The Founders Arena

Founders Fuel the Future

Welcome to our WealthTech Accelerator – where innovation and wealth management converge to create the future of finance. Our program is designed to help entrepreneurs and startups in the WealthTech space grow their businesses, access valuable resources, and connect with strategic partners to help drive innovation and create lasting value for clients.

Through our accelerator, you’ll gain access to a wide range of benefits including mentorship from industry experts, customized business development support, and access to a network of investors who are passionate about supporting the next generation of WealthTech entrepreneurs

Our AccelErator Program

Our Team

Pamela Cytron

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Pam is a renowned Technology Entrepreneur and recipient of numerous awards for her outstanding contributions to the industry. With a keen understanding of tracking technologies and a flair for developing innovative strategies, Pam has consistently met the demands of the industry while driving revenue growth. Her impressive career started early, making her first #fintech sale at the age of 19. Pam possesses a unique and visionary mind that effortlessly connects people, problems, and technology, leading to exceptional results in her endeavors.

Tina Gidwani

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Tina is a Venture Capital Associate with 5+ years of being in the Wealth Management Industry- her experience ranges from working with a family office and a global bank to working with a VC. She’s been a catalyst for various fund raises and acquisitions.

Tina is passionate about reaching out and spreading Financial Literacy. She is based out of Dubai and is an environmentalist- urging you to go green.

Scott Parsinen

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Scott Parsinen is a proud husband, Dad and die-hard UT Arlington Alumnus. He is a lifelong entrepreneur having started or helped expand more than 10 startups including dental biotech companies etkonUSA, 2C Dental and Cadmus Dental and has always chosen to be based in Arlington, Texas.Scott is a technology innovator with over 30 years of business experience and 15 years in digital dentistry which led to the acquisition of etkonUSA by dental implant giant Straumann where he stayed on and continued to help educate others and further implement digital dentistry into the industry.He then continued his dental career path helping Whip Mix and Biomet 3i launch their digital dental divisions until launching his own company from within the walls of UTA’s Startup Lounge in 2016.Scott enjoys traveling with his lovely wife Melissa and visiting with their grown children and grandson.He is a Board Member of the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation, a champion of the Startup community working closely with the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce and Arlington ISD, a 1Million Cups organizer, Co-founder of House of Genius Arlington and mentors several entrepreneurs of all ages.Scott truly has a passion for caring for others and using his skills and experience to help others overcome adversity and build their dreams.

Daniel Schutte

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A serial entrepreneur, Daniel has owned and operated several companies, the most successful in the music/entertainment space. He scaled an online music streaming platform to several million users. He most recently exited a boutique live-music booking agency before meeting his wife and moving to the deep south. For the past several years, Daniel has built and executed world renowned Accelerator programs in the Fintech vertical, and brings a breadth of experience to his role in connecting fintech startups with heavy hitters in the financial services industry, where he worked with thousands of financial institution executives and directly with 100 + fintech startups who have collectively raised north of $2.5 Billion in venture capital.

Hamza Qadir

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Entrepreneur, corporate innovator, and an agent of transformation, Hamza Qadir has been successfully championing efforts across a number of industries including Education, Healthcare, and Financial Services over the last 8 years. As an experienced startup founder and leader of large scale corporate innovation initiatives, Hamza has been able to form unique firsthand experiences across the Innovation spectrum. By leveraging those perspectives and taking a data-driven operational approach to innovation – he has gone on to build globally recognized innovation and venture programs that help bridge the gaps between startups, enterprises, venture capital, government entities / regulators, and other strategic partners to co-create the future of their ecosystems.  He believes that the most genuine value is created when the entire ecosystem can succeed together and has thus made it his mission to instill that culture and practice whenever possible. 

Our Executive Ambassadors

Sabina Bhatia

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Sabina Bhatia has more than 30 years of experience as an investment professional on Wall Street and a growth executive in Silicon Valley. Her expertise and passion are to convert an idea into a successful venture. She was an institutional investor and research head at various Financial Services firms including Moody’s, PaineWebber, The Clinton Group, Basso Capital and Alta Partners. She has also had the opportunity to work as a sole financial advisor to some of the largest real estate projects in Africa. In Silicon Valley, as one of the early leaders of financial wellness company Payactiv, innovator of Earned Wage Access (EWA) she held leadership roles in several areas, including Sales, Customer Success, Channel Partnership development and Marketing.

