My Entrepreneurship Story with Chelsea Thompson
Jan29

My Entrepreneurship Story with Chelsea Thompson

Hi. I’m Chelsea. Or Chels, if you’d like. I am a recent 2017 IPFW grad with a Bachelor of Arts in English, Professional Writing. I love to start things; projects, poems, stories, companies, Etsy shops, you get the picture. So naturally in the few weeks that I have had to digest this “no more school thing,” I have been drawn to the entrepreneur community in Fort Wayne, Indiana. So far, I have taken to Start Fort Wayne’s Atrium— a mod entrepreneur coworking space on Berry street. Entering Atrium, I found a quite nice receptionist there to greet me and introduce me to the space. Atrium includes desks with computers, tables with convenient charging ports, mini conference rooms with trendy white boards, regular-sized conference rooms, and, of course, a spot for some very delish coffee. The mugs are hanging on the back wall, and you are free to grab one and fill it with robust, delightful Utopian Coffee. After filling my mug, I settled down to work on my business plan for a café where writers and community members can convene and collaborate (more on this later). All-in-all, Atrium is a fabulous entrepreneur’s retreat. I enjoyed the space to work on my business plan around like-minded individuals and the great view, but more importantly, I enjoyed being welcomed for collaboration, shared ideas and dreams, and general connection between peers and mentors. It is located on 111 Berry Street – check it out! I’m looking forward to attending the BIYB (Believe In Your Business) “Young Entrepreneurs Meetup” this February 10. Hosted by Steve Franks (an experienced entrepreneur coach extraordinaire), the meeting should be a fun-filled, energetic way to meet and share ideas and experiences with fellow young entrepreneurs! I am excited to pitch my “The Story Café” idea and see what kind of feedback I receive from my peers! I am also looking forward to attending the One Million Cups meeting Wednesday mornings at 9:00 a.m. at Sweetwater. I have been to Sweetwater before (for a Ben Folds concert), and from what I remember, it is a wonderful and imaginative space complete with a café, of course. This venue seems perfect for the entrepreneurs of Fort Wayne to gather and express their visions. Now, a little bit more about my own entrepreneurial endeavors, experiences, and hopes. I have created an Etsy shop that sells handmade bracelets, a coffee club that toured local coffeehouses, and a few websites just to name a couple things. Experience-wise, I have been involved in TEDxPurdueU marketing and an entrepreneur class at Purdue University. Though I ultimately decided to pursue writing for my college degree, entrepreneurship and marketing...

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Release – Youth coding projects to be on display at Start Fort Wayne
Nov13

Release – Youth coding projects to be on display at Start Fort Wayne

Release from Start Fort Wayne South Bend Code School // Fort Wayne will conduct its inaugural “demo day” for students and guests at the Atrium co-working space downtown at 5:30 p.m. on November 14 (Tuesday). This is the school’s first cohort in Fort Wayne and first-ever expansion program outside of South Bend. Students ages 11-18 will be showing off the apps and websites they have built over the last eleven weeks. The demonstration is open to the public. The “Jumpstart Web Development” course offered an introduction to web development. Students learned three coding languages (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) and built two websites. One of the websites is an app aimed at bettering the students’ community; more specifically to raise awareness around mental health issues and resources. The students will also have the opportunity to present their new products to tech professionals at Google in Chicago later this month. The SBCS // FW is a partnership, formed earlier this year between South Bend Code School and Start Fort Wayne designed to give youth technology skills, and to expose youth to technology-related career and education paths at an early age. Start Fort Wayne began in 2015 with a mission to strengthen the infrastructure that supports entrepreneurs in northeast Indiana, supporting a long-term vision to attract innovation and high-growth companies to launch their venture in northeast Indiana. “We have been so pleased with our inaugural class in Fort Wayne,” said Alexandra Liggins, co-founder of South Bend Code School, in a prepared release. “The students were eager and receptive learners, and are now equipped to consider the next steps in their coding and tech education. We are excited to continue our partnership with Start Fort Wayne to give students real-world skills to prepare them for the future.” Start Fort Wayne Executive Director, Rhonda Ladig states in a prepared release, “Today, every venture is impacted by tech. The Narwhal and the Manatee is a good example. They make bath and skin care products here in Fort Wayne, but they do much of their business online. So, e-commerce is a core part of their model. This type of education is vital to supporting the needs of our current entrepreneurs and also helps grow the workforce in the area of coding to make northeast Indiana a more attractive place to launch a venture.” Start Fort Wayne’s other programs include entrepreneur coaching services called LevelUp and the Atrium coworking space downtown at 111 W. Berry St. Start Fort Wayne also launched Indiana’s first chapter of the Kauffman Foundation’s “1 Million Cups” program, which is a free program that meets every Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. at Sweetwater with...

