By Wayne Miller
Executive Director of The Venture Center
When I came to Little Rock to join The Venture Center team over two years ago, I knew I was walking into a unique opportunity. I’d always known that Little Rock was the birthplace of fintech since Systematics (now known as fintech giant Fidelity National Information Systems, or FIS) was founded here in 1968. What I didn’t know was the depths to which the Little Rock community would reach to catapult Little Rock into a globally recognized hub for fintech innovation.
Last week, Little Rock’s support was on display as two Little Rock organizations, The Venture Center and The Venture Center Accelerator alumnus BOND.AI, were selected as finalists for the inaugural Finovate Awards. Known worldwide as the pinnacle of fintech innovation, Finovate brings together thousands of fintech influencers, investors and financial services executives in order to showcase emerging industry solutions.
We are incredibly proud that The Venture Center is one of six fintech accelerator programs competing for the Best Fintech Accelerator/Incubator award, and BOND.AI is one of six finalists in the Best AI/ML category. Being a finalist for an award of this magnitude is truly an incredible honor, and it’s to the City of Little Rock’s credit that both organizations are involved.
Little Rock and its tight knit business community provide crucial support and encouragement in so many ways that help The Venture Center grow and our alumni companies succeed. The Little Rock business community consistently and generously avails themselves to share knowledge, experience, and expertise, and it’s making a global impact.
Together, we’re showing the world that Little Rock, Arkansas is blazing a global path for fintech innovation. Of our 48 alumni companies, 90% are still active or have been acquired and boast an average capital raise per company of $2.1Million. Companies including fellow Finovate Award finalists Neener Analytics and BOND.AI, as well as Finovate conference Best in Show winners, like Invest Sou Sou and Alpharank, chose The Venture Center Accelerators to improve their businesses and we are very proud of their success.
In July 2019, The Venture Center and FIS announced their fifth FIS Fintech Accelerator slated to begin in the spring of 2020. Just last week, the Independent Community Bankers Association (ICBA) also announced ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator 2.0, their second accelerator in partnership with The Venture Center, which is currently accepting applications to the program.
We’re incredibly grateful for Little Rock’s support, and we’re excited about the startups that may make Little Rock home after the next round of accelerators. In the meantime, if you know a great fintech startup, refer them to our ICBA ThinkTECH 2.0 Accelerator at venturecenter.co/bank. Who knows, maybe a company you refer will be on the big Finovate stage next year! Let’s keep Little Rock on the global stage for years to come.