in particular, companies like Walmart, JB Hunt, and Tyson are already power players in the world of transportation and continue to push the industry forward. The leaders in states, cities, and regions constantly have a choice of whether to maintain what is or take the (sometimes terrifying) leap into the future, and Arkansas just keeps jumping.

“Silicon Valley is no longer a place, it’s a headset around innovation and disrupting what was in the past for a greater future. It’s no longer a thing that is completely monopolized by the coasts anymore. The heartland is really getting the opportunity to be a home for innovation and technology and support humanity in a very different way.” Cyrus Sigari (33:59)

It is noted that Northwest Arkansas moves more things than any other region of the world, and as Cyrus points out, innovation in moving things comes before innovation in moving people, so Northwest Arkansas and Bentonville in particular are at a unique advantage to set the bar for the rest of the world. Never before has the heartland been at such an advantage, and Bentonville is up the challenge of having the world watch it grow.

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Preparing for the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit with Kris Adams

July 11th, 2022

Summary
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sat down with his friend and colleague, Kris Adams. Kris is the director of the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit, a job for which he is clearly passionate. James and Kris discussed their love of Bentonville, what makes a non-Arkansas native like Kris stick around, and of course, the upcoming Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit. Thank you for tuning in!

Show Notes:
(1:24) Introducing Kris Adams
(2:07) Kris’ Passion for Technology and His Role in It
(3:01) All about the NWA Technology Summit
(13:32) Pitch Competition Information
(20:48) Kris’ Journey to the Summit
(25:16) Because Bentonville
(32:02) How to Sign Up for the NWA Technology Summit
(33:30) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links
James Bell
Kris Adams
NWA Tech Summit

Quotes
“[The NWA Tech Summit] is the premier technology conference here in the heartlands. And we believe that because of our size, pulling in about 1,400 in-person participants in 2019, and then over the last couple of years virtually, about 1,200, that size alone makes us unparalleled in the region for technology conferences.” Kris Adams (3:04)

“If you have a cool toy to bring with you, bring it and show it off. Because now that we’re back in person, we’re not stuck in the confines of being behind a screen for a virtual event. If you have something flashy and exciting and fun that you  can show us, that we can touch and see, that’s what we want to have at the Tech Summit this year.” Kris Adams, (19:35)

This is the way I [can] have my cake and eat it too. I could get to play with all of this fun tech, and then use it as a way to continue to help make Bentonville and the surrounding area better.” Kris Adams, (22:00)

“You know, when you move somewhere, you move with some hopes and expectations for what the local area will be like. We knew what we had seen on paper and what we’d seen on a screen, and then to really come and experience it in person, it just blew away even our wildest expectations.” Kris Adams, (24:05)

Preparing for the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit with Kris Adams
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sat down with his friend and colleague, Kris Adams. Kris is the director of the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit, a job for which he is clearly passionate. James and Kris discussed their love of Bentonville, what makes a non-Arkansas native like Kris stick around, and of course, the upcoming Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit.

NWA Tech Summit
“[The NWA Tech Summit] is the premier technology conference here in the heartlands. And we believe that because of our size, pulling in about 1,400 in-person participants in 2019, and then over the last couple of years virtually, about 1,200, that size alone makes us unparalleled in the region for technology conferences.” Kris Adams (3:04)COVID-19 changed everything during the height of its power in 2020 and 2021, and one of the casualties has definitely been the conference circuit. Many organizations attempted virtual options for their gatherings, but it wasn’t always with the desired result. The NWA Tech Summit, however, held its numbers nearly to the line, which shows how needed a conference like this is, and how much the business community thrives because of it.“If you have a cool toy to bring with you, bring it and show it off. Because now that we’re back in person, we’re not stuck in the confines of being behind a screen for a virtual event. If you have something flashy and exciting and fun that you  can show us, that we can touch and see, that’s what we want to have at the Tech Summit this year.” Kris Adams, (19:35)With backers like Walmart, Tyson, and JB Hunt, the summit is poised to be incredible, and Kris is inviting all the movers and shakers in the area to join in the fun. There are five track options to be a part of this year, including Mobility and Supply Chain, Cyber Security, Health and Wellness, Web3, and Entrepreneurship (including a pitch competition!), and Kris wants all of them to be jam-packed with the coolest things to see and experience. There is still space for vendors and booths, and the world wants to see what Bentonville's innovators have to offer. 

Why Bentonville?
This is the way I [can] have my cake and eat it too. I could get to play with all of this fun tech, and then use it as a way to continue to help make Bentonville and the surrounding area better.” Kris Adams, (22:00)With a background in faith-based and nonprofit work, and not being an Arkansas native, Kris may seem like an interesting choice as a champion for the technology scene in Northwest Arkansas. However, it is actually because of his experience in coming to Bentonville that he is the perfect person to be the self-proclaimed “ringleader” of the NWA Tech Summit. He has enjoyed combining his two loves of making Bentonville an amazing place to live and work and truly helping people through his nonprofit expertise. Kris and his team love what Bentonville has to offer so much that they are including a tour of the area in the conference experience for the NWA Tech Summit. While lamenting that often when attending a conference, one doesn’t get to actually experience the hosting city, they decided that they would spread the “unconventional convention” out across the downtown Bentonville area so that attendees will have the opportunity to sightsee and explore as a part of their Summit experience. This years’ theme is “Fast Forward,” as a nod to the catching-up that businesses are having to do as the world comes out of the pandemic. Kris sees this wonderful area around him helping each other and bringing each other up as they strive to live and work at a sped-up pace, and he wants the summit to be part of the solution. Bentonville residents’ willingness to help each other live and thrive is what inspires Kris to do this, and he hopes these values will be evident and be shared by everyone who attends the NWA Tech Summit as well.“You know, when you move somewhere, you move with some hopes and expectations for what the local area will be like. We knew what we had seen on paper and what we’d seen on a screen, and then to really come and experience it in person, it just blew away even our wildest expectations.” Kris Adams, (24:05)

 Attend the NWA Technology Summit this Year!
This year, the Northwest Arkansas Tech Summit will be returning for an exciting in-person event all across Downtown Bentonville October 16-18, 2022. The event will focus on technological advancements in five different tracks: Mobility & Supply Chain, Health & Wellness, Entrepreneurship, Cybersecurity, and Web3. Click here to register today! We hope to see you there!

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

How Northwest Arkansas is Revolutionizing the Rock Climbing World | Pedro Somarriba of Lacaida Ropes

July 1st, 2022

Summary
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sat down with founder and CEO of Lacaida Ropes, Pedro Somarriba. Pedro and his new company are the first of its kind in the state, and The Bentonville Beacon got the scoop on everything they have planned for the outdoor community here in Arkansas. James and Pedro talked all about the Lacaida Ropes company launch, the products they are kicking off, and all that they have planned for the future of their company and for this climbing community in Bentonville.Thanks for joining us!

Show Notes:
(1:12) Introducing Pedro Somarriba
(2:21) Pedro’s Passion for Climbing
(7:42) The Climbing Scene in Arkansas
(12:14) Introducing Lacaida Ropes
(17:02) Lacaida Ropes Product Launch Announcement
(18:10) All about Tarps and Their Upcoming Interform Collaboration
(22:02) Plug for GORP: Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program
(23:31) Pedro’s #BecauseBentonville Moment
(29:16) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links
James Bell
Pedro Somarriba
Lacaida Ropes
Arkansas Climbing Coalition
GORP

QUOTES
“You have organizations like the Arkansas Climbers Coalition, so the development, adding new routes, making routes safer by rebolting and putting up new cleaner, more safe hardware attracts more people to the state, people come to the state and see what it has to offer in terms of climbing, and ideally they spend dollars here.” Pedro Somarriba, (10:27)

“[We’re] making a life-saving device here. This is something that people will trust their lives with. [we] need to lean into that. How do you make a lifesaving device safer and not just more aesthetically pleasing by putting cool designs on it? So that’s why we leaned into the metered ropes.” Pedro Somarriba, (13:12)

“These outdoor rock climbing routes are within a 15 minutes drive of downtown Bentonville. The accessibility is a game-changer.” Pedro Somarriba, (23:47) 

“We realized that the same trail we hiked in on is a mountain biking trail. So [we] have mountain bikers zooming past the rocks that we’re climbing on. Where else are you going to find that, like back-to-back rock climbers and mountain bikers using the same natural resources and just enjoying the outdoors?” Pedro Somarriba (24:38)


How Northwest Arkansas is Revolutionizing the Rock Climbing World
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sat down with founder and CEO of Lacaida Ropes, Pedro Somarriba. Pedro and his new company are the first of its kind in the state, and The Bentonville Beacon got the scoop on everything they have planned for the outdoor community here in Arkansas. James and Pedro talked all about the Lacaida Ropes company launch, the products they are kicking off, and all that they have planned for the future of their company and for this climbing community in Bentonville.
Lacaida Ropes
Pedro Somarriba is passionate about climbing and he’s passionate about Arkansas. Being a first-generation American, he has taken his education and career around the world and back and is ready to use his experience to launch something that will improve his craft and promote the Natural State’s most powerful resource: its great outdoors. As the first rock-climbing manufacturer in Arkansas, Lacaida Ropes is hoping to set the stage for more entrepreneurs who love the craft to follow suit.
“You have organizations like the Arkansas Climbers Coalition, so the development, adding new routes, making routes safer by rebolting and putting up new cleaner, more safe hardware attracts more people to the state, people come to the state and see what it has to offer in terms of climbing, and ideally they spend dollars here.” Pedro Somarriba, (10:27)
Pedro and Lacaida Ropes is donating a portion of their profits to organizations like the ACC which promote updated integrations to this life-giving pastime to ensure that everyone can enjoy it safely and in a way that protects the earth. It is because of efforts like this that Lacaida is  paving the way for a new innovation to climbing ropes where the rope’s meter markers are printed directly on it so climbers can better see them and more safely plan their climb.
[We’re] making a life-saving device here. This is something that people will trust their lives with. [we] need to lean into that. How do you make a lifesaving device safer and not just more aesthetically pleasing by putting cool designs on it? So that’s why we leaned into the metered ropes.” Pedro Somarriba, (13:12)
Why Bentonville?
Bentonville takes pride in its title of Mountain Biking Capital of the World, and so do its mountain bikers. What The Bentonville Beacon has come to see time and time again is how much potential this title opens up for other outdoor pastimes. Over this season, kayakers, swimmers, and even unicyclists have expressed their desire for Bentonville to be the next hull for their beloved outdoor craft. Now, mountain climbers are joining the club, and for good reason.
These outdoor rock climbing routes are within a 15 minutes drive of downtown Bentonville. The accessibility is a game-changer.” Pedro Somarriba, (23:47) 
We realized that the same trail we hiked in on is a mountain biking trail. So [we] have mountain bikers zooming past the rocks that we’re climbing on. Where else are you going to find that, like back-to-back rock climbers and mountain bikers using the same natural resources and just enjoying the outdoors?” Pedro Somarriba (24:38)
Another recurring theme is how accessible and friendly the area is to people of all backgrounds, interests, and skill-levels. It is easy to become convinced that not only are the natural resources ripe for enjoyment, accessibility, and opportunity, the community is here for it as well. No where else will one find such inclusive and encouraging athletes and hobbyists. Grab your Lacaida Ropes (available now!), join Pedro, and get out there and get climbing!
 Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Paddling through Northwest Arkansas with Scott Holley of Eddyline Kayaks

