Spark! Cohort Begins Acceleration Program

Posted on September 29, 2021
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Spark! Cohort Begins Acceleration Program
Eight local small businesses kick off 2021 Spark! At The Venture Center’s orientation event

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. September 29, 2021 – Eight small businesses selected for the third Spark! Cohort officially marked the start of the 10-week program today over a lunch orientation at The Venture Center. Spark! is a small business pre-accelerator by The Venture Center, Little Rock Regional Chamber, Arvest Bank and ASBTDC that puts the right people, opportunities and access in place for Arkansas entrepreneurs to grow their ventures to the next level.

At the event, representatives from program sponsors shared the span of resources available for entrepreneurs, from market research and consulting services to advocacy and mentorship. In its third year, Spark! will provide mentorship for the cohort in sales, public relations, marketing, pitching,  storytelling and more. The program starts Wednesday, September 29, and ends Wednesday, December 8.

The Venture Center’s Managing Director of Community Programs, Ashley Jones, said of this year’s program, “The Venture Center and our partners are thrilled to work with the 2021 Spark! Cohort, which includes a variety of entrepreneurs from a diverse group of industries. Seeing participants challenge themselves and grow from being a part of Spark! is important for our community and its economic strength, and it’s deeply rewarding and inspiring on a personal level – a sentiment shared by program participants across the board.”

From entertainment and transportation, to waste management and food retail, participants represent a broad range of small businesses seeking tools for growth. The selected companies for the 2021 Spark! cohort are:

Ayana Baraka, Edamame Films – Education and Entertainment
Miya Blackmon, Little Rock Lightning – Sports Entertainment
Whitney Gray, Whit’s End – Home Services
Benjamin Harrison, FareMarket – Agriculture, Food Retail
Moesha Howard, Infidimensional Skin – Beauty
Tammy Iosbaker, The Frame Maker – Retail
Kissa Kimble, Elite Recruiting – Transportation
Soroya Tucker, VLS Waste Solutions – Waste Management

Benefits of Spark! include matching founders with industry-specific mentors and the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in prizes by pitching at Pitch ‘N Pint in November. To learn more about Spark! please visit


About The Venture Center
The Venture Center is a globally recognized Arkansas based Entrepreneurial Support Organization (ESO) that helps entrepreneurs turn their start-ups into viable, high-growth businesses. By leveraging the expertise of a world-class team of mentors, intensive programming, and introductions to the investor community, The Venture Center serves as an engine for economic growth in Arkansas and beyond.

About The Little Rock Regional Chamber 
The Little Rock Regional Chamber is the principal business-driven leadership organization responsible for fostering the economic growth and development of the Little Rock region to ensure that business and industry may operate profitably and enhance the earning opportunities and quality of life for every citizen.

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is a higher-education-based economic development program that assists entrepreneurs, both new and seasoned. As the state’s premier business assistance provider, the ASBTDC is dedicated to helping small businesses achieve success and to promoting economic development throughout the state. Unique among Arkansas economic development organizations, ASBTDC serves businesses from any county in Arkansas, in any industry sector, at any stage of business development.

About Arvest
Arvest Bank operates more than 230 bank branches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas through a group of 14 locally managed banks, each with its own board and management team. These banks serve customers in more than 130 communities, with extended weekday banking hours at many locations. Arvest provides a wide range of banking services including loans, deposits, treasury management, credit cards, mortgage loans and mortgage servicing. Arvest also is one of a select few banks in the nation to have its mobile app – Arvest Go – certified by J.D. Power for providing an outstanding mobile banking experience. Arvest is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC.