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Startup expert to give talks in city

October 24th, 2016

Investor invited by nonprofit Start Fort Wayne

Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

Coming up with an idea for a new business is easy. Turning that idea into a success is a lot harder.

Start Fort Wayne has invited an international expert to coach local entrepreneurs and wannabes on how to find financial backing to help them start – or grow – their ventures. While he’s here, Paul Singh will also advise potential investors in how to support startups.

Singh, who will visit next week, is an entrepreneur and investor who was previously managing director at 1776, a global business incubator, and a general partner in 1776’s seed fund. The organization’s philosophy is that startups can change the world. He was also founder of Disruption Corp. and a partner at 500 Startups.

Some local events with Singh are free and open to the public.

Others, including visits with orthopedic devices makers, economic development officials and prospective investors, are invitation only.

“We’re trying to use his experience to educate as many different types of groups as we can while he’s in Fort Wayne,” said Dave Sanders, founder and president of Start Fort Wayne.

The nonprofit’s mission is to build a local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Accomplishments include opening a 5,500-square-foot co-working space this week called the Atrium, 111 W. Berry St. Entrepreneurs can lease office space there and collaborate with others as they get their businesses off the ground. 

Singh wants to share his expertise, but he’s also touring the country to find business ideas worth investing in. His fee for visiting Fort Wayne for the week was $4,000.

“The real goal ... is to bring functional expertise and venture capital dollars to parts of North America that don’t regularly get the same amount of attention as the well-known tech hubs,” the northern Virginia native said in a statement.

Although he has dubbed it the North American Tech Tour, Singh is interested in more.

“We want brick-and-mortar businesses, too, and those who are working on their own entrepreneurial dream,” he said. “It’s important to realize that technology is so interwoven into business such that every startup or entrepreneur needs to understand how to make it work for them.”

Singh will meet Wednesday with Indiana Tech students to talk about characteristics of successful startups, which industries are trending and various strategies for venture capital funding.

Indiana Tech’s Center for Creative Collaboration, also called C3, was founded in August 2014 to help local entrepreneurs, increasing their probability of success.

During his public presentation Wednesday on campus, Singh will focus on the economic impact of entrepreneurs and what northeast Indiana can do to attract more investment.

Indiana fares pretty well with consumer-tech types in most measures, including tax polices and fast Internet connections. But the state earned a D+ earlier this year in entrepreneurial activity.

The report, prepared by the Consumer Technology Association, ranked the Hoosier State 43rd nationwide in entrepreneurial activity.

Communities that support innovation and entrepreneurs are considered better able to attract young, educated and talented workers. When a community can offer that type of workforce, it can more easily attract high-paying employers, economic development experts say.

At a glance

The following events are free and open to the public:

Monday

6 p.m. – Public keynote address at Atrium, 111 W. Berry St.

7 p.m. – 5 x 5 x 5 Pitches during which entrepreneurs will get five minutes to pitch their business ideas followed by feedback (apply at startfortwayne.com/fivefivefive) at Atrium

8 p.m. – Networking hangout at Atrium

Tuesday

6 p.m. – Funding 101 for Founders at Atrium

Wednesday

9 a.m. – 1 Million Cups free weekly networking event, at Sweetwater Sound’s Crescendo Cafe, 5501 U.S. 30 W.

6 p.m. – Presentation: “The Business of (Tech) Startups” at Indiana Tech, McMillen Library’s first floor, 1600 E. Washington Blvd.