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Q&A with Capture Sports Agency in Fort Wayne: How it’s charting its own path as a sports agency

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Q&A with Capture Sports Agency in Fort Wayne: How it’s charting its own path as a sports agency

| Input Fort Wayne

October 14, 2020

Capture Sports Agency is taking Fort Wayne by storm, led by the talented and effervescent Chauntiel Smith-Jones, whose heart for sports is exceeded only by her love of people.

Sports agent Chauntiel Smith-Jones is blazing a trail in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

A South Side High School graduate, Smith-Jones earned a bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in sports management from Indiana Tech. She participated in the Sport Management Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Now, she is carving out a niche for herself as a young woman in a field dominated by men, staying true to her roots, and not taking shortcuts to success personally or professionally.

Input Fort Wayne’s partner, Fort Wayne Ink Spot, sat down with Smith-Jones for a Q&A about Capture Sports Agency. 


Smith-Jones

Q: How did you come up with the name Capture Sports?

A: During my senior year in college, my mom and I started listing possible names for my business. She wanted my initials to be part of it, but I didn’t want it to be centered around me. So we came up with Capture Sports Agency; it just fit. We wanted to capture athletes being entrepreneurs and business owners, or having a stake in a team or company. Something that was outside their daily role of being an athlete. Capture Sports seemed to encompass that.

Q: What are your goals for Capture Sports Agency? What are you trying to do that will set this company apart from other agencies?

A: I see the agency representing top players and negotiating deals with top leagues. I would love for it to become common to see women and diversity in agents and head coaches along with general managers at key negotiating tables. Race, gender, and sexuality are key components that should be a part, and that starts with us bringing them in.

Q: What was your motivation to get into this line of work?

A: When I played basketball at South Side High School, I thought I was going to be a WNBA athlete, but then realized that wasn’t going to happen (laughs). So I began to think about what I could do to stay in sports and make an impact. That’s when I decided to become a sports agent. When God confirmed it in my heart, I knew I’d chosen the right path. We have people making $100 million and they go broke; they’re misrepresented. That’s another reason I got into this business.

Q: What are some of your struggles to gain acceptance in a male-dominated business?

A: When people see me, their initial reaction is I am the marketing representative or girlfriend/wife of a player. You are always reminding people you require a seat at the table. It’s exciting to be a trailblazer in this profession for other women, but you have to deal with issues your male counterparts don’t encounter. I shouldn’t have to be concerned with clothing or how I will be perceived by wives and/or girlfriends. I am one of the youngest female sports agents in the country. Many of my clients are my peers. There are awkward moments when a mother or wife of a player walks in and sees me in the interview chair, but we work through it. I realize it will take time to begin seeing other faces that look like me in this business.

Q: Who has been most reluctant to offer you acceptance in this business?

A: Typically, it has been white men who are usually older. At times, it has been coaches and male personnel who are not quite sure why I’m in meetings or at events. It’s going to take them getting more comfortable with having conversations with people who don’t look like them.

I’m an agent, but this is just one side of the business. There are many more women on the executive side. We need to add more women as financial advisors, working for the brands, the teams, and the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) to look for ways to diversify all sections of sports. We need to be more welcoming in this business and be mentors for those coming in who don’t look like you, but have a heart for the profession.

Q: What types of players are you trying to attract to Capture Sports Agency at this point in your career?

 
Through Capture Sports Agency, Chauntiel Smith-Jones brings faith and integrity to the world of sports

A: At this time we have two lower-level players, but are looking primarily for male and female Division I athletes who are looking to give back to their communities. We feel this will help those athletes and this agency grow in recognition. We want athletes who set a high standard for themselves and have high moral standards in which they conduct their lifestyles, so we are particular who we represent here at Capture Sports.

Q: Walk me through a day in the life of a sports agent.

A: I am up by 6:30 or 7 a.m. Sometimes I don’t even eat, and it’s right to the laptop to begin finding places to send our players and discuss with our overseas clients which players “fit” their needs. I look for strategies to help me grow our agency (which is ongoing). I then line up what our interns need to be doing that day to market our players, put them in the right direction financially and make healthy living choices, which are vitally important. I try to attend games and camps, looking for players.