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Start Fort Wayne Announces $90,000 in Support
Oct21

Start Fort Wayne Announces $90,000 in Support

From Start Fort Wayne Start Fort Wayne announced support from local organizations on Thursday, October 19. The announcements were held at the Atrium, Start Fort Wayne’s coworking space, while celebrating the space’s one year anniversary. Greater Fort Wayne Inc. announced $35,000 of support for Start Fort Wayne. “Entrepreneurs are the risk-takers, innovators, and job creators that can fuel us toward becoming a nationally recognized economy,” said Eric Doden, CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. in a prepared release. “We’re thrilled that Start Fort Wayne is helping startups succeed. The Atrium provides a tremendous collision space for entrepreneurs, and we look forward to seeing those collisions turn our innovation economy into a powerhouse.” Additionally, Elevate Northeast Indiana announced their support of Start Fort Wayne. Mark Michael, President and COO of Fort Wayne Metals and board member of the Elevate Northeast Indiana board says in a prepared release, “The Elevate Northeast Indiana board, in an effort to enlarge and elevate our region’s entrepreneurial culture, is providing Start Fort Wayne $35,000 to grow its support of entrepreneurs.  When we formed Elevate Northeast Indiana this month, our first order of business became the support of the entire entrepreneurial culture, beginning with this grant.” In addition to the announcements at the Atrium event, Fort Wayne Metals yesterday announced a donation of $10,000 a year for three years to Start Fort Wayne. Also, the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne granted Start Fort Wayne a $10,000 Agency Support Grant on Thursday. Start Fort Wayne Executive Director, Rhonda Ladig states in a prepared release, “We’re thrilled at these announcements of support! We view the partnerships with these organizations as a stepping stone to collaboratively strengthen the entrepreneur infrastructure and startup community in our region.” Additionally last evening, Start Fort Wayne announced a new annual award named for local entrepreneur coach Steve Franks (read more about Steve Franks). The Steve Franks Award for Entrepreneurial Effectiveness was awarded to it’s namesake. The award will be given by Start Fort Wayne annually to recognize and individual who is doing extraordinary things to support entrepreneurs in our region. Start Fort Wayne began in 2015 with a mission to strengthen the infrastructure that supports entrepreneurs in northeast Indiana, supporting a long-term vision to attract outside tech and innovation companies to launch their venture in northeast Indiana. Some of Start Fort Wayne’s programs include entrepreneur coaching services through Steve Franks’ LevelUp program and youth coding education through a partnership with the South Bend Code School. Start Fort Wayne also started the first chapter of the Kauffman Foundation’s “1 Million Cups” program in Indiana in 2015 and the chapter is one of the most active chapters in the country, meeting every Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. at Sweetwater with 40-60 entrepreneurs attending each week. The Atrium...

