Lee Watson

Founder & President, Arkansas Venture Center
Founding Champion, Startup Arkansas

Lee provides vision for the Arkansas Venture Center including the development of public, private and corporate strategic partnerships. A serial entrepreneurial, Lee has founded several organizations including Clarovista, a data and mobile driven consultancy. Lee is also a designated champion for the Startup America Partnership


James hendren

Serial Entrepreneur & Investor
Champion, Startup Arkansas

Dr. James K. Hendren has been the entrepreneurial champion for the advancement of technology startup companies and knowledge job development in since the mid-1980’s.  He received his doctorate in physics from the University of Arkansas in 1972, providing a foundation for his successful career in sophisticated software development in both the defense and finance industries.  James was CEO, then Chairman of Arkansas Systems, Inc. (ARKSYS), one of Arkansas’ early “high-tech” companies. While growing that company from a small, home-grown company to an internationally known corporation, he served on the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority board of directors and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission where he lead the charge for changing the economic development strategies to include high tech startup companies.  

He chaired the  Arkansas Taskforce for Knowledge-Based Job Creation.  He was a founder of the Knowledge-Based Companies of Arkansas.  He was one of the founders of Accelerate Arkansas and the founding Chairman of the Arkansas STEM Coalition. As a key player, including Chairman of Accelerate Arkansas, Dr. Hendren has spearheaded the efforts for creating incentives to produce the excellent government environment to encourage startup companies in Arkansas including design, legislation, and creation of Innovate Arkansas.  He has worked with more than thirty technology startup companies being CEO of four. 

He is the Chairman of the Arkansas Venture Center, where he actively participates in the direction of the Center and as an active mentor to members of the Center.


Jordan Carlisle

Jordan is currently the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and liaison to the Arkansas Venture Center



About Startup Arkansas

In March 2013, we held the ThinkBigArkansas conference at Hendrix College. This was the official launch of Startup Arkansas with over 250 entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders from around the state in attendance. 



About the Startup America Partnership

The Startup America Partnership supports a national network of startup communities dedicated to advancing the success of American startups. Hundreds of passionate founders, entrepreneurial leaders, investors, mentors and executives, (Startup Champions), are working together to strengthen their local communities and help young companies grow.

As a national organization we are dedicated to helping our Startup Champions create strong startup ecosystems in every state. Champions in cities from Des Moines to New Orleans, Nashville to Burlington are strengthening their local startup networks and engaging young companies to help them grow organically in their hometown. 

We highlight the importance of startups as innovators and job creators. We give startups access to the relationships, opportunities, and knowledge they need to succeed. We celebrate entrepreneurship as a core American value. We aspire to make creating or joining an American startup the most desirable job in the world. 

Together We’ll Startup America!

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