Q: How do you learn or improve in your craft? What areas do you need the most improvement in?

A: There are so many areas I need growth in! I have been to pro scouts school, agents school, and business school just to keep myself knowledgeable. I just completed my certification from Case Western Reserve University on how to become a sports agent, so I’m proud of that! I’m leaning toward getting my law degree, as well.

Q: When you look at other more established agencies, do you compare yourself to them and look at them as rivals, or do you say, “That’s where we’re trying to get to”?

A: Any business trying to become viable will look at other agencies doing the same thing and see what they did to become successful. We want to create a foundation in our business that gives back to the community. I pay attention to a Christian hip-hop label that is running their business in a way I’d like to duplicate because of the values they’ve instilled.

Q: What is the mission statement of Capture Sports Agency that you would like to leave our readers with?

A: Our mission is to help athletes become more than athletes. We are looking out for them in a multitude of ways that will help them in their professional as well as post-professional life. Faith, (in God), Passion (in the process), and Grit (knowing that what you’re working for is going to come to pass) is what we stand on and stand for at Capture Sports Agency.

My number one goal is to keep the door open for other women. I hope I’m known as someone who brought as many people along for the ride as I could and gave back to our community and profession as much as possible, especially for women and minorities.

This story was originally published in Fort Wayne Ink Spot.

What can a Bay Area job get you in Fort Wayne? A remote worker for Netflix shares his experience

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What can a Bay Area job get you in Fort Wayne? A remote worker for Netflix shares his experience

| Input Fort Wayne

October 28, 2020

If the COVID pandemic has an upside, it could be the realization of how easy it is for employees to work remotely. And if they can work remotely, that often means they can work anywhere, keeping jobs with high salary potential, but living where costs are cheaper.

Tim Harvey brought his Netflix job with him to Fort Wayne two years ago. He continues working remotely for the Silicon Valley-based employer.

Such an opportunity presented itself to Tim Harvey about two years ago. He had been working in Silicon Valley when his aging parents needed him to move back home to Fort Wayne where he and his wife grew up. Since then, he has been able to relocate his family while continuing to work from home.

Harvey is a Senior Site Reliability Engineer for Netflix. His team is responsible for ensuring the reliability, uptime, and innovation side of operations for the streaming media service provider.

“When there’s an issue with the Netflix service—the streaming side of things—we get paged in to do instant management, coordination, and communication for those kinds of situations,” he says.

He and his team then follow up on the issue, and report back with any lessons learned, creating a feedback loop to help engineers understand ways they, “can continue to move fast and continue to innovate, but also do that in a way that keeps our service reliable.”

Two years into his remote work, Harvey says working from home has been great for him and his family.

“I miss the face-to-face time (of being in an office),” he says, “but I find that working remotely has been a nice balance generally where there’s some time face-to-face. Mostly I can put my head down and work, avoid commute, spend more time with my family, and appreciate all of those things. I’m a person who enjoys quiet.”

It’s also helped his family save money. He and his wife have three school-aged daughters. Bringing them to Fort Wayne gave the family an opportunity to have a higher standard of living and be closer to extended family.

“We love the folks—friends and neighbors—we had in California,” Harvey says, “but there’s always a sense of uncertainty in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area where the rent is incredibly high, so you may not be able to renew your lease. You might be moving, which means changing schools. Coming to Fort Wayne was definitely a choice for some stability.”

Moving to Northeast Indiana means more space for the family to stretch out, too. Each of Harvey’s daughters now has her own bedroom—and her own pet.

“Those sorts of little tangible things, as well as intangible things like being close to family, seeing folks that they missed (are great),” he says. “They’ve really enjoyed the schools and the friends that they’ve made here. It’s felt really comfortable.”

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, in collaboration with the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, offers a Cost of Living Calculator on the Partnership’s website. Users enter their base salaries in the first field, then select where they’re moving from and where in Indiana they are moving to. If someone living in San Jose, Calif., is making $50,000 and keeps that salary, but moves to the Fort Wayne–Allen County area, that person can save 72.76 percent in housing, 28.74 percent in groceries, and 15.73 percent on healthcare.

