Monthly Archives

August 2021

Fort Wayne Startup Focused on Managing Biases Receives Funding

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Fort Wayne, Ind. – STRE.ME, a startup focused on reducing the effects of biases within the workplace, today announced that it has raised $270,000 in a pre-seed round led by Techstars and Elevate Ventures with participation from several angel investors.

STRE.ME was launched in 2018 to help organizations simplify the business growth process and improve decision-making. Based on the results of customer discovery research conducted since its launch, STRE.ME pivoted to its current platform of helping business leaders reduce the effects of implicit bias. It is available as a web application that provides personalized and confidential insights for managing biases.

“Backed by peer-reviewed research and documented results, STRE.ME is now positioned to accelerate growth and customer acquisition in our target market while reaching into markets with regulatory drivers for which our platform and mode of delivery is the first of its kind,” said Anne Marie Labenberg, co-founder and chief equity officer. “We are able to meet these industries with progressive technology to change not only the health and outcomes of the organization but that of employees and customers as well.”

“STRE.ME makes it easy for leaders to deliver awareness and accountability to their organizations,” said Dan Meek, Elevate Ventures entrepreneur-in-residence serving Elevate Northeast Indiana. “I’m excited about the level of engagement corporations are experiencing using STRE.ME’s cloud-based solutions.”

The funding will allow STRE.ME to concentrate on onboarding key customers and pave the way for another round of funding to accelerate its sales model.

“As business leaders, we understand how important employee engagement and team dynamics are to building healthy organizations, especially when implicit biases silently influence the way we make decisions, behave, and communicate,” said co-founder and CEO Jack Patton. “Closing this round of funding helps fulfill our mission of creating cultures of awareness and accountability.”

STRE.ME was a recipient of the Community Ideation Fund from Elevate Ventures in 2019. The company participated in the Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator Powered by Techstars in 2021.

Elevate Nexus Grants $200K to Four Higher Education Institutions

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August 11, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug 11, 2021) – Elevate Ventures today awarded $50,000 grants to Ball State UniversityIndiana Institute of Technology (Indiana Tech)Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine and the University of Evansville to support entrepreneurship programming and curriculum. The funding, which is channeled through the Elevate Nexus program, is now in its third and final year. It is designed to strengthen bonds among higher education institutions, community partners and entrepreneurs.

IUPUI, Purdue University, Trine University and the University of Notre Dame received grants in 2019; last year the winners were Butler University, Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Taylor University and the University of Indianapolis.

“With the support of the Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grant Program, Indiana Tech is excited to help engineering entrepreneurs foster new business ideas, create technology-related innovations, conduct market analysis, and launch commercialized products or licensed patents,” said Ying Shang, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences at Indiana Tech. “Indiana Tech is pleased to be part of the community efforts in making changes in Indiana economical ecosystems into a technology-inspired community.”

Proposals submitted by the universities call for varied approaches:

  • Ball State University: Develop an elective cross-disciplinary course connecting Computer Science and Entrepreneurship & Innovation majors, enabling student-led ventures to move from ideation into prototyping and end user-testing.
  • Indiana Institute of Technology (Fort Wayne): Expand entrepreneurial programs and initiatives through the Center for Creative Collaboration (C3), a multidisciplinary entrepreneurship center with focus on connecting business clients with the university.
  • IU School of Medicine (Indianapolis): Launch a web-based innovation platform to evaluate student and clinician business ideas.
  • University of Evansville: Create MakerspACE, a three-pronged entrepreneurial program providing access to innovation for K-16 students.

Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grants are made possible through a partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration. A total of $600,000 has been awarded. The funding enables higher education institutions to launch and improve programming to support growth of Indiana startups.

“In the last three years, we have seen some exceptional proposals—all of which foster entrepreneurship and innovation across the campus and in the communities they serve,” said Landon Young, executive director of the Elevate Nexus program. “We are seeing the successful execution of programs, the building of cross-campus ecosystems, and high-potential companies starting and growing. I look forward to the future success these universities see from the programming they were able to launch and expand.”

