By Lea Whitlock & Viktoria Capek
For aspiring innovators embarking on the startup journey, the initial steps can be daunting, filled with uncertainties about market viability and the intricacies of seed funding. Enter The Venture Center, a guiding force for the past decade, transforming budding business ideas into fully realized growth plans.
Detail-oriented execution matters in the startup world, but the real game-changer lies in practical benefits derived from The Venture Center’s programs—outcomes that extend beyond theory, encompassing networking opportunities and mentorship.
Since 2014, The Venture Center has been instrumental in helping thousands of entrepreneurs carve their niche in the ever-evolving fintech landscape. Two shining examples of this transformative journey are Brian Bauer, CEO of Revio, and Becky Pittman, Cofounder and Chief Product and Marketing Officer for GoodChange—both former Venture Center employees.
Before leading Revio, Bauer served as Co-founder, President & Chief Strategy Officer for Abaca, a fintech company focused on navigating the challenging landscape of cannabis banking. The Abaca founding team met through The Venture Center and, 5 years after starting up, achieved a remarkable $30 million acquisition by Safe Harbor Financial in 2022.
Reflecting on his journey, Bauer expressed, “I owe the Venture Center a lot when it comes to my professional development. Our company would not exist without them.” This sentiment echoes the profound impact of The Venture Center in shaping successful ventures.
Becky Pittman, formerly the Communications Director for The Venture Center, co-founded GoodChange in 2020. Inspired by the success of a fintech company, Pittman and her partner, Emily Wineland, initiated their political fundraising startup under the mentorship of friends at The Venture Center.
Pittman shared, “Our initial idea was to create a spare change roundup for advocacy organizations, integrating giving into donors’ daily lives. However, as we started building something new, we quickly realized the need to expand our offerings into a larger platform. That’s the biggest pivot we had, and it has led to a flood of opportunity.”
Pittman acknowledged The Venture Center in helping her and Wineland’s vision for creating positive change in Arkansas. Her words echo the sentiment of countless innovators who found more than support—but a nurturing ecosystem at The Venture Center.
Stories like Bauer’s and Pittman’s underscore The Venture Center’s role as a catalyst for transformative ventures. Beyond fostering ideation, it actively contributes to overcoming startup challenges, offering exposure to capital ecosystems, business models, and invaluable networking opportunities.
Bauer, sharing insights into his startup journey, remarked, “My prior venture, Abaca, would have never existed without The Venture Center providing the network, tools, education, and inspiration to help us take the leap.”
Pittman expressed similar remarks, emphasizing The Venture Center’s commitment beyond fintech. “Their commitment to building a strong, supportive entrepreneurial community – tech and non-tech alike – is unparalleled.”
In addition to fostering start-ups under the umbrellas of resources and mentorship provided by The Venture Center, these two entrepreneurs also relied on each other to grow their success.
“During my time as the TVC communications director, I worked closely with Brian Bauer, who was then the accelerator program director. Seeing Brian’s success when he left to build Abaca inspired me to stop dreaming and start doing,” Pittman said. “Incidentally, I count Brian as a mentor now.”
Looking ahead, The Venture Center continues to be a cornerstone for growth. Bauer, now focused on the growth of Revio’s customer insights platform for banks, recognizes the ongoing role of The Venture Center’s network in shaping future success.
To aspiring entrepreneurs, Bauer offers advice based on his journey: “Focus on problems that are economically worthwhile to solve and solutions that create tangible business value.” The key, he emphasizes, is to commit to a venture that holds social, business, and personal economic value.
As we look back on a decade of collaboration and growth, The Venture Center remains more than a resource—it’s a testament to the transformative power of fostering dreams. For those seeking a team to build them up, invest in them, and genuinely support their entrepreneurial aspirations, The Venture Center stands as the best resource—right in the heart of Arkansas.
To delve deeper into The Venture Center’s impact over the past 10 years, explore its programs, or discover entrepreneurial networking opportunities, visit venturecenter.co or connect on Facebook and LinkedIn. The celebration of a decade is not just a milestone; it’s a reflection of countless stories like Brian’s and Becky’s, where dreams met reality, guided by the unwavering support of The Venture Center.
“I wouldn’t have ever met any of these people without The Venture Center, and that is a priceless gift,” Pittman shared. “Being exposed to the world of entrepreneurship, witnessing the successes of friends, and receiving guidance from mentors is incredibly empowering. Thank you, The Venture Center!”