BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The University of Arkansas Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP) will support eight companies in its fall 2022 cohort, doubling the size of GORP’s inaugural spring program.

According to a University of Arkansas press release, GORP is one of three community-facing business incubation programs led by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OEI) and is housed at The Collaborative, U of A’s education and research hub in Bentonville.

“The interactions between founders are unique, as the cohort acts like a team working on individual businesses, but helping each other succeed,” said Phil Shellhammer, GORP’s director. “I expect to see even more interaction between founders, as they learn each other’s models and provide insights and perspectives to aid in the early business design.”

GORP will support these startups with workshop training, team mentoring and dedicated product/service development to help them scale globally. The 12-week program also provides up to $15,000 in “non-dilutive seed funding” per company—funding that doesn’t require the owner to give up equity in the company.

The eight companies that make up the fall cohort are:

  • Best Ride of Your Life (B-Royl) — Bentonville:  Founded by Ironman triathlete Tracy Byrd, B-Royl is designing cycling apparel that prevents skin irritation and discomfort while enhancing performance.
  • Gnargo Bike Co. — Bentonville: Using a circular supply chain, Gnargo reinvents discarded bikes into “modern utility transportation” to aid individuals and families seeking a low-cost way to explore NWA’s trails. Founded by husband-and-wife team Elysia Contreras Springer and Zach Springer, the idea emerged after they learned families in Bentonville wanted to bike in a communal setting that was affordable and minimally impactful on the environment.
  • Just Bikes — Fayetteville: Just Bikes plans to be the all-in-one destination for individuals and families exploring NWA’s trail system. Operated by married couple Jennifer Stout and Nathan Stout, Just Bikes will offer Airbnb-style accommodations, food and drinks, and a bike shop just off the trail in south Fayetteville.
  • Merman Bicycles — Bentonville: Merman Bikes designs and creates progressive, party-inducing bikes that are born from NWA dirt but are comfortable for shredding anywhere. The company’s co-founders, Tyler Siems and Taylor Weichman, have more than 15 years combined in the cycling industry. 
  • Rover Hunting Equipment — Springdale: Rover seeks to provide an all-in-one mobile tree stand system that takes the hunter from carry-in to the harvest. Founded by John Brown University students Brady Collard and Colby Richardson, Rover won first p lace in the small business division at the 2022 Arkansas Governor’s Cup.
  • XNA Bikes — Bentonville: XNA Bikes is on a mission to lower the barrier to competitive cycling by offering high-quality, affordable carbon-frame bikes. The team, comprised of Deihl Betz, Saul Fernandez, and David Lopez, eventually plans to build the bikes in NWA while incorporating student-athletes into the business to harness their STEM skills and offer hands-on education.
  • The Yonder — Fayetteville: Created by Colin Whittington, the Yonder is an inexpensive, multi-purpose device for camping inside your SUV that also aids in storage, organization and preparation for outdoor activities.
  • Yonder Adventure Company — Little Rock: Formed by Cate Handley and Joe Goodwin, two active leaders in the Arkansas Canoe Club, Yonder Adventure Company offers full-service, highly-customizable float trips on the Buffalo River via oar-powered drift boats. The company will provide meals, gear and handle logistics for day-long or multi-day trips of up to six people.