June 27th, 2022

Summary
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell had the opportunity to chat with Scott Holley, the president and co-owner of Eddyline Kayaks. Scott brings a unique perspective and opportunity to Bentonville and he is excited to share it with Bentonville Beacon listeners. James and Scott discussed the ins and outs of the kayak industry, as well as Eddyline’s mission to partner with its customers to protect the ability to enjoy the waters they depend on for their craft.Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes:
(0:47) Introducing Scott Holley
(2:31) All about Entrepreneurship through Acquisition
(7:23) Deeper Look at Eddyline Kayaks
(9:20) Exploring the Technological Aspect of Making Kayaks
(17:15) Scott and Eddyline Kayaks’ Connection to Bentonville
(26:20) Scott’s Vision for Kayaking’s Impact on Northwest Arkansas
(28:34) Scott’s NWA Kayaking Bucket List
(39:23) How Bentonville Can Help
 (42:10) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links
Ozark Kayak
Eddyline Kayaks
James Bell
Scott Holley

Quotes
“We are out there helping people to safely access healthy and clean waterways. So for us, the safety portion is really important. We use all of our products, and we make sure that we design all of our products for a comfortable, high performance experience on the water, but also with safety in mind.” Scott Holley, (7:23)

One of the things that we’ve seen, especially during Covid, is that consumers are looking to have a more direct relationship to the brand. So whereas before, a retailer would really push product out to consumers, consumers are now coming in armed with a lot of information, a lot of foreknowledge…We know that we need to maintain that relationship with the end user. ” Scott Holley, (23:58)

“What I would love to see if we fast-forward 5-10 years from now is that the development looks a lot like what we’ve seen [with] mountain bikes and biking in general, and I can’t think of a place anywhere that has really created that model better than Arkansas.” Scott Holley, (26:20)

 “If you have people who kayak, they’re going to be intimately aware of shoreline health…so it’s a little bit of a virtuous cycle, right? More people will kayak if you have healthy waterways, and then the more kayakers you have on healthy waterways, the more that they’re going to be invested in protecting and preserving those, and then creating new opportunities for access.” Scott Holley, (30:42)

Paddling through Northwest Arkansas with Scott Holley of Eddyline Kayaks
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell had the opportunity to chat with Scott Holley, the president and co-owner of Eddyline Kayaks. Scott brings a unique perspective and opportunity Bentonville, and he is excited to share it with Bentonville Beacon listeners. James and Scott discussed the ins and outs of the kayak industry, as well as Eddyline’s mission to partner with its customers to protect the ability to enjoy the waters they depend on for their craft.

Eddyline Kayaks
“We are out there helping people to safely access healthy and clean waterways. So for us, the safety portion is really important. We use all of our products, and we make sure that we design all of our products for a comfortable, high performance experience on the water, but also with safety in mind.” Scott Holley, (7:23)
As Scott Holley describes the craft he has made his passion, it is easy to hear the aspects of it that are the most important to him. One of those is his commitment to excellence in Eddyline’s products. Eddyline had the pleasure of being crowned the number one touring kayak on paddling.com’s 2021 review, an award that is based solely on customer reviews for products. 

“If you have people who kayak, they’re going to be intimately aware of shoreline health…so it’s a little bit of a virtuous cycle, right? More people will kayak if you have healthy waterways, and then the more kayakers you have on healthy waterways, the more that they’re going to be invested in protecting and preserving those, and then creating new opportunities for access.” Scott Holley, (30:42)

Another important aspect of kayak-building is the environmental impact, both in the warehouse and after the final product is in consumer hands. Eddyline Kayaks was the first company to thermo-form a kayak, a process that leaves the builder with less waste and less of a footprint than using fiberglass or other more dated processes. Scott takes the health of waterways very seriously, and Eddyline sets an example for its customers in preserving the environment. 

Why Bentonville?

One of the things that we’ve seen, especially during Covid, is that  consumers are looking to have a more direct relationship to the brand. So whereas before, a retailer would really push product out to consumers, consumers are now coming in armed with a lot of information, a lot of foreknowledge…We know that we need to maintain that relationship with the end user. ” Scott Holley, (23:58)

Scott has a unique reason to love Bentonville and commit to its growth and success. Because of the business’s dedication to its customers and its desire to provide its products more quickly and without the transportation overhead that drives up prices, Eddyline sought out a location in the heartland to place a distribution center, and Bentonville has everything the business wanted for this branch of the company. Eddyline is hitting the ground running to connect with the area and find its place in Bentonville.

“What I would love to see if we fast-forward 5-10 years from now is that the development looks a lot like what we’ve seen [with] mountain bikes and biking in general, and I can’t think of a place anywhere that has really created that model better than Arkansas.” Scott Holley, (26:20)

No small part of Eddyline’s dive into Bentonville culture is outside of its master plan to make kayaking a powerplayer in the outdoor culture here. Scott expresses a desire to build new partnerships and connections here, including others in the business’s growth and asking for a seat at the table for the city’s. In Scott’s #BecauseBentonville moment, he describes sitting outside of Onyx Coffee Roaster in downtown Bentonville where person after person walked by and stopped to chat with him after only meeting him briefly prior to that. It is so fitting that the people of this city would accidentally drive home part of the very reason Eddyline chose Bentonville in the first place.

 Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Swimming in the Land of OZ with Bonnie Adams of SWIM OZ

May 27th, 2022

Summary
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sat down with Bonnie Adams, founder and CEO of Swim OZ and Joys of Swimming. Bonnie is a former Razorback swimmer, and she continues to rank highly in the U.S. Masters Swimming Championships. James and Bonnie discussed why swimming is an integral part of fitness and recreation, as well as why it’s an important aspect of Bentonville’s outdoor lifestyle and business culture. Lastly, the pair explained how you can get involved with upcoming swim events in Northwest Arkansas!

Show Notes:
(0:53) Introducing Bonnie Adams
(7:25) Introduction to Swim OZ and Joys of Swimming
(12:35) Plugging the Upcoming Walmart OZ Mile Swim Race
(13:56) How to Prepare for an Open Water Swim
(20:25) The Importance of All-Over Fitness in Training
(27:15) Why Bentonville?
(30:47) How Everyone Can Capitalize on Bentonville Outdoors
(36:06) Bonnie’s #BecauseBentonville Story
(46:21) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links
James Bell
Bonnie Adams
Swim OZ
Walmart OZ Mile Swim

Quotes
“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to learn to swim. It’s a life skill. I firmly believe that everyone should know how to swim.” Bonnie Adams, (8:02)

It’s 100% on all of it. It’s one thing to condition your body for swimming, or for running, [or] we’ve got a ton of cyclists in the area, so cycling...We want you to ride your bike. We want you to swim. We want you to run. But we want you to do other disciplines as well…It’s going to allow you to have a cross-benefit that you’re only going to get when you’re doing something else as well.” Bonnie Adams, (20:25)

“I went from being the big fish in a little pond [in other places in the US] to being the small fish in the ocean [in NWA]. And there’s so much of that, that translates into what Northwest Arkansas is, from not just a swimming standpoint, but from a recreational standpoint, from a business standpoint…The caliber of person that lives here, is moving here, is astounding.” Bonnie Adams, (25:24)

 “It’s moments where different parts [of Bentonville outdoor recreation] can intersect and expose you to seeing something for the first time in a different way that you kind of forget about unless you’re in this area.” Bonnie Adams, (39:30)

Swimming in the Land of OZ with Bonnie Adams of SWIM OZ
Bonnie Adams has a great number of titles, certifications, and trophies to her name, and she is proud to use those accolades not just to make a living, but to live out her passion for swimming and outdoor sports. As a lifelong swimmer, she firmly believes in passing on this evergreen pastime to future generations through her swim school, Joys of Swimming. More recently, she has been opening up opportunities for her students and fellow swimmers to compete and take their skills out of the aquatic classroom through her open water swim initiative, Swim OZ.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to learn to swim. It’s a life skill. I firmly believe that everyone should know how to swim.” Bonnie Adams, (8:02)
As a member of the first ever Bentonville High School State Championship-winning swim team, as well as a Division I swimmer, Bonnie is quite experienced at including multiple disciplines into fitness routines. This is why Bentonville’s outdoor recreational culture cannot be matched. It allows for every enthusiast to have easy access to outdoor sporting, as well as a welcoming environment to forge connections with other athletes along the way. 
It’s 100% on all of it. It’s one thing to condition your body for swimming, or for running, [or] we’ve got a ton of cyclists in the area, so cycling...We want you to ride your bike. We want you to swim. We want you to run. But we want you to do other disciplines as well…It’s going to allow you to have a cross-benefit that you’re only going to get when you’re doing something else as well.” Bonnie Adams, (20:25)

Why Bentonville?
“I went from being the big fish in a little pond [in other places in the US] to being the small fish in the ocean [in NWA]. And there’s so much of that, that translates into what Northwest Arkansas is, from not just a swimming standpoint, but from a recreational standpoint, from a business standpoint…The caliber of person that lives here, is moving here, is astounding.” Bonnie Adams, (25:24) 
The area has seen more and more Northwest Arkansas natives and college graduates choose to stick around instead of moving away, as the custom has been for many years. With the rapid growth in opportunities both in business and in lifestyle, many are joining Bonnie in moving back to Bentonville and taking advantage of all the area has to offer. Bonnie is also echoing the masses in begging that the area stay friendly and fun as it expands in size and opportunity.
 “It’s moments where different parts [of Bentonville outdoor recreation] can intersect and expose you to seeing something for the first time in a different way that you kind of forget about unless you’re in this area.” Bonnie Adams, (39:30)
As Bonnie prepares for the upcoming Walmart OZ Mile Swim in September, she is certainly  ready for expansion in the swim community, but also in the Bentonville outdoor recreational community as a whole. She is excited for everyone to get involved, and the Mile Swim is a great place to start by volunteering to kayak or paddle board and help keep swimmers safe, sharing about the event on social media, and most of all, to just come out and show support! Bentonville is eager to see businesses and athletes alike continue to capitalize on Bentonville so they can have their own #BecauseBentonville stories to share.
Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!Are you interested in learning more about Bentonville and the growth of its outdoor recreation community?

Arkansas's Booming Outdoor Recreation Industry with Katherine Andrews

May 23rd, 2022
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Summary
The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell had the opportunity to sit down with Katherine Andrews, the director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation with the Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. James and Katherine had a lot to talk about as they both have a background in economic development, a love for Arkansas outdoors, and of course, a drive to showcase Bentonville to the world. Thanks for joining us!

