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Join host James Bell in this special four-part series of The Bentonville Beacon podcast featuring live-recorded conversations at the 2023 Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit with the thinkers and doers shaping the future of global tech in Bentonville. The NWA Tech Summit is the Heartland’s premier technology conference and serves to enhance, prepare and diversify the local Northwest Arkansas economy. Now in its tenth year, the event is hosted by the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce, and is supported by nearly 100 partners, including Walton Family Foundation, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Verizon, Salesforce, T-Mobile for Business, Zebra, Scott Family Amazeum and Arvest. These episodes bring together voices from the event to share their company’s stories, personal insights and unique #BecauseBentonville moments that define the community’s character. Tune in as we explore the innovations and experiences that are fostering a culture where technology meets the essence of Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas!

Show Notes

(1:15) Introducing Sapna Ramachandran

(3:13) About Kitestring Technical Services

(7:12) Sapna’s #BecauseBentonville Story

(11:45) Introducing Tiffany Benitez

(13:12) About the Women in Technology of Northwest Arkansas

(20:47) Tiffany’s #BecauseBentonville Story

(22:41) Introducing Brent Blecha

(23:22) About Retail Aware

(25:14) Brent’s #BecauseBentonville Story

(29:33) Introducing Kayla Norris

(31:05) About Marketing Main Street

(34:32) Kayla’s #BecauseBentonville Story

(37:43) Introducing Paul Rowe

(39:27) About Source Allies

(42:54) Paul’s #BecauseBentonville Story

(47:22) Introducing Jasmine Rara

(51:39) Jasmine’s NWA Tech Summit Experience

(57:41) Introducing G.B. Cazes

(1:01:59) G.B.’s #BecauseBentonville Story

(1:03:48) Closing Thoughts


James Bell

Bentonville Economic Development 

Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit

Sapna Ramachandran

Kitestring Technical Services

Tiffany Benitez

Women in Technology of Northwest Arkansas

Brent Blecha

Retail Aware

Kayla Norris

Marketing Main Street

Paul Rowe

Source Allies

Jasmine Rara

Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce

G.B. Cazes

Emory Solutions


“I think what describes for me the essence of Bentonville is the entire experience of these last ten years put together. It has been heartwarming because for somebody like me, a woman of color who comes from thousands of miles apart, who has no family, no friends, no support system here to come and feel accepted, the local people and everybody around here have accepted me with open arms. And that speaks volumes of this place. It tells me you don’t have to be a certain color or race to be accepted because there are good people everywhere, and it wouldn’t have happened anywhere except [Bentonville].” – Sapna Ramachandran, (7:12)

“This is day one [of the NWA Tech Summit] and I’m already blown away. The amount of community that’s here, the amount of connection, the amount of vendors, and the way we can plug into our community and really see full force in conference form what all we actually have living in this Northwest Arkansas [and Bentonville] area.” – Tiffany Benitez, (19:13)

“[The NWA Tech Summit] has been amazing. Anytime you can talk to the number one retail company and some of the people surrounding it, the people that have gone before you that know how to get in there and some of the really cool things they’ve done, is incredible.” – Brent Blecha, (24:22)

“Whenever I had made the decision to leave corporate and work for myself, I went to Bentonville and I started looking for businesses in Bentonville to collaborate with and say, ‘Hey, I’m offering this service, do you need it?’ And some said yes and it has been a phenomenal journey.” – Kayla Norris, (35:29)

“We came up to Bentonville to check it out and we went to the Downtown Bentonville square. And one thing I think that’s really cool about Bentonville is as built up as it is, that town square has the same kind of atmosphere that the small towns have…It’s a really walkable area and I think that’s what I like about Bentonville is that you’ve managed to grow but still keep your city very walkable and approachable to everybody.” – Paul Rowe, (43:01)

“It’s been inspiring for me as a transplant. I’ve had this stigma in my head for what the center of America looks like, and I honestly was amazed and I am amazed by all the support that not just the community members provide, but that the companies provide. There’s this level of competition, but there’s also a level of respect with it. They help each other along. If they’re flourishing they’ll bring the other with them. So to me, that’s really exciting.” – Jasmine Rara, (51:39)

“I really think [the NWA Tech Summit] is a great opportunity to show off Arkansas. We’re not known for a tech hub, but we’re changing that in NWA, which is exciting. And we see the event growing year over year and the different diversity that’s coming in. It’s fantastic to be making a name for ourselves.” – G.B. Cazes, (1:01:06)

“Just in the short amount of time that I’ve been known to Bentonville, it’s changed so much and it’s changing so rapidly. And I think it’s because everybody is pulling in the same direction. So it’s a unique community doing a lot of unique things, but everybody’s doing it together.” – G.B. Cazes, (1:02:00)

Get Connected!

Thank you for tuning into this episode of The Bentonville Beacon! Join us weekly for more stories and advice from the entrepreneurs, business executives and community leaders who are sparking the rise of the Greater Bentonville area. If you are interested in discussing whether your business should have a presence in Greater Bentonville or would like to discuss this podcast, please contact James Bell. You may reach James at or (479) 273-2841.

Additional Links

Girls in Tech

Bentonville Schools

Fuel Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Accelerator

Wright’s Barbecue

21c Museum Hotel

The Hive

Kris Adams

Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce

Sandi Sue’s Gluten Free Bakery

8th Street Market

University of Arkansas

Ozark Mountains

Oz Trails

Devil’s Den State Park

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Scott Family Amazeum

412 Corridor

Bentonville Square

Bentonville Quilt of Parks

Northwest Arkansas Council

USL Arkansas

Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit Sponsors

Walton Family Foundation | Walmart | Sam’s Club

Verizon | Salesforce | Zebra | T-Mobile for Business | Scott Family Amazeum | Arvest

dunnhmby | IBM | Tulsa Innovation Labs | Cox | EAIGLE | Microsoft | First Orion

Okta | Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield | Bank of America | Deloitte | Delphix | Meta | Tyson | Startup Junkie

Fuel | Snowflake | Confiz \ Guidepoint Security | PWC | Fortinet | Ozarks Electric Cooperative | Ozarks Go | Nfinite

DENSO | Metova | InsightGlobal | Arkansas Economic Development Commission | BioVentures | Brainbox AI | Cognizant | Data Link Networks | Data Robot

Edafio | EY | HeatlhTech Arkansas | The Institute for Integrative & Innovative Research (I3R) | J.B. Hunt | 360 Degrees | Kitestring Technical Services | Northwest Arkansas Council | Palo Alto Networks | Rose Law Firm

Runway Group | Shiloh Technologies | Softtek | Hewlett Packard Enterprise | NVIDIA | Atento Capital | Elastic | Qlink | Source Allies

Cigniti | Concentric | Cortado Ventures | ConvergeOne | Dell | Juniper Networks | Rubrik | Slalom | Synopsys | TeamViewer

Trundl | University of Arkansas College of Engineering | University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation | University of Arkansas Data Science | University of Arkansas Graduate School and International Education | Apollo IT Services | | KivaUS Northwest Arkansas | Arctic Wolf | Howard Technology Solutions | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

HightJackson | ChargerGoGo | Marketing Main Street | McLarty Daniel | O’Reilly | PeopleForBikes | Record | RetailWire | Wicket

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