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June 2018

Technology column: Fortitude Fund selects second cohort

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Technology column: Fortitude Fund selects second cohort

| Business Weekly

June 29th, 2018

The Fortitude Fund of Elevate Northeast Indiana has selected a second cohort of a dozen grantees who will receive the same kind of $1,000 micro grants it awarded to the fund’s first four recipients in May to advance their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Nick Arnett, the fund’s advisory board chair, announced the new recipients at a June 14 micro-grant dinner of Fort Wayne SOUP. The acronym stands for socializing, organizing and uniting people. Guests at the dinner cast a ballot to select an entrepreneurial idea worthy of receiving part of its $5 admission price.

The organizations both believe micro grants can have a big impact on entrepreneurial success at the early stages of a startup, but they are not directly connected to each other.

In addition to Allen, the new cohort of Fortitude Fund recipients includes entrepreneurs from LaGrange, Huntington and Steuben counties. It also includes four teens, who have had their ideas recognized in a variety of business plan competitions.

Peyton Schrock, 18, took the top prize and Jordan Miller, 19, won third place in the most recent Launch LaGrange competition.

Schrock has started Schrock Mobile Poultry Butchering and Processing to supply farm customers with chicks and feed, then follow that up with processing services so the chicken they produce winds up freezer ready and vacuum sealed.

Miller’s Donn-A-Glove markets a device that inflates medical gloves to make the process of putting them on easier and more sanitary.

The youngest recipient, Karly Wolfcale, 17, developed an app she calls PeTinder to help users find new pets, and intends on marketing it as a platform for selling products or advertising. Her business plan took fifth place out of 50 entries in a statewide DECA competition.

Michael Skees, 18, won the Northeast Indiana Innovation CenterMirro Student Founder Award with his brother, Connor Skees, for developing 3B Apps, a mobile app designed to take orders for restaurants, food trucks, and corporate cafes. It is designed to help smaller restaurants compete with large restaurant chains.

Since the Fortitude Fund launched in May, it has been averaging a new applicant a day for the micro-grants and guidance it offers entrepreneurs in the region, Arnett said.

“The grants affirm to these early entrepreneurs that the northeast Indiana region believes in them,” he said. “We are connecting them with mentors and a network of support; and we are introducing them to the many other entrepreneurs in our region who are excited to have them here to grow our future economy.”

Other recipient founders and their projects include: Aaron RoblesHyper NovaAyesha ForteBlack Seed VegansFrank YangUpward Language Co.Dylan BelcherCARTTDylan CaldwellPercussion LabBen FairS.B. CarperVictor LopezGlobal Medical Industries, and Melanie WatsonBlaire Biomedical.

The fund planned to award 50 micro-grants this year. More information on its program and grantees is available at

LaPan joins BSU Entrepreneurship Center board

Karl LaPan, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, has joined the advisory board of Ball State University‘s Entrepreneurship Center.

The center operates one of the nation’s most recognized entrepreneurship programs.

“I am excited Karl LaPan has agreed to serve on the Entrepreneurship Center advisory board. Our program has been a pioneer in entrepreneurship education since 1983, and a strong board helps us bridge the gap between teaching entrepreneurship and doing entrepreneurship,” Matt Marvel, the center’s director and George A. Ball distinguished professor of entrepreneurship, said in a statement. “As we continue to focus on applied entrepreneurial learning at Ball State, leveraging thought leaders like Karl in venture acceleration is a big value add to our program.”

“The NIIC has long-standing ties with the Ball State entrepreneurial program,” LaPan said. “The focus on applied learning through Ball State’s entrepreneurship program and its connectivity to employers provides enriching and meaningful student experiences. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to lend my expertise, insights and support to ensure the continued success and development of this world-class program.”

Grants support USF Science Center renovation

The University of Saint Francis has received $650,000 in two local foundation grants for continued renovation of its Achatz Hall of Science and Research Center.

The English-Bonter-Mitchell Foundation awarded the university $500,000 for the project and the Edward M. Wilson Foundation awarded $150,000 for it. Both foundations are longtime USF supporters and a statement said their grants put the project more than halfway to its fundraising goal.

“These generous grants are a wonderful example of the Fort Wayne community’s support of our students,” Sister Elise Kriss, USF president, said in the statement. “We are very grateful to these foundations for their commitment to enhancing our students’ education experience, especially in the sciences.”

The hall is under renovation to transform it into a modern science laboratory center with specialized laboratories and other research space as well as preparation and storage areas designed to meet the university’s rapidly expanding needs in health science and in other sciences requiring lab facilities.

The project will improve the ability of USF students to conduct innovative research and collaborate with companies operating in the region on research and development projects, the statement said.

