Waiter on the Way: Growing a business by ‘doing the right thing’
May31

Waiter on the Way: Growing a business by ‘doing the right thing’

This story was originally published in the May 23, 2018 issue of Input Fort Wayne as Waiter on the Way: Growing a business by ‘doing the right thing’.    Have you ever wanted delivery service from a restaurant that doesn’t offer it? That’s the idea behind Waiter on the Way. The process is simple. Visit the website, and you’ll find a list of local and national restaurants you can order from with detailed menus and weekly blog stories. Simply call or place an order on the mobile-friendly interface, and the food you’re craving will be delivered to your home or office. While other delivery services have come and gone in northeast Indiana over the years, Waiter on the Way has remained a community staple. Based out of downtown Fort Wayne, it continues to grow its influence in the region. When the owner, Derek Berkes, purchased the company in 2001, he had a staff of 20 people and delivered from 20 restaurants. Today, he has more than 110 employees, delivering from more than 140 restaurants, including local favorites like Casa, Coney Island, and Shigs In Pit. “When we started, we were averaging about 65 orders a day. Now, we average 265 orders a day,” Berkes says. He may have been honored with a 2017 Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly Business Excellence Award for “Business of the Year – Revenue Less than $5 Million,” but money was not always easily accessible for him. Instead, he says his personal failures and his ability to learn from them are what gave him the work ethic he has today. From debt to success Before Berkes turned 30, he accumulated massive amounts of debt as a result of trying to build a business, create cash flow, and hire a large staff. He wanted to take Waiter on the Way to the next level and believed that accumulating debt while doing so was the only viable approach. In his attempt to grow the company, the pressure of making money for the sake of making money become overbearing. He knew he needed to change something. “I used to chase money. I made the profit more important than anything else because I had so many people relying on the success of the business.” Berkes says. “That approach simply doesn’t work. I was very driven. I still am, but I changed what I allowed to drive me.” In his early 30s, he decided to reset his approach around creating value for the Fort Wayne community. “I focus on the quality and the relationships,” Berkes says. “I want to do the right thing every time and with every interaction. Those components...

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Atrium’s Highlight on Justin Sheehan / NEI Entrepreneurship Digest
May14

Atrium’s Highlight on Justin Sheehan / NEI Entrepreneurship Digest

The Northeast Indiana Entrepreneurship Digest is a recurring series of curated posts highlighting entrepreneurship, start-ups and small businesses in the Fort Wayne area. Contact Living Fort Wayne at info@livingfortwayne.com if you have stories or information to share. Atrium Member Highlight There are numerous ways to work in Fort Wayne outside of the traditional office space. Start Fort Wayne’s Atrium coworking space is highlighting its members. They have provided this “Member Highlight” on Justin Sheehan of Crown Jewel Marketing. This highlight is by Atrium Team Member Jack Cantey. Age: 25 Hometown: San Diego, CA Months/Years Lived in Fort Wayne: 22 years Business Name: Crown Jewel Marketing Year Established: 2011 (in high school) Atrium Member Since: Early 2017 Current Membership Type: Private Office In one or two sentences, can you describe what your business does? We know how hard it is for businesses to reach the right customers, so we become their marketing team by first creating a clear and compelling message using storytelling. Our clients have marketing that works, more customers in their doors, and the freedom (and less stress) to grow their business like crazy. What do you find most challenging about being an entrepreneur? What’s most rewarding about being an entrepreneur? Challenging: Capacity, time, multiple hats. What do I say yes to and what do I say no to? When I struggle with this, though, I think about that the fact Elon Musk has the same amount of time as I do. Rewarding: We get the opportunity to impact difference makers (like other entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders), who in turn impact other people’s lives. That’s why we’re in business. In what ways has your membership at Atrium helped you and your business? Atrium stepped in when we needed it the most. My previous office burnt down. I found that out at 6:30 a.m., called Atrium at 8:30 a.m., and had my new “office” unpacked there by 9:00 a.m. Without Atrium, I would have been attempting to work from my house or overpaying for average office space. Not only that, Atrium became a place for me and my team to have a community with other creatives and entrepreneurs. Whether it’s a random white board session or just having engaging and humorous conversations, community is something we really value, but it was missing at our previous office. Where do you see yourself/your business three to five years from now? I see Crown Jewel Marketing as a company that will help build other companies; every startup needs marketing, right?! I do have big visions for Crown Jewel and other companies, but I enjoy the journey way too much to just focus on...

