LITTLE ROCK – The Venture Center located in Little Rock held its Demo Day this week, which is graduation day for the founders of the 10 startup companies who had just finished 12 weeks of intensive work with mentors from the world of financial technology. The Venture Center focuses solely on financial technology, or fintech, as the industry is known.
Demo Day was the entrepreneurs’ opportunity to pitch their companies to the leaders of national financial companies in the hopes of finding an investor.
The Venture Center was founded in 2013 to help dreamers with solid business plans accelerate the development of their business. FIS, a national financial company with a campus in west Little Rock, has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in its partnership with the Venture Center. FIS also lends the best minds in the company to mentor the startups.
Arkansas also is a partner. Since 2016, my administration has shared in the cost of the FinTech Accelerator program at The Venture Center. On Friday, we announced we will continue the partnership with the Venture Center, and FIS, for 2019.
The return on our investment will be new technology jobs in Arkansas.
The notion that high-tech opportunities will help us retain our homegrown talent is a fact, not wishful thinking. Arkansas already has produced many high-tech companies that have provided satisfying careers for Arkansans who easily could have worked anywhere in the world.
The Venture Center champions a couple of concepts that bear some explaining. When the leaders at The Venture Center select startups for its accelerator mentoring program, they look for businesses that will be “disruptive,” a word that has become a watchword in the technology industry.
In fintech, a disruptive firm is one that dramatically changes the way people and companies are accustomed to handling their money. While the term fintech isn’t a household word, it has become an industry that has changed the way we run our households and businesses. In many cases, we aren’t even aware that financial technology has changed our life. The Automated Teller Machine, for instance, is one of the early fintech devices that disrupted our lives by changing the way we interact with banks.
Arkansas has been blessed with many high-tech minds who have disrupted our lives for the better. With The Venture Center and its partners opening doors for the next generation in finance technology, Arkansas will be disrupting the status quo for many years to come.