LITTLE ROCK — Four and a half years after he started the business in his spare bedroom, Jeston George of Little Rock was joined by Gov. Asa Hutchinson at a news conference Thursday celebrating the hiring of the 50th employee at education technology startup Apptegy.
George, Apptegy’s CEO, also announced that the company plans to hire 20 more people within the next year, at salaries likely to be between $55,000 and $60,000.
He created the company after struggling to keep up with events at his nephew’s school. Apptegy provides educators with a simple digital platform for disseminating information on multiple devices and social media networks.
George told reporters in Apptegy’s downtown Little Rock office that the company’s first customers were Arkansas educators. He and Hutchinson presented certificates of appreciation to several Arkansas school administrators who were early Apptegy customers.
“We’re an Arkansas success story, through and through,” George said.
State Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock, said that when he was starting the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub about four years ago to aid entrepreneurs, George was one of the people to take advantage of its resources.
In 2016, Apptegy received a $300,000 investment by the Arkansas Development Finance Authority. In May, the company announced a $5.7 million growth investment from Kansas-City based venture capital firm Five Elms Capital, one of the largest out-of state investments in an Arkansas technology company in the past decade.
As part of the investment, shares purchased by ADFA were bought back.
Today, more than 1,000 schools in 39 states use Apptegy’s products.
“Nothing illustrates our future more than Apptegy: Arkansas company, Arkansas idea, Arkansas entrepreneurs, starting with Arkansas customers and then supported by some of our agencies,” Hutchinson said.
The governor said he expects his computer science initiative, which requires every public high school in the state to teach computer coding, to produce future entrepreneurs in the tech industry.