Show Notes:
(0:50) Introducing Katherine Andrews
(3:12) A History of the Office of Outdoor Recreation
(11:43) How Companies Today Are Choosing Locations for Their Businesses
(14:11) How Katherine’s Office Is Helping Businesses Say Yes to Arkansas
(18:05) Northwest Arkansas’s Competitive Advantages
(20:37) Why Bentonville?
(21:22) How Outdoor Companies Can Capitalize on Bentonville
(24:22) Katherine’s 5-Year Goals for the Office of Outdoor Recreation
(27:00) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links
James Bell
Katherine Andrews

Quotes
“Arkansas’s outdoor recreation scene is unmatched. We are a state that prides ourselves on the abundant opportunities in our great outdoors. In the Natural State, we have over 100,000 miles of navigable streams and rivers, 600,000 acres of lakes, 5 world class Epic Rides mountain bike trails, thousands of miles of hiking trails, over 3.2 million acres of public land, America’s first National River, the Buffalo National River…America’s first Reserve National Park, which is Hot Springs National Park…the highest waterfall between the Rockies and the Appalations, big game hunting…and on and on.” Katherine Andrews, (5:43)

One of the hardest challenges for recruiting companies [is] actually getting someone from the company to come here. But once we actually got them here, then they [say] ‘ok now I understand. It makes sense to me.’ There’s an incredible opportunity as a state right now to capitalize on attracting new companies and workers to the state by leveraging our natural assets.” Katherine Andrews, (11:09)

“Today, one of the biggest driving forces for companies when they’re making location decisions is workforce. Some of the others are business friendliness, cost of doing business, cost of living, proximity to suppliers and consumers. Fortunately for us, we have all of those things. We are one of the most business-friendly states in the US, we are located smack-dab in the middle of the country…and we have a very diverse industry in Arkansas.” Katherine Andrews, (11:43) 

“There’s something special happening here. Bentonville is a community that cares deeply about its people and about creating a sense of place. It draws companies in. So if you look at the investments being made by the philanthropic groups, large corporate organizations, and others, that only just becomes more clear. Northwest Arkansas is one of the fastest growing metros the US, so…that choice to me would be a no-brainer to move here.” Katherine Andrews, (20:37)

“My overall goal is for this office to become the one-stop-shop for all things outdoor recreation, a gathering place for knowledge, information, and resources.” Katherine Andrews, (24:10)

Arkansas's Booming Outdoor Recreation Industry with Katherine Andrews
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell had the opportunity to sit down with Katherine Andrews, the director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation with the Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. James and Katherine had a lot to talk about as they both have a background in economic development, a love for Arkansas outdoors, and of course, a drive to showcase Bentonville to the world.
The Office of Outdoor Recreation
One of the hardest challenges for recruiting companies [is] actually getting someone from the company to come here. But once we actually [get] them here, then they [say] ‘ok now I understand. It makes sense to me.’ There’s an incredible opportunity as a state right now to capitalize on attracting new companies and workers to the state by leveraging our natural assets.” Katherine Andrews, (11:09)
Katherine Andrews is uniquely positioned to lead this newly-created office with her experience in commercial real estate, leading small business initiatives for Arkansas, and economic development. She is the only director of her kind with this specialized background, which gives her a business-forward advantage as she leads the state to capitalize on one of its most important assets: the great outdoors. As she sees more companies moving and growing here, she is even more driven to show the world what Arkansas has to offer.
“My overall goal is for this office to become the one-stop-shop for all things outdoor recreation, a gathering place for knowledge, information, and resources.” Katherine Andrews, (24:10)
Arkansas is the 16th state and only the 2nd in the South to develop a formal Office of Outdoor Recreation. As she builds it, Katherine is proud to get up and go to work every day with the ability to do a job that involves her love of Arkansas and her business background. She is partnering with other outdoor groups in the state to collaborate and create the best system possible to help everyone to take advantage of the Natural State.
Why Bentonville?
“Today, one of the biggest driving forces for companies when they’re making location decisions is workforce. Some of the others are business friendliness, cost of doing business, cost of living, and proximity to suppliers and consumers. Fortunately for us, we have all of those things. We are one of the most business-friendly states in the US, we are located smack-dab in the middle of the country…and we have a very diverse industry in Arkansas.”
Katherine Andrews, (11:43) 
Katherine is convinced that the secret is out on what makes this state amazing. The fact that Arkansas hits all the major relocation markers companies look for, coupled with the reality that this is the only place that checks those boxes in the middle of the country, sets Arkansas up for incredible growth in the coming years. This gives Bentonville an incredible advantage as companies are looking for areas in the state who are eager to welcome these new opportunities.
“There’s something special happening here. Bentonville is a community that cares deeply about its people and about creating a sense of place. It draws companies in. So if you look at the investments being made by the philanthropic groups, large corporate organizations, and others, that only just becomes more clear. Northwest Arkansas is one of the fastest growing metros the US, so…that choice to me would be a no-brainer to move here.” Katherine Andrews, (20:37)
The opportunities coming Bentonville's way would not be possible without the hunger for growth from its residents. Bentonville is touted time and time again as a place where the people are friendly and inclusive and where progress is welcome. It is a diverse area with a hometown feel and excitement for new and interesting ideas, people, and businesses to stake their claim in it too.
Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Making the Best Bikes in America with Drew Medlock of Allied Cycle Works

May 16th, 2022

On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell chatted with Drew Medlock, the CEO of Allied Cycle Works, a Bentonville-based manufacturer of high-quality carbon bikes who boasts a mission to “make the best bicycles and components in the word, right here in America.” James and Drew discussed what it means to manufacture in the USA and how Bentonville has created an ideal cycling ecosystem.Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes:
(0:36) Introducing Drew Medlock
(2:09) A Taste of What Allied Cycle Works Is All About
(5:23) Making Bikes in the USA vs. Asia
(8:24) What Brought Allied Cycle Works to Bentonville
(14:40) Why Bentonville?
(16:47) How Businesses Can Capitalize on Bentonville
(17:55) What’s Next for Allied Cycle Works?
(18:45) Why USA-Made?
(19:57) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links
James Bell
Drew Medlock
Allied Cycle Works
Allied Cycle Works Factory Videos

Quotes
We had the vision to bring high-tech frame manufacturing processes back into the United States…Brands didn’t really have the in-house knowledge [to build carbon fiber frames] in the United States…So our goal was to bring that back.” Drew Medlock, (2:28)

Northwest Arkansas has been really great because there’s a good manufacturing base here from the poultry industry and people who are good at working with their hands and are easy to train here locally.” Drew Medlock, (6:33)

“I just see so much opportunity still left here. I think there’s so much good momentum and positive momentum about really growing the outdoor industry as a whole and growing our community…It’s cool to be somewhere where there’s a blue sky in terms of what’s possible” Drew Medlock, (14:40)

 “[Northwest Arkansas] is a place that is growing. There’s lots of development, we can see more diversity coming into the area, and it feels like a place where you can have this access to the outdoors and be a part of it but also build a sustainable business climate for your employees.” Drew Medlock, (17:34)

Making the Best Bikes in America with Allied Cycle Works
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell chatted with Drew Medlock, the CEO of Allied Cycle Works, a Bentonville-based manufacturer of high-quality carbon bikes who boasts a mission to “make the best bicycles and components in the word, right here in America.” James and Drew discussed what it means to manufacture in the USA and how Bentonville has created an ideal cycling ecosystem.

Allied Cycle Works
We had the vision to bring high-tech frame manufacturing processes back into the United States…Brands didn’t really have the in-house knowledge [to build carbon fiber frames] in the United States…So our goal was to bring that back.” Drew Medlock, (2:28)

The bicycle game is ever changing and adapting as we learn more about how to improve this evergreen pastime. In an era when bicycle manufacturing had primarily moved to Asia, the founder of Allied Cycle Works started with a mission to manufacture their parts here in the United States so they could have more control over the production process and ultimately to turn out a better product for their customer. CEO Drew Medlock and his team have continued to take up this mantle day by day and place quality bicycles in the hands of customers who want to do what they love most: ride their bike.

Northwest Arkansas has been really great because there’s a good manufacturing base here from the poultry industry and people who are good at working with their hands and are easy to train here locally.” Drew Medlock, (6:33)

Drew is proud of the fact that they can create jobs here locally, but also that there is so much opportunity to hire quality manufacturers in the area with experience working for other Northwest Arkansas giants. This and partnering with technicians and production engineers that have joined Allied Cycle Works have helped to make the move to all-stateside production go smoothly. As Allied Cycle Works looks to the future in adding mountain bikes and more to their catalog, they can certainly ensure one thing: the bikes they craft are made to order for the consumer and will have the hands-on quality customers deserve.

Why Bentonville?
“I just see so much opportunity still left here. I think there’s so much good momentum and positive momentum about really growing the outdoor industry as a whole and growing our community…It’s cool to be somewhere where there’s a blue sky in terms of what’s possible” Drew Medlock, (14:40)

 It is movers and shakers like Drew that continue to push our community forward and into the blue skies that he is so proud of. Drew sets an example for all business leaders by considering the lives, incomes, and happiness of his employees without compromising an amazing workplace environment both inside the walls of the business and outside in the community. 

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Bringing Extreme Sports to Bentonville with Seth Johnson of Amped Electric Games

May 9th, 2022

On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sat down with Seth Johnson, who is the founder of eRideLife, a media source for all things electric and on one wheel. Luckily for us, he and his team have chosen Bentonville to be the home of the upcoming Amped Electric Games, a competition and festival celebrating the craft he loves and is on a mission for us all to love alongside him. James and Seth talked all about the specifics of the upcoming event, why Bentonville has the honor of hosting it, and why everyone else should bring interesting and innovative things to Bentonville too.


Show Notes:
(0:39) Introducing Seth Johnson
(1:50) All about Amped Electric Games and Why It Started
(6:12) What to Expect at Amped Electric Games
(17:02) How People Can Capitalize on Bentonville 
(17:48) Organizations Supporting New and Innovative Things in Bentonville
(28:25) Seth’s Advice for Outdoor Enthusiasts Visiting Bentonville
(30:01) Details for the Upcoming Amped Electric Games
(32:44) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links
James Bell
Seth Johnson

Amped Electric Games


Quotes
 One of the major reasons [we chose Bentonville] is the people here are just so dang nice…everywhere I go in Bentonville, everyone I tell this idea to, they just get really excited. I see the lights go on in their eyes and they say ‘This is what Bentonville needs!’” Seth Johnson, (3:18)

“Trail etiquette is something that is very important to us and something that we try to instill from the very beginning when somebody begins riding these devices.” Seth Johnson, (8:25)

“Mountain bikers have enjoyed these trails for many years, and we’d like to come and enjoy them too. I know that I personally have gone and put in time digging rides locally, so we want to be involved, we want to help, [and] we want to contribute. We’re not just here to take away or to detract from the trails. I think we can all live pretty peacefully together.” Seth Johnson, (9:48)

“Everything is connected here… Everybody knows everybody, and so I’m trying to introduce myself and become part of that community.” Seth Johnson, (25:47)

 “I think success is going to look like everybody having fun. That’s the most important thing to me.” Seth Johnson (26:45)


Bringing Extreme Sports to Bentonville with Amped Electric Games
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sat down with Seth Johnson, who is the founder of eRideLife, a media source for all things electric and on one wheel. Lucky for us, he and his crew have chosen Bentonville to be the home of the upcoming Amped Electric Games, a competition and festival celebrating the craft he loves and is on a mission for us all to love alongside him. James and Seth talked all about the specifics of the upcoming Games, why Bentonville has the honor of hosting it, and why everyone else should bring interesting and innovative things to Bentonville too.

Amped Electric Games
As we see a rise in new ways to get outside and enjoy our world, we see new communities surrounding these passions, forging connections, companionship, and friendly competition. This is the idea that spearheaded the upcoming Amped Electric Games. This is an opportunity for electric one-wheel enthusiasts to come together and have fun while competing for titles like All-Time Fastest Unicycle Speed and watching competitors jump a school bus.

“Mountain bikers have enjoyed these trails for many years, and we’d like to come and enjoy them too. I know that I personally have gone and put in time digging rides locally, so we want to be involved, we want to help, [and] we want to contribute. We’re not just here to take away or to detract from the trails. I think we can all live pretty peacefully together.” Seth Johnson, (9:48)

Seth believes that the trails are for everyone and that all users should partake in their care and preservation. He desires to educate others on sharing the trails and having fun together, even on our different devices. In fact, he welcomes anyone who sees him to stop and ask questions about his craft and maybe even develop a new passion of our own.

