About 30 people attended the Venture Center's first-ever "Lift the Rock" event, featuring VC FinTech Accelerator startup FundSeeder of Westport, Connecticut — and a gong that celebrated the center's two years of success.
The new event will take place at 9 a.m. Wednesdays at 107 E. Markham St. Events begin with an entrepreneur's pitch. And the gong helps celebrate the successes its participants share.
The Venture Center says Lift the Rock is designed to connect the startup, business and investor communities of central Arkansas. Lift the Rock pitches will end with participants sharing key business contacts with the day's presenter.
On Wednesday, Emanuel Balarie, CEO and co-founder of FundSeeder, gave the inaugural Lift the Rock pitch.
Balarie said his company is disrupting the hedge fund industry's "monopoly" by connecting talented traders to investors, combating a lack of access by young investors.
During his pitch, Balarie described FundSeeder's end-to-end solution. The company finds the 1 percent of 40 million traders it says are talented and elite, enhances the traders' skills, offers traders' infrastructure that complies with regulations, and then connects eligible traders with investors.
FundSeeder makes money by taking a 20 to 30 percent cut of the traders' revenue, he said.
Balarie said fewer than 700 hedge funds control 80 percent of more than $3 trillion under management in that industry. Balarie said that's resulted in underperforming funds, high fees, a lack of choice and lack of transparency — things millennial investors won't accept.
Balarie said those young investors will create the demand for solutions like FundSeeder's.
Venture Center President Lee Watson called the first Lift the Rock event "awesome" and said it is the next step to developing a startup ecosystem.
After his pitch, Balarie said that the FinTech Accelerator, sponsored by FIS, is going well and that the Venture Center has done a good job in recruiting programs with actionable resources, like Lift the Rock.
Also Wednesday, the Venture Center said members have raised $6.8 million in seed capital and created more than 153 jobs in the two years it's been open.