Event connects Conway-area minority entrepreneurs, awards prizes to best business idea

Two local entrepreneurs walked away with $500 each after successfully pitching their enterprises to a panel of judges and more than 70 attendees at Connect Conway: Minority Entrepreneur Night.

Organized by the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce – in partnership with The Conductor, Little Rock Regional Chamber, and community activist Jimmy Warren – the event provided networking opportunities for minority entrepreneurs and professionals in addition to the business pitch contest. The prize money for the pitch competition was made possible by event sponsor Simmons Bank. Additional sponsors included Sandstone Real Estate Group, Harris Plastering & Construction, and Chris Hervey: Allstate Insurance.

Apryl Jackson, owner of Personality, Etc. – a social enterprise development company – received the judges’ choice award in the amount of $500. The people’s choice award also came with a $500 cash prize and went to 13-year-old Aidan Eslinger and his Aidan Eslinger Company.


Connect Conway: Minority Entrepreneur Night featured a business pitch competition, the winners of which were Aidan Eslinger and Apryl Jackson. Also pictured are judges, sponsors, and/or event organizers: (Row 2) Jeff Standridge, the Conductor; Chris Hervey, Chris Hervey: Allstate Insurance; Adena White, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce; Korry Garrett, Sandstone Real Estate Group; and Brandon Campbell, Little Rock Chamber. (Row 2) Jeremy Harris, Harris Plastering & Construction; Jimmy Warren; Jason Culpepper, Simmons Bank; and Ed Linck, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce.


In front of a packed Garden Room at Old Chicago in downtown Conway, 25 aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs had one minute each to pitch their business idea with the crowd. From these pitches, the judges selected a recipient of the “judges’ choice award” and the crowd voted on the winner of the “people’s choice award.”

Apryl Jackson, owner of Personality, Etc. – a social enterprise development company – received the judges’ choice award in the amount of $500. Personality, Etc. assists people with brand development using emotional intelligence and identity-development theory. Todd Parker and Candice Dowd Barnes of Parker Education & Development LLC earned an honorable mention from the panel of judges.

The people’s choice award also came with a $500 cash prize and went to 13-year-old Aidan Eslinger and his Aidan Eslinger Company, which focuses on tutoring and mentorship for black boys. An author, playwright, producer, and director, Eslinger recently debuted a stage play at the University of Central Arkansas. TJ Jones of TJones Consulting Firm received an honorable mention for the people’s choice award.

The panel of judges included Brandon Campbell, Little Rock Regional Chamber; Jason Culpepper, Simmons Bank; Korry Garrett; Sandstone Real Estate Group; Jeff Standridge, The Conductor; and Adena White, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce.

About the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

For more than 125 years, the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce has served as the voice of the Conway, Arkansas, business community. It represents the interests of its 1,400 members by promoting economic development in Conway and Faulkner County, advocating a pro-business climate at all levels of government, supporting the county’s educational institutions, and establishing and executing a vision for the community. To learn more about the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, visit ConwayChamber.org.