These are the types of benefits that can tip the scales for families and individuals on the coasts to relocate to Fort Wayne, says Rachel Blakeman, Director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

“Realistically, this change in the work dynamic and the opportunity to work from home all of the time—especially for these large Bay Area companies—is really going to be a great opportunity to bring people back to Northeast Indiana who already have connections here,” Blakeman says. “It could be an opportunity for people who have a lake cottage in Kosciusko, Noble, Steuben, or LaGrange counties. You might then decide you want to live in your lake cottage year-round. Or if you have a situation where you’ve been thinking about moving back to Wells County or Allen County because you have family there, but you’ve got a great job in the Bay Area, Seattle, or Portland, and now that company is allowing you to work from home permanently, then you may decide to come back home.”

Blakeman says it will be a year or so before the data comes in telling just how many people have migrated to Northeast Indiana from other locales since the onset of COVID-19. The data is not tracked in real-time. She advises people to have realistic expectations, though, about any type of mass migration to the area.

“While there’s a possibility of us receiving folks who are now given the opportunity to move to wherever they would like,” she says, “I think the actual number is actually going to be marginal in terms of scale of what we’re looking at. I think your best bet is going to be to recruit back local talent to live here.”

Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Indiana announces 2020 Torch Award recipients

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Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Indiana announces 2020 Torch Award recipients

Better Business Bureau

November 9, 2020

BBB Serving Northern Indiana, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is proud to announce the businesses, individuals and non-profit organizations receiving the 2020 Torch Award, recognizing the honorees for exemplifying the highest of marketplace ethics. All award winners demonstrate a high level of trust among their team members, their customers and their communities.

Jack Patton and Anne Marie Labenberg (center) of Stre.me, BBBIN’s 2020 Entrepreneur of Integrity Torch Award Recipient, in partnership with Elevate Northeast Indiana.

This years’ winners join a select group of only 84 other companies in Northern Indiana companies and individuals that have received this prestigious recognition by BBB since the Torch Awards began in 2006.

BBB chose to celebrate each honoree with an in-person award presentation due to COVID-19 restrictions on large-scale events. Award recipients received their personalized trophy, an outdoor display banner and cookies from BBB A+ rated Cookie Cottage.

“The BBB is an expert in recognizing and promoting trustworthy businesses, and we believe it is essential to celebrate those businesses that are models of ethical practices. The 2020 honorees stood out to our independent panel of judges as those that work to promote trust, integrity and an ethical marketplace,” said Marjorie Stephens, President and CEO of BBB Serving Northern Indiana. “BBB’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust and we’re honored to celebrate those businesses that “Do It Right!”

2020 Torch Award recipients are:

2020 Businesses of Integrity

2020 Entrepreneur of Integrity, chosen in partnership with Elevate Northeast:

2020 Charity of Integrity

2020 Pillar of the Community

The 2020 Torch Awards were generously sponsored by BBB Accredited Businesses: Paul Davis NortheastWANE TVPreferred Auto GroupNew Haven PrintingSweetwater and Chuck and Lisa Surack, Indiana Wesleyan University National & Global and Momper Insulation.

Meet Elevate Ventures EIR Dan Meek

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Elevate EIR Dan Meek “In a startup you will likely wear many different hats, sometimes several in just one day.”

| Elevate Ventures

November 16, 2020

With experience on all sides of entrepreneurship, Dan Meek’s background is a great fit for helping and empowering entrepreneurs. Based in Fort Wayne, Dan works as Entrepreneur-in-Residence serving the Elevate Northeast Indiana region. Before Elevate, Dan’s roles included President of Seneca Business Ventures and Vice President of Venture Development at Rev1 Ventures. Dan has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio Northern University and a Master of Business Administration from Capital University.

Dan Meek, Entrepreneur in Residence for Elevate Ventures

In your role as an EIR, what are key areas you consistently work on with entrepreneurs?

