FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — When Morgan and Tyler Baumgardner visited Northwest Arkansas while on a cross-country RV trip, they didn’t want to leave.
A link sent by Morgan’s mother containing the sprawling trails system in Benton and Washington counties led them to the region where they began to form a startup focused on helping residents “ride local” on the region’s trails.
The Baumgardners joined the initial Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP) from the University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation cohort in January with their startup “Encore Bike Rentals” in the launch stage. The company had a website but hadn’t rented a single bike.
The university says now, just months after graduating from the 12-week course, high-quality mountain bikes are available for rent in three cities via concierge service.
The service will deliver and pickup bikes for free to the trailhead, hotels, vacation rentals and other spots in Bella Vista, Bentonville, and Rogers.
To assist entrepreneurs, GORP provides a multi-level engagement platform to grow early-stage companies from idea to launch, with in-depth support through workshops, mentorship, consulting, co-working space, network connections and product/service design.
In addition, 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.
According to the U of A, Encore Bike Rentals was one of four companies to graduate in April from GORP’s first cohort. The others included American Hunt, Lacaida Ropes and Trail Tours. A second cohort will launch in August.