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Ignite Little Rock Blog

Ignite LR is the chamber's weekly email and blog for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Little Rock region.

Each week, we curate information that can help you start or grow your business. Not receiving the Ignite LR email? Sign up here.


Lots of Activity at The Venture Center

Over the past few years, financial technology or fintech has gained speed as a rapidly growing vertical within the technology revolution. Something Little Rock residents may not know, though, is that Little Rock is long considered the "birthplace of fintech."

Marketing Basics for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Marketing and communications are fundamental to any business, whether new or established, but many people struggle to begin.

Resources for Local Entrepreneurs

If we’ve learned anything about entrepreneurs over the last seven years of supporting them, it’s this: Supporting entrepreneurship and small business looks a lot less like paving a road for people and a lot more like removing obstacles preventing folks from blazing their own unique trails.

The Future of Mentorship

Spring is in the air, and with it, a sense of renewal, of hope and of possibility after a long period of uncertainty and trial. At The Venture Center, we couldn’t be happier. We’ve kept busy over the last several months, hosting virtual networking and educational events to help guide entrepreneurs through the day to day needs of running a business, and also through challenges we never could have planned for like how to do your taxes if you received CARES Act assistance, or travel safety precautions small businesses should enact. While the landscape has been varied, one ever-steady constant is the presence of mentors and mentorship to help navigate the ever-changing terrain.

Three Small Business Owners Victorious in Central Arkansas Pitch Competition

Three central Arkansas small business owners won a collective $18,500 at the inaugural Global Entrepreneurship Week Pitch Competition produced by local entrepreneurial support organizations in Central Arkansas.

The Venture Center Celebrates Seven Years of Success

The Venture Center recently turned seven years old and we're celebrating! We celebrate all of the courageous women and men leaping into entrepreneurship. We celebrate the community supporting them. We celebrate our partnership with the Little Rock Regional Chamber, which is the cornerstone of what this organization has become.

Sparking Growth, No Matter the Circumstances

Guest blog post by Wayne Miller, executive director of The Venture Center Last year, The Venture Center experienced enormous changes and the Little Rock Regional Chamber was right there beside us the entire way. With the chamber’s help, we launch ...

Five Reasons to Be Proud of Little Rock's Role in Fintech Innovation

Guest blog post by Wayne Miller, executive director of The Venture Center This week, FIS Global and The Venture Center kicked off the 2020 FIS Fintech Accelerator, officially welcoming ten high-potential emerging technology firms to the now-virtual ...

The BIG Pitch and BIG Potential

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, flexibility and adaptability have been critical for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The old saying, “The wind does not break the tree that bends,” is especially relevant to today's small business owners who have changed their services to adapt to their customers’ changing needs and have changed their operations to extend the staying power of their businesses. Still, as some businesses have been inevitably hit harder than others, the question of how far they must bend to survive remains.

The Importance of Community Support

Gratitude. Inspiration. Determination. When I think of Arkansans, these words immediately come to mind. Now, a month into social distancing that’s reshaped our community and battered our economy, I’ve seen Arkansans bring real help for friends, families, strangers, and the backbone of our community - our small businesses. While there is uncertainty across many metrics today, we know that people Love Little Rock and strive to support each other here.

A Season of Gratitude

While the work of building and strengthening Arkansas’ entrepreneurial ecosystem is 24/7 and 365 days a year, at The Venture Center, we do have changing seasons that provide a framework for our mission to support entrepreneurs through our three pillars: education, collaboration and acceleration. Through the seasons, guided by our three pillars and with the support of the Little Rock community, we can support the needs of a diverse pool of entrepreneurs spanning every demographic.

Origin: Ideas Start Here

Driven. Passionate. Resilient. Creative. Persistent.
These are just a few words synonymous with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship, and only a few of the qualities I see in the men and women I work with at The Venture Center every day. As executive director for The Venture Center, I’m incredibly fortunate to spend my days and weeks working with entrepreneurs from as near as the next floor down to as far away as India, all to find the best ways to help them succeed.

The Venture Center Announces 2019 Pitch 'N Pint Winners

MaryJane Eason of MaryJane & Company took home the $5,000 Judges’ Choice prize last night at The Venture Center’s annual Pitch ‘N Pint event. MaryJane & Company touts their mantra of “Where healthy hair & extensions co-exist,” as they help brides, fashion designers, models, stay home moms, other interested customers, and patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Celebrating Global Entrepreneurism Week

Throughout my career, I've heard many people with great ideas shirk the prospect of actually putting those ideas into action to build a business. It's not because their ideas are not as innovative as the next person's, and it's not due to a lack of need for that particular solution. Instead it's because many people see starting a business and entrepreneurship as a lone venture and scaling a mountain alone can be daunting. But entrepreneurship and building a business work best, as Reid Hoffman says, alongside a team.

The Venture Center: Where Entrepreneurs from Little Rock to Vietnam Meet

At The Venture Center, we're often thrilled by the number of program applicants we get from across the globe. It's exciting to know that the work we are doing makes an impact from Little Rock to Australia, Israel and beyond. But we haven't had a chance to take our mission beyond Little Rock to other areas of the world that could also benefit from our experiences.

