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The Venture Center

Early-stage startup acceleration and investment firm
The Venture Center
Leadership team

Lee Watson (Founder)

Jeff Amerine  (Founder)

Number of Employees
50 - 100
Headquarters
Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
Established
2013
Social Media
Summary

The Venture Center is a non-profit organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas, that supports and grows the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state. The centre was founded in 2013 and has since become a leading hub for startup innovation and entrepreneurship in Arkansas.

The Venture Center offers a variety of programs and resources for entrepreneurs, including an accelerator program, a fund for early-stage investments, mentorship and coaching, and access to a network of investors and partners. The centre also hosts events and workshops to help entrepreneurs connect and learn from each other.

The Venture Center's mission is to support entrepreneurs in achieving their goals by providing the resources, mentorship, and connections they need to succeed, and by fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration that drives economic growth and positive societal impact. The centre upholds a set of core values, including innovation, collaboration, impact, excellence, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Venture Center has a diverse portfolio of companies across various industries, including fintech, healthcare, education, and technology. The companies in the portfolio have received support, mentorship, and funding from the centre, which has helped them to grow and scale their businesses.


History

The Venture Center is a non-profit organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas, founded in 2014 to support and grow the state's entrepreneurial ecosystem. The centre's mission is to accelerate the growth of startups and early-stage companies by providing resources, mentorship, and access to funding.

The idea for the Venture Center began in 2013 when Little Rock businessman and entrepreneur Jeff Amerine approached Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe about the need for a program to support startups in the state. With the governor's support, Amerine worked with local business leaders and entrepreneurs to establish the centre.

In its early days, the Venture Center focused on hosting accelerator programs for startups, including the FIS FinTech Accelerator and the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator. These programs provided selected startups with mentorship, training, and access to funding and opportunities to connect with industry leaders and potential investors.

Since then, the Venture Center has expanded its offerings to include a range of resources and programs for startups and entrepreneurs. These include:

The VC FinTech Accelerator is focused on early-stage fintech companies and is supported by financial services companies such as FIS, Simmons Bank, and the Independent Community Bankers of America.

The HealthTech Arkansas Accelerator is focused on healthcare technology startups and is supported by the Arkansas Heart Hospital, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and other healthcare organizations.

The Bridge to Start program, which provides resources and support to individuals who are interested in starting a business but may not have a background in entrepreneurship.

The Startup Grind Little Rock chapter hosts events and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors.

Today, the Venture Center is a crucial player in Arkansas's entrepreneurial ecosystem, working to support and grow the state's startup community through a range of programs and initiatives.


Investment criteria

The centre has several investment criteria that it uses to evaluate potential investments. These criteria include:

  • Team: The Venture Center looks for companies that have a strong team with a diverse range of skills and experience. The team should be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of the market and the problem they are trying to solve.
  • Market opportunity: The centre looks for companies that are targeting large, growing markets with significant potential for disruption. The market should be big enough to support a successful business and should have few competitors or barriers to entry.
  • Innovation: The centre looks for companies that are bringing new and innovative products or services to market. The product or service should solve a real problem in a unique way and have a clear value proposition for customers.
  • Traction: The centre looks for companies that have demonstrated some level of traction, whether through customer acquisition, revenue growth, or other metrics. This helps to validate the market opportunity and the product or service.
  • Scalability: The centre looks for companies that have the potential to scale quickly and efficiently. The business model should be able to support growth without a significant increase in costs or resources.
  • Investment potential: Finally, the centre looks for companies that have the potential to provide a strong return on investment for its funders. The company should have a clear path to profitability and be able to generate significant revenue in the long term.

By evaluating potential investments based on these criteria, the Venture Center is able to identify promising startups and early-stage companies that have the potential to succeed and make a significant impact on the Arkansas economy.


Values

The centre has a set of core values that guide its work and its interactions with the community. These values include:

  • Innovation: The Venture Center values innovation and supports companies that are bringing new and innovative products or services to market. It believes that innovation is key to creating a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and driving economic growth.
  • Collaboration: The Venture Center values collaboration and works closely with its partners, including government agencies, corporations, and community organizations. It believes that collaboration is essential for creating a supportive and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Impact: The Venture Center values impact and focuses on supporting companies that have the potential to create positive social and economic impact in Arkansas and beyond. It believes that entrepreneurship can be a powerful tool for addressing societal challenges and driving progress.
  • Excellence: The Venture Center values excellence and is committed to providing high-quality resources and support to its community. It believes that excellence is essential for building a successful business and creating a culture of success.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: The Venture Center values diversity, equity, and inclusion and is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all entrepreneurs. It believes that a diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem is essential for driving innovation and creating lasting impact.

By upholding these values, the Venture Center is able to create a supportive and collaborative environment that fosters entrepreneurship and drives economic growth in Arkansas.


Mission

The centre has a mission statement that outlines its core purpose and values. The mission statement of the Venture Center is:

"To support entrepreneurs in achieving their goals by providing the resources, mentorship, and connections they need to succeed, and by fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration that drives economic growth and positive societal impact."

The mission statement highlights the centre's commitment to supporting entrepreneurs and helping them achieve their goals. It emphasizes the importance of providing resources, mentorship, and connections to help entrepreneurs succeed. Additionally, it highlights the importance of fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration, which the centre believes is essential for driving economic growth and creating a positive societal impact.


Portfolio

As part of its mission, the centre maintains a portfolio of companies that have participated in its accelerator program or received investment from its fund. The Venture Center portfolio includes a diverse range of companies across various industries, including fintech, healthcare, education, and technology. Some of the companies in the portfolio include:

  • Edify: Edify is an education technology company that provides a platform for teachers and students to collaborate and engage in interactive learning experiences.
  • Picasolar: Picasolar is a technology company that has developed a process for improving the efficiency of solar cells, which could have a significant impact on the renewable energy industry.
  • LumoXchange: LumoXchange is a fintech company that provides a platform for individuals and businesses to exchange currency at a competitive rate.
  • Phynd Technologies: Phynd Technologies is a healthcare technology company that provides a platform for managing healthcare provider data, which can help healthcare organizations improve patient care and reduce costs.
  • Acorn: Acorn is a financial wellness platform that helps employees save for retirement and other financial goals.

The companies in the Venture Center portfolio have received support, mentorship, and funding from the centre, which has helped them to grow and scale their businesses. The portfolio represents a diverse group of companies that are making a positive impact in their respective industries and communities. By supporting these companies, the Venture Center is helping to drive economic growth and innovation in Arkansas and beyond.


References
The Venture Center
Leadership team

Lee Watson (Founder)

Jeff Amerine  (Founder)

Number of Employees
50 - 100
Headquarters
Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
Established
2013
Social Media