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Venture Connects: saving the economy, one entrepreneur at a time
The year 2008 was a nightmare for large corporations and small businesses alike and the near-collapse of the economy still has very large ripple effects years later. While Corporate America has been nursing its wounds with government help, entrepreneurs new and old to the game are still reeling in the aftermath. The lack of capital for great business startups is only half the problem—entrepreneurs with a great idea may not have the professional resources to get a prospect company off its feet. That’s where Venture Connects comes in.
While there are many venture capital firms out there who help startups gain some fiscal footing, Venture Connects does what others never thought of: they provide a support system of service providers, ranging from CPA’s to career coaches to sales training experts.
We sat down with the CEO, RJ Pahura, to talk to him about why Venture Connects is the most original platform to come out in years, his vision for the U.S. economy, and where you can get a good cigar in this town.
What was the inspiration for Venture Connects?
This is my fifth startup venture firm, and over the years of doing this I’ve begun to see that there’s a real need for a dual-platform company like ours. What sparked the idea for Venture Connects was seeing all the joblessness in the United States, seeing all these entrepreneurs and small business owners who didn’t know where to turn.
These entrepreneurs and small business owners were trying to grow their company, but seeking capital is a full-time job. How were they supposed to acquire funds as well as tools when money is so tight for so many?
Venture Connects is the first platform of its kind. We are the only place for entrepreneurs to go to learn about business, get quality service providers and to gain capital from accredited investors. Our screening process is intensely thorough; we pride ourselves on only allowing the best and most legitimate people for our investors and experts. We don’t take just anyone, and quality is the most important thing for us. Lastly, we do not take any equity stake in deals.
We really, truly are passionate and committed to growing U.S. jobs and helping our economy, not just through first-time entrepreneurs, but seasoned ones as well.
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I started my first business at 16. I was chosen to lead a business venture through my high school’s business economics course at Shawnee Mission East in my hometown of Kansas City.
We designed a business model where we partnered with local businesses that would appeal to high school kids like ice cream shops, local restaurants, and movie theatres and went door-to-door and sold discount memberships cards to our neighbors. Back then door to door sales was still cool before cell phones and Groupon came along.
Our school mascot was the Lancer so we called ourselves Lancer Enterprises and created stock shares for every student who was in the business course. The program was so wildly successful that the high school continued to have these memberships after the course ended, and when the 25-plus students cashed in their stocks at the end of the year we each made about one thousand dollars.
After that I knew I wanted to be my own boss, and I knew I wanted to run a business.
What was the worst job you’ve ever had?
Corporate America. I guess it’s not a specific job, but I was in Corporate America for about 10 years, and although it greatly helped me from an operations and management standpoint, I hated the corporate bureaucracy that went along with it. If you have a problem at work you can’t just take it right to the boss—you have to take it through the corporate ladder.
By being my own boss, I was able to change all that, and implement the kind of business relationships I wanted to have.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
To really change the U.S. economy through entrepreneurial growth and to make a notable difference in our country and the job market.
That and to know what women want, but don’t tell my wife I said that!
What do you do for fun?
I’m really big into cycling and extreme skiing. I would love to travel to Switzerland one day and do some extreme skiing there. I used to race motorcycles for fun, but that was in my younger years, although I still love exotic motorcycles and choppers. I also love to travel, but who doesn’t!
My wife and I are also wine connoisseurs, and in the spring and summer you can find me at a cigar lounge with a glass of wine and my laptop. My favorite cigar bar in Chicago is Iwan Ries & Co. but if you’re ever in Kansas City I would recommend Outlaw Cigar Bar.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself at Venture Connects and having helped many entrepreneurs grow their business and ultimately find funding. I also see myself teaching either business or entrepreneurship in the future at some time.
My goal is to help entrepreneurs with their quest for knowledge and capital, so I want to continue doing that. If money was not an issue, I would still be working doing what I love.
What’s next for Venture Connects?
This is our growth year. We’ve already formed all the right strategic partnerships so this year is about getting Venture Connects out there and introduced to the United States as the platform for entrepreneurs and investors.
Our biggest plan is to continue to form the best possible strategic partnerships and have phenomenal growth so we can really help entrepreneurs start businesses and create jobs for our economy.
We are a for-profit organization, but we genuinely want to give back to our country. We want the world to know that there’s no platform out there like ours: we are new, innovative, and top-quality.
2013 is a rebuilding year for a lot of people, and we want to help.
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