Contracts Accelerate Small Business Growth, Home Loan Approval Speed


Two recent stars of the Little Rock Venture Center Local Banking Accelerator Program continue to operate successfully with federal contracts to facilitate the approval of small business and home loans.

Springdale-based Teslar Software says its banking technology has supported more than 20% of its Payroll Protection Program loans from local financial institutions this year.

The 1.3 million loans provided by Teslar represent $ 22 billion in funding for small businesses nationwide. Fintech has received approval to issue 80 credits per minute during peak hours, according to the company.

Teslar received the 2018 Banker’s Choice Award from the ICBA ThinkTech Venture Center Accelerator Program, sponsored by the independent bankers community of America.

Another public banking winner, Lendsmart of New York, announced last week a partnership with federal lender Freddie Mac to shorten loan processing times for lenders and borrowers.

The company is integrating its artificial intelligence-based lending platform with the federal agency’s underwriting system, which will shorten lending times by several weeks and speed up the borrower approval process.

In 2020, Lendsmart became the absolute winner of the ThinkTech competition.

When the payroll protection program was launched in March 2020, Teslar saw an opportunity and quickly offered products and educational tools to financial institutions and non-traditional lenders participating in the lending initiative.

As the loan program continued – it ended this May – Teslar began partnering with startups, other fintech companies, and banks to process PPP loans. The company says the five largest lenders nationwide have used Teslar software to process their PPP loans, which were administered by the US Small Business Administration.

“The payroll protection program was successful because the entire industry came together to achieve a common goal: to help small businesses continue to operate,” said Joe Ehrhardt, CEO and founder of Teslar Software. “The technologies we have created and the lessons we have learned from these experiences have inspired our company to create new strategies and tools to improve performance that will help civil society organizations succeed.”

Teslar is now leveraging what it has learned from the PPP process to remove the approval bottlenecks that arose during the loan disbursement process.

The approach, which integrates Teslar software into the bank’s core system, will allow banks and other financial institutions to digitize all aspects of their commercial SBA lending and lending processes, which are now manually entered. Teslar’s efforts will speed up the reconciliation.

The company plans to deploy the new module in three phases by 2022.

“This new module will provide institutions with the tools they need to strengthen business relationships with greater confidence and will change the future of SBA commercial and lending,” Erhardt said.


The University of Arkansas is offering a new service matching entrepreneurs with mentors, including venture capitalists, serial entrepreneurs, business executives, and financial experts.

Startup founders and university-affiliated young companies, whether students, alumni, faculty, or employees, will have access to a network of mentors who can accelerate and support the growth of their businesses.

The kick-off event earlier this month attracted over a dozen potential mentors to the program. The first mentoring meetings are scheduled for August.

The initiative is part of the University’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The volunteer mentors will follow a methodology developed 20 years ago at MIT and adapted to the unique assets and needs of the Northwest Arkansas entrepreneurial community.

“We believe that mentors who believe it is a well-organized and rewarding experience will eventually hire additional mentors, and entrepreneurs who attribute some of their success to the program will respond as well,” said Shahin Lokhandwala, Business Initiatives Program Manager.

Using a team approach, mentors will provide practical advice and recommendations that will contribute to the development of both the entrepreneur and his company. The main goal is to support the development and success of entrepreneurs with their own definitions.

Additional goals include expanding early funding opportunities and creating jobs that will retain entrepreneurs, engineers, software developers, and product managers in the region.

More information is available at


Minority entrepreneurs are invited to join the Business Development three-part series on improving business systems and strategies.

The sessions will be moderated by Mario Wallace, an expert in process improvement, change management, leadership development and strategic management. The program is free for members.

Online sessions will be held on Monday evenings – August 2, 9 and 16 – from 6 pm to 8 pm. Topics will include marketing systems for customer acquisition and retention, additional sales, building a culture of trust, developing value-driven operations, and system budgeting.

The Small Business Success Strategies initiative is sponsored by the Arkansas Center for Small Business Development and Technology in partnership with Remix Ideas and Hope Credit Union.

The courses are designed for prospective and current entrepreneurs of color interested in starting a business on a solid foundation, or looking to improve systems in an existing business.

Wallace will discuss key business systems, the role that systems play in day-to-day operations, and how systems are used to ensure consistency, efficiency, and flawless customer service.

More information is available at

Ideas or recommendations for speakers? Thoughts or reflections that need to be developed? Contact me at or 501-378-3567.

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