Today, Sabina acts as Growth executive, CXO strategist and Fractional COO for multiple startups.

Sabina has a BA and MBA from Pace University in New York city.

Teresa Burton

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Teresa is a self described dot collector and philomath driven by curiosity. She has been an advisor to founders for 10+ years and is passionate about bridging the gap between fintechs and financial organizations. She currently serves as an executive in residence with RevTech Labs and serves on the advisory board of several startups. Teresa is on the board of Finsiders, a non-profit focused on supporting the fintech community.

Throughout her 25 year career in the financial industry she has managed many different projects from small technology implementations to complex divestiture sales and bankruptcies. She is a vendor management thought leader with extensive experience in governance, risk and compliance. Her hobbies are risk & tech conferences and keeping up with the ever changing regulatory landscape. She is a purpose driven, strategic visionary who’s not afraid to roll up her sleeves. Collaboration and building strong relationships is fundamental.

Teresa has an MBA from Queens University and holds an alphabet soup of certifications in the vendor management space. Her real hobbies are mountain biking, hiking and traveling the world.

Elena Carroll

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Elena Carroll is a global fintech and data analytics executive known for bridging strategies to execution, delivering significant revenue growth and profitability. She has a proven track record at both startups and established companies serving in leadership roles in Strategy, Operations, Product, and Go-to-Market.

Elena is passionate about financial wellness and has always worked in fintech. She started her career in banking and payments, including 14 years at Mastercard. Elena was part of the leadership team of its Data & Services business, growing the business into a key differentiator and major contributor to Mastercard’s revenue.

After Mastercard, Elena was a Partner at TechCXO, where she served as an interim or fractional Chief Product Officer or Chief Operating Officer for early to mid-stage startups. Her portfolio companies included a geolocation data analytics firm, API platforms in healthcare and real time payments, and a digital bank focused on crypto.

Most recently, Elena has been working in WealthTech, including heading up product management for Envestnet’s analytics and intelligence product line, and she is currently serving as an Executive-in-Residence at F2 Strategy.

Elena holds a BBA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Cate Davis

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Cate Davis serves as the Investment Analyst and Administrator for Skywalker Property Partners. In this role, she manages the portfolio of alternative investments and leads efforts with the Skywalker Venture Fund. Previously, Cate was the Associate Director of the Baylor Angel Network where she led deal sourcing and operational efforts. Cate graduated from Baylor University with degrees in finance and entrepreneurship and currently lives in Fort Worth.

Samuel Dean

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Samuel Deane is a financial planner and founder of Deane Wealth Management, an independent investment advisory firm for tech employees.

After spending some time working in an industry traditionally reserved for wealthy baby boomers, Samuel realized that he could provide wealth management and financial planning services more efficiently for his generation. With a passion for improving the lives of those around him, Samuel provides both practical and relatable financial advice to startup founders and hard-working professionals in the tech industry.

Samuel has become a financial expert and a go-to resource for national media outlets. In addition to being named as Investopedia’s Top 100 Most Influential Financial Advisors, he has also been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNBC, Investment News, and many more. Samuel is a coveted speaker and loves spreading his wisdom on entrepreneurship, personal finance, and smart investing to his community.

Sonya Dhar

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Sonya is the Director of Client Solutions for PCR (Private Client Resources). She has been working in the financial services industry for the last decade focused on results driven client solutions and delivering optimal client experiences. The majority of her experience has been working for major global banks (JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America). Sonya holds her BA from New York University and is a member of the Violet Alumni Network through which she provides mentorship and career coaching to students looking to enter the Financial Services industry. She has served as a member of the SAWLF (South Asian Women Leadership Forum) in New York and is passionate about supporting women entrepreneurs and diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Russ Hornsby Clifton

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Russell is an experienced senior executive and professional advisor with a unique career path through legal practice, military service, financial services senior management and non-executive advisory roles. His focus has been on designing and implementing organisational and cultural change, whether driven by strategy or by legal/regulatory concerns.

As a barrister he practiced criminal law, and joined the British Army to help redesign the Court-Martial system after the European Court ruled it unfair. He also served as legal advisor to military commanders on tours of duty in Kosovo and Iraq, helping rebuild their legal systems after conflict. In combat zones he has advised on international law, local law and Special Forces operations, and was commended for bravery under fire twice. He prosecuted the first successful Court-Martial for Iraqi prisoner abuse, which was broadcast globally and discussed at Prime Minister’s Question Time and in the House of Lords. He also worked with the British Red Cross and the Foreign Office in designing a new regulatory framework for Private Security Companies operating in hostile environments.

