The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center has announced a Customer Discovery Challenge designed for entrepreneurs. It involves community outreach, mapping and analysis exercises. The organization says it will select winners in December. You can view full details about the program by clicking here.

October 27, 2014

News Release

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – October 2014 commences 15 years of operations for the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC). In honor of the NIIC's founding, the Innovation Center and Innovation Park will be hosting various celebrations, special events, unique educational programming, mini-venture competitions, and special opportunities for entrepreneurial engagement. This will be the start of a yearlong celebration of entrepreneurial successes.

“We are launching today the first of a series of entrepreneurial venture business opportunities in recognition of our milestone anniversary. We have teamed with The SearchLite ( to bring special “fast test” and “lean start-up thinking,” training and advisory services in how to use two of their fast test business acceleration services focused on rapid customer discovery & learning – Market Application Landscape and Technology Adoption Dynamics,” stated Karl R. LaPan, President and CEO, Northeast Indiana Innovation Center.

“To kick-start our year-long celebration, the Innovation Center will be accepting application submissions for use of these two tools,” said LaPan. He went on to announce that “NIIC will fund 2 entrepreneurial ventures in conducting customer discovery using this business process and roadmap.”

Application forms will be available on the web on October 17, 2014 from and must be submitted by November 30, 2014 at 5pm Eastern Time. More than one venture may be awarded a grant and final award selections will be made in mid-December 2014. Applicants must attend the no-cost training at the Innovation Center on October 16, 2014 at 11:30am or attended an orientation webinar to be offered in November 2014. Individual sessions to discuss your business venture or concept may be scheduled with The SearchLite after the meeting. To schedule in advance, please contact Mike Fritsch at (260) 407-1754.

Scott Phillips, Founder & CEO of The SearchLite ( explains what these two services offer entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial ventures. The average time is about four weeks to conduct one of our Market Discovery Challenges. There are two types of Market Discovery Challenges that The SearchLite offers based upon the situation and intent of the startup founder or inventor. In both cases, The SearchLite will engage in a mixture of (1) industry expert phone interviews, (2) secondary research, (3) online discussion forums and (4) wisdom-of-crowds polling. Applications will be received either for the market application landscape or the technology adoption dynamics roadmap.

The Market Application Landscape – This is a helpful analysis if a startup is “pre Product-Market Fit”. In this situation, the entrepreneurial venture is still searching for the best-fit, beach-head market opportunities given the market needs and value proposition of the new technology or solution. The SearchLite provides six to eight Market Application Profiles based on a force ranking by best-fit according to 3 dimensions including: relative market size, opportunity attractiveness, and product market fit.

The Technology Adoption Dynamics Roadmap- This is a useful and strategic analysis if a startup is “post Product-Market Fit”. In this situation, the entrepreneurial team/venture has identified their target market given their value proposition of the new technology or solution. The SearchLite will provide six to eight Technology Adoption Dynamics that will determine accelerated market adoption by customers including target market analysis, a first customer adoption assessment, and an early majority adoption roadmap.

Entrepreneurial ventures participating in this unique roadmap program will commit themselves to a fast process and engage in the following types of activities:

-Community Mapping – identifying customer discovery interview targets – organizations and names.

-Community Outreach – the process of connecting and confirming individuals for interviews.

-Customer Interviews – the goal will be 10 to 20 customer discovery interviews over four weeks.

-Weekly Synthesis & Analysis – the team should be available for a one hour call each week to discuss key learnings and next steps – “iterate or pivot”.

-Final Wrap-up – summarize the key learnings and next steps.

“We are excited about the opportunities our 15th year anniversary presents to showcase with the community the resources and partnerships we have and the passion we have for helping entrepreneurs actualize their dreams,” stated LaPan.

To learn more, please contact Mike Fritsch, Entrepreneur in Residence, at the Innovation Center. He can be contacted by calling (260) 407-1754 or by emailing

Source: The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center

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