Stone Ward: Sponsor Feature


by Emily Reeves

Director of Digital Innovation and Insight Planning at Stone Ward

Follow Emily on Twitter @Reeves501.

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Millie Ward, President of Stone Ward talked to me about why Stone Ward is participating in Startup Weekend.

First, tell us a little bit about Stone Ward. What is your 60-second pitch?

Stone Ward is an advertising agency that helps clients whose values we share succeed. We call this approach to business Building Good, which stated simply means that we focus on excellence and results, on realizing the potential of our clients, our people and the ideas we make together and on using our talents and resources to give back in ways that make a meaningful difference in our world.

Stone Ward has been an established business for a long time now, but have you ever stopped thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur and a startup? Tell us a little bit about that mindset.

As a small business you have to continue to think of every day in business like a startup. For Stone Ward and myself as President, this means constantly evaluating the landscape of advertising and communications companies, following the cultural trends that affect our business, trying to keep up with and understand the technology that is driving our business and the businesses of our clients, learning about our clients’ businesses and working with them to use marketing as a success enabler.

In 30 years of being Stone Ward, we’ve probably been at least 10 different companies in some way. We have adjusted our staffing to optimize our abilities. We have invested in new technology and resources that have reinvented our processes and protocols for work. We have added services and consultancies that made sense for the times. If we are not changing, we are not growing.

At Stone Ward, we have 20 principles that guide our actions. One of those is “Find a better way.” For us this means innovating what we do, how we do it, and the tools and people with whom we do it, every day. That is a startup mindset.

Why is Stone Ward a sponsor for Startup Weekend?

We believe that entrepreneurs are an increasingly important segment in driving our U.S. economy. The startup space is a place where entrepreneurs find an eco-culture for trying out their ideas, developing the ones with potential and ultimately launching companies that are building blocks for the economy. And every now and then, you have the pleasure of being there when one of these fledgling startups explode. And that is fun. Innovation is one of our four values at Stone Ward. The startup space is where innovation lives. If we can find ways to plug in and help build a stronger startup community in Arkansas, it is another way to Build Good for the state we love.

In your opinion, why should people participate in Startup Weekend?

Startup Weekends compress the startup process into a timeframe that allows everyone who participates to be “all in” for a weekend. For the participants who compete it is a great learning experience and an exercise in discipline and collaboration.

For the mentors, sponsors and judges, it is an opportunity to share their business knowledge and leverage it as an investment in possible new businesses that challenge the status quo and inspire everyone to think in new ways.

And last, but certainly not least, these weekends offer the chance to build relationships and to connect entrepreneurs and investors for profit. A microcosm of capitalism, in 54 hours.

How will you/Stone Ward be participating in Startup Weekend?

As a sponsor of Startup Weekend NWA, Stone Ward will provide a package of complementary marketing consultation and services to the winning startups. We see this as a win-win because we get to know some emerging entrepreneurs and they are able to receive at least some of the marketing services needed to take their idea to the next level.

Emily Reeves, our Director of Digital Innovation and Insight Planning will be a Startup Weekend participant and hopes to become part of one of the working teams on a project. My partner, Larry Stone and I, will be there on Sunday for the pitches and a little networking.

You were a judge at the last Startup Weekend in Arkansas. What did you like best about that experience?

I loved hearing the pitches and experiencing the energy and enthusiasm that was part of the process. I also learned from the other judges, all of who had judged competitions similar to this before. Their experience and perspective was new to me and afforded me new ways to think about how to evaluate a startup’s potential.

Is there anything else you want to make sure that people know about Stone Ward and/or Startup Weekend?

Startup Weekend is just one of many activities going on in our state to nurture startup businesses and accelerate their potential for growth. As a company, Stone Ward continues to look for ways that make sense to plug in, collaborate and create in the startup space.