Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Start Fort Wayne

Last week we introduced you to Vertical Leap, a free event for “founder-types.” This week we dig in a little deeper and find out a little more about the group putting together the event, and where it hopes to go as it tries to bring together “starters” in the Fort Wayne area. Let’s Startup Fort Wayne! (-Tim)
Calling All: Founders, Builders, Artists, Creators, Developers, Tinkerers, Musicians, Startups, Engineers, Photographers, Students, Healers, Marketers, Coders, Technicians, Makers, Financiers, Entrepreneurs, and Supporters Who Want to Help Fort Wayne Succeed.Start Fort Wayne

This is the message that welcomes visitors to the Start Fort Wayne website.

There many groups and organizations in Northeast Indiana trying to help people succeed in starting up business and creative ventures. What’s the best way to know about all of these resources if you’re just getting started or want to branch out and learn more? Dave Sanders of CoWork Fort Wayne, a coworking space in Downtown Fort Wayne, and Avenue 80, a custom software development firm, is attempting to answer that question with a new project called “Start Fort Wayne.”

“After talking with some others in town, I saw that there were a lot of different groups holding a lot of different programs for ‘starters’ in Fort Wayne,” said Sanders. “[CoWork Fort Wayne] tried to host a few starter events itself, but I was frustrated, when trying to host my own events, that it was hard to get the word out, and that attendance was hard to predict.”

With multiple organizations all trying to get the word out about their events, activities, and services, it can be a bit daunting for the casual observer to keep up with what’s available for starters in Fort Wayne. If you jump onto the Start Fort Wayne website, you’ll find an attractive site with tabs with information on events and resources in the area, the monthly Vertical Leap event and more, all in one place and easy to use. It’s free and serves as a one-stop shop for the information you need to thrive as a starter in Fort Wayne.

“To me, a ‘starter’ isn’t just about Startups, but anyone who is building or making something of their own – whether that’s a tech startup, a pop-up gallery, a food truck, or just independently trying to sell their own art or music,” said Sanders. “We obviously don’t have a huge Silicon Valley tech center here in Fort Wayne, but we do have great arts and music communities, many of whom are trying to make a living doing this.”

By bringing together these diverse groups and individuals, Sanders hopes that people from diverse backgrounds can meet with one another or collide, which can lead to an exchange of ideas and resources. This can serve to enrich the budding “Startup Culture” in Northeast Indiana.

Supporters of Start Fort Wayne include tech and business ventures like CoWork Fort Wayne, Avenue 80, Scenario Seventy Seven, and the Center for Creative Collaboration at Indiana Tech and creative organizations like Artlink Contemporary Art Gallary, Wunderkammer Company, and Digitracks Recording Studio.

“I’m thrilled that two of the first supporters of Start Fort Wayne were Artlink and Wunderkammer, neither of which most business people would traditionally think of as “Startup Hubs” – even though they are,” said Sanders.

Right now Start Fort Wayne is just beginning and hopes for steady growth in the future by building up subscriptions to their mailing list and getting people and organizations to send information about events and resources to share on the site. Start Fort Wayne has an active Facebook group where it features online discussions and posts information about events and resources.

“Once we have reached a ‘critical mass,’ I am working to connect us to other groups across Indiana, and regionally to bring us into the network of networks and to learn how we can share resources and information between us,” said Sanders. “Basically, connect our community to the rest of the world and let them know that Fort Wayne is here, and we have smart people who are doing cool things.”

CoWork Fort Wayne offers a clean, spacious work area for those in need of a place to work on projects.

Startup hubs like CoWork Fort Wayne (pictured) offer events and resources for “starters” in Northeast Indiana. (File photo/Tim Zink)

Do want to help Fort Wayne succeed? Check out the Start Fort Wayne website, sign up for their mailing list, following them on Twitter, and join their Facebook public group. To maximize your experience with Start Fort Wayne, be sure to engage with them by letting them know what information or resources you want or need to be successful or even what frustrates you on your journey.

For more information on Start Fort Wayne’s Vertical Leap event coming up at 6:30 pm, Wednesday, April 15 at the Center for Creative Collaboration at Indiana Tech, check out their website and read our article from last week on the event.

Tim Zink

Author: Tim Zink

Director-at-Large of Communications for Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana. Adviser to current Living Fort Wayne leadership team. Contributor to Living Fort Wayne since April 2014.

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