Skip to the content


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.

In working with hundreds of entrepreneurs every year, we see the benefits of mentorship for people who are simply brainstorming ways to turn an idea into a viable business, or for people who are looking to raise a Series B round of funding to scale their financial technology company. A strong relationship with a mentor can make that critical difference that puts an entrepreneur on a better path, and without mentorship, many an entrepreneurial journey would simply go adrift. Thankfully, the mentorship pipeline for The Venture Center is strong.

In addition to the incredible mentors right here in Arkansas, today The Venture Center has amassed 77 fintech alumni hailing from around the globe, 90% of whom still have active businesses. They received immersive mentoring at The Venture Center, and while we’re proud to have played a role in their accomplishments, we’re even prouder of their affinity for paying that mentorship forward.

Our 2021 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator cohort, in particular, has also looked at this unique moment in time and given back through virtual Lunch N Learns, through in-depth blogs, and during mentorship meetings. Their insights are invaluable, and we wanted to share a few of our favorite pearls of wisdom from these founders on entrepreneurship, taking care of yourself and embracing failure.

From Zach Duke of Finosec: “Be intentional about taking time to think. Get away from the office, put the technology away and allow the creativity that you have to be harnessed.”

From David Shipley of Beauceron Security: “The one thing I would say I’ve learned from the business side is, put your own oxygen mask on first. And I mean that for entrepreneurs about mental health. Because the points have been really well made about the rollercoaster that is our lives. And there are high rates of anxiety and depression that happen to business leaders and entrepreneurs in particular. So, you’ve gotta take care of yourself. You’ve gotta eat well, you’ve gotta rest, you’ve gotta be kind and human to yourself as part of that.”

From Barclay Keith of Artis Technologies: “Failures are a part of entrepreneurship, right? It's not something you should accept wholeheartedly, it's something you should learn from every time. 'No' is something that's going to happen every day. I think it's about analyzing that failure and learning from it.”

These founders will make great mentors for future founders. Their next task is to celebrate the culmination of the 2021 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator at our virtual Demo Day on Wednesday, March 24, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Boasting a range of solutions from payments and loan automation to cybersecurity and data insights, this year's company founders will present 7-minute demos of their cutting-edge technologies for hundreds of community leaders, innovators, community bankers, investors and fintech entrepreneurs. We invite you to join us for the celebration! Space is limited so sign up today by clicking here. And after the show, if you’re interested in receiving mentorship, give us a call and we’ll help connect you to the right mentor for you. Have questions? Email us at

The 2021 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator cohort includes:

Agent.IQ in San Francisco, Calif., digital customer engagement

Artis in Atlanta, Ga., embedded lending at the point of sale

Beauceron Security in New Brunswick, Canada, cybersecurity training

Finosec in Alpharetta, Ga., cyber preparedness and governance

Harness in Tampa, Fla., card-linked fundraising

Shastic in Berkeley, Calif., automated loan origination

UPSWOT in Charlotte, N.C., App data aggregation for small businesses insights

Zogo Finance in Durham, N.C., financial wellness education

Z Suite Technologies in Burlington, Mass., digital escrow tools

Need more information?

If you have questions about how the chamber can help your business or how you can get involved in growing our regional economy, drop us a line.