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Farnsworth Fund launches with inaugural grantees / NEI Entrepreneurship Digest
May07

Farnsworth Fund launches with inaugural grantees / NEI Entrepreneurship Digest

The Northeast Indiana Entrepreneurship Digest is a recurring series of curated posts highlighting entrepreneurship, start-ups and small businesses in the Fort Wayne area. Contact Living Fort Wayne at info@livingfortwayne.com if you have stories or information to share. They brought out the big checks on Thursday, May 3 to launch a new entrepreneurship initiative at the former home of one Fort Wayne’s most legendary innovators, Philo T. Farnsworth. The Farnsworth Fund, powered by Elevate Northeast Indiana, plans “to make 50 $1,000 grants during 2018 to stimulate Northeast Indiana’s entrepreneurial culture.” Four inaugural grantees were announced today across several different industries. Ashli Pershing and Pamela Sprowl are registered nurses, Kyle Craig is an inventor and the founder of Apollo Dynamics, Chauntiel Smith of Capture Sports Agency (CSA) is a sports agent and Sean Rassavong is a 17-year-old filmmaker and a senior at New Tech Academy. #livingfortwayne A post shared by Living Fort Wayne (@livingfortwayne) on May 3, 2018 at 3:16pm PDT For more information on the Farnsworth Fund (powered by Elevate Northeast Indiana), visit their website at farnsworthfund.com.  Northeast Indiana Entrepreneurship Digest Living Fort Wayne provides this digest of entrepreneurship-related events and resources at the end of each entrepreneurship post. If you are an existing (or aspiring) entrepreneur, check out these resources to connected with who you need to be connected with to succeed in Northeast Indiana. 1 Million Cups Fort Wayne Weekly Presentations New Events and Resources on a Weekly Basis! 1 Million Cups is an event for local entrepreneurs to meet and present their startups to the thriving peer network of founders in Fort Wayne. The events occur almost every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. at Sweetwater. Visit their website for more information on how to present and a list of upcoming presenters. Watch past presentations on Facebook. Down the River Podcast New Content on A Regular Basis! “Down the River is committed to bringing to light the amazing stories of the entrepreneurs of Fort Wayne and the surrounding areas. If you would like to be featured on our podcast please let us know! We would love to let the public hear your story.” Go to their website to listen to their latest episodes, which are released nearly every week. Input Fort Wayne Entrepreneurship Articles New Content on a Weekly Basis! News Resources from our news partner, Input Fort Wayne. Input Fort Wayne (inputfortwayne.com) is a news resource that has a “mission is to ignite passion and inspire innovation in northeast Indiana by highlighting bold startups, places, projects, and ideas.” New pieces on a variety of topics are released weekly. Subscribe to their weekly newsletter to have content delivered straight to your...

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Entrepreneurship Activities, Events, and Camps for Students / NEI Entrepreneurship Digest
Apr30

Entrepreneurship Activities, Events, and Camps for Students / NEI Entrepreneurship Digest

The Northeast Indiana Entrepreneurship Digest is a recurring series of curated posts highlighting entrepreneurship, start-ups and small businesses in the Fort Wayne area. Contact Living Fort Wayne at info@livingfortwayne.com if you have stories or information to share. Entrepreneurship Activities, Events and Camps for Students Do you have a student in your life who is interested in building up their skills to someday start their very own business? Organizations from around the area have put together several summer-only and year-round resources to help students succeed in entrepreneurship. Let’s take a look at some highlights! Lemonade Day – Northeast Indiana Lemonade Day in Northeast Indiana empowers young people to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs by enabling them to participate in a free experiential learning program where they are taught to own and operate their own lemonade stand. Date – May 19, 2018 Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana Do you remember Junior Achievement representatives visiting your classroom when you were a student in northeast Indiana? Junior Achievement (JA) continues to provide valuable resources to students from elementary school to high school. JA teaches basic business, career, workplace and economics concepts to kindergarten to 5th grade students. In addition to this, JA BizTown is a fully-simulated town where students are immersed in lessons and hands-on activities as they develop skills to participate in the economy. Junior Achievement Youth Entrepreneurship Camp This five-day summer camp is aimed at students going into grades six through eight in 2018-19. Monday-Friday, June 18-22, 2018 9:00 AM – 3:30 PM JA BizTown – 601 Noble Drive, Fort Wayne, IN Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC) Student Venture Lab (SVL) Program The Student Venture Lab program by the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center guides northeast Indiana high school and college students through three phases of venture formation: Phase 1 – Product Pitch Phase 2 – Product Execution Phase 3 – Product Launch Learn more on the NIIC’s website. South Bend Code School at Start Fort Wayne The South Bend Code School has partnered with Start Fort Wayne to expose students ages 11-18 to relevant technology skills and technology-related education and career paths. Students may take the skills they develop in this code school and apply it to their future careers or to a future business venture. Purdue Fort Wayne Continuing Studies – Summer Entrepreneurship Camp for Teens In the Purdue Fort Wayne Continuing Studies Summer Entrepreneurship Camp for Teens, High school-aged participants will learn their personal work style, motivators and skill sets as they develop their business idea. Participants will be guided through the start-up process by local business innovators who are passionate about helping the next generation succeed in serving the marketplace...

