The Venture Center’s FIS FinTech Accelerator program was showcased at this week’s Little Rock Rotary Club meeting. The accelerator is a 12-week program that recruits ten startup companies from around the world that are poised to challenge the status quo in the financial sector. The program specifically acts as a gateway between Central Arkansas and young entrepreneurs with big ideas, with the goal of bringing cutting-edge technological industry to roost in Little Rock.
Wayne Miller, Executive Director of the Venture Center, presented the program’s three objectives: “Education, Collaboration and Acceleration”, along with an overall goal to help direct and mentor those who wish to create a successful business. In pursuit of that goal, Miller says the Venture Center has touched thousands of entrepreneurs, created hundreds of jobs and contributed tens of millions of dollars in revenue to the state of Arkansas. Through the 12 weeks of the Accelerator Program, start-ups are connected with local businesses and government leaders to help them groom and shape their business in the years to come, hopefully inspiring them to put down roots in the central Arkansas region.
One of the alumni of the FIS Accelerator program was present at the Rotary meeting – Uday Akkaraju, the CEO of Bond.AI, which creates human-centered AI programs for banking. Akkaraju, who moved his family and corporate headquarters to Little Rock after attending one of Venture’s Accelerator programs two years ago, extolled the virtues of the program.
“For any business, the most important thing is how it scales. So we can have a fantastic product solving a huge problem, but if people aren’t buying it, it’s a waste. So the biggest help we [Bond A.I.] got from the program was those connections that validate our product,” he says. “The FinTech Accelerator program not only validated our product, but also gave us access to local financial institutions. Out of the nine partners we are currently working with, five of them were connected through the Accelerator program.”
Through this program, the Venture Center has attracted seven companies to make Little Rock their corporate headquarters, which have injected new blood into Arkansas’ corporate landscape. In total, there have been five FinTech Accelerator programs, each bringing in an average of one million dollars in annual state revenue.