Pedro Somarriba, a local entrepreneur who was part of the outdoor recreation pilot incubator at the U of A, has a simple message to share: “You’d be missing out on a great opportunity if you didn’t sign up.”
Somarriba is the founder of Lacaid Ropes, and his vision is to make rock climbing safer by creating innovative, dynamic ropes with custom designs and meter markings.
In February, Somarriba joined the inaugural cohort of the Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP). Less than six months later, he is hot on the heels of a product launch with plans to expand his inventory.
“I expected GORP to help me understand how to be an entrepreneur, what steps I need to take to bring the company to success,” said Somarriba.
“(GORP) delivered all of that and then some. There were resources I was connected to that I never would have known to ask.”
Lacaida launched its line of ropes in June, and Somarriba said he is working on adding tarps to the company’s product line. He points to three pillars of GORP that have helped him along the way: mentorship, funding and access to a broad network of business leaders throughout Northwest Arkansas.
“We are three months ahead of where we would be if we didn’t have GORP,” said Somarriba. “GORP was everything to get us to where we are. GORP helped me hone in on how to do it and held me accountable to do it.”
Led by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, GORP supports startups with workshop training, team mentoring and dedicated product/service development to help them scale globally. The 12-week program also provides up to $15,000 in “non-distributable seed funding” per company, funding that does not require the owner to give up equity in the company.
The overall Somarriba experience is emblematic of GORP’s mission, according to Phil Shellhammer, program director.
“Lacaida is a great example of why GORP exists,” said Shellhammer. “If you really understand your customers’ biggest problems and solve those problems for them, your chances of success increase significantly. And that’s exactly what we’re trying to teach through the GORP incubator.”
About the Office for Entrepreneurship and Innovation:The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation creates and curates innovation and entrepreneurial experiences for students in all disciplines. Through the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, McMillon Innovation Studio and Startup Village, OEI provides free workshops and programs — including social and corporate innovation teams, venture internships, competitions and startup coaching. OEI also offers on-demand support to students who will be innovators in existing organizations and entrepreneurs who are starting something new.