RaftUp has been named the winner of the first-ever Ark Tank startup pitch competition.
This Little Rock-based startup is a mobile application designed for outdoors recreational use. CEO Corey Boelkens described the app to Arkansas Money & Politicsas an “outdoor mobile application that you can use to socially communicate where you are, what you’re doing and where you want to go. It’s essentially Facebook for the outdoors.”
As the winner of Ark Tank, RaftUp will receive a cash prize of $5,000 along with a guarantee for mentorship and advisement from Innovate Arkansas and the Arkansas Tourism research and development section.
Developed by Arkansas Tourism and Innovate Arkansas, Ark Tank was held during the Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Hot Springs. During the competition, four tourism-related companies pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. Over 20 companies applied, and four finalists were accepted. Tourism-related companies were defined as those that “directly interact with tourists, deal with businesses that cater to tourists, encourage tourism in and travel to Arkansas, and/or support tourism-related activities in Arkansas, according to a press release.
The three other finalists included:
- Kreadiv Nadiv Concepts LLC, presented by Travis Greenlee. Kreadiv Nadiv Concepts innovates, designs, builds, maintains, and restores trail systems, outdoor educational spaces, and recreational parks to create uniquely memorable user experiences highlighting natural landscapes while minimizing impact to wildlife.
- Nature Backs, presented by Bo Thomas and Morgan O’Neil. Nature Backs is a brand that inspires adventure through graphic t-shirts and “Flip-Trip” bracelets designed to encourage people to do what they are passionate about.
- Safe Rod, presented by Russell Evans. Safe Rod is a fishing rod holder that attaches to the garage door to prevent rods from getting damaged during storage.
The panel of judges included:
- Jim Shamburger, Owner of the Best Western Winners Circle – Hot Springs and member of Arkansas State Parks, Recreation, & Travel Commission
- Kalene Griffith, President/CEO of Visit Bentonville
- Amy Hopper, Program Officer at Winrock International and Delta I-Fund Manager
- Brad Henry, Vice President of Development Finance at Arkansas Development Finance Authority