Top 8 Venture Center Moments in 2021

Posted on September 22, 2021
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It’s The Venture Center’s 8th Birthday! We’re incredibly fortunate to have been a part of the Arkansas entrepreneurial community and the global fintech community during this time. We’ve met the most inspiring people imaginable, witnessed spectacular successes, and admired people who learn and pivot through failure. Thank you to our friends, supporters, mentors, mentees, community members, and to all of the entrepreneurs out there for eight years of ideas, innovation, courage, and fun. We love you!

We wanted to share our favorite moments of 2021 so far in honor of our 8th year. We know there are more to come! But for today – our top eight celebrations are…

1. Jones Bar-B-Q-Diner Hosts Grand Reopening Event After Devastating Fire

Being a part of helping to rebuild Jones Bar-B-Q Diner was the opportunity of a lifetime for the entire team at The Venture Center. A James Beard Award-winning restaurant and one of the oldest Black-owned restaurants in the country, Jones Bar-B-Q is an incredibly important part of Arkansas. If you haven’t had one of Mr. Harold Jones’ famous sandwiches, you need to get down to Marianna and try it out. Life-changing!

2. Four Small Business Owners Win Funding in Statewide Arkansas Pitch Competition

The Covid-19 Pandemic hit entrepreneurs hard, but women, BIPOC, and veterans shouldered the biggest burden. We were thrilled to co-host Pitch N’ Pint this summer, a pitch competition at which four Arkansas small business owners won a collective $31,000! The virtual contest was held for small businesses owned by women, people of color and veterans whose Arkansas-based businesses have been negatively impacted by Covid-19. 

3. The Venture Center Wins Arkansas Business Non-Profit of the Year

We were honored to win Non-Profit of the Year in the 33rd Annual Arkansas Business of the Year Awards! 

Arkansas Business Publishing Group of Little Rock presents the awards each year to honor businesses, nonprofits and executives in Arkansas. Readers of Arkansas Business nominate executives and organizations for the awards, and an independent panel of judges determines the winners.

Serving Arkansas entrepreneurs has been a labor of love for the past 8 years, and we are grateful for the recognition from the community!

4. ICBA and The Venture Center Reveal New Set of Fintech Solutions Tailored to Community Banks

The third annual ICBA #ThinkTECH Fintech Accelerator was a resounding success, and we are proud that our third cohort brought high-tech, high-touch solutions to hundreds of community bankers taking the lead on community bank innovation! 

5. Fintech Companies Bring Innovative Thinking to 2021 FIS Accelerator Demo Day

The amazing fintech innovation continued at the 2021 FIS Fintech Accelerator, in which the advanced technology companies in this year’s cohort included credit monitoring, authentication, direct deposit, banking-as-a-service, lending, automation, data-as-a-service and customer relationship management. Thirty percent of the participating companies in the 2021 program were women-owned enterprises.

6. The Venture Center’s New Monthly Program Shines Light on Mental Health and Wellness

One of the most important and least talked-about aspects of entrepreneurship is mental health and wellness. In order to address these key issues, we partnered with Chenal Family Therapy and The Bridgeway to bring a monthly program to our community providing mental health resources. This monthly program has been one of our most informative and important resources to date! 

7. Pre-Accelerator Program for Local Entrepreneurs Now Accepting Applications

We’re so excited to launch our third Spark! – a local small business pre accelerator program! With our partners at the Little Rock Regional Chamber, ASBTDC, Arvest, Arkansas Money & Politics, Frost PLLC, and Wright Lindsey Jennings, we’ll host local small business owners for 10 weeks of mentorship, subject matter training in sales & marketing, and top it all off with a pitch competition. WE LOVE SPARK!

8. Venture Center Fintech Alumni Win Best of Show at Finovate Fall 2021

Our Arkansas fintech accelerator alumni showed up big time in NYC this week at Finovate Fall! Finovate showcases cutting-edge banking and financial technology, and we were proud to see alumni from both of our Arkansas-based accelerators, the ICBA ThinkTECH Fintech Accelerator and the FIS Fintech Accelerator present. 

The cherry on top is that two of our alumni, Array and Long Game won Best of Show! The attendees of Finovate Fall deemed these extraordinary companies officially The Best, and we couldn’t agree more!