Trail etiquette is something that is very important to us and something that we try to instill from the very beginning when somebody begins riding these devices.” Seth Johnson, (8:25)“I think success is going to look like everybody having fun. That’s the most important thing to me.” Seth Johnson (26:45)

Why Bentonville?
One of the major reasons [we chose Bentonville] is the people here are just so dang nice…everywhere I go in Bentonville, everyone I tell this idea to, they just get really excited. I see the lights go on in their eyes and they say ‘This is what Bentonville needs!’” Seth Johnson, (3:18)

Aside from the opportunity to watch incredible athletes show us their moves, we are excited about the example Seth and his team are setting for other innovators who are looking to start something new. We put pride into our accessibility and inclusivity when it comes to culture, art, food, and outdoors, and we’re excited to see that list continue to grow. Bentonville has claimed its spot on the map for being an open hub for cool new ideas, and we want to be the place others can show off as well.

“Everything is connected here… Everybody knows everybody, and so I’m trying to introduce myself and become part of that community.” Seth Johnson, (25:47) 

Seth demonstrated all of the resources we have available for others who want to launch a festival, competition, or other event. He even claimed it as one of the reasons he chose Bentonville to host the Games. At the Chamber, we’re thrilled to be a part of the growing list of those making it easier and more enticing to bring new ideas to Bentonville.

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

How Technology is Improving Bentonville's Mountain Biking Experience | Bryce Paden & Ryan Shelton of Flowfeed

May 2nd, 2022

On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell had the chance to talk with Bryce Paden and Ryan Shelton of Flowfeed, a predictive analytics app for mountain biking trails. Bryce, Ryan, and their four other co-founders are all serial entrepreneurs and brought their diverse areas of expertise together to simplify an age-old problem for mountain bikers looking to use the trails in Northwest Arkansas. Throughout the episode, James, Bryce, and Ryan discussed the origins of the app and how it works, how collaboration has fueled their success, and why Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas are fertile grounds for entrepreneurship and growth of all kinds.

Show Notes:
(0:45) Introductions
(6:08) Getting into Mountain Biking
(8:45) Flowfeed App
(9:36) Collaboration over Competition
(18:54) Why Is Bentonville Best for Flowfeed?
(21:41) Response to Flowfeed
(23:53) Newest Features
(29:57) The Hardest Learning
(36:13) Tapping into Local Resources 
(40:45) How Bentonville Is Changing
(44:44) How Else Should People Know Northwest Arkansas?
(53:14) Where to Find Flowfeed and a Final Shameless Plug

Links
James Bell
Bryce Paden
Ryan Shelton

Flowfeed

Quotes:
“So we live in a digitized data-rich world, and we believe that data can add a lot of value to the mountain biking community.” Ryan Shelton, (8:57)

”That's not to say, you know, the answer is go ride everything. The answer is: let's make sure we efficiently communicate all of the excellent trails we have down here that can be ridden in almost any weather condition, and all of the value that's here, even when it's wet outside.” Ryan Shelton, (16:57)

”The raw drive and desire to grow that I found here meant huge potential, and being an entrepreneur, I'm always betting on the upside. And I think the upside on entrepreneurship in Northwest Arkansas over the next five years is tremendous.“ Ryan Shelton, (20:35)

 ”We felt like if you try to build something for everybody, you potentially build something for nobody, so we wanted to be really focused on mountain biking and make sure that we could really understand that user well.” Bryce Paden, (29:04)

”We're no longer just where Walmart is. There's this whole other narrative that's being built that is resonating with people.” Bryce Paden, (41:18)

 Solving the Trail Condition Communication Problem
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell had the chance to talk with Bryce Paden and Ryan Shelton of Flowfeed, a predictive analytics app for mountain biking trails. Bryce, Ryan, and their four other co-founders are all serial entrepreneurs and brought their diverse areas of expertise together to simplify an age-old problem for mountain bikers looking to use the trails in Northwest Arkansas. Throughout the episode, James, Bryce, and Ryan discussed the origins of the app and how it works, how collaboration has fueled their success, and why Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas are fertile grounds for entrepreneurship and growth of all kinds. 

The Flowfeed App
After working at Walmart, Bryce was immersed in the emerging tech ecosystem, which led him to a path of entrepreneurship, first in technology and then in recreation. Ryan has a background in engineering and a medical device startup. This unconventional duo joined forces with four other entrepreneurs of varying backgrounds from consumer behavior, to architecture and design, to software and development. Together, the team combined their talents and skills to tackle the biggest problem they were seeing with the budding mountain biking trail systems in the area: communication. 

"That's not to say, you know, the answer is go ride everything. The answer is: let's make sure we efficiently communicate all of the excellent trails we have down here that can be ridden in almost any weather condition, and all of the value that's here, even when it's wet outside.” Ryan Shelton, (16:57)

The founders of Flowfeed devised an app that predicts trail conditions after weather events using real weather and environmental inputs and custom-built algorithms. The team first made trail conditions available to give users an idea of what was rideable and what was not. Due to continuous feedback from the community and their desire to improve and grow, the team at Flowfeed is now working on features like personalizing trail recommendations for users, adding static maps, and providing live weather conditions. They hope to eventually enable trail managers to utilize the app to let users know what trails are being added to the system and which might be closed for maintenance. To continue improving and investing in their users, the team at Flowfeed is exploring their partnership strategy so they can keep development going while creating excellent products, all without charging their users. They welcome and encourage feedback from mountain bikers and community members on how to improve the app experience and functionality.

Why Bentonville?
Bentonville used to be known solely for the presence of its large corporations. However, it is quickly gaining notoriety in many other areas such as food, art, and outdoor recreation. The primary reason Flowfeed is based out of Bentonville is because of its popularity as the mountain biking capital of the world. Another reason is the seemingly endless list of local resources within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Both Bryce and Ryan cite people as the most valuable and available resource in the area, with execs and prominent business people at every turn. And not only are they everywhere, they are also accessible and largely willing to support others.

"The raw drive and desire to grow that I found here, meant huge potential, and being an entrepreneur, I'm always betting on the upside. And I think the upside on entrepreneurship in Northwest Arkansas over the next five years is tremendous.“ Ryan Shelton, (20:35)

 ”We're no longer just where Walmart is. There's this whole other narrative that's being built that is resonating with people.” Bryce Paden, (41:18)

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Coaching the Next Generation of Mountain Bikers | Kyla Templeton of Bike School Bentonville

April 25th, 2022

On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell had the opportunity to chat with Kyla Templeton, the co-founder of Bike School Bentonville. To round out her resume, Kyla also founded Girls Bike Bentonville in 2012, is the co-founder and director of the Arkansas League of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, and is a VIPC Level 1 Instructor and a USA Triathlon Certified Coach. James and Kyla had an amazing conversation about how Bentonville is impacting the cycling world and how the cycling community is part of what makes Bentonville the city we all love.We are so excited you’re joining us!

Show Notes
(0:23) Introducing Kyla Templeton
(6:23) Why Kyla Started Bike School Bentonville
(14:48) What Makes Bentonville Trails Special
(22:52) Bike School Bentonville’s Upcoming Programming
(24:47) What’s Next for Bike School Bentonville
(28:59) Kyla’s Favorite Ride
(30:20) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links
James Bell
 Kyla Templeton
Bike School Bentonville
Arkansas NIKA
Girls Bike Bentonville FB Group

Quotes
I love to ride my bike. I find a great deal of freedom when I ride my bike, and fun. And it helps me to feel like a kid and also to feel really connected to the world and myself and the people that I’m with…So I love to ride my bike and I love to share that with other people and for people to discover for themselves what it means for them.” Kyla Templeton, (1:55)

You know it is wonderful, like that’s one of the things that’s so special about Bentonville, is that you don’t have to load your bike up in the car to have an amazing bike experience…Here, you can just hop out your door and there’s, in so many places, a trail within ten minutes.” Kyla Templeton, (9:40)

“The trails are really good and they’re well-built. And the trailblazers and the team of people doing the trail development, they’re really trying to push the industry forward in all kinds of different ways…So the trails are really well-made and are well-maintained and they’re built so that the trails almost teach a rider how to ride.” Kyla Templeton, (16:01)

“It doesn’t take much to find that peace and solitude [on the trails] if that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s also really cool to have this communal experience on the trails with a bunch of other people.” Kyla Templeton, (20:24)

 Coaching the Next Generation of Mountain Bikers
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell had the opportunity to chat with Kyla Templeton, the co-founder of Bike School Bentonville. To round out her resume, Kyla also founded Girls Bike Bentonville in 2012, is the co-founder and director of the Arkansas League of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, and is a VIPC Level 1 Instructor and a USA Triathlon Certified Coach. James and Kyla had an amazing conversation about how Bentonville is impacting the cycling world and how the cycling community is part of what makes Bentonville the city we all love.

Bike School Bentonville
Kyla loves to ride her bike and loves the community. That is really the only inspiration she needed to help build up the pro-cycling environment we get to enjoy here in Bentonville. Still, when her two sons joined the mix, she wanted to create opportunities for them to grow up loving the outdoors and cycling as much as she does. Bike School Bentonville was founded to allow kids to do just that.

I love to ride my bike. I find a great deal of freedom when I ride my bike, and fun. And it helps me to feel like a kid and also to feel really connected to the world  and myself and the people that I’m with…So I love to ride my bike and I love to share that with other people and for people to discover for themselves what it means for them.” Kyla Templeton, (1:55)

Bike School Bentonville has opportunities for young kids and even adults to get their mountain biking skills ready for our trails. They are excited to be offering on-demand coaching, programs like 5 and 10–week sessions, and even summer camps for kids, which are focused on equipping and encouraging them to fall in love with biking. Kyla believes that whether you’re in need of peace and quiet or a loud and fun ride, you can find it on the trails.

“It doesn’t take much to find that peace and solitude [on the trails] if that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s also really cool to have this communal experience on the trails with a bunch of other people.” Kyla Templeton, (20:24) 

Why Bentonville?
You know it is wonderful, like that’s one of the things that’s so special about Bentonville, is that you don’t have to load your bike up in the car to have an amazing bike experience…Here, you can just hop out your door and there’s, in so many places, a trail within ten minutes.” Kyla Templeton, (9:40)

Kyla has lived in the Bentonville area for 17 years and has loved watching the community grow around the outdoor activities that Bentonville curates and promotes. Having been to many different mountain biking and outdoor destinations, she loves that Bentonville is set apart by being so accessible—we make it easy to jump into a new group or activity. She raves about the quality of life here and how kind everyone is to each other, both on the trails and off of them. As she notes how Bentonville is growing so rapidly, she jokes “No mean people allowed,” and wants to keep the same kind and inclusive environment we all know and love.

“The trails are really good and they’re well-built. And the trailblazers and the team of people doing the trail development, they’re really trying to push the industry forward in all kinds of different ways…So the trails are really well-made and are well-maintained and they’re built so that the trails almost teach a rider how to ride.” Kyla Templeton, (16:01)

One of the best parts about Bentonville and its special connection to the outdoors as the Mountain Biking Capital of the World is how much pride we take in our trails. They make it easy to learn, and they challenge us as we grow our skills, which that didn’t happen by accident. Kyla loves to boast about the team that curates, plans, and innovates our trails to maintain our status and continue to be inviting to the biking community around the world.

