Venture Center Joins Entrepreneurial Diversity Event

Entrepreneur Panel at Start Here Little Rock

Entrepreneur Panel at Start Here Little Rock

Inaugural Start Here Little Rock Event Launched

This weekend, the Venture Center joined the kickoff event of the Start Here Little Rock. This initiative is a collaboration with the Clinton School of Public Service and the Arkansas Association of Black Professionals. 

Steve Rice, VC Communications Director and SHLR Founder kicks off the event

Steve Rice, VC Communications Director and SHLR Founder kicks off the event

Nearly 100 people met at the Ron Robinson Theater in the River Market in downtown Little Rock, Saturday morning. The attendees included entrepreneurs and small business owners and community members interested in entrepreneurism as well as representatives of community entrepreneur support organizations.

During the morning session, participants engaged in a discussion and live Q&A with a panel of successful Little Rock entrepreneurs. The panel included small business owners and high-growth business founders from a wide variety of industries. The panel included the following business owners: 

  • Chris Bell - Complete Consulting
  • Jeston George - Apptegy
  • Ivan Hudson - iHud Insurance
  • Tina McCord - Zuni Learning Tree
  • Gina Radke - Galley Support Innovations
  • Maf Sonko - LumoXchange
  • Tinisha Turner - BigUms Catering
  • Maura Yancey - Hola! Media Group

The Goal of Start Here Little Rock

Jessica Johnston-Myers, VC Director of Programs & Operations joins ESO panel

Jessica Johnston-Myers, VC Director of Programs & Operations joins ESO panel

Organizers of the event identified two primary outcomes: to raise awareness of the resources and support available to entrepreneurs and small business owners in the community through a variety of Entrepreneur Support Organizations and to increase the engagement of women and minority entrepreneurs with those organizations.

Organizations represented on the panel included the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, the Delta Regional Authority, the Small Business Administration, and the Venture Center.

Just the First Step

The first event a success, the Start Here Initiative hopes to be a model of engagement and inclusion for other communities when it comes to increasing access to capital for women and minority entrepreneurs.

The organization remains committed to its mission of increasing engagement between the entrepreneur support organizations like the Venture Center and the entire community. 

Diversity as an Outcome

When a more accurate representation of the community is engaged in the entrepreneurial/startup community, more real innovation is stimulated. The types of ideas that emerge, the creativity of the solutions that are proposed, and the strength of the teams that are created all combine to make stronger companies.

With this initiative, Little Rock has positioned itself as a leader, but there is still work to do. The good news is that each person can do something and all those individual "somethings" create a stronger, more fantastic, and more inclusive community.