Every entrepreneurial team is different. Many first-time founders can benefit from a surrounding network of advisors (legal, financial, technology, etc.), and should always be seeking solid connections and guidance.

I find that many technical founders need assistance on financial matters for their business. I like to advise companies to begin building their due diligence data rooms very early, as getting information organized for investors will benefit them significantly. This helps identify the gaps, and often these gaps are in financial documents.

Tell me about your experience as an entrepreneur.

I had the most amazing experience in the medical device/specialty pharma industry. It was in the field of respiratory drug delivery, and I had the pleasure of working with so many sharp individuals in the pharmaceutical industry. My company was involved in respiratory drug delivery, and the development of new devices and therapies for lung cancer, asthma, and other pulmonary diseases.

My experience included everything from leadership of product development teams, client relationship and project management, to regulatory and clinical trial support. Seeing patients try new therapies in a clinical setting was very rewarding, and I will always cherish that opportunity. I try to take that experience into my work today with entrepreneurs, sharing the lessons I learned to enable their businesses.

“Seeing patients try new therapies in a clinical setting was very rewarding, and I will always cherish that opportunity. I try to take that experience into my work today with entrepreneurs, sharing the lessons I learned to enable their businesses.”
From your experience, what is something you feel you learned the hard way?

Two things: One, assume the role of your company’s hardest critic. If you can’t see the weaknesses of your company, your customers, partners, or investors will.

And two, perception is reality. It doesn’t matter how cool your technology is. If you are perceived to be a person in the wrong role in your company, it will impact your ability to sell, raise capital, lead, etc. If you truly are in the wrong role, don’t be afraid to change it by attracting the right talent to your company.

You have a great deal of experience in working with medical device companies. What are one or two of the most common challenges medical device startups can face?

Medical device companies generally must raise capital to get to market, and as such, will be in the position of convincing others to invest in their business. So personality, style, intelligence, ability to listen, and being organized are essential for leaders in these types of companies.

I would also advise founders in medical device companies to recognize that they may not be the CEO of the company for each stage of the company and to be ready to attract the types of leaders needed. In my startup experience, the company went through several phases and had several leadership changes. Be prepared for this, as adapting to change is very important in a startup.

Have you faced these challenges, and if so, what is your advice to help entrepreneurs overcome those challenges?

I held several positions in my startup, from project management, engineering, product development leadership, to even regulatory affairs. The company required flexibility and persons with initiative and drive to do what was needed for the best of the company. In a startup you will likely wear many different hats, sometimes several in just one day! My advice to entrepreneurs is to be open to change, be open to being flexible, and be open to turning over certain functions to others without letting ego get in the way. Remember the primary goal is to get to market and make a difference. That will keep you focused.

What’s the most rewarding part of working in your region?

I really enjoy exploring Indiana and meeting so many people engaged in the development of new products, solutions, and ideas. The Midwest has a long history of invention and innovation and this is still happening today. The northeast Indiana region in particular has a strong entrepreneurial community and a great deal of talent. The entrepreneurs I work with here are hard-working, resourceful, and committed to driving growth.

I’m naturally quite inquisitive, so I enjoy learning about new businesses in the region – working closely with entrepreneurs, rolling up my sleeves, and enabling deep discussion on the business, industry, alternative approaches, etc., being deep in or an extension of the business.

 

“My advice to entrepreneurs is to be open to change, be open to being flexible, and be open to turning over certain functions to others without letting ego get in the way..”
How do you see the region changing or evolving over the next five years (or more)?

Cities and regions are changing significantly all over America right now. In northeast Indiana, I see an intentional movement to position the region for growth of new business, jobs and opportunity. From area revitalization projects to expansion of businesses in more rural areas, northeast Indiana seems to be focused on building on its strengths, and the community leaders are very supportive of entrepreneurial initiatives.

