The Venture Center partnered with Global Ties Arkansas and the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative to host three entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean from Oct. 10 to Nov. 2. While at The Venture Center, the YLAI Fellows met with Venture Center mentors and received training that helped them further refine their business to position them for growth and viability. The Fellows also had the chance to present their startups to the Little Rock business leaders at Lift the Rock, The Venture Center’s weekly event that brings the business and entrepreneur communities together. After their stay in Little Rock, the entrepreneurs joined other YLAI Fellows in Washington D.C. for a few days before returning to their home countries.
John Presime was one of the three entrepreneurs that visited as part of the partnership with Global Ties Arkansas and YLAI. John is the founder and general manager of #FotoNet, an internet café that provides IT services, internet access, and computer training to low-income and middle-class communities in the Dominican Republic. Since returning from the United States, John has been hard at work taking action based on the knowledge, training and mentorship he received at The Venture Center.
The Venture Center: Why did you decide to participate in the YLAI Fellowship?
John Presime: I decided to participate in the YLAI Fellowship program to get the opportunity to increase my entrepreneurship skills, optimize my knowledge and give better services to my community.
VC: What was your experience like while you were in Arkansas?
JP: In Arkansas, I got the opportunity to experience many different cultures of my friends from Little Rock, South America and Asia. I loved experiencing the diverse cities of the Natural State and the United States. In Arkansas, I got to be part of a very unique culture learning from my fellows, learning about the American culture, the entrepreneurial community in Little Rock, and how they do business.
VC: What impact did The Venture Center have on your business?
JP: I do not have the words to explain the impact that The Venture Center is still having on my business.
But what I can say is that before arriving at The Venture Center, I did not have an opportunity to meet a mentor that could help with my business idea. I had no idea about how to identify the keys to success for my business. I did not know how to analyze my market. I did not know anything about marketing and sales strategy. I did not know what a pitch deck was. I did not know the importance of a website for business in the United States.
Now I am an expert in those and more topics thanks to the mentorship sessions organized by Lee Watson and Ashley Jones. The mentors were great and helpful, but the most important thing for me and my business was the networking events organized by Lee. For me, those networking events and meetings are the most precious jewel during my time in Little Rock and The Venture Center. In addition, meeting Lou McAlister and his team at Hyper Leap was perfect for me and my business. I just hope that I can return the favor someday.
VC: How are things going with your company now? Do you have any exciting news we can help you share?
JP: My business is doing pretty well. I am currently rebranding and renaming the company. Coming from the United States, I participated in a pitch competition and I got some money to invest. I have my business plan pretty clear and structured now. I will organize a conference soon to empower the Techprenuers community to educate, inspire and engage with them. The goal is that after the conference the Techpreneurs become my customers because my business is the perfect bridge for them to expand and/or launch their venture online. Also I will expand from a cyber café to a co-working space. The best part of the story is I have a clear and structured business plan. I'm planning to share it with some of my Venture Center mentors to ask for feedback and suggestions to get ready to present it to potential investors. I will let you know about the progress and exciting news to share.