After the Army Russell joined the UK’s Financial Services Authority to help them achieve results at a time of negative press and government pressure. Russell obtained several FSA firsts, including the first industry settlement for unfair contract terms (worth £500m to customers) and the first plea bargain deal in an insider dealing prosecution. He was also responsible for sector standards and advisories such as Product Provider and Distributor Responsibilities, and the design and roll-out of key initiatives such as Treating Customers Fairly.

Russell then moved into industry, first as the Global Head of Compliance Policy for RBS Group, where he led the restructure of individual compliance policy support teams for seven businesses into one centralised global support team. Then, as the Regional Head of Compliance (SMF16) for EFG Private Bank in London, he redesigned the organisational structure and culture of regional compliance after a £4.2m FCA fine. After successfully completing that restructure, he moved to be CEO of EFG International’s five wealth management entities in the Cayman Islands, with a balance sheet of $10bn. A key part of that role was to reorganise the regionalised operational support model into a more vertical Cayman focussed model, all while resolving regulatory issues and returning the jurisdiction to profitability.

Russell currently serves as a Board Advisor for two fintech businesses and a Neobank, is on the Faculty at UK Finance’s Conduct Leadership Academy, is a Non Executive Director for a veterans charity and the Chair of their Audit and Risk Committee. He is also a trained Executive Coach and Institute of Directors-certified Company Director.

Bob McGraw

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Bob McGraw brings 30 years of wealth management leadership expertise.   His firm, West Village Advisory, specializes in working with early and mid-stage companies to define and execute business growth and market expansion plans.  His work encompasses helping firms with competitor analysis and market positioning, refining product/service offerings, go-to-market strategy, and business plan development.  He has advised companies on the formation of new business ventures, company acquisitions, and strategic alliances.    

Bob enjoys riding the wave in emerging technologies ranging from AI and machine learning, to next-generation solutions focused on investor engagement, personalization, portfolio analytics, and advisor productivity.

He brings a unique perspective to his advisory work, based on his prior experience:   Former strategy and innovation partner with KPMG.  General Manager of a wealthtech business unit within Temenos, he led a company turnaround strategy and global business expansion.   Earlier in his career, he served as a Managing Director with Deutsche Bank Private Bank, and led Capgemini’s wealth management and systems integration practice.

Bob has a passion for gourmet cooking and enjoys sailing, fishing, bodysurfing, and hiking.

Wayne Miller

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Wayne brings more than four decades of proven performance in various industries and leadership roles. He most recently served as executive director of The Venture Center, where he oversaw the nonprofit’s efforts to accelerate market readiness for early to growth-stage companies through immersive FIS and ICBA accelerator programs. Before joining The Venture Center in 2017, he served as CEO of a private-equity-backed medical drive manufacturer and has extensive experience working with start-ups.
Miller serves on the board of Beauceron Security, as an advisor and mentor to various fintech companies, and is a general partner in BankTech Ventures.

Miller attended the University of Pittsburgh in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa., and was an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland where he taught entrepreneurship.

Glenn Murray

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Glenn Murray has worked in the payments industry for over 20 years in various roles.  He currently serves as Vice President – Strategic Growth for Sutton Payments a division of Sutton Bank, the issuer behind several high-profile programs including Robin Hood, Door Dash, Instacart and many others.  His team oversees business, product and partnership development for the division. He has held positions in business development, product marketing and relationship management at Discover, MasterCard, and PayPal.  He is a native of Memphis, TN and has a BA from DePaul University in Chicago. He’s co-authored 4 books on various topics and enjoys travel including frequent trips to Napa Valley.  

Prabhakar Reddy

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Prab brings more than 30 years of operational business experience having invested and managed successful startups, he has been a valuable asset to his portfolio companies and served as an Operating Partner to position them for scale globally.

Prab co-founded Naya Ventures, an early-stage Venture Capital firm in the Mobile, Cloud and AI/Disruptive Technology space. He was formerly CEO of Motivity Labs, which he successfully help scale before merging it with a publicly traded Technology Services firm. He was also a Partner in a global sourcing advisory firm, ANSR Group, which is backed by Accel Partners and was part of the team that helped establish Global Captive centers for various Fortune 500 firms in India. 
Prab has an MBA from Chicago Booth and an Engineering degree in Electronics & Communications from India.

