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Kim Lane: The entrepreneurial landscape of Arkansas

Kim Lane: The entrepreneurial landscape of Arkansas

It’s an exciting time for startups and entrepreneurs across Arkansas. In this episode of The Arkansas 100 Podcast, we sit down with Kim Lane, CEO of The Conductor.

A public-private partnership with the University of Central Arkansas, The Conductor provides free counseling, networking opportunities and exposure to angel investors for emerging startups and businesses. During the course of our conversation, Lane dives into how the startup community is a key driver of economic development and the importance of thinking bigger.

Tune in today. Remember, all episodes of The Arkansas 100 Podcast are available on iTunes, Stitcher and our website.

– Sandra McGrew, Ghidotti Communications

What do you hope the startup scene looks like in Arkansas five years from now?

Five years from now, I know we’ll have reached thousands of entrepreneurs (at least 10,000, judging from our regular annual impact), but what my hope is that we are thinking regionally, nationally and internationally. Asking questions such as how are we using our tools and resources to help other people and similar-sized communities? And, how are the people we’ve impacted through our work making a difference in their communities and on their families and lives? How do K12 and college kids approach education differently because of the work we’ve done? How has entrepreneurial policy made a difference in Arkansas’ job creation? How many people have relocated to Arkansas because of our entrepreneurial landscape? I know these are more hypothetical and visionary than concrete, but these are concepts that stay top of mind for me — I can’t wait to see what the startup scene looks like in 5 years!

If you could take a month off and travel the world, where would you go and why? 

If I could take a month off and travel, I’d definitely spend a bit of time in Tuscany, Italy. We traveled there a few years ago, and ever since I’ve been dying to go back and drink Montepulciano wine IN Montepulciano, eat fresh mozzarella cheese, and enjoy fresh pasta and pizza in the company of friends and family, etc. Every few years, my whole family (nine of us, and counting) go to a different country together, and I’d love to go back to Tuscany. My husband and I are also going to take our 10-year-old to Denmark next summer (his first international trip) and I’m really excited about that. So, with a month, I’d probably go to Europe, and probably have a really loose agenda and do a lot of exploring while I was there.

What show could you binge watch again and again? 

I’m not a big binge-watcher, and actually don’t watch a ton of TV shows, but our guilty pleasure is undoubtedly The Office. There’s just something about that dry and unfettered humor that keeps us watching that show over and over. It’s a pretty good watch at the end of the day. I do have to admit that I’ve been known to binge watch seasons of House of Cards. Netflix makes it really easy to let an entire night go by watching episode after episode of Claire Underwood plotting her world domination.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you? 

I really love literature and poetry, and I think that takes people by surprise since I’m in the entrepreneurial/business world. But I’ve always loved poetry. In high school, I memorized 40+ poems (Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Lee Masters, Rudyard Kipling, etc.) and would write poems all over my arms during the day. My husband is an English teacher, and he frequently calls me without warning, tells me I’m on speaker phone with his class, and asks me to recite a poem for them. (For instance, he called me a few weeks ago and asked me to recite “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” by Wordsworth, since they were talking about Spring and nature writing.) I am a big believer that if you understand and appreciate nature and love and passion, you have a much more thoughtful approach to life, and all of your relationships and interactions are so much deeper and more meaningful as a result. You’d be surprised at how often a couple of lines of poetry come in handy to describe or understand something.

Describe your ideal Saturday. 

This is a funny question, because Saturdays have always been really important to me — I actually used to always say that I didn’t want to date anyone because that would mean I would have to spend my Saturdays with them — ha! (I’ve since told my husband that the moment I knew I wanted to marry him was when I wanted to spend a Saturday together, and in his wedding vows he promised to give me “a lifetime of Saturdays.”)

But, to answer your question, every single Saturday (and every day) begins with Aaron and I taking Oakley (our Great Pyrenees-Lab mix) on a walk with fresh cups of coffee on the trail behind our house. After our walk, I go on a 10K run, and we normally do brunch at Zaza (the perfect post-run, late-morning meal), then we normally spend a bit of time gardening and landscaping, doing house renovations, etc. Almost every single Saturday includes a trip to Home Depot. An ideal Saturday would end with a dinner party on the deck or in the sunroom, then letting the night end while we’re gathered around the fire pit in the backyard under the stars.

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