New Fund 'Bets' on Northeast Indiana Entrepreneurs

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(Logo courtesy of elevate northeast indiana.) (Logo courtesy of elevate northeast indiana.)

A new collaboration named for Fort Wayne's most famous scientist is boosting entrepreneurship throughout the region. The Farnsworth Fund, launched by elevate northeast indiana and named for "the father of television" Philo T. Farnsworth, involves $1.2 million in grants, seed funding and early-stage investment designed to create "entrepreneurial culture shock." Board Chair Marilyn Moran-Townsend says the smaller scope of the funding helps offset some of the risk aversion traditionally exhibited by investors when it comes to partnering with entrepreneurs. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, she said growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem requires "community, mentors and money." Without all three, Moran-Townsend says, a young business won't get off the ground.

The program opens the door for elevate northeast indiana to build relationships with young founders "whose initial idea might not turn out to be the ultimate winning entrepreneurial effort in that person's lifetime, and that's okay," she said. "We are laying the groundwork for that person to be successful." elevate northeast indiana was launched less than a year ago through a $2 million initiative of Elevate Ventures and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. It has an 11-county footprint.

The funding formula calls for $1,000 grants from a $200,000 pool, another $200,000 for startup investment packages of up to $20,000 and $800,000 from Elevate Ventures for early stage funding rounds. At least 50 $1,000 grants are slated to be awarded this year.

The inaugural group of recipients include:

  • Chauntiel Smith, a South Side High School and Indiana Tech graduate, who launched Capture Sports Agency
  • Sean Rassavong, a senior at New Tech Academy, who has a video production company called Vision
  • Ashli Pershing and Pamela Sprowl, registered nurses at Parkview Wabash and Parkview Huntington hospitals, who are developing solutions for a problem mothers face just after given birth
  • Kyle Craig, a Trine University mechanical engineering graduate, who founded Apollo Dynamics to pair wearable biokinetics devices with software to track and analyze body motion

Steve Franks will serve as the program's manager. You can connect to more about the Farnsworth Fund by clicking here.

elevate northeast indiana Board Chair Marilyn Moran-Townsend said growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem requires "community, mentors and money."
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