Brig Serman

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Brig Serman has spent over 30 years as a global sales executive with IBM serving clients ranging from technology startups to established mid-market enterprises. In 2019, he founded Advanced Integrated Marketing Inc. to help leaders of small businesses harness technology to fuel growth. A boutique Digital Marketing Agency, AIM applies an uncommon vision to anticipate market disruption, fuel sales, and improve profit margins for Midmarket and SMB clients. Leveraging leading edge technology to help companies around the world outperform their competition.

Philip Smith

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After a successful twenty-five year career in advertising, both in London and New York, Phil decided to hang his own shingle in 2010. Since then, PRS Consulting, a brand and marketing consultancy, has provided him with multiple opportunities to work within the Fintech space with companies like, Pendo Systems, Trupoint Partners and Regalytics, as well as on projects as diverse as commercial real estate and the Internet of Things. He’s currently working on a branding project for a large Wealthtech software company. Phil’s passion is working with and helping to grow companies both large and small.

Phil was honored as a Distinguished Visiting Professor by Johnson & Wales University in 2011, and served as an adjunct professor of Advertising & Marketing at Iona College in New York from 2018-2020

Judson Stone

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Judson M. Stone, a strategic advisor, executive, and investor at Eclypses, applies his extensive experience to drive market share growth. In his tenure at FIS Global Wealth and Retirement division, he led Tier 1 clients, enhancing relationships and revenue. His strategic planning played a vital role in fulfilling market expectations. Previously, he significantly contributed to transforming First Rate, Inc. into a global company. As an engaging public speaker, Jud establishes solid connections with C-suite executives, deepening their understanding of industry trends. Notably proficient in crafting go-to-market strategies, he builds durable partnerships and guides successful technology rollouts across various industries. Holding a firm belief in the importance of surpassing client expectations for business success, Jud focuses on strengthening relationships and fostering self-persuasion skills. During his personal time, he relishes family activities, boating, and lends a hand in his Texas community through volunteer work.

Brad Taylor

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Brad Taylor gives awesome advice on data and AI/ML strategy to global companies at AUSUM Advisors. He is a former partner at accelerator Tech Wildcatters, where he worked with dozens of mobile, SaaS, AI and HPC start-ups, many of which became both job creators and profitable exits for Tech Wildcatters investors.

Brad has been an intrapreneur and entrepreneur in data, AI, and IoT and has created enterprise prescriptive and predictive analytics for employee retention, risk management, fuel cards, and text and speech recognition for CRM/CX.

When not working, Brad is an active contributor in the Dallas/Fort Worth technology community, volunteering at non-profit education forum Dallas AI, and speaks regularly at local events on AI/ML.

Kendrick Wakeman

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Kendrick is the Co-Founder and CEO of WealthTech Strategy Partners, a strategic advisory firm focused solely on the WealthTech industry. He is also the Founder and Managing Partner of qSpur Consulting, a consultancy that operates at the intersection of technology, people, and finance. Prior to founding WealthTech Strategy Partners, he was the sole founder and CEO of FinMason inc., which he grew into one of the largest independent investment analytics firms globally. Prior to FinMason, he spent almost 30 years on Wall Street as an institutional investor, research director, and product head at various investment management firms and investment banks including Lazard Asset Management, Wachovia Corporate and Investment Bank, and Forum Capital Markets. He serves on the advisory board of various companies including First Rate Ventures. He holds a CFA designation and a BA from Dartmouth College.

Stephen Wall

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Stephen has over a decade’s experience as a research analyst focused on broad aspects of the global wealth management sector. In a world where tradition and stability once ruled, Stephen has watched as the sector has shifted to one where change is becoming more commonplace. But, due to the continuing clash of traditional and future thinking, Stephen believes the industry lacks access to dedicated, comprehensive, and accessible knowledge resources, hence the idea and drive to create The Wealth Mosaic.

Dr. Ruth Wandhöfer

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Dr. Ruth Wandhöfer has been instrumental in shaping the future of finance during her impressive career over more than two decades. She operates at the nexus of data, technology, identity finance and regulation, passionate about creating the decentralised digital economy of the future, bringing back personal agency and putting us humans at the centre. As a very influential female leader in the technology space, she is promoting the understanding, development and deployment of new business models for our digital future across financial markets and processes.