In my first year with Elevate Northeast Indiana, I’ve seen over $3 million invested by Elevate Ventures and other sources in early stage startups across the region. With the deals currently within our pipeline and the companies I know who are raising capital at this time I think it’s realistic that that number will be over $5 million by year end. I am also seeing early stage companies from outside the region inquire/move to northeast Indiana. Building on this with even more speed will bring a big impact to the region so I would encourage everyone reading this to contact me with your next big opportunity.

Which 1-2 resources in your region (or Indiana) do you consistently direct entrepreneurs to take advantage of and why?

I generally don’t limit to just regional resources when there are so many across the entire state of Indiana available to entrepreneurs. Many of the businesses we invest in serve very large market opportunities in the US and globally, so one must keep in mind when searching for resources. Northeast Indiana has many entrepreneurial support organizations, and local economic development organizations that want to assist startups, so I often recommend these resources.

In addition, I know of many efforts to bring additional resources to the northeast Indiana region so stay tuned for future announcements that will help you as you grow your business.

ELEVATE PERSPECTIVE: The Medical Device Startup

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ELEVATE PERSPECTIVE: The Medical Device Startup

| Entrepreneur-In-Residence, Northeast Indiana

September 10, 2020

Medical devices intersect engineering, chemistry, science and human health. The industry can be perfect for an engineer, marketing professional, CEO, scientist or technician to build a career on.

In my 20-plus years of working with medical device companies, I have heard much advice given to entrepreneurs about how to build a startup.

Dan Meek, EIR for Elevate Northeast Indiana

This includes everything from companies involved in the replacement of human tissue, medical diagnostics, imaging, pharmaceuticals and drug delivery devices. For a medical device company developing Class I devices like surgical instruments to Class II and Class III devices like ventilators and pacemakers, the amount of information out there can be overwhelming. As an entrepreneur, your passion will drive you through the countless articles, peer-reviewed studies, discussions and general advice you will receive as you navigate your company’s path. Some might say the best advice is to let that passion be your guide because no matter how much advice you receive, there will always be unforeseen obstacles. But given that your medical device startup journey could envelop nearly a decade of your career, perhaps some thought-provoking remarks will help you establish a clearer path to success.

For the Team Raising Capital

During my experience as a medical device professional, I heard the phrase that developing drug products is “not for the weak or the cheap.” (Note: Medical devices can be regulated as a drug product in situations where the device controls a patient’s drug dosage). Generally, medical device firms will require up to $20 million to $25 million from inception to exit. There are examples of companies raising $40 million to $50 million, and a few may require $80 million to $100 million to reach an exit. The challenge for medical device companies is to align development and clinical plans with all associated uncertainties, to the capital access plans to achieve a seamless flow of advancement. Extremely well thought out plans, with contingencies and noted potential areas of delay, will provide investors a comprehensive look at the full opportunity.

RECOMMENDATION: Build best, base and worst-case timelines and use the scenarios to determine the impact on development costs, market launch and overall value creation. Doing so will demonstrate your team’s experience and ability to direct the company.

Product Development Team

As an investor who seeks opportunities in medical devices, I am always encouraged when I see good communication and alignment between the management team and the product development and engineering teams. My experience in medical devices has taught me that management teams must clearly communicate to the product development teams in order to succeed. Engineering teams can overlook the business needs when engrossed in the design phase of an innovative medical device. For example, an engineer may be evaluating two design options, one with a higher component and assembly cost. Good engineering economic analysis and design reviews must be considered, but in a startup burning tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per month, the engineer may overlook the fact that significant delays could deplete funds and “down round” future financing. Clear communications on company burn rate, runway and critical dates will give product development teams what they need to work through design considerations expediently.

A CEO of a startup once said to me, “The science is proven. Now it is just engineering left to complete.” Although this quote indicates pathway advancement, the CEO lacked the awareness of risks and development costs associated with designing the product. Many of the large costs associated with a medical device company are tied to engineering and achieving a final design version for manufacturing. Medical devices must diagnose properly; treat safely and effectively; and be manufactured to provide the same performance (within defined specifications) each time, for each device manufactured. This is no small feat, and engineers, chemists and other scientific professionals are often challenged to meet design specifications that many people don’t think about.

