Mar 28, 2023

Startup Junkie Announces Darian Harris as Director of Fuel Accelerator, Grace Gill as Operational Manager

Startup Junkie Foundation is excited to announce that Darian Harris has been hired to serve as the new director of the Acelerador de combustible program. Harris will be taking over for Matthew Ward who propelled the program since the fall of 2021.

Harris brings extensive experience in both entrepreneurship and corporate environments to the organization. He has demonstrated his expertise within Walmart as a Merchant, earning the Home Innovative Merchant of the Year award in 2021, as well as working with Walmart as an Account Manager. Harris has also founded three successful companies, including Pulse Pass and American Baseball Camps, between 2016 and 2022.

“We are excited to welcome Darian to the Startup Junkie Foundation team. His experience and passion for entrepreneurship and innovation, coupled with his experience, make him the ideal candidate to lead our Fuel Accelerator program,” says Caleb Talley, Startup Junkie Foundation executive director. “We’re looking forward to seeing the program continue to grow in both impact and scope under his stewardship.” 

As the new director of the Fuel Accelerator program, Harris will be responsible for guiding the program’s strategic vision and direction. He will work closely with cohort company founders, new and existing mentors, and programmatic partners to help them further develop their companies and accelerate their growth. 

“I’m excited to be a part of what Startup Junkie and the Fuel Accelerator team have built. I can’t wait to bring my passion for entrepreneurship and innovation to help support and empower the next wave of game-changing startups,” said Harris.

The Fuel Accelerator, in its fifth iteration, is expanding into health innovation by facilitating the first cohort centered around health tech startups. Fuel is dedicated to helping these startups succeed by providing them with resources such as access to other startup founders, mentorship, and continued education throughout the program cycle.

Startup Junkie Foundation is also pleased to announce the addition of Grace Gill as a full-time member of the team where she will serve as an operational manager for the Fuel Accelerator. Gill joined the team as a venture intern in the spring of 2022 and will graduate from the University of Arkansas in May upon which time she will join the foundation full-time. 

“Grace has been a valuable member of our team since she came on as an intern, and she has only continued to show us and everyone we work with her potential to be an impactful leader in our entrepreneurial community,” said Talley. 

Fuel launched in 2018 with eight startups participating in a supply chain-focused, 16-week program. The program helped its first cohort nurture relationships with key Fortune 500 companies and has since grown with enough traction to support a second vertical. The accelerator is funded in part by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) as a part of the state’s ongoing efforts toward promoting emerging technology, as well as the Walton Family Foundation.

In addition to its first health care-focused cohort launching in April, the Fuel Accelerator will facilitate its four artificial intelligence and machine learning cohort in August. Recruiting for that cohort will begin this spring.