With a diverse career across regulatory policy development, banking,Fintech/Regtech mentoring, investing and consulting she finds herself at the centre of the evolving digital ecosystem of players with the ability to advise, accelerate, promote and enable technology players to become an integral part of the new financial ecosystem.

After a distinguished career of over a decade with Citi, Ruth is a speaker and runs her own advisory and consulting business. She is also an independent Non-Executive Director on the boards of Permanent TSB, Gresham Technologies, Aquis Exchange and and has been an active Angel and VC investor for years.

In addition she is the Chair of the Statutory Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) Panel in the UK and advises the City of London Corporation, the British Standards Institution and the European Third Party Provider Association (ETPPA).

Ruth was named as one of 2010s ‘Rising Stars’ by Financial News; named in Management Today’s 2011 ‘35 Women under 35’ list of women to watch and identified as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Finance 2012 by the Treasury Risk Magazine. She received the ‘Women in Banking and Finance Award for Achievement’ in 2015 and in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022 she was named on the global ‘Women in Fintech Powerlist’ of Innovate Finance (Senior Leader in 2020, 2021, 2022). She is a Top 10 Global Fintech Influencer (Fintech Power 50).

Ruth is a Visiting Professor at Bayes (formerly CASS) Business School City University London where she gained her PhD as well as at the London Institute of Banking and Finance and occasional lecturer at Queen Mary London School of Law.

So far she published three books: “EU Payments Integration” (2010), “Transaction Banking and the Impact of Regulatory Change” (2014) and“Redecentralisation: Building the Digital Financial Ecosystem” (2023).

She balances this extraordinary career while raising her two children and championing for a better work life balance for parents and more support for women entrepreneurs.

Michael Wuest

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Inquisitive and versatile, Michael Wuest is a chronically curious professional with a proud passion for financial planning and a clear commitment to perpetual learning.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Texas A&M and 6+ years as a leader within the wealth management industry, Wuest continues on as both a student and a practitioner of behavioral finance, organic growth, and operational innovation tactics.

Wuest has served through the years as a strategic consultant to a handful of nonprofits and school committees around the local New Braunfels/ Austin area. He served most recently as Treasurer at Camp Quality USA.

Michael enjoys exploring the great outdoors and cheering loudly at Austin FC soccer matches with his wife, Christy. And along the way, he continues to collect stories and seek new perspectives, so that he can better serve those in his family, team, and community.

Benefits of Our Program





Training and Education

Our program is designed to help you:

Develop a compelling business model

Build a scalable product that meets market needs

Acquire customers and grow your user base

Secure funding from investors who believe in your vision

We're proud to have already helped many wealthtech companies achieve their goals. Our alumni have raised millions in funding, expanded their teams, and transformed the industry.

If you’re an early-stage wealthtech company, we invite you to apply for our accelerator program. Our team of experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts will provide you with the guidance, mentorship, and resources you need to succeed.

Apply today and take the first step towards building a successful wealthtech company.

Our Partners


Founders Arena WealthTech Accelerator Coming to Arlington in September

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The Founders Arena WealthTech Accelerator—a 10-week program in Arlington aimed at early- to growth-stage startup entrepreneurs—will be offered beginning September 4. Its key goals are connecting participants with potential customers and investors while supporting “the creation of innovative products that banks and wealth management companies can use to better serve their clients.”

The accelerator is launching through a partnership led by the city of Arlington, First Rate, Inc.—an Arlington-based fintech and services provider to the wealth management industry—and other sponsors including SEI and the Founders Arena.

“The Founders Arena WealthTech Accelerator is on a mission to help entrepreneurs succeed,” Pamela Cytron, president of The Founders Arena, said in a statement.

‘Actively involving the local community’

“Equally as important is helping the community succeed,” Cytron added. “We intend to go beyond the role of a traditional accelerator by actively involving the local community here in Arlington. We ‘re grateful for the strong partnership of the city of Arlington and our strategic partners, and look forward to welcoming the first cohort of startups in September.”

Applications for the program are open through July 15 through The Founders Arena website.The accelerator’s first participants will be announced later in the summer.

While taking part in the program, participating startups will have access to”networking, funding, training, and mentorship from the program’s executive ambassadors—a network of industry experts with decades of experience building companies in the financial services sector,” the city of Arlington said.

Meeting at First Rate campus in North Arlington

The accelerator will feature a combination of remote and in-person programming and will be headquartered out of the new First Rate campus on Ascension Boulevard in North Arlington.

