BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Ten Northwest Arkansas entrepreneurs will enter a new cohort of a national idea accelerator program aimed at helping them take their ideas and put them into action.

According to a press release, those ideas include an animated baserunning tool for youth baseball training, an app to help women track and manage IVF treatments, a synthetic juice for cocktail drinks, software designed to improve farming processes and a solution for converting regular bikes into electronic bikes. 

The participants from Northwest Arkansas will join builders from nine other cities throughout the heartland including Helena and Pine Bluff; Duluth, Minnesota; Joplin, Missouri; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Iowa City, Iowa; Clarksdale, Mississippi; and Fort Worth, Texas. The three-month program kicks off on June 16.

The program is a partnership between Heartland Forward and Builders + Backers. The cohort of builders in Northwest Arkansas is part of Heartland Forward’s commitment to support 1,000 builders across the heartland by 2023.

The Northwest Arkansas cohort will also include a new podcasting solution for enterprise businesses, compresses to help new mothers recover after delivery, career training for people breaking into the film industry, a digital repository for artwork and therapeutic art kits tailored to help people manage anxiety and depression.

“Thriving small businesses and an entrepreneurial spirit are key to developing local economics and spurring economic revitalization in cities and towns across the heartland,” said Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward. “We are excited to welcome this new cohort of Northwest Arkansas builders to the program, and look forward to seeing what incredible ideas they bring to the community. Heartland Forward is excited to work with entrepreneurs across the region and to expand this impactful program across the heartland as part of our commitment to support 1,000 builders by 2023.”

“Every community has potential game-changing ideas that are lying dormant,” said Donna Harris, CEO of Builders + Backers. “We received some exciting submissions in Northwest Arkansas, and we can’t wait to get to work helping these new builders put their ideas into action. This is where the premise behind our Idea Accelerator program gets so interesting. For less than a single venture investment, we’re going to unleash and fuel thousands of ideas across the country and see new ventures, initiatives and companies emerge.”

At the heart of the CGPT are the “Builders + Backers four program pillars, designed to mobilize and equip Builders” through:

  • Idea Accelerator: This cohort-based program combines a 45-day Builder Bootcamp to teach participants how to put ideas into action, followed by 45 days of actively executing their ideas through a single experiment.
  • Pebble Fund: All of the Builders are supported by a $5,000 Pebble Grant to test their ideas. Participants are mentored by Master Builders throughout the program. 
  • Storytelling: A comprehensive media program that curates, captures and distributes stories of Buildership™, both from within the programs and in communities everywhere. Through video, written stories, social media and media partnerships, the program inspires people to become Builders. 
  • Buildership Workshops: Workshops and other events introduce people to the ideas of “Buildership” and demonstrate that anyone can generate creative solutions through entrepreneurial experimentation that contribute to the sustainability of communities. 

The program was piloted in Tulsa, OK and Oxford, MS with 15 Builders solving problems in their communities related to workforce development, volunteerism, increasing food awareness and more. CGPT secured 100% retention from Builders and the majority were women and people of color.