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this bonus episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

The Importance of Community and Corporate Citizenship with Jeanelle Harris of Outdoor Cap Co.

April 18th, 2022

Summary:
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sits down with the president of Outdoor Cap Co., Jeanelle Harris. Outdoor Cap Co. was founded in 1977 by Paul Mahan, and 45 years later, it is one of Bentonville’s best-kept secrets, helping to lead the area in innovation, corporate citizenship, and of course, incredible outdoor headwear. Together, James and Jeanelle discuss Outdoor Cap Co., what is putting Bentonville on the map, and how we can work together to lead a new generation into growth.Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes
(0:41) Introducing True NWA Native Jeanelle Harris 
(2:01) Outdoor Cap Co.
(11:23) How Outdoor Companies Can Thrive in Bentonville 
(14:03) What’s Next for Outdoor Cap Co.?
(23:27) Importance of Community and Corporate Citizenship
(26:09) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links:
JAMES BELl
JEANELLE HARRIS
OUTDOOR CAP CO.

Quotes
I think some of what our secret sauce is, is our expertise focused on headwear, but also the people. We have a lot of people who are long-tenured, who are committed to our business and helping us be the experts and serving our customer loyalty, both to the business and to each other. So, definitely the people are our secret sauce.” Jeanelle Harris, (3:29)

Within the last five years, and even recently, there’s been conversations where when I say ‘Bentonville,’ [people] say ‘Oh, I want to go there! I want to travel there. I want to take my family there.’ You know, there’s a vibrance that has really come about that Bentonville is a place on the map.” Jeanelle Harris, (11:49)

“We started to see these corporations and families like the Walton Family Foundation really start to pour into the community and look at some of the things we could use as growth potential and realize that we needed to raise up a new generation that my kids are a part of to make sure that they understand diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Jeanelle Harris, (17:48)

“The one thing that I would want people to know about Outdoor Cap and in turn, myself [and] my family because it all ties together, is our pull towards community and corporate citizenship and the fact that we don’t just want to exist in Bentonville as a company without giving back as well.” Jeanelle Harris, (23:26)

On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sits down with the president of Outdoor Cap Co., Jeanelle Harris. Outdoor Cap Co. was founded in 1977 by Paul Mahan, and 45 years later, it is one of Bentonville’s best-kept secrets, helping to lead the area in innovation, corporate citizenship, and of course, incredible outdoor headwear. Together, James and Jeanelle discuss Outdoor Cap Co., what is putting Bentonville on the map, and how we can work together to lead a new generation into growth.

Outdoor Cap Co.
I think some of what our secret sauce is, is our expertise focused on headwear, but also the people. We have a lot of people who are long-tenured, who are committed to our business and helping us be the experts and serving our customer loyalty, both to the business and to each other. So, definitely the people are our secret sauce.” Jeanelle Harris, (3:29)

Outdoor Cap Co. is a business focused on its people and the community it has created within itself. It is a community where team members are encouraged to work to live, not live to work, where they can hop on a trail on their lunch break, and where they are free to enjoy everything their city has to offer. They love being Bentonville’s best-kept secret where they can employ hundreds of people, changing their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

“The one thing that I would want people to know about Outdoor Cap and in turn, myself [and] my family because it all ties together, is our pull towards community and corporate citizenship and the fact that we don’t just want to exist in Bentonville as a company without giving back as well.” Jeanelle Harris, (23:26) 

Jeanelle believes that coming out of Covid is an opportunity to go “back to the garage,” in which founder Paul Mahan started Outdoor Cap Co. This year, they will celebrate 45 years of Outdoor Cap Co., and Jeanelle believes they are just getting started as a company, but also that this ideal seeps into the greater community as well. They care immensely about their products and love to serve everyone from the big Fortune 500s to the mom and pop shops that help promote The American Dream.

Why Bentonville?
Within the last five years, and even recently, there’s been conversations where when I say ‘Bentonville,’ [people] say ‘Oh, I want to go there! I want to travel there. I want to take my family there.’ You know, there’s a vibrance that has really come about that Bentonville is a place on the map.” Jeanelle Harris, (11:49)

Jeanelle is a true NWA native and loves that the area offers so much in the way of outdoor access and opportunities and in the development of culture, art, and culinary advancements. She loves that although it is growing at an incredibly fast pace, it still has a hometown feel to it. Bentonville is not just about Walmart anymore. There is so much happening here, and we should be so proud of our town.
“We started to see these corporations and families like the Walton Family Foundation really start to pour into the community and look at some of the things we could use as growth potential and realize that we needed to raise up a new generation that my kids are a part of to make sure that they understand diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Jeanelle Harris, (17:48)

Jeanelle is so thrilled to see corporate giants like Walmart, JB Hunt, and Tyson set the example to invest in Northwest Arkansas, not just do business here. Outdoor Cap Co. has taken up this beacon and refuses simply to exist in Bentonville. They are committed to keeping Arkansas beautiful themselves, not waiting for someone else to do it.When we ask the question, “Why Bentonville?” Jeanelle reminds us that Bentonville packs a big punch, and it’s just getting started.

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this bonus episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Bonus Episode | How the Fuel Accelerator Helps You Get Enterprise-Ready with Vance Reavie and Jigesh Vora

April 15th, 2022

Summary:
On this special bonus episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sits down with Vance Reavie and Jigesh Vora live at the Startup Crawl in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Vance and Jigesh are both three-time founders who recently participated in the Fuel Accelerator with their companies, Junction AI and SwiftGo, respectively. The trio discusses their recent ventures, Fuel, Bentonville, and much more throughout the episode!Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes
(1:12) Introducing Vance Reavie and Jigesh Vora
(5:41) Participating in the Fuel Accelerator and Other Resources in NWA
(13:33) Initial Thoughts on Bentonville(18:45) Bentonville Stats
(22:10) What’s Next for SwiftGo and Junction AI
(25:23) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links:
JAMES BELl
VANCE REAVIE
JIGESH VORA
JUNCTION AI
SWIFTGO
FUEL ACCELERATOR

Quotes
For me, [the Fuel Accelerator] was a pivotal moment for our company in understanding where we fit in, what value we can add, and how I can take advantage of [Bentonville’s] business community to propel forward.” Vance Reavie, (6:34)

What impressed me about Fuel was the fact that the engagement from the community is amazing. I mean, everybody from mentors, advisors, corporate partners—everybody was very engaged in truly helping the startups get to where they wanted to go or where they need to be.” Jigesh Vora, (7:18)

[Fuel] isn’t a program that teaches you how to pitch or how to go chase the VC model or any of those sorts of things. It’s about being enterprise-ready.” Vance Reavie, (11:49)

I think the majority of the companies around here are small businesses, which is perfect from an ecosystem perspective for a startup. Even if it’s a growth-stage startup, it’s the perfect place to be because you have the top Fortune companies here, but you have this ecosystem of small businesses that you can partner up with and improve the overall value of your solution.” Jigesh Vora, (15:19)

The work-life balance here is—everyone talks about it, but [Bentonville] actually delivers it in a real way that you can appreciate every day.” Vance Reavie, (16:56)

How the Fuel Accelerator Helps You Get Enterprise-Ready
On this special bonus episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sits down with Vance Reavie and Jigesh Vora live at the Startup Crawl in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Vance and Jigesh are both three-time founders who recently participated in the Fuel Accelerator with their companies, Junction AI and SwiftGo, respectively. The trio discusses their recent ventures, Fuel, Bentonville, and much more throughout the episode!

Junction AI and SwiftGo
Vance’s current startup, Junction AI, recently completed Fuel’s 2021 program and is headed towards great things! The startup partners with growing businesses to curate and reveal valuable data-driven insights that assist growth and scalability. Jigesh’s startup, SwiftGo, also recently wrapped up Fuel’s 2021 program and is looking at a bright future. SwiftGo provides retailers with smart-carts to pair with their scan-and-go apps, improving the customer experience at every turn.

The Fuel Accelerator Program
Fuel is a 12-week enterprise-ready accelerator that matches growth-stage artificial intelligence and machine learning startups with key enterprise partners to accelerate the adoption of tangible technology solutions.

[Fuel] isn’t a program that teaches you how to pitch or how to go chase the VC model or any of those sorts of things. It’s about being enterprise-ready.” Vance Reavie, (11:49)

For Vance and Jigesh, one of the highlights of Fuel was its enterprise-ready focus. Rather than prioritizing the funding treadmill and VC model, Fuel helps tech startups prepare for enterprise-level clients, prioritizing sustainable growth and development. The pair also enjoyed how the community interacted with the accelerator and its cohorts. Upon arriving in Bentonville, both entrepreneurs quickly realized how many relationships they could build that would prove valuable over time. 

What impressed me about Fuel was the fact that the engagement from the community is amazing. I mean, everybody from mentors, advisors, corporate partners—everybody was very engaged in truly helping the startups get to where they wanted to go or where they need to be.” Jigesh Vora, (7:18)

Why Bentonville
If you follow Bentonville, you’ve likely heard stories of visitors who send for their bags—they don’t even make it through their trip to Bentonville before deciding to move. Vance is a prime example. By the time he completed the accelerator program, he was ready put a deposit down on an apartment. For Vance, the work-life balance was one of the most significant selling points.

The work-life balance here is—everyone talks about it, but [Bentonville] actually delivers it in a real way that you can appreciate every day.” Vance Reavie, (16:56)

For Jigesh, he experienced the benefits of working and operating in a community full of other startups. With three Fortune 500 businesses headquartered in the area and countless vendors following suit, Jigesh understands the benefits of living and running a startup in Bentonville.

I think the majority of the companies around here are small businesses, which is perfect from an ecosystem perspective for a startup. Even if it’s a growth-stage startup, it’s the perfect place to be because you have the top Fortune companies here, but you have this ecosystem of small businesses that you can partner up with and improve the overall value of your solution.” Jigesh Vora, (15:19)

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this bonus episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Is NWA the Next Austin? |  Kalene Griffith, President and CEO of Visit Bentonville

April 11th, 2022

Summary:
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sits down with Kalene Griffith, President and CEO of Visit Bentonville. Kalene moved to Bentonville 17 years ago and never looked back. With Visit Bentonville, Kalene helps provide exceptional tourism experiences for all of Bentonville’s visitors, whether they’re here for a day, a week, or a month. During the episode, James and Kalene discuss how Bentonville has evolved in the last two decades, what upcoming events are taking place in Bentonville, and why YOU need to experience Bentonville.

Show Notes
(0:27) Introducing Kalene Griffith 
(2:52) Why Kalene Chose Bentonville
(4:39) How Bentonville Has Changed
(6:39) Introducing Visit Bentonville
(11:58) Upcoming Events in Bentonville
(14:05) How People Should Think of Bentonville
(18:04) Why YOU Need to Experience Bentonville
(29:34) Is NWA the Next Austin? 
(32:26) Stories that Encapsulate Bentonville
(38:01) Punching above Our Weight-class
(40:20) Bentonville Schools
(43:05) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links:
JAMES BELl
Kalene Griffith
VISIT BENTONVILLE

Quotes
What I love about [Bentonville} is the people, hands down. I’m fortunate that within about three to five months I felt like this was home…I felt like the people that were here made me feel welcome and part of their families.” (2:59) - Kalene Griffith

[Early on], we were the home of Walmart, and that was pretty much our story. Now, we’re the home of Walmart, we’re the mountain bike capital of the world, we are an arts destination. So we’re a lot of different things now. And so we get to tell a lot of different stories in 2022 versus 2005.” (8:55) - Kalene Griffith

If you’re here for the cycling, you get an experience where everybody in our community has adopted that cycling culture or that cycling initiative that we have pushed through for our community.” (18:30) - Kalene Griffith

Why YOU Need to Visit Bentonville
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell sits down with Kalene Griffith, President and CEO of Visit Bentonville. Kalene moved to Bentonville 17 years ago and never looked back. With Visit Bentonville, Kalene helps provide exceptional tourism experiences for all of Bentonville’s visitors, whether they’re here for a day, a week, or a month. During the episode, James and Kalene discuss how Bentonville has evolved in the last two decades, what upcoming events are taking place in Bentonville, and why YOU need to experience Bentonville.

