Get Started NWA

Pitch Your Idea –  Win $11,500 In Cash and Tech Solutions

Get Started NW Arkansas (#GetStartedNWA) is now accepting nominations for the live pitch event on Thursday, October 12th.

Arkansas-based start-ups and small businesses can submit their idea for a chance to pitch to an experienced panel of investors, entrepreneurs, and brand executives. One winner will receive a prize package worth $11,500 in cash and prizes including a Cox Business technology start-up package.


Register to Pitch Your Business

Whether you’re a new start-up or an established small business looking to grow your current business with a new idea, join us to learn from an esteemed panel of experts how to turn that idea into a revenue-generating success.

In our pitch competition, you’ll get the chance to win a prize package valued up to $11,500.

Pitch submissions for this event are now closed.

Register to Attend Get Started NW Arkansas 

The local business and startup community is encouraged to attend this free event that will include:

  • A pitch competition featuring early and mid-stage startups and local small businesses
  • Insights from a panel of experienced entrepreneurs, business leaders, and brand executives
  • Catered hors d’oeuvres, open bar and networking

WHEN: Thursday, October 12th, 2017 from 6:00 – 9:30 pm

WHERE: Walton Arts Center. 495 W. Dickson Street, Fayetteville, Arkansas

ADMISSION: Free and open to the business community, but you must pre-register to attend


Register To Attend

The Get Started NW Arkansas Moderator

kenKen Kraft
Senior Vice President of Marketing & Sales Operations for Cox Business

Ken is the head of Cox Communications’ $2 billion business division that provides video, voice and data telecommunications services to businesses.   He is responsible for the overall marketing strategy, as well as tactical execution of marketing plans to drive revenue growth and customer retention and oversees SMB Marketing, Enterprise Marketing, Marketing Operations, Pricing, Sales Operations and Creative Services for Cox Business.  This includes customer segmentation, brand strategy/positioning, product marketing and support, pricing, digital marketing, social media, customer education and events/sponsorships.

He leads a nationwide team tasked with the creation and implementation of marketing strategies and campaigns to further accelerate top line revenue growth and customer retention within Cox Business. His leadership in the industry was recognized this year with a TAMI Award for Leadership in Business Services across the MSO community.


The Get Started NW Arkansas Panelists


Jeff Charlson
Chief Technology Officer Rockfish Digital

Jeff is currently the chief technology officer for Rockfish Digital and the lead partner in a NW Arkansas brewery. He serves as an executive board member of the greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce and works closely as an entrepreneur in residence for Startup Junkie (A NW Arkansas startup mentoring organization).

Before joining Rockfish Digital, Jeff had a 25- year career with Fortune 500 companies and a successful start-up endeavor. He was a global corporate officer for eight years at Walmart leading enterprise IT efforts and technology for Sam’s Club. Prior to a 12-year career at Walmart, Jeff spent nine years at General Electric leading business teams and Six Sigma efforts within GE and four years as a sales leader within the Maytag Company.

Jeff graduated with an M.B.A. from Lamar University in Beaumont, TX and has a B.A. from the University of Northern Iowa. He’s been married for 20+ years and is the father of two teenagers.

John James
Founder and CEO Hayseed Ventures

John James is a family practice physician who, on the last day of his residency, gave up medicine for the
adventure of innovation. John paid for medical school with proceeds from his first e-commerce company, a quiz bowl question business he founded from the comfort of his dorm room at the University of Arkansas in 1995. A serial entrepreneur by nature, John has built and sold multiple businesses centered around search engine marketing, including ventures in keyword arbitrage, multi channel niche retail, and hyperlocal online media.

He’s currently working on Hayseed Ventures, a startup studio focused on customer acquisition based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Prior to founding Hayseed Ventures, he served as the founder and CEO of Country Outfitter / Acumen Brands, raising over $100 million in venture capital. John has been dubbed the “start-up King of NWA”. He is attached to several start-up businesses and has “rescued” a few failing ones, such as Accumen brands (which he sold and is now in talks about re-purchasing it to revive it).

John has served on multiple boards (including the Medical UAMS board in Little Rock) and has served as advisor and consultant to the NWA Economic Development Committee (both consultative role as well as presenter). Education – University of Arkansas Bachelor of Science (BS) and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (Doctor of Medicine). John has 3 kids: Kate (14), Abby (11) and Alex (9). Wife’s name is Amy (stay at home mom – major food blogger).

Lauren Stokes
Owner/CEO at Lauren James Enterprises

Bed rest totally changed Lauren Stokes’ life. Lauren, pregnant with her son Lofton James, was ordered to bed for 10 weeks by her doctor. She was bored out of her mind so she started drawing dresses. After Lofton’s birth in March 2013, Lauren was unsure whether she wanted to immediately return to work as a registered nurse. Her husband, Lance, told her she should think about going into the clothing design business. She ordered a shipment of plain T-shirts and added her designs. When those T-shirts sold quickly, she ordered and sold another batch of shirts and business has snowballed.

Lauren James Enterprises now has a full line of clothing and over 100 employees. New York-based Inc. magazine listed Lauren James Enterprises as the fastest-growing company in Arkansas and ranked No. 53 on the 36th annual Inc. 5000, a ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. Lauren and her husband are the parents of two children.

Joe Murphy
VP of Platform Products at Collective Bias

Joe Murphy is the VP of Platform Products at Collective Bias where he sits at the intersection
of strategy, technology, and user experience. Prior to joining Collective Bias, Joe worked as a
consultant helping new companies build their business with Walmart, and later went on to build and sell two companies in the mobile insights and event spaces.

In his free time, he can be found lakeside with his wife and three boys! Joe studied at the University of Arkansas and graduated with a degree in Entrepreneurship.



You can enter the Contest by visiting the official registration page at  (the “Website”) and completing all of the required information and following all posted instructions. The contest is open only to legal residents of Arkansas who: (1) are at least 18 years of age; (2) are the owner, principal, or general manager of a business that is physically located within a Cox Business serviceable area. Entry Period begins August 29th,2017. BY ENTERING THE CONTEST, YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT (1) YOUR MATERIALS ARE NOT CONFIDENTIAL AND NO CONFIDENTIAL OR FIDUCIARY RELATIONSHIP IS INTENDED OR CREATED BY ENTERING THE CONTEST; AND (2) THE CONTEST ENTITIES MAY POSSESS OR COME TO POSSESS INFORMATION THAT IS SIMILAR OR IDENTICAL TO YOUR MATERIALS, AND YOU HEREBY AGREE THAT THE CONTEST ENTITIES MAY USE SUCH SIMILAR OR IDENTICAL INFORMATION WITHOUT LIMITATION, COMPENSATION, OR CREDIT TO YOU. Void where prohibited. Contest subject to Complete Official Rules. To obtain a copy of Official rules visit To obtain a copy of the winner’s list, send your request along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to “Cox Business Get Started” Winners List, Marketing Department, Cox Communications, Inc., 6205-B Peachtree Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30328. Sponsor: Cox Communications, Inc., d/b/a Cox Business, 6205-B Peachtree Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30328. (c) 2017 Cox Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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