For example, ambient air pressure varies with altitude. In the U.S., we have hospitals in places like Louisiana (low altitude) and Colorado (high altitude). If air pressure can impact the performance of a medical device, engineers must account for this in the design, and test the device in these atmospheric conditions. Design verification testing can be a lengthy process of device development, especially if design issues are found, and should be accounted for early in a company’s plans.

RECOMMENDATION: Be realistic about development timelines and understand the impact of design development on the overall plan to obtain market launch. If you don’t know, seek the guidance of experienced product development professionals.

Intellectual Property

Patent applications, patent filings and issued patents are essential components of a medical device company. Trade secrets are also highly valuable. But first-time medical device entrepreneurs often overlook the need and associated costs with patentability assessments, and freedom-to-operate legal opinions that can influence an investor’s interest in a company. Intellectual property legal services can be expensive, but they are essential in this industry.

RECOMMENDATION: Find the right intellectual property counsel early. Ask for recommendations, ask for referrals, interview firms and look for the right attorney to represent your company based on the match of skill sets and experience to your company’s focus. If your device relies heavily on chemistry, find an attorney who also specializes in chemistry. Your patent applications will be stronger, and so will your company.

Quality Assurance and Medical Device Regulations

The medical device industry is regulated by strict standards, including FDA’s 21 CFR Parts 11 and 820, Quality System Regulation (QSR) and ISO 13485. For those in the industry, this is well understood.

RECOMMENDATION: Always communicate the importance and impact of these regulations to investors and how they specifically impact the business and medical device being developed by the company. This accomplishes two things:

1) Confidence: It clearly demonstrates the thoroughness of the company executives and their experience;

2) Communication: It helps justify the company’s development plans, costs and timeline to interested investors.

It is so easy to gloss over this point, but I advise companies to take this seriously as it can lead to significant delays in regulatory approval, thus impacting the financial health of the company.

Regulatory and Reimbursement Strategy

These two topics are likely the most important areas of consideration for a new medical device startup. Volumes have been written on these subjects. In the past, obtaining regulatory clearance for a medical device was viewed as the ultimate achievement toward navigating toward a successful exit, but in more recent years successful commercialization including a reimbursement has become increasingly important. Regardless of the stage of your company, being able to communicate the regulatory strategy for your device, as well as plans to obtain medical reimbursement for the company, or for your customers, is very important to raising capital.

RECOMMENDATION: Interview several regulatory and reimbursement professionals and seek those with particular experience in the industry in which you plan to launch your product.

Timing

As mentioned, one can easily devote a decade to building their career on a medical device startup. Years ago, the average time to exit for a medical device company was around seven years, but recent data suggests this now stands at about 10 years. Given this, medical device startups should pay close attention to the status or age of a venture capital fund, as newly formed funds will likely be the most active on new opportunities, while funds nearing the end of their active investment period will be seeking later-stage investment opportunities.

Conclusion

Medical device startups offer very rewarding career opportunities. I talk about my experience often, as it was a highlight of my career, and in an industry that I hold a passion for today. As an investor working with medical device entrepreneurs, this view is commonly shared. The impact one can make for a patient, or for the healthcare industry in general, makes medical devices an attractive entrepreneurial and investor area of pursuit.

Dan Meek serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for northeast Indiana. He most recently served as President of Seneca Business Ventures, a commercialization and innovation consultancy. He also was Vice President of Venture Development and Director of Bioscience Commercialization at Rev1 Ventures. His background has focused on commercialization, early-stage investments, and new ventures.

Fort Wayne Wins Community of the Year Award

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Fort Wayne Wins Community of the Year Award

| Inside INdiana Business

September 8, 2020

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has named Fort Wayne the 2020 PNC Community of the Year. Greater Fort Wayne Inc. says the statewide award can be attributed to the city’s quality of life improvements, new business investment and job growth.

Photo courtesy of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Chamber officials highlighted the city’s improvements to Promenade Park, renovations on The Landing, and The Bradley boutique hotel during the judging process.

