Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Northeast Indiana Innovation Center
Jan14

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Northeast Indiana Innovation Center

  Perhaps one of the visible resources for entrepreneurs in Northeast Indiana is on the northeast side of Fort Wayne near the IPFW campus. Since 1999 the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC) has worked diligently to aid in the development of innovative ventures for the region by providing a variety of services to both new and continuing entrepreneurs. We contacted Karl LaPan, President and CEO of the NIIC, to get his thoughts on how to maximize your experience with the facility. “Entrepreneurs need to be disciplined,  self-aware, coachable, reflective and contingency-minded in their thinking,” said LaPan. “When they exhibit these characteristics, they can benefit tremendously from NIIC in the advice, mentorship, and traction in meeting their milestones.” The NIIC offers a variety of initiatives at its campus, like Affiliate Client Coaching Services, where clients can learn strategies from experienced entrepreneurs and business people. There is also office space in its Incubator, and a co-working option via Destination: Your Future. You can also find programs from young entrepreneurs like the Student Venture Labs. Check out their services portfolio for a comprehensive listing of what the NIIC has to offer. “While invention is about coming up with the idea, entrepreneurship is about breathing life into the innovation for the benefit of society,” said LaPan. The NIIC works with a broad spectrum of entrepreneurs from pre-company to established corporations. Some of these entrepreneurs may have extensive industry experience and others may not. “Having deep industry insights and first hand knowledge often helps entrepreneurs make less mistakes and avoid potential pitfalls,” said LaPan. “This is not to say that entrepreneurs can’t be successful in executing on an idea in an unrelated field. It just possibly raises the execution risk of the venture.” After successfully connecting with NIIC, clients may have access to NIIC’s entrepreneur-in-residence, professional service providers, mentors, and angel investors orchestrated by NIIC. “NIIC provides the strategic advantages of faster commercialization and speed to market because we work ‘hand and glove’ with the entrepreneur and his/her team,” said LaPan. “In addition, we reduce the risk of starting and growing a business.” The NIIC also helps clients connect with service providers (e.g. lawyers, accountants, angel investors, and more) and other resources in the community dedicated to servicing entrepreneurs. The NIIC also partners with universities like IPFW and Huntington University. “When we assist entrepreneurs, we remember that we are providing them advice, support, encouragement, and access to resources. Often, entrepreneurs are pulled in different directions and receive conflicting advice, but NIIC  serves the best interest of entrepreneurs by always being on the side of the entrepreneur and serving as their advocate,” said LaPan. “We love it when entrepreneurs...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Fort Wayne Inventors Club
Dec15

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Fort Wayne Inventors Club

This is the next part of a series of pieces on entrepreneurship and innovation in Northeast Indiana. Join us as we explore the resources available to you as a resident of this area and some of the new businesses that are shaking things up in the area. Let’s Startup Fort Wayne! (-Tim) **** Do you ever look at something and think “Hey, there’s got to be a better way to do this”? You’re not alone! There are many people in Northeast Indiana that are real life inventors or share genuine interest in innovation. Once a month at the Center for Creative Collaboration at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, innovators from a variety of different backgrounds get together to talk about ideas and best practices for turning these ideas into something more. Some of these people have developed products and built new ventures for Northeast Indiana while others have developed ideas they have sold to interested businesses who can bring the product to market. After the December meeting, I chatted with co-founder Dave Gross, President and CEO of Collision Control Communications about what makes this meeting so beneficial for its attendees. Gross noted the unique makeup of the group – people from different backgrounds from research and development to sales and marketing – helps bring together different thought processes and approaches to ideas. Plus, there’s networking opportunities – usually there’s somebody there who knows somebody or knows of some resource from outside the group that may be helpful to you and your idea. For example, if you have an idea, should you patent it? Talk to Dave or any of the attendees, and they’ll share a variety of thoughts from “yes, start the patent application process now” to “no, bring your product to market first.” That’s the best part about meetings like this – colliding with people who have been there and done that. It’s a good kind of collision and you can feel the energy there. A lot of the interaction is organic – at the end of the meeting, most of the attendees chatted naturally with one another about their projects, ideas, or questions. New attendees to the group seemed to incorporate themselves nicely into the no pressure mix. One of the new attendees was Daniel Miller, who shared his idea for a “virtually inexhaustible carbon-free green fuel.” Miller, a younger innovator, was drawn to the meeting so he could network with people who have been through the development process before for their products. Through this project, Miller hopes to “[set] the anchor for a new industry cluster in the region.” If you’d like to attend a meeting – just go...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Northeast ISBDC
Oct20

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Northeast ISBDC

This is the first in a series of pieces on entrepreneurship in Northeast Indiana. Join us as we explore the resources available to you as a resident of this area and some of the new businesses that are shaking things up in the area. Let’s Startup Fort Wayne! (-Tim) ****** Hello, Northeast Indiana! Are you out there at your desk at your 9-to-5 job dreaming about controlling your own destiny? Do you even know where to start? Before you empty your life savings, put on the brakes, take a deep breath, take a deep breath (again), talk to someone, and do your homework! There are many resources out there in Northeast Indiana to help you on your way. Our first visit in “Startup Fort Wayne” is with the Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center (Northeast ISBDC) where I met with Wesley Shie, Regional Director, and business advisers Mary Popovich and Scot Goskowicz, who are there to help businesses grow in the region. “We’re meeting here on a daily basis with either potential business owners or people that are in business,” said Shie, who was promoted to Regional Director of the Northeast Indiana branch on October 1. “We’re helping them with whatever facet of the business that they are having issues with, at whatever stage of business they are in.” Northeast ISBDC is one of ten regional offices of the statewide ISBDC, an organization funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration (SBA). All services except for workshops and business evaluations are free to clients. The local branch is hosted by Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) and is partnered with the City of Fort Wayne, area county economic development corporations, Greater Fort Wayne Inc., and others. “Clients use us in a number of different ways. Some folks meet with us once, they go back and do a bunch of homework and six months later they call us with a whole bunch of stuff done,” said Shie. “Other people like to meet with us every ten days to check their process and progress.” The type of assistance given by the business advising team varies from client to client. Some people ask for help with specific projects such as developing a marketing plan and others use the team to get feedback on business processes they are implementing. Potential clients starting a business for the first time should take the new business survey on their website to start a relationship with the organization.. “This lets [the clients] and us know where they are in the process, and that will either direct them to take a workshop called...

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