The Conductor, Junior Achievement of Arkansas Partner to Create Opportunities for Youth Entrepreneurs

Partnership announces new programs, scholarships for students

CONWAY, ARK (MARCH 3, 2017): The Conductor and Junior Achievement of Arkansas today announced a partnership to create programming that will equip K-12 students with expertise in entrepreneurship, innovative thinking, financial literacy and intrapersonal skills, and will catalyze multi-generational collisions among students, mentors and collegiate faculty members. All of the programming offered by the partnership will be open to students around the state at no cost.

“Student-focused programming is at the core of the Conductor’s mission, and we’re honored to partner with Junior Achievement of Arkansas to foster educational experiences for K-12 students,” says Kim Lane, Chief Operating Officer of the Conductor. “Our collaborative programming is designed to create ways for every student in Arkansas to learn entrepreneurial principles, and our statewide network of youth entrepreneurs will empower the next generation of leaders and problem solvers. We’re so excited to be part of this movement.”

Through the partnership, the Conductor and Junior Achievement are launching the Spark! Tank Pitch Competition from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 22 at the University of Central Arkansas. In the youth entrepreneurship competition, each student team will have three minutes to pitch its business concepts to event attendees and a panel of judges for a chance to win prizes that will take their businesses to the next level. The winning team will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to attend the University of Central Arkansas. The judging panel will include representatives from Southwestern Energy, Acxiom Corporation and UCA. Students are invited to compete in the competition, and the event is open to the public. For registration and application information, visit

The group is also teaming up with Noble Impact, an educational non-profit, to host High School Startup Day from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 16 at the University of Central Arkansas. During High School Startup Day, high schoolers will work in teams to solve a problem they face in high school education. At the end of the day, student groups will pitch their solutions to a panel of judges, which will include Dr. Houston Davis, President of UCA, Dr. Michael Hargis, Dean of the College of Business at UCA, Dr. Stephen Addison, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at UCA, and other faculty members. The winning team will receive a $1,200 scholarship to attend UCA, as well as professional headshots for the students and teachers. Over 90 high school students will be in attendance at the event, with representation from Hot Springs, Jacksonville, Bauxite, Vilonia and other schools around the state. Registration for schools is closed, but the pitch portion is open to the public. Guests may register here:

“Building entrepreneurial talent is critical to growing the startup ecosystem in Arkansas,” says Jeff Standridge, Conductor Team Leader. “We need to help students, teachers and parents understand that entrepreneurship is a very viable career path.  We’re living in a new economy, one that thrives on entrepreneurial talent, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to work on building this foundation.”

Students can also look for the Entrepreneurship Kickoff Workshop in September at the University of Central Arkansas. The daylong workshop will be the inaugural event of the 2017-2018 school year, and will be open to all Junior Achievement students in Arkansas. The workshop will guide students through an immersive learning exercise, teaching them the first five weeks’ worth of Junior Achievement lessons in a one-day, accelerated format. The workshop will catalyze the entrepreneurial learning process, and give students more time during the semester to work on creating their actual businesses. Students can find more information about the workshop on the Conductor website later this spring.

“JA is proud to be a part of this partnership to empower young people to own their economic success. These projects will put useful and practical information in young peoples' hands so they can unleash that entrepreneurial potential. Equally important is that these projects will inspire young people to consider entrepreneurship as a career,” says Chad Kauffman, President of of Junior Achievement of Arkansas.

Public events offered by the Conductor and Junior Achievement are open to community members of all ages. For more information on the student-focused programming and ways to get involved, visit 

About the Conductor: The Conductor, a public-private partnership with the University of Central Arkansas and Startup Junkie Consulting, drives innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development in central Arkansas through high-impact programming, one-on-one consulting, commercialization support, talent development and collaboration.

About Junior Achievement of Arkansas: Junior Achievement is a volunteer driven, non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through partnerships between businesses and educators, JA’s curricula helps K-12 students connect the dots between the classroom and the real-world. They currently have over 500 volunteers and reach over 13,000 students in Arkansas annually.