It's All About Community

Two and half years ago, I stepped foot in Arkansas for the very first time to join The Venture Center team, and every day since has been truly remarkable. Some days I’m convinced we should refer to our organization as the Adventure Center - but we’ll stick with The Venture Center for now.

At The Venture Center every day brings a new challenge, new relationships and new solutions. Helping entrepreneurs and businesses through education, collaboration and acceleration means our work revolves around a wonderfully dynamic group of visionaries, and through our community programming we have the honor of connecting with visionaries right here in central Arkansas.

Techtober 2019: Showcasing technology and entrepreneurship across Arkansas

Arkansas possesses a rich history of innovation and technological development. For decades, Arkansas businesses have been recognized for creating and delivering advanced products and services to consumers around the globe. As Arkansans, we are proud ...

Five Tips from Minority Business Owners

We've asked some minority business owners and those who work with them to provide advice on managing for success. Tip #1: Don't freak out! Pamela Mitchell, founder and CEO of The Reinvention Institute, speaker and author of The 10 Laws of Career Re ...

Little Rock Takes Global Stage as Local Tech Organizations Vie for Fintech Award

When I came to Little Rock to join The Venture Center team over two years ago, I knew I was walking into a unique opportunity. I’d always known that Little Rock was the birthplace of fintech since Systematics (now known as fintech giant Fidelity National Information Systems, or FIS) was founded here in 1968. What I didn’t know was the depths to which the Little Rock community would reach to catapult Little Rock into a globally recognized hub for fintech innovation.

2019 FIS Fintech Accelerator Demo Day: On Progress and Possibility

2019 FIS Fintech Accelerator Demo Day will be held on Wednesday, July 17, from 4 - 7:30 p.m., at the Arkansas Repertory Theater, and the excitement leading up to the big event is palpable. Demo Day is the culminating event of the 2019 FIS Fintech Accelerator and showcases the partnership between Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), the State of Arkansas, and The Venture Center. Together, we continue to make significant contributions with a global impact in the financial technology space.

From a Flame to a Blaze

Arkansas is home to a number of incredible museums, Fortune 500 companies, as well as an abundance of natural resources. But some may not know that Arkansas is also widely known as the birthplace of fintech, or financial technology.

ASBTDC Has Record-Setting Year Helping Our Region's Small Businesses

The Little Rock region is a great place for small business owners and entrepreneurs for a variety of reasons. One of the most important reasons is easy access to helpful resources to ensure success, and one of the best of these resources is the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC).

Four Tips to Improve the Visibility of Your Facebook Business Page

While it’s true that a Facebook page shouldn’t be used in place of a website, it’s important to remember that, like your website, your Facebook page can get ranked in Google search results. Here’s how you can give your Facebook page and posts a competitive edge that increases your visibility.

How Millennials are Marketing to Gen Z

If the majority of working adults can be classified as millennial, how are they marketing their businesses to the next generation? Those born after 1995, known as Gen Z, have grown up completely surrounded by technology, making traditional marketing efforts relatively useless. In order to capture the attention of the next generation, you have to be creative.

Lead a Winning Sales Team With Counterintuitive Thinking

There is no shortage of sales tips - what to sell, when to sell, what to say, what not to say. However, like almost every other aspect of business, sales is constantly transforming as a result of new technology, and many “fail-proof” sales assumptions aren’t necessarily valid.

Don't Scale Your Sales Team Until You've Done These Four Things

Scaling success is never just the result of an amazing product. An effective prototype and smart marketing might earn a startup a few early wins, but scalable sales require much more than that: a team of skilled salespeople - with a competent, motivating sales leader - who have mastered multiple acquisition channels in an effective external communication strategy.

Refreshing Your Brand Doesn't Mean Starting Over

In order to compete, it may seem like you need to constantly reinvent yourself, but that’s just not true. There are ways to make impactful changes that resonate with your customers without starting from scratch.

You Can't Get VC Funding for Your Startup. Now What?

When push comes to shove, a good idea, even a great one, is nothing without the practical back end. And it's at this point that young entrepreneurs who can’t self-fund their startups or obtain money from friends and family traditionally realize their ...

Mark Cuban Shares the One Mistake New Entrepreneurs Always Make

What's the biggest mistake new entrepreneurs make? Focusing on the wrong thing, according to Mark Cuban, Shark Tank shark and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. "The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make when they're first starting out is they think they ha ...

Seven Steps to Building a Winning Sales Culture

Culture is the foundation of every solid business. It reflects what you stand for, what you value, and what you aspire to achieve. It defines your company's personality and shapes how you behave, work, and communicate. Sales leaders have a responsibi ...

How to Accomplish More in Four Days Than Most People Do in Four Weeks

We all know that it takes hard work to achieve our goals. And in the world of business and entrepreneurship, we often hear how we must be willing to sacrifice weeks, months, even years of slaving away to succeed. What if there was a way to accomplis ...

Three Marketing Mistakes That Kill Tech Startups

Just a decade ago, we could not imagine renting out someone's home, hailing a cab, or chatting on video with friends in other parts of the world - all with a single tap on our smartphones. Yet the Airbnbs, Ubers, and Facebooks of the tech world work ...

Eleven Must-Read Newsletters for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur magazine and digital editors share their picks for the best newsletters to keep entrepreneurs on top of the ever-changing entrepreneurial and tech scenes.

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