New venture created when public and private sectors come together:
Company fosters innovation and entrepreneurship in Central Arkansas
Little Rock, AR (May 20, 2014) – The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce announced today the launch of the Arkansas Venture Center (AVC), an organization focused on facilitating the grassroots growth of entrepreneurial activity in Central Arkansas through the establishment of startup acceleration, corporate innovation and technical training programs.
Governor Mike Beebe pledged a $500,000 matching grant from the State of Arkansas to help in the funding of the AVC.
“Arkansas is built on a history of entrepreneurial success,” Governor Mike Beebe said. “This matching grant will help us remain dedicated to connecting startups and existing companies in ways that will further accelerate Arkansas’s business growth.”
With more than 200 Arkansans already taking advantage of the AVC’s offerings, in addition to the development of 28 different programs, including Global Entrepreneurship Week and the Venture Forum, the AVC is poised to add additional programming and mentorship opportunities to encourage other members to join.
“The Arkansas Venture Center, along with the Argenta Innovation Center and Little Rock Tech Park, is leading the way in navigating the Central Arkansas startup ecosystem and its path on the Main Street Creative Corridor,” said Lee Watson, co-founder of the Arkansas Venture Center. “Through the support of leading corporations, successful entrepreneurs, the state of Arkansas and many others, we have the opportunity to raise the quality of resources available to Central Arkansas’s entrepreneurial and small business community.”
The AVC has identified six major business sector opportunities in Central Arkansas, which include consumer intelligence, data efficiencies, financial services, embedded systems, healthcare and social enterprise – all where technology and data play a key role in their success. AVC’s support for startup acceleration and the development of collaborative technical training programs with companies already succeeding in these sectors will mean that the AVC can help facilitate business growth at many levels.
Co-founders Lee Watson and Mike Steely are governed by a six-member board of directors who provide additional guidance, direction and oversight to the organization and include:
• Jay Chesshir, President and Chief Executive Officer, Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce
• Chris Cline, Senior Vice President, FIS
• Rod Ford, Founder, nGage Labs
• James Hendren, Co-Founder, Arkansas Systems; Chairman, Accelerate Arkansas
• Millie Ward, President, Stone Ward
• Jim Womble, Co-Founder, Acxiom
The AVC also has a board of advisors, many of whom are known for their entrepreneurial expertise and include:
• Kristian Anderson, Founder, KA+A
• Michael Burcham, Chief Executive Officer, Nashville Entrepreneur Center
• Brad Feld, Co-Founder, Foundry Group & TechStars
• Norman Graham, Data Scientist, mongoDB
• Donna Harris, Co-Founder, 1776
• Charles Morgan, Co-Founder, Acxiom and Privacy Star
In addition, a volunteer-led Champions group assists with coordinating niche industry-specific areas of interest for the AVC. These members include:
• Mitchell Adams, Crowdfunding
• Chauncey Holloman, Minority Founders
• Ping Fong, Venture Forum
• Scott Shellabarger, mongoDB Meetup
• Alese Stroud, Women Founder’s Meetup
The annual membership cost to join the AVC is $150 and student and veteran discounts are available. The membership includes access to the AVC Mentoring Network and Member Portal, free registration to several programs including Build IT! CEO Fireside Chat series, Code IT! Technology workshops, Drink IT! Networking events, and Pitch IT! Elevator Pitch Workshops, along with preferred pricing and discounted rates on other events, meetings and community partner services.
Heide Harrell, APR
Watch our Launch Video