The hardest part of owning a startup is always the beginning: the process of turning your idea into a company with a working business model and appropriate funding. Luckily, there is a multitude of accelerator programs in the South available to entrepreneurs who want to launch their startups quickly.
Fidelity National Information Systems (FIS), is a Fortune 500 financial technology company with global reach. It employs more than 55,000 people and is headquartered in Florida, but its roots go back nearly half a century to Systematics, a company founded in Arkansas by Walter Smiley, a University of Arkansas alumnus.
Smiley was already trying to disrupt the FinTech software market then, and this tradition has stayed alive in the area, with companies like Bank Labs, Smiley Technologies and Precision Risk Management Systems all calling Little Rock home. And others are finding a place in this sector, as well. Just in the last five years, this sector saw nearly $50 billion in direct investments with nearly $32 billion (64 percent) to companies in the U.S. alone.
The Venture Center is now helping others further this proud lineage by accepting applications to its new VC FinTech accelerator program, backed by FIS, which boasts more than 1,000 employees in its Little Rock location alone. Up to 10 teams will be accepted into the program and will receive $50,000 in seed funding, with teams eligible for up to $300,000 in additional investment at the end of the program The 15-week program kicks off on May 13, with a demo day on August 25.
Lee Watson, president and CEO of the Venture Center, believes this program is especially critical in guiding a next generation of FinTech disruptors since the participants will be interacting with the senior executives from FIS. “I think it’s great for this type of innovation,” he says. “FIS recognizes that the next big thing in mobile payments, trading and others might come from the startup ecosystem.”
Startups in core banking, payments, mobile, fraud and cybersecurity are encouraged to apply. There will be a FinTech Google Hangout hosted on March 16 for any interested parties to ask questions directly to the organizers and FIS executives. Application deadline is March 31.