Stinson also directs UALR’s commercialization efforts through TechLaunch, and he’s excited about the future of tech startups in Arkansas.
He said FAF has invested roughly $12 million in 27 Arkansas startups since its official launch in 2005.
The fund, he said, started as an “investing club” founded by Dr. Mary Good back in 1999. Good, of course, is the founding Dean of the George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology at UALR who has served in various science-related capacities for four presidents (Carter through Clinton).
Stinson marvelled at how the Arkansas startup ecosystem has grown since FAF launched on New Year’s Day of 2005 with its first fund. Now into its second fund, FAF is finding the going much easier these days in Arkansas.
He illustrated that growth for his 1MC audience by showing a slide of Arkansas’ entrepreneurial resources, the logos for which now fill an entire frame. Not long ago, that frame would’ve been virtually empty.
“With that first fund, the deal flow was sparce, in terms of both quality and quantity,” Stinson said. “It took about eight years to really deploy capital.” We’ve deployed in the last two years what it took us five years to do when we started. That’s directly attributable to the quality and quantity of the deal flow now.”
FAF’s first fund invested about $6.5 million and its second fund currently is at $5.5 million, he said. Stinson said FAF prefers its potential targets be Innovate Arkansas clients before they present.
“We prefer they become an Innovate Arkansas client before they get to us,” he said. “That way we kinow we’re gonna get better presentations, better plans and better preperation. Innovate Arkansas has been huge for the state. Really, it created early-stage investing in the state of Arkansas.”
Stinson said plans are in the works to create the Arkansas Film Fund, modeled on FAF. It would look to invest in projects from Arkansas film makers and perhaps even look to encourage outside projects to the state.
More to come on that. In the meantime, Stinson is enjoying the state’s tech startup emergence. Earlier this month, he brought Judith Cone, chief innovation officer atr the University of North Carolina, to UALR for a forum with many of the state’s innovation leaders.
Progress is palpable.
“It’s amazing how the Arkansas startup ecosystem has transformed,” Stinson said.