Amerine speaks at the Economic Development Summit

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By DONNA BRAYMER [email protected]

Jeff Amerine, founder of Startup Junkie in 2008, was one of the speakers at the Economic Development Summit presented by North Arkansas College on Thursday, October 28.

Amerine “landed” in Harrison after her father stopped traveling with the military. “It was a refreshing place to land, he says. He graduated from Harrison High School in 1980 and after some time in the Air Force and in college has held executive positions at nine startups and three Fortune 500 companies, and has made over 80 angel investments in new and small businesses, either directly or through the funds he manages.

He is very passionate about supporting entrepreneurs, providing them with advice and innovative solutions free of charge. Amerine has assembled an impressive team of business leaders, entrepreneurs, lawyers, educators, international investment professionals and more.

He told the group: “I wanted to challenge the status quo and try to build something new. I have spent time in telecommunications and cell phones and prepaid software. I can tell you about the entrepreneurial journey and the small business journey – that commitment when you leave a high paying job at a big company and everyone thinks you are crazy. It is a difficult business. But these entrepreneurs and small businesses are the backbone of everything that matters. “

Amerine and her partner Jeff Standridge decided that the story should be told in a book. “We needed people to realize if we can be part of a movement in Northwest Arkansas and Central Arkansas that is changing lives and helping build great businesses, and improving the rate of early stage business success – if we can do it here, it can be done anywhere. That’s why we named it Building Sustainable Venture Eco Systems in unexpected places.


“The best and most hard-working people are at the heart of the country, there is no doubt about it. I see him every day. No more grain. No more tasks. More ability to get things done with less resources. Just think of the stories of Sam Walton, JB Hunt, the Tyson family, and Sheridan Garrison who created incredible publicly traded companies in a field that in every way had every drawback imaginable. But if they could do it, there’s no reason Boone County and many places in rural America couldn’t do it, ”he said.

“The Conductor is a public / private partnership between Startup Junkie and the University of Central Arkansas and has been in place for approximately six years. The mission of the Startup Junkie and The Conductor teams is to ask “How can we inspire and empower entrepreneurs, innovators and decision makers?” These are the people who are trying to do the hard things to build the next big companies. “

Amerine said, “The Kauffman Foundation, which is one of the world’s leading entrepreneurship think tanks located in Kansas City, Missouri, estimates that over the past 25 years, 85% of all net job creations came from startups. The SBA statistics fall somewhere between two in three. The majority of all net new jobs come from what entrepreneurs and small businesses are trying to do. “

Small businesses represent about 99% of all employers and about 50% of all employees in the United States.

“We serve small businesses and startups in everything from food trucks to software companies to consumer goods. We are here to follow all the trade following a dream, ”he said.

“Startups and small businesses are very difficult and the failure rate is extremely difficult. Thirty-six percent of startups fail because they’ve built something, a product or a service that no one wants, ”he said.

Teams work to understand what the individual wants to create. Then they offer mentoring, guidance, and training to get them past the points that typically cause failure.

“If we can work with them, with a little bit of mentorship, tools and guidance that we have, then their one-year and five-year success rate can increase dramatically and from there will be job creation and vitality. economy that we are looking for, ”he said.

“The team has several intuitive and scientific methods to test, validate, prove or disprove assumptions about your business. We give clients a framework for success.

Amerine describes what they do as “creative collisions,” he said. “Whenever we have events like this, there is an intentional idea of ​​bringing people into the same room who didn’t know they needed to get to know each other. Inevitably, these connections are powerful, ”he said. “There are usually around 1,000 mentoring sessions with entrepreneurs with a team of 30 people per year. We run around 250 events a year and over the past 18 months they’ve been mostly digital. ”

The elements of the Startup Junkie framework are four pillars.

  • Having the right talent available and engaged is essential. They need skills to be successful. Skilled trades are a big part of this – no college education is necessary.
  • A dynamic entrepreneurial culture (events that reinforce the fact that startups are the cornerstone)
  • This is a “everyone on deck” community, everyone working together. Every business is an asset, not a competition. It takes the cooperation of the chamber, the city, the county – everyone has to be involved.
  • Access to capital.

“Part of that success of a community is realizing that SuperMan is not going to parachute and change the direction of the community,” he said. “Understanding how to help existing businesses grow and how to start new entrepreneurs is essential. There are cities across the state awaiting the arrival of the next major manufacturer in the state. They don’t focus enough to grow and build the entrepreneurial scene.

Amerine reiterated that all of their services are free. “I learned as a startup that trying to do business with clients without money is a really bad bet. But these businesses and startups need the kind of support they need to take them to the next level. “

“We have convinced the SBA, the Walton Family Foundation, AEDA and others that it is a good bet because it will add to the economic vitality of the region,” he said.

“Getting world-class consultants at no cost – it’s not that we don’t want them to have their skin in the game. But we do want these entrepreneurs to be able to focus on the humble beginnings. Build a great business, focus on the product, make sure they understand sales, and make sure they create a great product and deliver it the right way.

North Arkansas President Dr. Rick Massengale introduced speaker Jeff Amerine and said, “We’ve heard Steuart Walton talk about entrepreneurship and innovation and that’s the direction the college really wants to take. Something special is happening in the Ozarks. We dreamed in college and you dreamed too. We need to get out of the ‘this is how we have always done’ mindset. There are opportunities here. We have the perfect situation: Business, industry and education all work together and make Harrison the destination. Northark does what the big schools do. We have data science, robotics – we’re just one of six institutions in the United States, including four-year schools that provide robotics training. A lot of interesting things are in transition right now. We must compete with a world that will change every day for the next 20 years. When Jeff Amerine and Grace Rains talk about innovation, remember Northark wants to partner with local industry and share resources with the school system. As Steuart Walton said, “Let’s be Harrison” and build it from the inside out. If we build it from within and on a solid foundation, we can withstand the trials and tribulations that will arise. We know college doesn’t have all the answers, but we’re willing to try anything. We want to be innovative and be your partner. We are here to be your educational destination.


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