BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program will feature its most diverse and largest group of startups to date, as eight companies begin their entrepreneurial journey in the fall 2023 cohort.
Led by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, GORP is the University of Arkansas’ flagship business incubation program. GORP supports startups with workshop training, team mentoring, and dedicated product/service development to help them scale globally.
The 12-week program, which spans Aug. 29 to Nov. 14, 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.
This semester’s cohort will also be bolstered by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, which will be sponsoring two companies building solutions around hunting and fishing activities.
“The support from Arkansas Game and Fish is monumental,” said Phil Shellhammer, OEI’s senior director of business incubation. “The agency brings a wealth of industry experience and insight that will be invaluable to the GORP companies as they build, launch, and begin to scale.”
Since its founding in the spring of 2022, 17 startups have launched and expanded their businesses through the GORP cohorts. GORP has also supported nearly 200 entrepreneurs through its a la carte services, which include workshops, networking events, 1:1 consulting, and access to co-working space. GORP is housed at The Collaborative, the U of A’s education and research hub in Bentonville.
GORP’S FALL 2023 COHORT
- Adventure Trail Outfitters — Conway
- Adventure Trail Outfitters is the producer of the Overland Shower, a convenient, high-performing, portable hot water system for showering and camp cleanup. Founded by Tom Brawley, this patent-pending product lets campers wash the day’s activities away and be rejuvenated for the next adventure.
- Co-Angler — Springfield, Missouri
- Founded by John Bledsoe, Co-Angler is an online platform designed to connect people to go fishing together.
- Jane Wick, LLC — Rogers
- Jane Wick provides beautiful but durable range backpacks designed to support the unique needs of women shooters. Founded by Windy Elstermeier, the backpacks include lots of padded pockets and a place for everything a woman needs to go shooting with confidence. They’re also lightweight, easy to carry, and feature a sleek, stylish design.
- Outdoor Education Services (OES) — Cave Springs
- OES is an education-based outdoor adventure company – teaching people to safely and confidently enjoy the wilderness using several different disciplines. OES was founded by Sean Cline, Simon Wholey, and Margo Capps.
- Paddl — Bentonville
- Rider Up — Bella Vista
- SABO Outdoors — Conway
- SABO Outdoors connects landowners and guides with outdoors opportunity-seekers for short-term guided and DIY outdoor activities through a first-of-its-kind mobile application available on both iOS and Android. The company was established by Justin Neal, CEO; Taylor Cassat, COO; Joshua Settle, CFO; and Timothy Schneider, CTO.
- SLAPCHALKS — Fayetteville
- Founded by high school student Joseph Grant Rouse, SLAPCHALKS design, create, and sell innovative, game-changing athletic apparel with exterior mesh pockets for chalk balls, giving climbers, cross-fitters, ninja warriors, and other chalk-using athletes fast and easy access to chalk with just a quick slap on the pockets! Joseph’s parents, Vanessa Araujo Rouse and Philip Grant Rouse serve as COO and CFO, respectively.
About the U of A Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation: The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation creates and curates innovation and entrepreneurship experiences for students across all disciplines. Through the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, McMillon Innovation Studio, Startup Village, and Greenhouse at the Bentonville Collaborative, OEI provides free workshops and programs — including social and corporate innovation design teams, venture internships, competitions, and startup coaching. A unit of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and Division of Economic Development, OEI also offers on-demand support for students who will be innovators within existing organizations and entrepreneurs who start something new.