Join host James Bell in this second episode of a 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 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

(1:12) Introducing Charu Thomas

(3:32) About Ox

(5:48) Introducing Toby Teeter

(6:59) Bringing Biomanufacturing Workforce Development to NWA

(11:53) Association of University Research Parks 2024 International Conference in Bentonville

(17:00) Toby’s NWA Tech Summit Experience

(19:56) Toby’s #BecauseBentonville Story

(22:25) Introducing Payton Lenz

(23:38) About Ledger

(27:14) Payton’s #BecauseBentonville Story

(29:41) Introducing David Sanders

(30:53) About EconoVention

(33:30) David’s NWA Tech Summit Experience

(34:52) David’s #BecauseBentonville Story

(37:53) Introducing Clayton Woodruff

(39:33) About Confiz

(40:20) Clayton’s NWA Technology Summit Experience

(41:12) Clayton’s #BecauseBentonville Story

(43:25) Introducing Rachel Hobert

(47:04) About Hivers & Strivers Capital

(55:15) Rachel’s NWA Summit Experience

(56:54) Rachel’s #BecauseBentonville Story

(1:00:05) Closing Thoughts


James Bell

Bentonville Economic Development 

Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit

Charu Thomas


Toby Teeter

The Collaborative – Bentonville

Payton Lenz


David Sanders


Clayton Woodruff


Rachel Hobert

Hivers & Strivers Capital


“When I first moved [to Bentonville] I didn’t know what to expect…Moving here from Atlanta was a leap of faith not knowing what the environment would be like. And I was so thrilled and pleasantly surprised by how kind and warm everyone was. And of course, with the immense talent across retail and supply chain from Walmart, Tyson, J.B. Hunt and the 1,300 suppliers and vendors that support them, it became home.” – Charu Thomas, (3:32)

“Next year, Bentonville and Fayetteville are going to host The Association of University Research Parks International Convention…This is an opportunity for The University of Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas to show out and discuss best practices when you’re talking about creating a place where innovation happens. There’s a special thing happening in Northwest Arkansas and the world is starting to understand what’s happening here.” – Toby Teether, (12:11)

“It’s a [Bentonville] community hub, right? It’s not just an office building. It’s not just a meeting location. Not just an event space. It’s a space where people can truly come and gather and be part of something bigger than themselves. And that goes back to what Ledger is solving. It’s this whole ecosystem around bringing the community in, but also pushing people out into the community as well. So it creates this nice little ecosystem of these casual collisions and these companies being created.” – Payton Lenz, (23:45)

“I really like the feel of Bentonville, the attitude of the people and the flavor. And I’m sure this year’s [Northwest Arkansas Tech Summit] is going to be expanded because it’s much, much bigger this year than what we saw last year.” – Davis Sanders, (33:49)

“[The Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit] has been great…We get the benefit of having a lot of big companies here. We get the Walmarts, the J.B. Hunts, The Tysons. So the stuff you get to hear is really cool.” – Clayton Woodruff, (40:20)

“…we settled on Bentonville as a place to move because we looked at all of the incredible work everybody has already put into it. The University of Arkansas, private and public corporations, and a ton of nonprofits that are really into entrepreneurship. We saw an opportunity that not only could we really grow and build here in Northwest Arkansas, but there’s a lot of cultural alignment with our values of being services oriented and being willing to help a neighbor, help a friend, and that inclusivity exists here.” – Rachel Hobert, (44:44)

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

Tara Dryer

University of Arkansas Global Campus Professional and Workforce Development

Grant to Fund Courses, Credentialing for Biomanufacturing Workforce (University of Arkansas)

SymBiosis Capital Management

Association of University Research Parks (AURP) 2024 International Conference – Bentonville

University of Arkansas Research and Technology Park

University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Life Works Here

Josh Kyles

Mary Best

Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce

Airship Coffee at Ledger

Bill Hulsey

Hulsey PC

J.B. Hunt

The Walmart Museum

Walmart Founder Sam Walton Returns as AI Hologram

Paul Jones

Gravity Industries


Tyson Foods


Thaden Field Airport Advisory Board

Debbie Griffin

Lounge @ Sugar Creek Airstrip

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