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Atrium Coworking Space Celebrates First Anniversary
Oct17

Atrium Coworking Space Celebrates First Anniversary

Get Directions From Start Fort Wayne Start Fort Wayne, a nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurs and startups in northeast Indiana, is planning a one-year anniversary celebration for their downtown coworking space, the Atrium. The event is this Thursday, October 19th from 5:30-8 p.m. Coworking is using shared office space and resources with other individuals who may work in a variety of industries,  who would have otherwise been working from home offices, the library, or coffee shops. The Atrium launched in October of 2016. It is a 5,500 square foot coworking space that offers a space for entrepreneurs to launch their startup. Since opening, the Atrium has had over 140 members, with the current membership hovering around 100. There are three membership levels for the coworking space: general, shared membership areas for $50 per month; dedicated desks for $150 per month; and private offices with two desks for $350 per month or four desks for $700 per month. All memberships are month-to-month, so there is no lease commitment for startups but they get a desirable downtown business address. The space also has conference spaces for members or non-members. In addition to the coworking and conference spaces, the Atrium is the home of Start Fort Wayne, it’s parent organization. Start Fort Wayne began in 2015 with a mission to strengthen the infrastructure that supports entrepreneurs in northeast Indiana, supporting a long-term vision to attract outside tech and innovation companies to launch their venture in northeast Indiana. Besides the Atrium coworking space, Start Fort Wayne also provides entrepreneur coaching services through Steve Franks’ LevelUp program and youth coding education through a partnership with the South Bend Code School. Start Fort Wayne also started the first chapter of the Kauffman Foundation’s “1 Million Cups” program in Indiana in 2015 and the chapter is one of the most active chapters in the country, meeting every Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. at Sweetwater with 40-60 entrepreneurs attending each week. The Get Local event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will include a short program that will highlight several entrepreneurs, in a “pitch-style” presentation, sighting the impact that Start Fort Wayne’s projects and programs have had on their venture over the past year. There will also be exciting announcements of partnership and support from other local organizations and recognition of entrepreneurial impact. Following the event, there will be free food from Calhoun Street Soup, Salad, and Spirits, a cash bar from Mad Anthony’s, and locally made cupcakes and cake. There will also be a free art display and live, local music from Jess Thrower. The event concludes at 8 p.m. To learn more about Start Fort...

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Good Neighbors – Steve Franks in Fort Wayne
Aug08

Good Neighbors – Steve Franks in Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne area community good neighbor Steve Franks “Fort Wayne, a league of its own.” For over a decade, Steve Franks has been helping small businesses take their first step. He works with Start Fort Wayne coaching entrepreneurs through their LevelUP program and serves on the board for the nonprofit Believe in a Dream, working with their Believe in Your Business program that focuses on high school age entrepreneurs. He sees youth-centered entrepreneurship as vibrant and world changers. When encouraged, they will find the way. I asked how one would encourage these young entrepreneurs. “Not every venture needs to be a home run, but a lot of singles will get a lot of runs,“ Steve replied. He went on to explain that not every first venture will be your best.   I find myself continually amazed and inspired by people living in the Fort Wayne area, Steve Franks being one of them. We had an opportunity to ask Steve about who he is and what he does. How long have you been helping small businesses? I left the world of innovation consulting 13 years ago and started coaching entrepreneurs at the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center. NIIC was fairly new at the time. I sought it out since it had the word “innovation” in its name – it turned out to be more about entrepreneurship than what I had come to know as innovation. Fortunately, discovering I loved working with startup entrepreneur, I started helping them think through their new ventures. Most everything I’ve done for the past three decades or so has been with smaller entrepreneurial companies.  I’ve co-founded two ventures and have been working around and developing new things.   What was the first job or one of the first jobs you had? The job that made the biggest difference in the trajectory of my life was when I resigned from the cushy office job at North American Van Lines (where I worked since high school) to go sell microcomputers on commission. Not the most fiscally prudent move, perhaps, but it worked out and gave me a foothold into something I love–which was why I took the plunge. It started me down the path of working with things I was passionate about, rather than just some financially comfortable salary job. It allowed me to hone skills that help me be a good entrepreneur coach today.   You are helping with things all over. How do you keep your energy up and prioritize to prevent burn out? What is this “prioritize” thing you speak of?  One way to not burn out is to be busy. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you only really burn...

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