Arkansas Tourism partnered with Innovate Arkansas to create Ark Tank: a startup pitch competition that aims to highlight entrepreneurs who will help drive the Arkansas Economy. The competition has three phases that include an online application, submission of a “lean canvas” business model and the pitch competition. Only five finalists were selected for the pitch competition in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Eksplor was selected as a finalist, and had the opportunity to convince judges why their business model was the best for Arkansas Tourism.
Phil Shellhammer pitched Eksplor as “a unique way to visit cultural destinations”. There are 2.2 billion annual visits to U.S Cultural Destinations. These destinations have the mission of teaching, engaging, and educating their visitors. However, there are problems that get in the way of fulfilling these missions. These problems include funding, understanding their visitors, and engagement. Eksplor wants to tackle these problems with an app-based mobile platform that will create games for cultural destinations to engage visitors digitally, educationally, and commercially. “Picture trivia apps, puzzles, scavenger hunts, or even escape rooms” says Phil Shellhammer (Co-Founder of Eksplor). With the creation of these games, destinations can create a fun and unique experience for their visitors that will hopefully drive in revenue.
After a very convincing pitch, Eksplor Gaming was announced as the winner of the second annual Ark Tank Competition. This win gave Eksplor a cash prize of $5,000, a guarantee for mentorship from professionals in the field related to the winning business idea, and ongoing advisement with Innovate Arkansas and the Arkansas Tourism research and development section. With the help of these prizes, Eksplor is now on a mission to create games for Arkansas locations in order to drive local tourism.
The full competition can be watched on the Arkansas Tourism Industry Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ArkansasTourismIndustry.