What I love about [Bentonville} is the people, hands down. I’m fortunate that within about three to five months I felt like this was home…I felt like the people that were here made me feel welcome and part of their families.” (2:59) - Kalene Griffith

Visit Bentonville
It’s no secret that Bentonville has changed dramatically in the last two decades. For Kalene, one of the most significant changes she noticed was the diversification of tourist attractions. When she arrived 17 years ago, Bentonville was known for Walmart’s headquarters—that’s it. Now, it’s the mountain bike capital of the world, and it has multiple world-class art museums, top-tier local restaurants, and much more!

[Early on], we were the home of Walmart, and that was pretty much our story. Now, we’re the home of Walmart, we’re the mountain bike capital of the world, we are an arts destination. So we’re a lot of different things now. And so we get to tell a lot of different stories in 2022 versus 2005.” (8:55) - Kalene Griffith

Visit Bentonville doesn’t merely invest in Bentonville’s tourist economy; it also invests back into the community. It recently partnered with the public school system to build an eight-lane pool at the Bentonville Community Center, which now hosts swim meets year-round. In fact, they now host nearly all of the State Championships for high school swimming.Similarly, they’ve invested significantly in Memorial Park's baseball and softball fields. By converting to turf fields, Bentonville can host over 20 tournaments this year alone.

Upcoming Events
Are you looking for a reason to visit Bentonville? Check out these fantastic opportunities!

FreshGrass | Bentonville | May 20-21
FreshGrass is an all-ages festival celebrating the best of today’s bluegrass and progressive roots music. With multiple stages at the Momentary, FreshGrass will span two days and include fun family activities, tons of local food and drinks, and much more! For more information, check out their website!

Bentonville Bike Fest | June 17-19
Join us in June for this exciting and FREE event! Nearly 10,000 visitors will flood Bentonville for a weekend full of bicycle-centric events and activities. You won’t want to miss it! For more information, check out their website!

Bentonville Film Festival | June 22-26
The 8th Annual Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival will occur at the end of June, and its virtual portion will extend into the beginning of July. Whether you’re looking for feature-length or short films, you’ll want to make sure to attend this year’s Bentonville Film Festival. For more information, check out their website!

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Why Bentonville's Culture Is Right for Your Outdoor Recreation Business | Nicholas Olano of American Hunt

April 3rd, 2022

Summary:
On this episode of the Bentonville Beacon Podcast, host James Bell sits down with Nicholas Olano, Co-Founder of American Hunt. Nicholas and his business partner founded American Hunt in 2019 to break down a significant barrier that outdoors people across the country deal with. Together, James and Nicholas discuss American Hunt, Bentonville, and Nicholas’s experience with GORP.

Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes
(0:28) Introducing Nicholas Olano and His Journey to NWA
(6:04) American Hunt
(13:48) Participating in GORP
(20:15) Why YOU Should Care about NWA
(21:45) What’s Next for American Hunt?
(23:02) Superpowers and Closing Thoughts

Links:
JAMES BELL
Nicholas Olano
American Hunt

Quotes
What keeps us [in Northwest Arkansas] is everything. This is hands down, the best place I’ve ever lived. We have four moderate seasons, so by the time you’re sick of one season, you have a new season rolling around.
(3:57) - Nicholas Olano

We’re not just a hunting platform. There’s ATV off-roading, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and we have an ‘other’ category. So if you think your land is suitable for any outdoor activity, you’re more than welcome to put in on American Hunt.
(12:19) - Nicholas Olano

It seems like every other incubator wants a piece of the pie, and [GORP] did not, which was really cool. And that also kind of goes to show Bentonville culture. This is an area where a lot of people just want to help people.
(15:50) - Nicholas Olano

There’s a lot of other places that might have an REI or something like that. But then where do you go? You have to drive two hours to get somewhere to use that stuff. In Northwest Arkansas, you drive 15 minutes east or west, and next thing you know, you’re in pristine wilderness. We have one of the cleanest rivers in the country. We have the first national river. We have float trips. We have mountain biking…we literally have everything here.
(20:34) - Nicholas Olano

Why Bentonville's Culture Is Right for Your Outdoor Recreation Business
On this episode of the Bentonville Beacon Podcast, host James Bell sits down with Nicholas Olano, Co-Founder of American Hunt. Nicholas and his business partner founded American Hunt in 2019 to break down a significant barrier that outdoors people across the country deal with. Together, James and Nicholas discuss American Hunt, Bentonville, and Nicholas’s experience with GORP.

American Hunt
While outdoor recreational activities can be fun for everyone, we know they don’t always have the easiest entry points. Hunting, fishing, and other popular outdoor activities require a lot of sport-specific gear, but that isn’t all. After you’ve obtained the necessary clothes and equipment, you’ll need licenses, permits, and a piece of land to enjoy your sport. Unfortunately, the land can be the most challenging piece of the puzzle to come by. You either own or lease a piece of property, or you use public land, which usually isn’t an ideal situation.Nicholas and his team at American Hunt have the solution you need—they’ve taken the Airbnb model and applied it to the outdoor recreation space. On their platform, you can choose from a list of private land and guiding services to rent by the day, making your yearly hunting trip a breeze!

We’re not just a hunting platform. There’s ATV off-roading, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and we have an ‘other’ category. So if you think your land is suitable for any outdoor activity, you’re more than welcome to put in on American Hunt.” (12:19) - Nicholas Olano

Despite the apparent integration into the hunting and fishing space, American Hunt also provides several other types of experiences. Search their site to find ATV off-roading, horseback riding, and several different ventures that otherwise wouldn’t be available to you!

Why Bentonville?
Nicholas moved to Northwest Arkansas in search of a new place to call home, and he wasn’t disappointed. He regularly sites the weather, culture, infrastructure, and plentiful outdoor activities as critical reasons he loves living here.

What keeps us [in Northwest Arkansas] is everything. This is hands down, the best place I’ve ever lived. We have four moderate seasons, so by the time you’re sick of one season, you have a new season rolling around.” (3:57) - Nicholas Olano

Compared to larger outdoor recreation hubs in the Rockies and on the coasts, Nicholas loves how accessible the outdoors are in Northwest Arkansas. While larger hubs might have a more extensive collection of big-name outdoor outfitters, you have to travel hours to be able to use the products you buy. In Northwest Arkansas, you can buy your gear from locally-owned outdoor retailers and drive 15 minutes to the river, trailhead, or campgrounds.

 “There’s a lot of other places that might have an REI or something like that. But then where do you go? You have to drive two hours to get somewhere to use that stuff. In Northwest Arkansas, you drive 15 minutes east or west, and next thing you know, you’re in pristine wilderness. We have one of the cleanest rivers in the country. We have the first national river. We have float trips. We have mountain biking…we literally have everything here.” (20:34) - Nicholas Olano

With the world-class wilderness surrounding the area and a unique culture that promotes and supports outdoor brands, Northwest Arkansas is the perfect place for outdoor recreation brands to call home.

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Bentonville Beacon podcast! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

4: Falling in love with northwest arkansas | danny collins, founder of 37 north expeditions

March 28,2022

Summary:
In this episode of the Bentonville Beacon Podcast, Danny Collins joins host James Bell to discuss Bentonville’s booming outdoor recreation industry. Danny is the founder of 37 North Expeditions, which focuses heavily on making the Ozarks more accessible for everyone. On the show, James and Danny discuss how 37 North helps people fall in love with the outdoors, the importance of equity and inclusion in the outdoor recreation industry, and why the Ozarks have become the next outdoor recreation hot spot.

Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes:
(0:27) Introducing Danny Collins and 37 North Expeditions
(4:36) Falling in Love with Northwest Arkansas
(6:57) Helping Everyone Fall in Love with the Outdoors
(14:36) Prioritizing Diversity and Equity in the Outdoors
(18:56) What Business Owners Need to Know about the Ozarks
(25:33) Advice for Outdoor Recreation Entrepreneurs
(30:12) What’s Next for 37 North?
(33:34) The 37 North Team
(35:57) Choosing a Superpower and Closing Thoughts

Links:
James Bell
Danny Collins
North Expeditions

Quotes:
Our very simple goal and aspiration is to get as many people outside as humanly possible and to make it really simple and convenient to do so. And really, a byproduct of that is helping people fall in love with our beautiful natural landscapes and therefore want to protect it.” (2:01) - Danny Collins

Northwest Arkansas is growing at such an incredibly rapid rate, and there’s so many exciting aspects to that…It’s a really vibrant combination of these people that are moving in from really everywhere with a community that is putting everything into the outdoor connection.” (15:11) - Danny Collins

For so long, [outdoor programming for youth] was just about teaching your kid how to fish, teaching your kid how to kayak, and the list goes on…For us, we are like, ‘Teach your kid how to love the outdoors. Teach your kid how to feel comfortable in the outdoors and how to slow down.’ So we lead with the connection to self, connection to others, and connection to nature.” (32:05) - Danny Collins

Blog:
In this episode of the Bentonville Beacon Podcast, Danny Collins joins host James Bell to discuss Bentonville’s booming outdoor recreation industry. Danny is the founder of 37 North Expeditions, which focuses heavily on making the Ozarks more accessible for everyone. On the show, James and Danny discuss how 37 North helps people fall in love with the outdoors, the importance of equity and inclusion in the outdoor recreation industry, and why the Ozarks have become the next outdoor recreation hot spot.

37 North Expeditions
After stints in New York City and Quito, Ecuador, Danny returned to the Ozark region and promptly fell in love with the natural landscapes he had grown up with. He saw the area’s potential and wanted to share his passion for the outdoors with others who may not feel as comfortable on a hike or in a kayak. Danny founded 37 North with the goal of making the Ozarks more accessible for all people, no matter their gender, race, abilities, or interests.

Our very simple goal and aspiration is to get as many people outside as humanly possible and to make it really simple and convenient to do so. And really, a byproduct of that is helping people fall in love with our beautiful natural landscapes and therefore want to protect it.” (2:01) - Danny Collins

37 North’s primary avenue for sharing the gospel of the outdoors is leading guided expeditions through the Ozarks. While they offer everyday adventures like hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, they have an affinity for adding a unique flair to each trip. What if you could kayak a few miles downriver and then jump on your bike to ride 10 miles of trails before enjoying a brewery crawl on your bike? A trip like that would require a significant amount of planning, not to mention hours of preparation to place the necessary equipment along your path. With 37 North, trips like this are routine.

Throughout his time in the area, Danny realized that the Ozarks haven’t necessarily been welcoming to everyone. Originally, the Ozarks catered to white men that wanted to hunt and fish, but the region is much more than that now. Danny is helping to ensure that other demographics feel comfortable in the outdoors as well.

