CONWAY, Ark. — The vice president of a tech startup company and co-founder of angel investment firm Cadron Creek Capital says that college-town Conway could become a hotspot for future tech firms.
In the big picture of the state’s emerging tech startup ecosystem, Conway could be ready for its close up.
The city of roughly 70,000, situated on the northern edge of the Little Rock metro, usually gets lumped in with central Arkansas when the talk is the emerging regional ecosystems in greater Little Rock and northwest Arkansas.
But the “city of colleges” and soon-to-be home of two major hospitals is poised to contribute its own big hitters to the state’s tech startup lineup. Downtown Conway already is attracting tech startups, drawn to the talent pool and quality of life.
Jeff Standridge, vice president of audience solutions at Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock, was among a group of co-founders who earlier this year created the early-stage seed fund Cadron Creek Capital. The Conway group launched in March, very much under the radar, and began soliciting investors in June. It’s raised $800,000 from roughly 30 investors, almost all of them from Conway, and many of them first-time investors.
The fund has invested in three startups and plans to add about seven more before launching Cadron Creek Fund II sometime next fall. The group hopes to add more follow-up funds every 18 months or so, and intends to work closely with the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and the University of Central Arkansas to bolster the regional startup environment.
Standridge, a 2004 Arkansas Business 40 Under 40 honoree, said the fund’s investment strategy is to provide bridge funding between founder and Series A/B capital and also to provide guidance and mentorship necessary to accelerate growth.
“As such, our fund membership is comprised of entrepreneurs, executives, technologists, consultants, operators, and emerging and seasoned investors,” Standridge said.