Social Entrepreneurship in Arkansas

2015 Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp

July 17, 2015 · 11:00 AM – Jul 19, 2015 · 5:00 PM

The Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp, presented in partnership with the Clinton School of Public Service, the University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, will be held July 17-19, 2015, at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain and will provide training for new and aspiring social entrepreneurs, focusing on such topics as business skills, legal issues, scalability, measuring impact, ethics and benefit corporations.

The Boot Camp will provide information and mentoring to teams of aspiring social entrepreneurs, equipping them with the tools and knowledge they'll need to get their social enterprises off the ground.

The keynote address, featuring an interview of Steve Clark, co-founder of Noble Impact, by Roby Brock, editor of Talk Business and Politics, is free and open to the public. The keynote will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, July 17. While the event is free, registration is required. Register for free for the Steve Clark keynote address by clicking here.

The lineup of speakers and mentors for the Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp is a formidable list of experts from Arkansas and beyond. Read more about them below.

Phyl Amerine is a founding member of Startup Junkie Consulting and has been involved in the creation of eight startups. In her first startup, Amerine developed market strategies for international licensing and partner selection with significant emphasis in Korea, China, Spain, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Singapore and India. She defined market opportunity and strategy for one of the initial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in India. In another startup, she formed a strategic relationship with a Korean-based international telecommunications carrier, successfully gained FCC 214 licensing for U.S. operations and served as general manager of marketing. Amerine has worked as a volunteer and advisor in nonprofit marketing for more than 12 years. Her volunteer efforts have even been recognized by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. She is also currently active in the local investment community. Amerine’s expertise and skills are in the following areas: coaching, mentoring, marketing, strategy, assumption testing, social ventures, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ecosystem development. She attended Bowie State University, where she majored in communications.  

Permjot Valia is the CEO and founder of MentorCamp and regularly travels the world mentoring startups. He is a goodwill ambassador for the state of Arkansas, having many business connections with the state. Valia received his bachelor’s degree with honors in economics from the University of Leeds. Afterwards, he became the youngest sales and marketing director of Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Services in London. In 2005, Valia became a consultant through a company called Help With Sales. He also became an active angel investor and co-founded Flight and Partners, a London-based fund manager that is authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to carry out investment business. To date, Valia has invested in more than 30 companies around the world, including several in Arkansas. He started MentorCamp in 2011, bringing the best mentors and investors from around the world to places like Halifax, Arkansas, and Cape Town. In addition to running MentorCamp, Valia sits on the board of various companies including Bluelight Analytics, Wooshii and Flight and Partners. He is also a consultant to Deloitte working across Canada. He is a consultant to the Canadian Technology Accelerator program run by DFAIT in London, New York and across India. In 2011, Valia was recognized by TechCrunch as one of the best mentors in Europe.


Trish Flanagan has spent the past 14 years disrupting systemic poverty as an entrepreneur and educator around the globe. She is the co-founder and director of social entrepreneurship projects at Noble Impact, a K-12 education initiative integrating public service with an entrepreneurial mindset. Prior to starting Noble Impact, she led the University of Arkansas’ Social Entrepreneurship Pilot Initiative aimed at building cross-disciplinary community solutions. While completing a concurrent master’s degree at the Clinton School of Public Service and the Walton MBA Program, she co-founded Picasolar, an award-winning (MIT-DOE Clean Energy Prize) solar company. At age 19, Flanagan led vocational training for itinerant teens in Limerick, Ireland, and after a stint teaching high school with Teach for America on the U.S.-Mexican border, she pioneered a K-12 school in the Honduran Bay Islands. Last fall she was named one of the Arkansas Times’ Visionaries of 2013.