Conductor, UAMS and BioVentures Join Forces to Launch Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp

Week-Long camp will immerse college students in the startup world, teach the fundamentals of starting a health sciences venture.

CONWAY, ARK (February 27, 2017): The Conductor today announced a joint initiative with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and BioVentures to offer a week-long residential camp at the University of Central Arkansas for college students around the state. The camp will teach students the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, and give them the opportunity to formulate new health science ventures.

“This camp is the second iteration of a camp we ran last summer for graduate students and post-docs,” says Nancy Gray, Director of BioVentures. “We had a tremendous response, and have adapted the camp to focus on undergraduate students interested in health sciences startup opportunities from around the state.

“UAMS and BioVentures are dedicated to creating a statewide infrastructure to support a growing biomedical research capacity in Arkansas,” Gray said. “Our partnership with the Conductor will create new opportunities for students around the state, and enhance our statewide health sciences entrepreneurial network.”

The Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp will guide students through an immersive, five-day training program in which they learn how to start and fund an entrepreneurial venture, meet with influential faculty, entrepreneurs and mentors and become exposed to entity filing, patents and legal issues in entrepreneurship. Students will form teams, create and refine new venture ideas and talk to potential customers. The week-long camp will conclude with a Demo Day, during which the public is invited to watch the teams present their new venture ideas. Demo Day will be held at UCA on Friday, May 26. Demo Day guests may RSVP here:

“We are very enthusiastic about powering this camp,” says Jeff Standridge, Team Leader of the Conductor. “One focus area of the Conductor is developing entrepreneurial talent within the state.  This camp is bringing together the disciplines of innovation and entrepreneurship and combining them with the vast expertise our state has in health sciences.  The next great medical innovation just might come out of this endeavor.”

The Conductor will be accepting up to 50 students for the Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. The residential camp is all-expenses-paid, and is funded through UAMS, BioVentures and the Conductor. Eligible students must be enrolled in a collegiate institution in Arkansas, be in a healthcare, science or engineering field of study, and be a rising junior or senior.

For more information about the Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, visit To apply to participate, visit

About the Conductor: The Conductor, a public-private partnership with the University of Central Arkansas and Startup Junkie Consulting, drives innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development in central Arkansas through high-impact programming, one-on-one consulting, commercialization support, talent development and collaboration.

About BioVentures:  BioVentures is a technology commercialization organization and startup incubator focused on promoting a biomedical technology industry for Arkansas and translating research into products that benefit human health. BioVentures links the healthcare research minds to global markets in order to advance Arkansas’ scientific and economic development. 

About UAMS: UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a northwest Arkansas regional campus; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,870 students, 799 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers throughout the state. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

For more information, please contact: Kim Lane | (501) 416-1026 |



Jan. 23, 2017

Group will provide investment opportunities for central Arkansas angel investors, education for new investors and funding opportunities for regional startups

CONWAY, ARK. (January 23, 2017): The Conductor, a public-private partnership between the University of Central Arkansas and Startup Junkie Consulting, today announced plans to launch the Conductor Angel Network in Conway beginning Feb. 7. The network will be comprised of interested and potential angel investors, and will focus on providing funding opportunities for startup companies.

An angel investor is an individual who provides capital for a startup company or entrepreneur, often in exchange for convertible debt or an ownership stake. “An angel network serves multiple purposes,” says Kim Lane, COO of the Conductor. “We want to connect startup entrepreneurs with potential investors, but we also want to provide a forum where interested investors can learn more about angel investing, network with other investors and become more comfortable with the angel investing process.”

The Conductor Angel Network will provide networking opportunities and investor education, and will consider actual investment pitches from area entrepreneurs. Additionally, the network will increase the community’s awareness of, and access to, angel investing.