For so long, [outdoor programming for youth] was just about teaching your kid how to fish, teaching your kid how to kayak, and the list goes on…For us, we are like, ‘Teach your kid how to love the outdoors. Teach your kid how to feel comfortable in the outdoors and how to slow down.’ So we lead with the connection to self, connection to others, and connection to nature.” (32:05) - Danny Collins

Why Bentonville?
Because he grew up in the area, having a presence in Bentonville was a no-brainer. The community in Bentonville has welcomed 37 North with open arms, and it shares the company’s sentiments about making the outdoors a more inviting space for everyone.

Northwest Arkansas is growing at such an incredibly rapid rate, and there’s so many exciting aspects to that…It’s a really vibrant combination of these people that are moving in from really everywhere with a community that is putting everything into the outdoor connection.” (15:11) - Danny Collins

The infrastructure dedicated to the growing outdoor community is a crucial advantage for other outdoor recreation businesses considering a presence in Bentonville.

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Bentonville Beacon podcast! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!

Are you interested in learning more about Bentonville and the growth of its outdoor recreation community? Check out the Bentonville Economic Development website.

3: Why Should Business Leaders Care about Bentonville? | Nicole Dougan,
Store manager at Strider Bikes

March 21,2022

Summary:
On this week’s episode of the Bentonville Beacon Podcast, host James Bell sits down with Nicole Dougan, Store Manager of Strider Bikes’ sole retail location. In 2018, Nicole and her family moved to Northwest Arkansas from Central Missouri in search of a home that better fit their outdoor-centric lifestyle. James and Nicole discuss all things Strider, why Nicole’s family chose NWA, and why outdoor recreation business leaders need to have a presence in Bentonville.

Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes:
(0:21) Introducing Nicole Dougan and Strider Bikes
(3:57) Who’s shopping at Strider?  
(7:20) Revitalizing Downtown Bentonville
(9:11) The Strider Cup and Adventure-cross
(12:20) Nicole’s NWA Origin Story
(15:08) Why Should Business Leaders Care about Bentonville?
(21:05) What’s Next for Strider in Bentonville?
(22:14) Closing Thoughts and Choosing Your Superpower

Links:
James Bell
NICOLE DOUGAN
strider bikes
Quotes:
“Even though we [biked and kayaked] a lot back in Missouri, it was always a day—it was a feat to load up and go get enough miles in or to go float. Whereas now, we live in Bella Vista and can be on the river in 10 minutes, and you know, the Back 40 [mountain bike trail] is in our backyard, and I can ride my bike to work now.” (14:30) - Nicole Dougan

“I think Bentonville is so unique in that—first of all—the infrastructure’s there, so that’s the obvious [thing].” (15:16) - Nicole Dougan

“To come here and be able to work, make a decent living, have great jobs, have access, and still be able to have that family balance is really unique to anywhere I’ve seen. And so not only can you offer your business a great location and support from the community, but you can also offer your employees so much by being here.” (15:56) - Nicole Dougan

“We talk about being here and having access to things, but being here, people have access to you because it really is very centrally located and easy to get to.” (17:05) - Nicole Dougan

Blog:
On this week’s episode of the Bentonville Beacon Podcast, host James Bell sits down with Nicole Dougan, Store Manager of Strider Bikes’ sole retail location. In 2018, Nicole and her family moved to Northwest Arkansas from Central Missouri in search of a home that better fit their outdoor-centric lifestyle. James and Nicole discuss all things Strider, why Nicole’s family chose NWA, and why outdoor recreation business leaders need to have a presence in Bentonville.

Strider Bikes
Teaching your child to ride a bike is a special moment for parents, but it is undoubtedly a challenging task. Strider makes it easy. The brand is committed to building high-quality bikes that teach kids to ride at a young age. Rather than utilizing traditional training wheels, Strider builds bikes that use foot propulsion, encouraging kids to learn balance from the beginning.

“I think Bentonville is so unique in that—first of all—the infrastructure’s there, so that’s the obvious [thing].” (15:16) - Nicole Dougan

Based in South Dakota, Strider chose to open its first and only retail location in Downtown Bentonville. Ultimately, the decision came down to Bentonville’s strong support of the biking community. As the mountain biking capital of the world, Bentonville was an obvious choice for a brand that is passionate about growing young, aspiring cyclists.

“We talk about being here and having access to things, but being here, people have access to you because it really is very centrally located and easy to get to.” (17:05) - Nicole Dougan

Why Bentonville?
The allure of Bentonville for Strider is palpable, but Bentonville’s support and infrastructure expand far beyond the mountain biking community. Road cyclists, campers, rock climbers, kayakers, and many more outdoor enthusiasts have found a suitable home in Bentonville. The NWA region is home to nearly every outdoor activity that doesn’t rely on snow or the ocean, making it an ideal home for anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors.

Even though we [biked and kayaked] a lot back in Missouri, it was always a day—it was a feat to load up and go get enough miles in or to go float. Whereas now, we live in Bella Vista and can be on the river in 10 minutes, and you know, the Back 40 [mountain bike trail] is in our backyard, and I can ride my bike to work now.” (14:30) - Nicole Dougan  

Upcoming Events
On June 18th, Strider Bikes will be hosting the Strider Cup and Strider Adventure-Cross on the square in Downtown Bentonville. The Strider Cup races involve children ages 2–4 riding their Strider 12” bikes around a track. In the Strider Adventure-Cross races, 4–7-year-olds race on foot and their Strider 14” bikes, both in balance and pedal modes. For more information on the races and registration, click here.

The event will follow the Farmer’s Market on the afternoon of June 18th and is free to all spectators. We hope to see you there!

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning into this episode of the Bentonville Beacon podcast! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle!

Are you interested in learning more about Bentonville and the growth of its outdoor recreation community? Check out the Bentonville Economic Development website.

2: Why Outdoor Recreation Businesses Should Consider Bentonville | Andrew Gibbs-Dabney, founder/ceo of LIVSN

March 14,2022

Summary:
On this week’s episode of the Bentonville Beacon podcast, James Bell sits down with Andrew Gibbs-Dabney, Founder and CEO of LIVSN Designs. Andrew founded LIVSN nearly four and a half years ago with the desire to simplify the things he owned. The pair discusses the origins of LIVSN, why Andrew chose to headquarter in Bentonville, and much more.

Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes:
(0:16) Introducing Andrew Gibbs-Dabney and LIVSN Designs
(6:56) Utilizing Kickstarter
(16:16) The Advantage of Being in NWA
(23:47) Why Outdoor Rec Businesses Should Consider Bentonville
(28:25) Advice for Aspiring Outdoor “Rec-preneurs”
(30:52) What’s Next for LIVSN?
(32:49) The Deep Talent Pool in NWA
(36:40) Choosing Your Super Power and Closing Thoughts

Links:
James Bell
Andrew Gibbs-Dabney
LIVSN Designs

Quotes:
What Arkansas has I think is something special—maybe less flashy, but it’s not anything less inspiring [than the other outdoor hubs in the country].” (17:01) - Andrew Gibbs-Dabney

If there’s mountain biking or cycling in the company’s interest, there’s definitely a reason to be here.” (25:15) - Andrew Gibbs-Dabney

From my house, I can access almost 300 or 400 miles of trails and not get in my car. From my office, I can do the same thing. Anywhere in Bentonville, you don’t actually have to drive anywhere. You don’t have to even have a bike rack if you don’t want to.” (25:40) - Andrew Gibbs-Dabney

The outdoor industry is thriving in the southeast, and a lot of these brands do most of their sales here.” (27:21) - Andrew Gibbs-Dabney

We’ve had 80–150 applicants for every job we’ve posted. We’ve ended up hiring someone locally each time because the best person for that job happened to be here.” (33:22) - Andrew Gibbs-Dabney  

Blog:

Throughout the first season of the Bentonville Beacon podcast, host James Bell will be sitting down with entrepreneurs, executives, and business owners from the outdoor recreation industry that have chosen Bentonville, Arkansas as their home. Tune in to hear about what’s going on in Bentonville, how the city has become a hub for the outdoor recreation industry, and how your business could benefit from a presence in the area!

What Arkansas has I think is something special—maybe less flashy, but it’s not anything less inspiring [than the other outdoor hubs in the country].” (17:01) - Andrew Gibbs-Dabney

On this week’s episode of the Bentonville Beacon podcast, James Bell sits down with Andrew Gibbs-Dabney, Founder and CEO of LIVSN Designs. Andrew founded LIVSN nearly four and a half years ago with the desire to simplify the things he owned. He grew up as an avid outdoorsman, which ultimately led to an extensive outdoor apparel and gear collection, which became taxing for him.  

As he sorted through his gear and cleaned out his closet, he began to realize the importance of owning a handful of comfortable, durable, and sustainably-produced clothing items that he loved. And so became LIVSN, a company dedicated to creating versatile, well-made clothing for people who value experiences more than stuff.

Why Bentonville?
When Andrew founded LIVSN, he considered every major outdoor recreation hub in the country: Northern California, Denver, the Carolinas, and the Pacific Northwest. Ultimately, he believed the hype he had heard around the growing outdoor recreation industry in Northwest Arkansas and decided to headquarter in Bentonville.

With his interest in mountain biking, his decision quickly paid off. His team regularly goes mountain biking at lunch, taking advantage of the several hundred miles of trails accessible from nearly anywhere in Bentonville.

From my house, I can access almost 300 or 400 miles of trails and not get in my car. From my office, I can do the same thing. Anywhere in Bentonville, you don’t actually have to drive anywhere. You don’t have to even have a bike rack if you don’t want to.” (25:40) - Andrew Gibbs-Dabney

Andrew also sites the thriving outdoor recreation retail industry as a benefit of the region. With REI expanding rapidly on both coasts and in the Mountain West, the Southeast has been left relatively untouched, creating a prime environment for mom-and-pop outdoor gear retailers to thrive.

The outdoor industry is thriving in the southeast, and a lot of these brands do most of their sales here.” (27:21) - Andrew Gibbs-Dabney

Lastly, Andrew touched on the ever-increasing talent pool that calls Northwest Arkansas home. In the last year, Andrew has increased the size of his team by 500%. Even though he opened his talent search nationwide, he continually found the best applicants in his own backyard.

We’ve had 80–150 applicants for every job we’ve posted. We’ve ended up hiring someone locally each time because the best person for that job happened to be here.” (33:22) - Andrew Gibbs-Dabney  

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning into this first episode of the Bentonville Beacon podcast! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle!

Are you interested in learning more about Bentonville and the growth of its outdoor recreation community? Check out the Bentonville Economic Development website.

1: Helping Entrepreneurs Define & Launch Businesses | Phil Shellhammer, Director of greenhouse outdoor recreation program

March 14,2022

Summary:
Welcome to the inaugural episode of the Bentonville Beacon podcast!

