Fort Wayne & NE Indiana News

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Start Fort Wayne Announces Enhanced Entrepreneur Education Program

Start Fort Wayne, a nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurs and small business in northeast Indiana, is announcing that its popular entrepreneur coaching program, Compass, has been redesigned to offer entrepreneurs more opportunities for mentorship and peer support.

Since its launch in November 2016, Compass has been delivered one-on-one between an entrepreneur and Start Fort Wayne’s entrepreneur coach, Steve Franks. To date, over 90 entrepreneurs have participated in the original Compass program. The new model will be a facilitated peer cohort model with greater mentor engagement.

Starting September 9th, Compass entrepreneurs will meet as a group once a week for 12 weeks. Sessions will be held Saturday mornings from 9:00 to noon to accommodate those who work a traditional schedule. As in the current program, participants will develop their startup or expansion business model, test it with buyers and sellers, project their financials, and prepare to pitch their venture to lenders, investors, or customers.

The revised program blends peer feedback, mentorship, and one-on-one coaching. A typical session includes progress reports and insights learned, brief practice pitches from all participants, a facilitated introduction to a workshop topic, and lab time to work through the workshop topic with personal help from Franks. At two of the12 meetings, a roundtable of mentors will be invited to hear pitches and provide individual feedback to each entrepreneur. During one of the meetings, participants will hold an in-depth individual meeting with the facilitator. The program intentionally provides a wide variety of feedback from a variety of sources to maximize each participant’s learning.

Compass is designed to give startups and founders structured assistance as they create their new venture. It is open to anyone planning a startup in the northeast Indiana region, in any market or industry. It will be offered four times a year.

Fall: September 9, 2017 – November 18, 2017
Winter: December 2, 2017 – February 17, 2018
Spring: March 3, 2018 – May 19, 2018
Summer: June 2, 2018 – August 18, 2018

Sessions are held at Start Fort Wayne’s Atrium coworking space at 111 W. Berry St., Suite 211, Fort Wayne, IN 46802. Participants pay only $150 of the program’s $1,100 value – the remainder is subsidized by Start Fort Wayne and its generous funders.

Steve Franks, entrepreneur coach with Start Fort Wayne, who created and facilitates the program, has helped hundreds of northeast Indiana entrepreneurs and startups over the past decade at the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, at regional venture accelerators he established in Whitley and LaGrange Counties, through the Co.STARTERS program in Fort Wayne and Decatur, and informally over coffee. He’s worked with startups ranging from part-time ventures to those that raised millions in investments, across dozens of industries and markets.

“I have coached entrepreneurs in both cohort and individual settings and have seen each one’s benefits,” said Franks. “This revised program blends the best of both and adds mentor support! I can’t wait!”