“As the state’s second-largest city, Fort Wayne continues to gain prominence as an outstanding place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “It’s a testament to the dedication of business and community leaders in attracting new talent, retaining top talent, and enhancing quality of life.”

GFW says it has seen improvements in its ability to attract and retain talent. Citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Allen County posted a net positive of nearly 1,500 residents via net domestic migration in 2019, its best year on record and third consecutive year with a positive number.

The county also added nearly 1,200 new jobs and more than $52 million in new annual payroll last year.

“This award is an achievement for everyone in Fort Wayne and Allen County,” said John Urbahns, president of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. “We have worked together to not only transform downtown Fort Wayne, but to upgrade our neighborhoods, enhance our rural communities, and grow jobs and wages. We’ve come a long way, but we must keep improving to reach our goal of becoming a nationally recognized economy.”

Fort Wayne will be presented the honor at the chamber’s 31st Annual Awards program to be held virtually on November 10.

Grants Awarded to Indiana Higher Education Institutions to Support Entrepreneurial Programming

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Grants Awarded to Indiana Higher Education Institutions to Support Entrepreneurial Programming

ELEVATE VENTURES

September 2, 2020

Four universities in Indiana have been awarded a total of $200,000 in grants to launch and improve entrepreneurship programming within their institutions and communities.

The 2020 Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grant recipients were Butler University, Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington, Taylor University and the University of Indianapolis. Each received $50,000.

Grant proposals included strategies regarding how the higher education institution would locate, cultivate and educate innovation-driven entrepreneurs; how the community would be engaged; and how the programming would continue beyond the life of the grant. Grant recipients were selected by Elevate Ventures and Elevate Nexus leadership.

Below are summaries of the winning proposals:

  • Butler University: Establish The Loop, a student and recent graduate-run innovation development program within the Butler University Innovation Lab. The Loop will offer an in-person and online Testplace designed to amplify student and community idea development through experimentation.
  • Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington: Develop and expand existing entrepreneurial services at the Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington to the statewide Ivy Tech network of campuses to increase engagement in entrepreneurship ecosystems statewide.
  • Taylor University: Establish a competitive entrepreneurship fellowship which provides mentorship, custom training, spiritual and professional coaching, and follow-on support for selected students who commit to participate in extra-curricular fellowship activities.
  • University of Indianapolis: Support the existing DesignSpine engineering entrepreneurship program of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering as well as promote innovation-driven entrepreneurs across the university by providing avenues and resources to take the entrepreneurs’ ideas to the next level.

“Ivy Tech Community College is pleased to be a partner in the Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grant program and enhance our ability to provide our students, faculty, staff and alumni pathways to advance entrepreneurial ideas,” said Jennie Vaughan, chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington. “We look forward to working to provide more innovation-based learning modules for our Entrepreneurial Studies program, add pitch competitions at additional campuses statewide and bring our stakeholders into the Elevate Ventures pipeline over the next several years.”

NaShara Mitchell, Innovation Lab Director and Lecturer of Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Butler University said, “Testing ideas is critically important to startup development and refinement. Using workshops, design sprints, rapid prototyping, and other feedback-based efforts, the Butler Innovation Lab is pleased to engage students across all majors in creating replicable, in-person and tech-enabled opportunities to explore, strengthen and advance emerging concepts.”

Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grants are made possible through a partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The first grant recipients were announced in 2019, and a total of $200,000 will be granted annually through 2021. The funding will enable higher education institutions to launch or improve programming to grow startups across Indiana.

To receive up-to-date information on Elevate Nexus and community program and funding opportunities as they roll out, sign up for the Elevate Nexus newsletter.

Indiana Organizations Awarded Grants for Supporting Startups

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Indiana Organizations Awarded Grants for Supporting Startups

ELEVATE VENTURES

August 25, 2020

Nineteen organizations across Indiana have been awarded a total of $164,000 in grants from Elevate Nexus. These funds are earmarked toward entrepreneurship programming to help build on existing successes.

Elevate Nexus, an initiative of Elevate Ventures launched in July 2019, partners with higher-education institutions and nonprofit organizations to organize pitch competitions in which entrepreneurs compete for startup funding. The grants represent 10% of the total $1,640,000 in startup investment achieved through the organizations’ efforts.

