Stone Ward is excited to be involved with a number of Start Up initiatives in our home state of Arkansas.  We believe in the power of entrepreneurs to change the business landscape of Arkansas by starting and building businesses that ultimately provide jobs and opportunity for economic growth.

One of those initiatives and probably the most fun yet, is the state’s first ever High School Start Up Weekend to be held April 4th– 6th. This event is exclusively for high school students and will follow the business model of the Start Up Weekends being held around the country for entrepreneurs.

Here’s how it works.   The high school teams pitch their startup ideas and receive feedback from their peers and mentors.  Then it’s a 54- hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation for each of the team ideas. The weekend concludes with presentations to an esteemed panel of local entrepreneurial leaders who name winners and hand out recognitions.

A total of 15 high school teams from across the state will converge at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service to take part in this always energetic and surprising 54-hour experience that serves as a catalyst for learning entrepreneurship by simply doing it.

Already I have witnessed high school teams competing in the adult versions of these weekends and been blown away by their business savvy, their creativity and their make it happen spirit.  I know these 15 teams and their mentors are going to provide inspiration to our state business community.  But more importantly, I am certain that seeds for legitimate business enterprises will be planted, as well.

Check out Sydney Brazil and The Hole Thing.  Just one of several already successful high school entrepreneurs that is proving that entrepreneurism could become the next high school sport.

Stone Ward is a Platinum Sponsor for High School Start Up Weekend and our own Emily Reeves, Director of Digital Innovation and Insight Planning, will serve as a mentor.  I’ll be there Sunday for the team presentations.  After all, Arkansas’s next great business idea could be born here.