It’s no secret that Northwest Arkansas is quickly becoming an incubator for entrepreneurship. There are many resources in the area that specifically help entrepreneurs take their ideas from paper to hard goods.

I was bitten by the entrepreneurship bug my senior year of college, where I fought to develop my sleeping bag company Bare Toes. My idea was simple enough: a sleeping bag with magnets at the feet rather than zippers, allowing you to kick your feet out with ease and then retract them back in when they got too cold.

But as I soon learned, being an entrepreneur is tough! Luckily, I had the help of Arkansas-based Startup Junkie, who educate, inspire and support entrepreneurs through no-cost consulting. Startup Junkie hosts a number of events throughout the year, designed to help take your idea to the next level. The main one that caught my eye, the G-60 Pitch Competition, was the promise of $1,000 prize to the best 60-second business pitch; a college kids dream.

Between 2017 – 2019, I entered as many competitions as I could. I’d travel as far as 120 miles out of my way, just for the chance at the $1,000 prize. Though I had some success in the pitch competitions, there was one person who got in my way of winning them all… 11-year-old Sofi Overton.

Sofi had an incredible product, Wise Pocket Products, which places pockets on socks for kids who don’t have pockets built into their clothing. Equal to her genius product, was her incredible ability to pitch her company to the judges and audience who sat amazed that such eloquence was coming from someone half the age of the other contestants. But man, she was good!

During my competition experience, Sofi won somewhere north of $6,000 from pitching her idea. She commanded attention and worked a room, all the qualities found in a successful entrepreneur. That is why this morning, as I read a news release from Startup Junkie, I was hardly surprised to see that Sofi will be on ABC’s Shark Tank on January 12th.

Thanks to the wonderful entrepreneurship resources found here in NWA, Sofi’s dream has persevered, displaying her success on a national stage. I am honored to say that the competition that beat me so many times, has continued to climb to new heights. If you’re going to lose, lose to the best, right?

The Richland Group congratulates you Sofi, on your incredible achievements! We are rooting for you!

– Devin Dishner, Business Development, “Befriender of Clients”