The Arlington Economic Development Corporation recently approved a three-year performance grant of up to $1.5 million for First Rate, which recently completed nearly $1 million in campus renovations. The facility—which offers 17,650-square-feet of co-working space for lease—will play host to the accelerator’s participants throughout the program.

‘A first of its kind not only for Arlington but globally’

Broderick Green, executive director of the Arlington EDC, called the accelerator “a first of its kind not only for Arlington but globally.”

“Our strategic plan highlights the need for more support for entrepreneurs, and we feel this sends a strong message to the community that Arlington wants to help grow innovative companies right in our own backyard,” Green said in a statement.

$550K grant from the Arlington EDC to help fuel 2 cohorts a year

With an annual performance grant of $500,000 from the Arlington EDC, First Rate will sponsor at least two cohorts through The Founders Arena WealthTech Accelerator annually, the city of Arlington said. Under the conditions of the grant, First Rate will retain its 72 existing jobs in Arlington and create a minimum of 14 new jobs by next April.

The accelerator also plans to host technical assistance workshops, student hackathons, and networking events. It will collaborate with local school districts, Tarrant County Community College, and UT Arlington to create financial technology programs for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students.

The accelerator “is expected to attract hundreds of global executives to Arlington annually,” the city said, with the execs lending their expertise to the startups and participating in community programming.

‘First-of-its-kind’: Why this wealthtech accelerator coming to Arlington is a big deal!

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A new wealthtech accelerator program in Arlington will be the first-of-its-kind in North Texas.

The Founders Arena WealthTech Accelerator is a 10-week program expected to help early- to growth-stage startups develop products and connect with investors and customers. The intensive bootcamp coming to Arlington is meant to help entrepreneurs scale their revenue through mentorship and access to funding, networking and training.

Arlington-based wealth management solutions company First Rate and the city of Arlington are partnering with Founders Arena to bring the program to the city. Product creation will focus on tools for wealth management companies and banks. The wealthtech industry focuses on technology like artificial intelligence and digital solutions to help traditional wealth management firms become more efficient.

The program will include a mix of remote programming and in-person events out of First Rate’s North Arlington campus on Ascension Boulevard. The Arlington company recently spent nearly $950,000 to renovate its headquarters, which includes more than 17,000 square feet of coworking space.

The accelerator also is expected to collaborate with Tarrant County Community College, The University of Texas at Arlington and local school districts through student hackathons, workshops and other training opportunities.

First Rate could also earn up to $1.5 million from the Arlington Economic Development Corporation over the next three years as part of a performance-based grant approved in April. Under the agreement, First Rate is expected to create at least 14 new jobs by next April. The company currently has more than 70 employees.

Broderick Green, executive director of the Arlington Economic Development Corp., said the program is a first not just for Arlington, but for the world. “Our strategic plan highlights the need for more support for entrepreneurs,” Green said in a statement. “And we feel this sends a strong message to the community that Arlington wants to help grow innovative companies right in our own backyard.”

Experts in the financial services sector will participate in networking and mentoring as part of the accelerator.

Pamela Cytron, president of The Founders Arena, said the company is on a mission to help entrepreneurs succeed. “Equally as important is helping the community succeed,” Cytron said in a statement. “We intend to go beyond the role of a traditional accelerator by actively involving the local community here in Arlington. We are grateful for the strong partnership of the city of Arlington and our strategic partners and look forward to welcoming the first cohort of startups in September.”

Arlington leaders expect the accelerator to garner attention from global wealthtech executives. Founders Arena operates out of Arlington, but the organization partners with and hosts events in Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to its website.

Applications for the program are open through July 15 with the program beginning Sept 4..

Trina Stone, owner and executive chair of First Rate, said the company wants to help more early-stage entrepreneurs achieve the American Dream.

“The wealth management industry is in need of innovative technology solutions, and the next generation of companies moving the industry forward will be built right here in Arlington,” Stone said.

Pennsylvania-based SEI is one of the program sponsors. With offices across the globe, the technology and investment solutions company works with financial institutions, corporations and high-net-worth investors. The publicly-owned company manages $1.3 trillion in assets as of March, according to the company’s website.

Read more at:

A heart to heart about Sales and Wealthtech with Pamela Cytron

Top 3 Roadblocks to Quality ESG Data

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We sat down with OWL ESG founder Ben Webster to uncover the layers of ESG data.