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Atrium’s Highlight on Emily Baransy / NEI Entrepreneurship Digest
Apr15

Atrium’s Highlight on Emily Baransy / NEI Entrepreneurship Digest

The Northeast Indiana Entrepreneurship Digest is a recurring series of curated posts highlighting entrepreneurship, start-ups and small businesses in the Fort Wayne area. Contact Living Fort Wayne at info@livingfortwayne.com if you have stories or information to share. Atrium Member Highlight There are numerous ways to work in Fort Wayne outside of the traditional office space. Start Fort Wayne’s Atrium coworking space is highlighting its members. They have provided this “Member Highlight” by Atrium Team Member Jack Cantey to our blog. “Start Fort Wayne is a 501(c)3 that began in March 2015 as a rag-tag band of entrepreneurs and educators dedicating their spare time to help build a lasting community and culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in northeast Indiana.” Name: Emily Baransy Age: 29 Hometown: Ottawa, Ohio Years Lived in Fort Wayne: Six Company Name: Grantmakers In Aging Position: Program Manager Length of Time as Employee: One year Atrium Member Since: May 2017 Current Membership Type: General Can you briefly describe what the company you work for does? Grantmakers In Aging is a national membership organization that is dedicated to improving the experience of aging. We utilize networking, education, resources, and events to support our members’ grantmaking. Does your work with Grantmakers In Aging fit in with your educational and professional experience? It does. I am a licensed social worker, and although I never imagined myself in this job when I was in college, I have developed a passion for improving the lives of older adults. Within the next decade, we will see huge demographic shifts in the United States. Older adults will soon outnumber children under the age of five for the first time in history. And it’s no secret that our society is unprepared to handle this boom. I’m glad to play a small role in making sure older adults are valued throughout their entire lifespan. In what ways has your membership at Atrium helped you with working remotely? Working at Atrium has allowed me to maintain structure and focus in my work. It also allows me to separate my home and work life. And I occasionally use it to correct people who think working from home means sitting in your pajamas all day doing laundry! What are the challenges that come with working remotely? What would you say are the benefits? The company I work for has three employees: the CEO, another manager, and myself. That means we all wear multiple hats and are spread pretty thin. Communication is key to make sure the jobs are getting completed, and technology plays a big role in helping us stay connected. Strangely, I have found that working remotely has...

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Build Your Career HERE – Starting a New Business
Apr12

Build Your Career HERE – Starting a New Business

Northeast Indiana is obviously a great place to live and work. In the past few weeks, we have talked to a variety of employers and experts that have given testimony to the opportunities and resources at your disposal here. While it may not be for everyone, our experts agree that sometimes it is okay to venture out on your own. No one knows your passions and work style better than yourself. Taking a bold step toward independently sharing your skills and expertise may just be what the career counselor ordered. If entrepreneurship is in your future, you need to know how to succeed and who is here to help.     What are the best industries in northeast Indiana? Whether you are going for a more traditional work path or venturing out on your own, you need to know what our region has to offer. According to the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Logistics & E-Commerce, Specialty Insurance, Medical Device & Technology, Vehicles, Food & Beverage, Advanced Materials, and Design and Craftsmanship are the seven target industries in our region. What does that mean? It means that these industries are growing and producing quality jobs in our region. These industries are a result of our region’s culture and need for economic growth. Now that you know the fields, how do you pick which one to pursue? Is one better than another? According to Sonya Snellenberger-Holm, there isn’t really a best. “I’m a fan of all walks of life and all jobs.”  The Partnership is there to promote all fields that could potentially bring growth. On the other hand, Karl LaPan believes health care and financial services offer compelling opportunities as these industries transform and innovate. This translates to more potential opportunities. I sat down and chatted with Rhonda Ladig of Start Fort Wayne, an entrepreneurial resource center in downtown Fort Wayne. She said that successful local entreprenuers are in just about every field. The common industry that most of these local entrepreneurs are connected to is e-commerce. It doesn’t matter if you are selling something physical or a service, it is all selling online. You can effectively run a business from the comfort of your laptop. When you are looking for research on these industries, where exatly do you go? Jim Johnson said “a great resource to answer this question is the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. No one knows more about northeast Indiana more than this dedicated group of professionals. Their website is full of resources and information.” If you want to learn more about the specifics of target industries, you can download a report straight from the website. Theresa Steele added to...

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