Ben Kaufman works as a research officer with the Walton Family Foundation, specializing in evaluation. Prior to his current position, he was the  social metrics director at Southern Bancorp, responsible for the comprehensive evaluation of Southern’s products and services across their entire market. He has developed an evaluation model that measures program and product performance as well as community-level improvement. He has extensive experience evaluating programming and projects to determine alignment and efficiencies in meeting enterprise-wide goals. Prior to his work at Southern, he developed an evaluation and measurement framework for The Timberland Company to determine impact in worker programs throughout their international supply chain. Kaufman also worked with TOMS shoes in Ethiopia to develop the supply chain for donations and developed a measurement and reporting framework for the local partner organizations. Kaufman has more than six years of non-profit management experience. Kaufman holds a master’s degree in public service from the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Ark., and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and sociology from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Steve Clark is a University of Arkansas graduate with a degree in business administration and finance. He has been ranked with the likes of Sam Walton and J.B. Hunt as one of Arkansas’ top business innovators. In 1999, Clark founded Propak, Inc., a supply-chain-management company that now employs more than 1,500 people with operations stretching from California to New York. In the Arkansas business community, Clark is probably better known for co-founding Rockfish, a globally recognized digital innovation firm whose clients include Walmart, Tyson Foods, Procter and Gamble, AT&T and United Healthcare. Most recently, Clark founded Noble Impact, a new education initiative that teaches high school students ways that public service and entrepreneurship can address community issues. He lives in Fort Smith, Ark., with his wife and three children.

John Montgomery is chairman emeritus and senior legal advisor at Montgomery & Hansen, LLP. He is a leading authority on the legal architecture necessary to support the emerging sustainable business paradigm where corporations exist to optimize not only profit, but also social good. He was co-chair of the legal working group behind Assembly Bill 361, which established benefit corporations in California in 2012, a corporate structure designed not only to optimize profits for shareholders but also to provide a material positive impact on society and the environment. In 2008, Montgomery founded StartWorks, a technology incubator which produced StartWorks University, an educational program for entrepreneurs, and created the content for Great from the Start: How Conscious Corporations Attract Success. Montgomery is a frequent speaker on applied consciousness, sustainable business and benefit corporations at such forums as the Future Salon, TEDx, and Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. He has also produced continuing education programs on benefit corporations for the Rutter Group and the California State Bar. Montgomery previously served as a member of the Corporations Committee of the Business Law Section of the California State Bar and was a California lawyer of the year in 2012 for his work on California's benefit corporation legislation.

Nikolai DiPippa is the director of public programs and strategic partnerships at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Under his leadership, more than 167,000 people have attended more than 975 programs with leading academics, newsmakers and world leaders. They have included seven Nobel Prize winners, more than 20 Pulitzer Prize winners, more than 40 ambassadors and nine former presidents. DiPippa is also the host and executive producer of the weekly NPR radio show Clinton School Presents, which is a dialogue with the distinguished guests that visit the Clinton School of Public Service. He helped develop and maintains the Clinton School’s speaker series website, Since launching in 2009, past events have been viewed more than 375,000 times from 183 countries. 

 Dr. Cynthia Sides is the associate director for the Office of Entrepreneurship and the director of the IGNITE (Industry Generating New Ideas and Technology through Education) program at the University of Arkansas (U of A). In addition to mentoring technology-based student business plan teams in the entrepreneurship program, Sides teaches the Emerging Technologies in Industry class. This interdisciplinary course serves as a pipeline for science and engineering graduate students to enter the entrepreneurship program and encourages STEM students to consider the commercialization of their research and ideas. Her role as IGNITE director also allows her to interact with companies throughout Arkansas and connect them with research faculty and students at the university to help generate innovative solutions to technology challenges facing industry. Sides completed her doctorate and postdoctoral research in the chemistry and biochemistry department at the U of A. A native Arkansan, she works to promote STEM education and economic development in the state, including outreach efforts in southern Arkansas. She is motivated by the potential to help Arkansas companies advance and the ability to encourage U of A students to think beyond the classroom and lab when it comes to the possibilities of research, finding jobs in the state or creating their own companies in Arkansas.

 Dr. Carol Reeves is the associate vice-provost for entrepreneurship and a professor and holder of the Cecil and Gwendolyn Cupp Applied Professorship in Entrepreneurship in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. She coordinates entrepreneurship efforts at the university. Reeves has mentored more than 70 interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate business plan teams, who have won more than $2.3 million in cash, started 18 high-growth businesses and raised more than $40 million to build their businesses since 2009. She has won numerous national, state and university awards for her work, including the Arkansas Alumni Association award for excellence in teaching in 2010, being named one of the 10 most powerful Women Entrepreneurs by Fortune magazine in 2011 and receiving the C. Sam Walls Entrepreneurship Educator and SEC Faculty Achievement awards in 2014. Reeves’ research has focused on the effects of family violence on the workplace and the mitigating effects of financial self-sufficiency. Her recent work has examined the influence of entrepreneurship on those at the “base of the pyramid.” Reeves is an active board member at three not-for-profit organizations.