In today’s episode, host James Bell sits down with Phil Shellhammer, Director of the Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP). Phil recently launched GORP as a part of the University of Arkansas’s education and research program in Bentonville, known as The Collaborative. The pair discusses how GORP serves entrepreneurs in the area and why outdoor brands should consider Bentonville as their new home!
Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes:
(0:20) Introducing Phil Shellhammer and GORP
(3:39) Helping Entrepreneurs Define and Launch Their Businesses
(8:03) Who Is GORP Serving?
(11:08) Bentonville’s Draw for Outdoor Recreation Brands
(16:45) Unique Opportunities that Bentonville Provides
(19:44) What’s Next for GORP?
(23:11) Choosing Your Super Power
(24:23) Closing Thoughts

Links:
James Bell
Phil Shellhammer
Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program  
The Collaborative

Quotes:
“Outdoor recreation is a large growth area for [Northwest Arkansas] for sure, and one that is a massive focus.” (1:06) - Phil Shellhammer

“If you have an idea within the outdoor recreation space, [GORP wants] to help and support [you]...What we’re doing right now is we are trying to build a structure that’s supportive of the core activities most [people] will come from.” (8:23) - Phil Shellhammer

“[Northwest Arkansas] has turned into a place for people to live and come to visit and play with a variety of different activities that are hard to find in the middle of the US.” (11:22) - Phil Shellhammer

“Because you have this large group of tourism coming in—this large investment in the space from the city and from other investors to make this a great outdoor rec space, then it’s natural for businesses to want to be here too.” (12:02) - Phil Shellhammer

“I imagine most people don't realize that having Walmart here isn’t just that Walmart is here, but they’re surrounded by every large CPG company as well. And so we have so much talent, not even just in Walmart, but calling on Walmart. And so all those companies are represented here in Bentonville—in the surrounding areas as well—which is just a much larger talent pool.” (16:21) - Phil Shellhammer

“It’s overwhelming when you first start as a founder in this area. You literally go from group to group, from person to person, from mentor to mentor because they’re all over the place and everyone’s so willing and able to help. I think one of the biggest things we have here is that community specifically for startups.” (17:26) - Phil Shellhammer

Blog:
In the inaugural episode of the Bentonville Beacon podcast, host James Bell sits down with Phil Shellhammer, Director of the Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP). Phil recently launched GORP as a part of the University of Arkansas’s education and research program in Bentonville, known as The Collaborative. He provided tons of great insight into how Bentonville has positioned itself as a primary player in the outdoor recreation space.

“Outdoor recreation is a large growth area for [Northwest Arkansas] for sure, and one that is a massive focus.” (1:06) - Phil Shellhammer

What is GORP?
The University of Arkansas’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation launched GORP severalmonths ago as a Bentonville-based incubation program that serves entrepreneurs within the outdoor recreation industry.

“If you have an idea within the outdoor recreation space, [GORP wants] to help and support [you]...What we’re doing right now is we are trying to build a structure that’s supportive of the core activities most [people] will come from.” (8:23) - Phil Shellhammer

Through the incubation program, Phil primarily helps early-stage entrepreneurs build and launch their outdoor recreation brands. The program has two offerings: an a-la-carte service for entrepreneurs looking for assistance, and the biannual cohort—their flagship offering. The cohort is a 12-week intensive incubation program that serves entrepreneurs nearing launch.GORP’s first cohort began nearly a month ago and includes four entrepreneurs launching brands that will impact the rock climbing community, mountain biking community, and the outdoor recreation industry as a whole.

Why Bentonville?
If you’ve been paying attention to the outdoor industry over the past decade, you know that
Bentonville has proven itself to be a significant player in the outdoor recreation space.
Bentonville and its surrounding area are home to world-class mountain biking trails, premier rock climbing sites, plenty of camping and hiking destinations, multiple rivers to float, and much more.  

As the region has embraced its outdoor-centric identity, outdoor enthusiasts and professionals alike have flocked to the area. There is no shortage of industry experts and enthusiasts who provide a booming market for new products and are eager to give feedback.

“Because you have this large group of tourism coming in—this large investment in the space
from the city and from other investors to make this a great outdoor rec space, then it’s natural for businesses to want to be here too.”
(12:02) - Phil Shellhammer

In addition to the influx in outdoor recreation fanatics, the University of Arkansas, several large
businesses, and a wealth of investors have supplied plenty of capital that led to the area’s
outdoor recreation boom over the past decade. Thanks to these investors, founders and
entrepreneurs in the industry have no shortage of resources and opportunities, and the well is only getting deeper.  

“It’s overwhelming when you first start as a founder in this area. You literally go from group to group, from person to person, from mentor to mentor because they’re all over the place and everyone’s so willing and able to help. I think one of the biggest things we have here is that community specifically for startups.” (17:26) - Phil Shellhammer

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning into the first episode of the Bentonville Beacon podcast! Tune in weekly for
more stories from entrepreneurs who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture,
community, and lifestyle!

Are you interested in learning more about Bentonville and the growth of its outdoor recreation community? Check out the Bentonville Economic Development website.

ARE YOU READY TO GROW IN BENTONVILLE?

Let's go!

July 11th, 2022

Summary
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell showcased the founders and leaders of DroneUp, a company that provides flexible flight services and works with many power players in retail, medical, and other important areas. Tom Walker, DroneUp’s CEO served in the Navy and was a White House Advisor in technological areas of expertise, along with serving as the president of Web-Tex prior to forming DroneUp. His partner, John Vernon, serves as DroneUp’s CTO following serving on multiple boards in the areas of aviation and technology, as well as working as the COO of Web-Tex. James, Tom, and John discussed the future of drones, how they can help people and greatly improve the quality of life, and the benefits of working with business giants in Bentonville.
Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes:
(2:47) Introducing John Walker and Tom Vernon
(4:39) Learning about DroneUp and What They Do 
(6:04) What Challenges DroneUp Has Faced to Get Where They Are Today
(9:17) The Benefits and Practicality of Drones
(15:01) All about the Safety Measures and Best Practices of Drones 
(31:09) What Made NWA Ideal to Build DroneUp
(35:53) What’s to Come for DroneUp
(48:58) Because Bentonville(
55:06) Tom’s and John’s’ Favorite Lessons Learned This Year and Closing Thoughts

Links
James Bell
Tom Walker
John Vernon
DroneUp

Quotes
“[NWA] gave us a huge opportunity to expand, very much a crawl-walk-run approach to how we were going to move this. And to learn all of the lessons, not just about the drone, those are the things we kind of knew…You can build all of these amazing technologies and apps, but like any other agile and innovative company, all of the lessons you learn actually happen when you start doing it.” John Vernon, (31:27)

“Our culture really aligns well with Walmart’s. Ours is about doing it safely and then growing it appropriately…By being associated with Walmart, I don’t think we were looked at as sort of this rogue drone company that’s going to start flying all over, but we were partnered with Walmart and therefore we were expected to behave like Walmart, and just by virtue of our culture and how we operated, we did.” Tom Walker, (32:48)

“Make no mistake about it…Northwest Arkansas is very very innovative. It’s interesting because in some ways it still has the laid back feel of the parts of Arkansas that I used to really like; it wasn’t a super fast-pace; it didn’t feel that way. But if you look at the innovation that’s going on around here…It’s almost like this subtle underground community of hyper-innovation that’s super impressive for the area.” Tom Walker, (34:33)

“I think that sense of accomplishment overcomes the fear, uncertainty, or doubt of what’s going to be next. Focusing whatever you can do to be the best that you can be in the moment that you’re in has really been an enriching experience for everybody involved, and I think in emerging industries, it’s another drawing factor that brings people in and helps people feel like they’re a part of something that’s more than just a day-to-day job.” John Vernon, (52:15)

“Keep humble. I wouldn’t say ‘Be humble,’ it’s ‘Keep humble.’ We’ve come a long way but we’ve got a long way to go…I think more than anything, especially with the growth that we’ve experienced over the last year, it’s very easy to get caught up in the big number that you see around growth and people count, but its also very humbling.” John Vernon, (55:06)


Leveling Up Delivery in Northwest Arkansas with DroneUp
On this episode of The Bentonville Beacon, host James Bell showcased the founders and leaders of DroneUp, a company that provides flexible flight services and works with many power players in retail, medical, and other important areas. Tom Walker, DroneUp’s CEO served in the Navy and was a White House Advisor in technological areas of expertise, along with serving as the president of Web-Tex prior to forming DroneUp. His partner, John Vernon, serves as DroneUp’s CTO following serving on multiple boards in the areas of aviation and technology, as well as working as the COO of Web-Tex. James, Tom, and John discussed the future of drones, how they can help people and greatly improve the quality of life, and the benefits of working with business giants in Bentonville.

DroneUp!
“[NWA] gave us a huge opportunity to expand, very much a crawl-walk-run approach to how we were going to move this. And to learn all of the lessons, not just about the drone, those are the things we kind of knew…You can build all of these amazing technologies and apps, but like any other agile and innovative company, all of the lessons you learn actually happen when you start doing it.” John Vernon, (31:27)

DroneUp is another example of a company whose idea was born outside of the area, but has found its home and success in Bentonville. Like many businesses, DroneUp has discovered that its success came from the structure within the company as much or more as the connections on the outside. The founders, Tom Walker and John Vernon echo countless leaders before them who realized that doing their craft is almost the easy part—the learning curve comes when they have to build a real business around that craft and curate a company culture that matters.

“I think that sense of accomplishment overcomes the fear, uncertainty, or doubt of what’s going to be next. Focusing whatever you can do to be the best that you can be in the moment that you’re in has really been an enriching experience for everybody involved, and I think in emerging industries, it’s another drawing factor that brings people in and helps people feel like they’re a part of something that’s more than just a day-to-day job.” John Vernon, (52:15) 

John and Tom expressed that when running a tech startup, it is difficult to plan business moves five years ahead in such a rapidly-changing field. However, the parts that are important to prepare for and focus on are the ones that keep the public safe and the team engaged. They love providing something in drone services that will help shape the future, but staying in the present is what keeps their company alive and thriving.

“Keep Humble. I wouldn’t say ‘Be humble,’ it’s ‘Keep humble.’ We’ve come a long way but we’ve got a long way to go…I think more than anything, especially with the growth that we’ve experienced over the last year, it’s very  easy to get caught up in the big number that you see around growth and people count, but its also very humbling ” John Vernon (55:06)

Why Bentonville?
“Our culture really aligns well with Walmart’s. Ours is about doing it safely and then growing it appropriately…By being associated with Walmart, I don’t think we were looked at as sort of this rogue drone company that’s going to start flying all over, but we were partnered with Walmart and therefore we were expected to behave like Walmart, and just by virtue of our culture and how we operated, we did.” Tom Walker, (32:48)

When speaking to employees moving to Bentonville to get a quick leg-up on the DroneUp ladder before moving back to their home city, Tom found many of them instead wanted to stay and build their lives and careers here. Walmart sets the stage really well for how to do business and more importantly, how to pour into the community and the people that make the business possible. Everyone in Bentonville benefits because this business model attracts other companies like it to the area until the entire city is full of people wholeheartedly invested in where they live.

Make no mistake about it…Northwest Arkansas is very very innovative. It’s interesting because in some ways it still has the laid back feel of the parts of Arkansas that I used to really like; it wasn’t a super fast-pace; it didn’t feel that way. But if you look at the innovation that’s going on around here…It’s almost like this subtle underground community of hyper-innovation that’s super impressive for the area.” Tom Walker, (34:33)

John joked that NWA is the Ozarks Silicon Valley, which is interesting because the area is known for its innovative nature, always pushing the boundaries and looking forward. But what’s missing about that Silicon Valley feel is how nice, helpful, and genuinely happy the people in Bentonville tend to be. It is what makes this area so ripe for new things.

Get Connected!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories from entrepreneurs and business leaders who are making a positive impact on Bentonville’s culture, community, and lifestyle. Don’t forget, Bentonville is a place where you can have more of what you want and less of what you don’t!