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Campaign raises funds to spur startup ventures

August 10th, 2012

News Coverage:

Campaign raises funds to spur startup ventures

BARRY ROCHFORD - barryr@fwbusiness.com

Friday, Aug. 10, 2012 at 5:55am

Elevate Ventures Inc. next month will step up efforts to support startup and existing companies in northeast Indiana following a campaign that raised $1 million locally, and a complementary website already has been rolled out that matches entrepreneurs with potential investors.

Through a program called Quick Start, Elevate Ventures, a nonprofit organization that manages the state’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, for the past year has been providing assistance to entrepreneurs and businesses across northern Indiana through the use of mentors. Called entrepreneurs-in-residence, the mentors offer guidance to those looking to start a business and engage in “economic gardening” with existing companies to help them grow to the next level.

At the same time, Elevate Ventures has been working with regional advisory boards in northeast, north-central and northwest Indiana to create entrepreneurship action plans. The plans are modeled on JumpStart Inc.’s efforts in the Cleveland area to boost startup formation and provide access to venture funding.

In 2010, JumpStart, a nonprofit organization, received grants totaling $2.5 million to explore ways to duplicate its success in other areas of the country, including northern Indiana, that had been hit hard by the downturn of the automotive industry. Its consulting work in Indiana paved the way for Elevate Ventures to roll out the Quick Start program last year.

Now Elevate Ventures wants to expand further on that work. The $1 million raised in each of the northern Indiana regions in support of the entrepreneurship action plans, along with a $2-million contribution from Elevate Ventures and another $3 million raised from sources outside the state, will be used to beef up staffing and programming as well as provide funding to startup companies over the next three years.

“One of the more exciting parts of it is that we have investment funds available in the form of grants or investments for high-potential startups,” said David Clark, a venture partner with Elevate Ventures in Indianapolis.

He believes the regional entrepreneurship action plans can be successful based on what Elevate Ventures accomplished in northern Indiana under Quick Start during the past year. He said 25 northeast Indiana companies received economic-gardening assistance, while the percentage of northern Indiana businesses applying to Elevate Ventures’ 21st Century Research and Technology Fund and Indiana Angel Network Fund increased from basically 0 to more than 40 percent.

Meanwhile, a website called IdeaCrossing has begun matching Indiana entrepreneurs with mentors, resources and potential investors. First launched in northeast Ohio by JumpStart in 2007, IdeaCrossing now has more than 6,600 registered users from across the country, said its vice president, Tiffan Clark.

“We found that there were far more entrepreneurs that needed capital, funding and business assistance here in northeast Ohio than any entity, including ourselves, could provide,” she said.

“We built (IdeaCrossing) so it could be available nationally and it wasn’t just a solution for northeast Ohio.”

David Clark said IdeaCrossing — registration for which is free — helps Elevate Ventures as it works to bolster entrepreneurial activity in Indiana.

“We’re really trying to promote an environment that has some structure to it that really encourages entrepreneurship across Indiana,” he said.

On the web

If you’re an entrepreneur, an investor or a business mentor, you can register for IdeaCrossing at www.ideacrossing.org/l/neindiana.

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