One of the 19 recipients was Purdue University Northwest which will use the grant to support its Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center.

“We have a lot of innovative people here in Northwest Indiana who may not be as well-funded as those in other parts of the state, which is not due to a lack of innovation, but a lack of resources,” said Mont Handley, entrepreneur-in-residence and associate director of the Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center at Purdue University Northwest. “This grant will allow us to better provide new and aspiring entrepreneurs with a wealth of support and guidance as we bring new innovation to the region.”

The recipients include:

  • 1804, Inc., New Albany
  • AgriNovus Indiana, Indianapolis
  • Dimension Mill, Inc., Bloomington
  • Flagship Enterprise Center Inc. (d/b/a Bankable), Anderson
  • Grace Schools, Winona Lake
  • Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Ivy Tech Community College of Bloomington, Bloomington
  • Michiana Partnership, Inc. (d/b/a South Bend Elkhart Regional Partnership), South Bend
  • Orr Fellowship, Indianapolis
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette
  • Purdue University Northwest, Hammond
  • Purdue@Westgate, Odon
  • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute
  • SERVICE CORPS of Retired Executives (SCORE), Warsaw
  • Taylor University, Upland
  • Trine University, Inc., Angola
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis
  • University of Notre Dame, South Bend
  • University of Southern Indiana, Evansville

Elevate Nexus hosts seven pitch competitions annually, including six regional and one statewide, with a total of $1,640,000 in investments awarded to startups. The grant recipients are identified by the startup during the application process.

Elevate Nexus is funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the 21st Century Research and Technology Fund (21 Fund). The 21 Fund, which promotes economic growth and innovation-driven public-private partnerships in Indiana, is overseen by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and managed by Elevate Ventures.

Elevate Nexus Newsletter – August 2020

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Elevate Nexus Newsletter 2020

August 27, 2020

Elevate Nexus helps launch Indiana startups by connecting and investing in entrepreneurs, higher-education institutions, and their communities. Our monthly newsletter covers best practices, news, and events for startups and those supporting them.

Elevate Origins Student Applications Open

Elevate Origins EDU is now accepting student applications! The 8-week training will include live training from Elevate staff and will run from Sept. 4 – Oct. 23. Due to campus schedule changes, the application deadline has been extended to Sept. 3.

PARTICIPANTS WILL LEARN:

  • What it takes to be an entrepreneur and launch a startup
  • The ideation process to find a meaningful problem to solve
  • How to interview the market to validate the severity of the problem, market size, current solutions for the problem (competition)
  • How to identify the optimal solution to the problem
  • Best practices on how to recruit a team of cofounders and advisors
  • Expectations for early-stage capital raising
  • How to build a go-to-market strategy including business model, marketing/sales strategy, milestones, and the ask
  • How to put it all together in a 10-slide pitch deck and pitch practice

Interested students should click here to apply; select the topic “Elevate Origins” and the radio button “Elevate EDU” when filling out the form.​​​​

Save the Date: Elevate Nexus Regional Pitch Competition

We’re excited to enter our second year of Nexus by announcing the dates for our Fall 2020 Regional Pitch Competition! Applications will be accepted from Sept. 21 thru Oct. 4 and the competition will take place on Oct. 27, 28, and 29. Due to COVID-related policies that limit off-campus travel and group size, we have decided to hold the Fall pitch competitions virtually. Additional details can be found on our website.

Elevate Nexus Staff Changes

Elevate Nexus has a new Executive Director! I, Landon Young, moved into the Executive Director of University Initiatives role at Elevate Ventures and am now responsible for the strategy, direction and execution of Elevate Origins, Elevate Nexus Pitch competitions, and other Elevate Nexus programming.

Jacob Schpok moved into a new role as Vice President of Entrepreneurial Services at Elevate Ventures. In this role, Jacob will oversee Entrepreneur-in-Residence initiatives, programs and people. He will have the University programs under his portfolio and will also continue to serve as an EIR.