Many people in the industry continue to be at odds about what criteria will qualify a sustainable company and which data can disqualify them. However, at its core, ESG is DATA. It’s data on how a company affects its environment, how it interacts with society, and how it is governed. Here are the top three roadblocks to Quality ESG data that we discussed during this episode.

Lack of Regulation and Standardization

While the SEC is working to create specific ESG requirements that include actual metrics, there is still a lack of standardization and data comparison. There are no third-party auditing requirements at this time, and until there are, discrepancies and data manipulation will be rampant.

Political Bias

The political divide is high when it comes to interpreting ESG data. For example, many progressives and conservatives disagree on what diversity and inclusion look like and how companies should regulate it. The same goes for climate impact – especially when there is no regulatory standardization. ESG data is seldom black and white. There is a lot of gray area in the data and without context, many people are disqualifying companies on a surface level that are actually qualified when the data is examined more thoroughly.

Greenwashed Data

Even if we were to solve many of the other issues around analyzing and qualifying ESG companies, there is still the question of “is the underlying data accurate?” The demand is growing to obtain access to the underlying or raw data. Greenwashing, which is providing misleading information on how a company is environmentally sound, exists only because there is no well-developed system to uncover data discrepancies. Many companies are using marketing and advertising to cover up bad or incomplete ESG data. The SEC is pushing to have certain ESG criteria mandatory, but until then, there are many gaps that mislead stakeholders.

Listen to the full Ventures in Wealthtech episode to learn how to better understand ESG data and how it relates and contributes to long-term sustainability.

Marshall Smith( EVP, Services )

Marshall Smith CIPM, EVP of Services, has been with First Rate since 2006. You can follow Marshall on Twitter @MarshallCSmith, or connect via LinkedIn.


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While most of the Venture Capital space are focused on the fastest way to raise capital, drive revenue and see a ROI, this strategy often leads toward sacrificing the longevity of the startup and the customer needs. True longevity requires a strategy to increase revenue, not just raise capital. Basefund co-founder and CEO, Robert White sits down with us to share how he built a foundation designed to grow long-term success with a focus on experience, deep understanding of customer pains and expectations, and a philosophy of practical evolution.

  1. The Dream Team

Many start-up founders come from extensive backgrounds, drawing from their experiences to initialize an idea that can change the game. But more often than not, they jump the gun to find funding and how to expedite growth and scalability. Many entrepreneurs fail to build their foundation before they hit the ground running. Strategically choosing talent that is equipped with expertise and experience to understand the vision and how to execute is the first step in building a strong foundation built for longevity.

  1. KYC: Know Your Customer

Many entrepreneurs believe that they know their customer and can overlook this step while not realizing their customer profile is ever evolving. Knowing your customer is about building relationships that are transparent where you can have continuous open and honest conversation about pains, wish lists, and even discuss pricing tolerance. Maintaining these relationships is key to understanding how to pivot, create product roadmaps, and how to speak to potential clients.

  1. One Step at a Time

Big ambitions drive the VC industry. Disruption is the goal and everybody will bet all their chips on their big ideas. However, sometimes smaller iterations is key to longevity and sustainability. Sometimes, it’s not about disrupting but building trust by solving immediate and current practical pains that can lead to the next phase. For example, you can’t solve blockchain issues for industries that haven’t event adopted the cloud yet. Longevity is all about taking it one step at a time.

  1. Building vs Selling

Last but not least, many entrepreneurs are so laser focused on proving themselves and their ideas that they forget to invest in selling. Many startup firms believe, “if I can just build it, they will come”, and while that is true to an extent, without exposure and good selling strategies, that big idea might end up just sitting on the shelf.

A long term strategy for start-up firms is about the ability to grow revenue, not just raise capital. Taking capital into consideration to overcome early stage challenges is the reason that the venture capital industry exists, but being exceptionally talented at raising capital is not going to bear long term fruit. Watch the full podcast to learn more about long term success for start-up wealth tech firms.

Marshall Smith( EVP, Services )

Marshall Smith CIPM, EVP of Services, has been with First Rate since 2006. You can follow Marshall on Twitter @MarshallCSmith, or connect via LinkedIn.

Ventures in WealthTech – Building a WealthTech Startup Ecosystem and the Evolution of Venture Capital with Pamela Cytron

Whiskey and WealthTech – Innovation Meets Success with Hamza Qadir, Managing Director at The Founders Arena