The Venture Center Launches Inaugural AAPI Achieve Program with 20 Entrepreneurs and Industry Leaders

Posted on April 25, 2024
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In its first year, Arkansas’s newest professional mentorship program for Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals represents eight distinct AAPI nationalities.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 25, 2024) – Twenty Asian American and Pacific Islander entrepreneurs and industry leaders from across Arkansas are participating in the inaugural AAPI Achieve program, an innovative statewide mentorship opportunity produced by The Venture Center in Little Rock. 

The Venture Center facilitates a statewide program that connects emerging AAPI entrepreneurs (mentees) with experienced professionals (mentors). Building on the success of The Venture Center’s VCWoman Achieve program, which has effectively scaled more than 50 women-owned businesses in Arkansas, AAPI Achieve attracted over 40 applications for the inaugural program. The selected finalists were chosen for their diverse locations and backgrounds. This year’s participants include:

Bri Vongvilay – BriVong Media
Tanushree Dey – Boards by T
Sona Shekhawat – Living Alchemically
Jenny Zhong – A.W. Lin’s
Tim Nguyen – Diamond State Chiropractic
Byron Buslig – ByronB Illustrations and Design
Venki Mandapati – UpSquad
Gen Lin – Taste Tea Kitchen
Micy Liu – Life Mission Capital
Shelby Esry – Downtown Dental

“As someone who is Filipino, I am so excited to be a mentor for AAPI Achieve. More importantly, I am deeply committed to nurturing and supporting the growth of Asian American and Pacific Islander entrepreneurs. This program is a powerful tool for us to share our perspectives and experiences, which enrich Arkansas’s business ecosystem. By investing in our diverse talents, we’re not only celebrating our roots but also paving the way for a future where everyone can thrive,” said Arthur Orduña, Executive Director of The Venture Center and AAPI Achieve mentor.

Josh Nguyen, the Digital Marketing Manager at The Venture Center and AAPI Achieve Co-Founder, added: “Having someone who can connect you to revenue opportunities, resources, or grants that may benefit you as a minority-owned business is a direct advantage of mentorship. The relationships built in this program could be the reason you see another successful month, year, or even ten years in business—all from one small seed of connection.”

AAPI Achieve mentors volunteer their time to assist in building the mentees’ businesses and offer them inspiring examples of success to follow. These volunteers include: 

Brant Collins – Collins Media
Bao Hoang – Southern Arkansas University
Peter Nguyen – Healthy Chew
Mihir Desai – Welspun
Arthur Orduña – The Venture Center
Dian Barlett – Polk Stanley Wilcox
Bliss Krucas – Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau
Jason Huynh – Walmart
Chung Tan – The City of Fayetteville
Deme Yuan – FR8relay

“There aren’t a lot of Asian people in Central Arkansas. When I learned about the AAPI Achieve program, it stood out because having the opportunity to be surrounded by people who understand and share your experiences is amazing. I think The Venture Center is doing something really big that will make such an impact in people’s lives,” said Bri Vongvilay, founder of BriVong Media and AAPI Achieve mentee.

AAPI residents in Arkansas from all industries are encouraged to visit for more information on how to apply as mentors or mentees for the 2025 class. 


About The Venture Center
The Venture Center is a globally recognized Arkansas-based Entrepreneurial Support Organization (ESO) that helps entrepreneurs turn their start-ups into viable, high-growth businesses. By leveraging the expertise of a world-class team of mentors, intensive programming, and introductions to the investor community, The Venture Center serves as an engine for economic growth in Arkansas and beyond.