Northwest Arkansas outside startups get leg up from GORP

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Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Seven entrepreneurs graduated from the University of Arkansas’ Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP) incubator last Thursday.

What happened: About 60 people gathered at The Collaborative, the University of Arkansas’ Bentonville campus, to see presentations from the Founding Graduates and, in some cases, to examine prototype products.

Why it matters: The outdoor leisure industry is booming in NWA. Incubators and accelerators like GORP help build a network of entrepreneurs willing to capitalize on Arkansas’ natural resources.

Details: Founders and employees are trained through weekly workshops and mentoring to help them scale and commercialize their services and products. You will also receive up to $15,000 in seed funding from the U of A to complete the program.

The seven graduates were:

  • Yonder Adventure Company: a full service tour guide company on the Buffalo National River.
  • Merman Bicycles: The company plans to manufacture steel and titanium hardtail mountain bikes developed on the trails of NWA.
  • Rover Hunting: Two partners are working on a prototype tree stand that is more portable and easier to use for hunting on public land where the stand must be removed after each hunt.
  • XNA Bikes: Founder and father Saul Fernandez plans to build high-quality carbon fiber mountain bikes at a low price point—about $3,500 compared to $7,500—to lower the barrier to entry for MTB enthusiasts.
  • Nur: This will be a combination restaurant, coffee, beer, rest stop, and Airbnb destination in South Fayetteville, just off the Razorback Regional Greenway.
  • Morii: The maker of a yet-to-be-unveiled ‘Hatch Pack’ promises to make car camping safer and easier from an SUV.
  • Gnargo Bike Co.: The company reclaims high-quality steel frames to build electrically-assisted cargo bikes that are ready for grocery stores or preschool rides.

Remarkable: Two of the startups — Gnargo and Just — are run by married couples, and XNA Bikes founder Saul Fernandez has brought his high school-aged daughter into his business.

What’s next: GORP is accepting applications for its third cohort of companies through December 11th. This group starts on January 19th and runs until April 13th.

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