Former head of Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, current South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership leader recognized

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Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekley

August 12, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — John Sampson, former CEO and president of Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, has been recognized by Elevate Ventures, Indiana’s venture development partner and investment firm, for his help to the group in the Northeast Indiana region.

Sampson received the regional champion recognition as part of the 2020 Elevate Awards, held at Elevate Ventures’ fourth annual Kinetic Conference. He retired in March this year.

John Sampson, former CEO and president of Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership

In 2020, Elevate chose a regional champion from each partnership region. These individuals go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure growth of entrepreneurship and innovation in their region, according to a news release.

In 2020 Sampson was instrumental in renewing Elevate Northeast Indiana partnership and assisting in efforts to raise $1 million in funding, according to the announcement.

Other regional champions of 2020 include Regina Emberton, president and CEO of South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership for the North-Central region.

“Emberton is the glue holding the Startup South Bend-Elkhart region together with her involvement in various initiatives and committees powering entrepreneurship growth in the region,” according to the announcement.

The awards and winners in the region include:

2020 Region of the Year: Elevate Northeast Indiana

Elevate Northeast generated the highest count and dollar value of Elevate Ventures deals (21 Fund and Indiana Angel Network Fund) from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020.

Elevate Northeast Indiana, a partnership between Elevate Ventures and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, supports entrepreneurs through initiatives including investments, marketing support, business coaching and access to professional resources.

Regional Business of 2020: Nanovis of Columbia City

This award recognizes a business in an Elevate regional partnership region that exhibits current and future positive impact in the community. Each region nominated companies in their respective geographical areas for Elevate’s consideration.

Nanovis is an orthopedic company with multiple technology platforms that aim to drive better outcomes for patients, surgeons and the health care system. Nanovis is product innovative in the spine and orthopedic markets, and has built an excellent go-to market team and has been strategic and effective in managing its resources.

In other Elevate Ventures news:

Elevate Ventures announced Aug. 12 the full launch of the Innovation Voucher Program, providing Indiana startups access to funding for more innovation-driven research and product development capabilities.

The Indiana Voucher Program was initially established in 2019 by legislation and administered primarily by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. (IEDC). Elevate Ventures’ partnership with IEDC on the program will focus on Indiana-based startups with demonstrated business needs and continued high-growth potential. Startups may be eligible for up to $50,000 in services from qualified Indiana higher education institutions and authorized nonprofit research providers to support research and development, product development, and commercialization.

“Elevate Ventures has a track record of supporting Indiana-based startups through both programmatic engagements and pre-seed, seed and early-stage grant or investment funds,” said Ting Gootee, Elevate Ventures chief investment officer, in a news release. “We are excited to have this particular program in our management portfolio and look forward to leveraging it toward the highest impact on our entrepreneurship community.”

The program will be open to applications a few times a year. The current application is open through Sept. 17. For full eligibility details, go to

To apply for Innovation Voucher Program funding, go to

Startup Financing Lifts Aviation Firm

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August 3, 2021

Warsaw, Ind.  — SimpleSortie, a startup firm with ambitions to connect air travelers to private aircraft operators, has received a $20,000 investment from the Elevate Ventures Community Ideation Fund.

SimpleSortie will enable consumers to book flights with private aircraft operators at lower cost and greater convenience. Improving transparency and squeezing out inefficiencies can enable operators to offer flights at increased margins and reduced expenses to travelers.

The company will use the funds to create a sellable product, expand its research and marketing efforts, and prepare for future investment.

Dan Meek, Elevate Ventures entrepreneur-in-residence serving Elevate Northeast Indiana, said, “SimpleSortie wants to change the way we see private aviation through more choices and better logistics. The company is bringing a better customer experience through its simple to use platform.”

Founder Ryan Srogi noticed room for improvement earlier in his career when he flew as a corporate pilot. Now he aims to scale his insights.

“The Community Ideation Fund is a key first step to SimpleSortie’s growth,” Srogi said. “It validates the concept and provides runway for initial stages.”