#RealTalk: The Truth About Competition

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L et’s talk about the C-Word. Competition, that is! Think for a moment about your relationship with your competition. Is it one rooted in fear? If so, I challenge you to rethink your approach. With very few exceptions, most small businesses can benefit from amiable relations with other companies who are fighting for the same piece of the pie.

most small businesses can benefit from amiable relations with other companies who are fighting for the same piece of the pie.

Allow me to explain. Depending on the industry, you may find that working with someone you perceive as a credible threat might actually help you. He or she (or they, in the case of larger entities) can serve as a reality check—challenging perceptions or ways of doing things that no longer serve you. It’s easy to get stuck in our own silos and sometimes it takes an outside perspective to give us an extra incentive to innovate and grow.

That said, I think all small business owners should check in regularly with themselves (or team members) and ask questions like:

  • What is something a competitor does better than you?

  • How might you learn from their strengths or advantages?

  • What is something you do better than they do?

  • And finally, this calls for some soul-searching. Who has the bigger market share? You or them?  What can you do to either maintain your position or grow?

Once you’re honest with yourself, you can set goals in the form of solid deliverables that specifically correspond to your business.

What about if your competitor seeks you out for advice? How flattering! Welcome it with open arms! You never know when you’ll need them to return the favor. Helping someone else develop can position you as a leader in your industry (and an all-around good person) and may allow them to succeed. And our business community is stronger when everyone succeeds. Going back to the pie metaphor, there are enough slices for everyone!

So, I challenge you this week to invite your competition to coffee. Show up with no agenda other than to learn and grow. I assure you you’ll leave more enlightened than you did before.

Article written by Lauren Caggiano, Fortitude Founder and President of WriteOn!

Fortitude Fund Social + Emerging Entrepreneur Event

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Community Ideation Fund
Launch Night

+ Fortitude Fund Social

Community Ideation Fund Powered by Elevate Ventures

We recently hosted the announcement of our first three Emerging Entrepreneurs while helping them launch into their next stage of business! The Community Ideation Fund invests in entrepreneurs to the tune of $5,000 to $20,000; this particular announcement includes three Fortitude Founders, who earlier this year, received community, mentors, and money to launch and grow their business.

The Emerging Entrepreneur Launch Night was also shared with another Fortitude Fund Social where many entrepreneurs were able to connect and share their ideas with others.

What is the Community Ideation Fund?

Fueled by Elevate Ventures, the Community Ideation Fund is a statewide fund specifically created to help ideation-stage high-potential companies move closer to a specific, measurable technology or product development milestone through an investment between $5,000 and $20,000. Eligible applicants include Indiana-based companies with headquarters in communities/regions under a partnership with Elevate Ventures and with no more than $50,000 in trailing revenue over the past 12-month period. Elevate has designated up to $200,000 per community over the next three years. The funding is sourced through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s 21st Century Technology and Research Fund.

The Fortitude Fund is powered by elevate northeast indiana.

Entrepreneur & Investor Round Table Recap

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On Wednesday, July 18, we hosted entrepreneurs and investors from around the country. They engaged in a discussion about how community, mentors, and money impacts their businesses and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in this region.

We had an excellent crowd – the room was filled with discussion and networking well after the event ended.

Thank you to our investors and entrepreneurs (see below) for your participation! And thank you to the great crowd that joined us.

National & Regional Early Stage Investors

Victor Gutwein
M25 Fund

Nick Arnett
1517 Fund

Aaron Gillum
50 South Capital

Robert Clark
Elevate Ventures

Regional Entrepreneurs

Ashli Pershing
Parkview Health

Victor Lopez
Global Medical Industries

Kyle Craig
Apollo Dynamics

Melanie Watson
Blaire Biomedical

Photo Gallery


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!

Takeaways – from Fuse50

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Steve from the Fortitude Fund attended Fuse50, a recent tech and innovation conference in Cincinnati produced by Powderkeg and Cintrifuse.  Here is a short read of four key takeaways.

Takeaway 1: “Mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.”

This one phrase by itself was worth the 3-hour drive to Cincy. Think about it in context of your purpose, Being chronically inconsistent with your purpose will lead to a lack of focus, will confuse people, and will generate inconsistent (if any) results.

Takeaway 2: “Frentors”.

We all need frentors in our lives, people who are both friends and mentors.

Takeaway 3: Do your mentor homework.

An experienced mentor described having a meeting with an entrepreneur who was totally unprepared and who just sat down and expected the mentor to drive the entire meeting. It was as if he came in, plopped down on a chair, and said, “Here I am – fix me.” Don’t expect the mentor to lead – come with an agenda, come with a goal to learn something that helps you with the work you have already done, be the leader in the meeting (since you are the leader in your company), and do your homework about the mentor so you know that your agenda is within the mentor’s domain to discuss. In other words, don’t walk in cold and expect the mentor to both discover and solve your problems for you without you doing any work.  Sorry for the long rant.  tl:dr – be respectful and do your own work first.

Takeaway 4: What do you REALLY have, beyond an idea?

For those entrepreneurs who think that an idea by itself, or an idea bolstered by a few pages of written business model text, is enough to approach investors – think again. Build something. Always build something. First and foremost, build something. Did I mention that it is important to build something?  Execution is what is important to moving your venture forward. Anyone can say, “We see a need to ______ and are creating a disruptive technology that will do _______.” But, for goodness sake, don’t say that unless you have already built it.  Because the next thing you hear will be, “Show me.” And if your answer to that is, “Well, we really haven’t made anything – but we will some day if you give us money”, then the conversation is over.