USF plans to complete the project by the end of next year.

Inventors Club to meet at TekVenture

The Fort Wayne Inventors Club has scheduled its next meeting for 7 p.m. July 12 at TekVenture, 1550 Griffin St. in Fort Wayne.

The group, formed to advance invention in the region, requires no dues or fees and asks only that individuals come to its meetings with a curious mind, desire to learn, and a willingness to help fellow inventors.

Announcing Cohort 2 at Fort Wayne Soup

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On June 14, the Fortitude Fund announced its second cohort of Founders.  12 awesome entrepreneurs received $1,000 grants.

We collaborated with Fort Wayne Soup, a crowdsourcing dinner to help people doing projects that will make our community a better place.  4 presenters vie for a cash award that can reach over $2,000.  This particular version of FW Soup was devoted to presenters 18 and under.  In keeping with their theme, we featured the four teen Founders from Cohort 2, while announcing everyone of course.  Read about each one under the Stories menu.

We were also very pleased to see cohort 1 Fortitude Founder, Sean Rassavong on stage as one of the presenters!  And, of course, we were happy that Fortitude Fund Advisory Board Chair Nick Arnett of 1517 Fund was on hand to be our MC!

Enjoy some photos from the evening!

Karly Wolfcale

By Allen, Cohort #2, Stories, students, Technology No Comments

Karly Wolfcale, 17, is adopting an entrepreneurial approach to finding a new pet through an innovative app she calls PETinder. The app will also be a platform to sell products or advertising. Karly’s potential for success has already been recognized with a 5th place award out of 50 entries in the statewide DECA competition. The Fortitude Fund grant enables building out the software and content.

Melanie Watson

By Cohort #2, Featured Founders, Medical, Steuben, Stories, students No Comments

Dr. Melanie Watson is the inventor of a handheld biotech hematology device that performs blood cell analyses in real- time when linked to a smartphone. What drives this Trine University professor of biomedical engineering is the potential to significantly decrease hospital-acquired illnesses and increase the ease of blood testing for the chronically ill. With the Fortitude Fund grant, Blaire Biomedical is seeking a provisional patent.

Mitchell Skees

By Allen, Cohort #2, Featured Founders, Stories, students, Technology No Comments

Mitchell Skees, 18, is helping smaller restaurants compete with the large chains through his mobile ordering company 3B Apps, which he began when he was 16. His younger brother Connor heads technical development and programming. Mitchell is excited about plugging into a community of entrepreneurs and mentors. With the Fortitude Fund grant, Mitchell is building out his platform for Web and Android use.

Peyton Schrock

By Cohort #2, Foods, LaGrange, Stories, students No Comments

Peyton Schrock, 18, is excited about Fortitude Fund mentors as he capitalizes on the Farm-to-Table trend. Peyton plans to supply farm customers with baby chicks and feed, then return with a mobile processing unit and onsite service to provide butcher fresh chicken, freezer-ready and vacuum sealed. Wise beyond his years, this LaGrange County entrepreneur is eager to help other young entrepreneurs with what he has learned.

Jordan Miller

By Cohort #2, LaGrange, Medical, Stories, students No Comments

Jordan Miller, 19, watched his school nurse struggle to put on medical gloves. That’s how Donn-A-Glove was born. Jordan’s device autonomously mounts a pair of gloves and inflates them for the user to insert hands in a quicker and more sanitary way. This 3rd-place winner of Launch LaGrange is excited to join the Fortitude community as he continues to perfect and commercialize his invention.

Victor Lopez

By Allen, Cohort #2, Medical, Stories No Comments

Victor Lopez believes it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from as long as you do the right thing. That’s how he is operating Global Medical Industries, a minority-owned, full- service manufacturer of cost-effective and complex medical, aerospace, automotive and defense industry devices. He is using the Fortitude Fund as a down payment on a vision system.

Ben Fair

By Allen, Cohort #2, Consumer, Stories, students No Comments

Ben Fair, is into luxury AND people who are hurting. Ben’s company, S.B. Carper, sells all-natural luxury goods and high-end men’s clothing. He gives a portion of all profits to Blue Jacket for the training and job placement of the disadvantaged who want a second chance. Ben is using the Fortitude Fund grant to launch a fragrance line.

Dylan Caldwell

By Allen, Cohort #2, Stories, students, Technology No Comments

Dylan Caldwell, through virtual reality, is turning everyday objects into your personal music studio! Percussion Lab has applications from gaming to music therapy. Dylan is using the Fortitude Fund grant to acquire 3D models to implement as Percussion Lab objects. Dylan is eager to tap into the Fortitude Fund community for greater experience.