Region first to use startup investment fund
By Doug LeDuc | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly
An important part of creating an entrepreneurial culture is celebrating the success of a region’s entrepreneurial community, and Elevate Ventures wants to provide that opportunity during the region’s first Techstars Startup Week.
Start Fort Wayne has announced that the multi-day event, scheduled for Monday through Friday, will include an emerging entrepreneurs launch night where Elevate Ventures will share how area entrepreneurs in the restaurant and health care industries recently attracted up to $60,000 in seed funding.
The investment is from a new, statewide Community Ideation Fund of Elevate Ventures, which has designating up to $200,000 for business startup investment over three years in each of its four partnership regions.
In northeast Indiana, that investment will complement the Farnsworth Fund program, which awards microgrants of $1,000 to help the region’s founders from the very beginning of their entrepreneurial journey.
Receiving a microgrant is not a requirement of Community Ideation Fund investment, but the first three founders receiving the money were also honored with $1,000 from the Farnsworth Fund earlier this year to advance their projects.
“The Farnsworth Fund is the initial stage,” said Robert Clark, entrepreneur-in-residence for Elevate Ventures. “Then we have this new Community Ideation Fund, where entrepreneurs can get $5,000 up to $20,000,.”
The investment is intended to help an entrepreneur “hit a certain milestone, so they have to tell us what the funds are going to be used for,” he said. “The next round would be a seed round of from $100,000 to $500,000.”
For rounds where Elevate Ventures participates beyond the Community Ideation Fund investment, “normally we get other co-investors to come in,” Clark said.
In addition to other regional organizations that help startups, such as Northeast Indiana Innovation Center and Brightpoint, he said it would be open to angel network participation.
“We’re pleased to be able to offer the Community Ideation Fund in regions where we have partnerships and see a promising entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Chris LaMothe, Elevate Ventures CEO, said in a statement. “For young startups that aren’t quite ready to seek traditional investment funding, these smaller amounts can be the catalyst that propels them forward to that next stage of investment and growth. Supporting founders every step of the way ultimately stimulates the types of entrepreneurial ecosystems we’re trying to foster statewide.”
The free Emerging Entrepreneurs Launch Night will take place 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at Wunderkammer Co., 3402 Fairfield Ave. in Fort Wayne. The event will celebrate Community Ideation Fund investment in 3B Apps, Apollo Dynamics and Blaire Biomedical.
Fort Wayne-based 3B Apps has been lining up clients in Indiana and out of the state for an app it developed for independent restaurants. The online and mobile app is designed to take orders for restaurants, food trucks, and corporate cafes. The emerging entrepreneurs behind 3B are brothers Mitchell and Connor Skees.
The emerging entrepreneurs with health care industry innovations are Kyle Craig, founder of Apollo Dynamics, and Melanie Watson, founder of Blaire Biomedical. Both startups are based in Angola.
Apollo Dynamics has developed software-as-a-service and wearable device technology for accelerating athletic conditioning and rehabilitation through motion analysis based on data collected through a wireless network of sensors, which measure and record the motion of joints as well as the forces exerted on them.
Blaire Biomedical has developed an app capable of providing diagnostic blood results in the field from a drop of patient blood applied to a cartridge that medical personnel slide into the company’s SmartMed case after attaching it to a smart phone.
While relatively small injections from the microgrant program and Community Ideation Fund “may seem like not much to some people, they enabled us to move to the next level,” Watson said in a statement. “These funds are necessary for people who need to go from not having anything to a seed round. Elevate Ventures has made it possible to get through these initial stages.”
“Through the entrepreneurship community, Apollo has been guided to a solid beachhead market, monitoring patients after they’ve gone through a joint replacement surgery,” Craig said in the statement. “Our initial product will help hospitals gather data on their patients during their required rehabilitation period. Our intent is to capture that as a revenue stream and continue on to other markets.”
The Emerging Entrepreneurs Launch Night coincides with the next Farnsworth Fund Social where the program’s mini-grant recipients connect and collaborate with other entrepreneurs in the region.