“When we started Cadron Creek Capital in early 2015, we were surprised at the number of people in central Arkansas who had an interest in, but had never actually invested in, early-stage companies,” said Jeff Standridge, founder of Cadron Creek Capital and team leader of the Conductor. “In each meeting, we will be bringing in entrepreneurs to pitch their companies in front of an audience of potential investors, mentors and community members. In the best cases, they will find an investor and receive some high-quality feedback and mentoring on their investment pitch.  At the very least, they will receive feedback on their pitch, which will help them prepare before they pitch to a venture fund like Cadron Creek Capital.”

The Conductor Angel Network receptions will take place on the first Tuesday of even-numbered months at 5 p.m., beginning Feb. 7 at UCA Downtown. The receptions are free and open to the public. Guests may register through the Conductor’s Eventbrite page.

About the Conductor: The Conductor, a public-private partnership with the University of Central Arkansas and Startup Junkie Consulting, drives innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development in central Arkansas through high-impact programming, one-on-one consulting, commercialization support and collaboration.

About Cadron Creek Capital: Cadron Creek Capital is one of the largest member-managed venture funds in Arkansas.  The fund is a return-driven fund, focused on early-stage companies, primarily in Arkansas and across the mid-South.

Contact: Kim Lane | 501-416-1026 |




NOVEMBER 16, 2016

CONTACT: Christina Madsen, or 501-852-2659

Jeff Standridge, or 501-514-3206


CONWAY--The University of Central Arkansas has partnered with Startup Junkie Consulting and the Central Arkansas Venture Team to launch a public-private initiative aimed at driving entrepreneurship and innovation across UCA, central Arkansas and beyond.


This new initiative, simply called Conductor, is sponsored by the university and will be announced on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 4:30 p.m. at UCA Downtown. The Conductor will focus on delivering mentoring, counseling, training, capital readiness, and technical assistance to startups, small businesses and emerging investors in Central Arkansas. 


“UCA has always been a leader in central Arkansas. Launching this initiative will serve our students, our faculty and our community for years to come. In fact, I’m confident we will look back in a few years and see this as a pivotal moment in our evolution as an institution,” said UCA President Tom Courtway.


This Conductor is powered by the Central Arkansas Venture Team (CAVT), a group of executive consultants, coaches, local leaders and experts. In addition to providing world-class programming and consulting for startups and small businesses, the Conductor will provide innovation and commercialization support for UCA and all of its academic programs.


In addition, the university has also engaged the Innovation Hub at Winrock International to create an on-campus maker space that will offer advanced tools, technology, and equipment for educational and entrepreneurial use.  Students, faculty, and community members will have access to the space, which will be modeled after the Innovation Hub’s original location in North Little Rock.  The Innovation Hub will also provide expertise and programs to facilitate rapid prototyping and other services. 


“The Innovation Hub is very grateful for the opportunity to work with UCA and the Conductor to extend our entrepreneurial and education programming to its campus community,” said Warwick Sabin, senior director for U.S. Programming at Winrock International. “We are also pleased to be part of all of the exciting developments at UCA and in Conway, and we hope that these efforts can be a model for how to stimulate more innovation and economic development across Arkansas.”


Jeff Standridge, CAVT team leader further explained, “Conway has a very unique set of assets, as does UCA. It is critical that we begin leveraging these collective assets to drive innovation and entrepreneurship. The difference in leveraging the services of the Conductor for a student, faculty or any other aspiring entrepreneur could literally mean the difference between getting their idea off the ground and never seeing any benefit from their idea or invention.”


Standridge said this initiative has been in the works for more than three years, first as a small steering team of volunteers then evolving into a movement that will change the entrepreneurial landscape of the region.



The Conductor is a public-private initiative powered by the Central Arkansas Venture Team, sponsored by the University of Central Arkansas and supported by Startup Junkie Consulting and Community Venture Foundation. The Conductor supports and assists startups, small businesses and other players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in central Arkansas. The Conductor will promote Conway and UCA to become nationally recognized for entrepreneurship and innovation. More information can be found at