A New Venture – Founders – at 614 S. Harrison

It seems like forever since I’ve posted here.  A lot has happened during that time.  Important stuff.  Together with Ray Angel and Ryan Imel, I helped found a new venture called Founders.

The night of the last Vertical Leap event, Ray and Ryan started to talk about creating a space where independent developers, artists, makers, entrepreneurs, and others could work to build things.  Six days later, we had the keys to 614 S. Harrison Street.

Another six days later, and without even being officially open yet, over 70 people have been through Founders to see the space.  As I write this from a table in the main room, there is one developer working to my right and three other people off having a talk in one of the front rooms (and since I first wrote that earlier today), about 7 other people have come through).  And this is pretty much the quietest I’ve seen it in days!

The vibe is incredible!

People just show up and do work.  Sometimes by themselves at the main room table with their headphones on.  Sometimes together collaborating on a project.  As Jeremy says, “collaborating the sh*t out of something over at Founders”.  We had a team from the Millennial 2020 Sparktank event head over to work on their winning project.  Nick W. and Evan set up a photo shoot in the back room (and took a few shots of Ray and I while they were there).  And, of course, lot of folks congregate in the front rooms to plan projects in dry erase on the windows.



You’d think that would be enough.  But wait, there’s more!

Besides people showing up to do some work on their ideas, people have just been bringing us stuff!  We had keys less than a few hours when Nick of Twelve Cities brought the “Nick Arnett Memorial Table”.  Destany and Mitch of Colagrossi Studio brought back some Ikea tables from Schaumburg – and then hung out to help set them up.  Ben brought a humongo table, Baskets brought some bar stools – and much more (I’m sure I’ve left a lot of people out who dropped off something).


Come and visit.  Just remember to check in when you arrive!


Entrepreneurial Entrepreneurship Teachers – Part 5, Karen Gillie

So one day four years ago I received a message to contact Karen Gillie at Anthis Career Center.  She wondered if I’d be willing to let a student interested in entrepreneurship visit me for a job shadow.  That student was Zach Zuber, who became one of the founding members of the Innovation Center’s Student Venture Lab.  Zach is now in Bloomington, IN where he stays active in entrepreneurship and interns with Sproutbox.

Zach Zuber in his office at the Innovation Center
after winning a business plan competition


I had the opportunity to visit her entrepreneurship classes a few times to hear the pitches  that student teams had prepared for regional competitions.  Very impressive.

Karen’s graphics design class teaches skills with Photoshop. Illustrator, InDesign, and more.  Their work is fantastic.  The class – with some exceptional direction from Karen – took on the project of creating the entire art set for another Innovation Center student company, April Langschied’s Green ABC’s.  Check out the fantastic artwork below – I challenge you to distinguish their work from that produced by any design agency!  Then head to the iTunes stores for the free Green ABC’s iPad app!

The Green ABC’s is the property of April Langschied – all rights reserved.


Over the years Karen has helped hundreds of students understand – and practice – being entrepreneurial.  Whether in entrepreneurship or other classes, her teaching style develops the skills of entrepreneurship – ownership, action, and responsibility.

This ends my series about entrepreneurial teachers, ending it where it started for me four years ago.  Perhaps I’ll find more teachers to profile in the future, but for now I’ll just say, “Thanks Karen, for getting it all started!  And, of course, for the great job you do every day!”

Listen to This: My City

Last week I wrote about a ground breaking entrepreneurship event here in Fort Wayne.

Only one week later and I find myself embedding a just-released video showing some great work by a bunch of our young artists (musicians, videographers, audio folks) – in a video that shows some love for our city.

Damn.  This city of Fort Wayne is moving!

Makes me feel proud.

CertiFLYYed, A Better Fort Presents: My City from Kelly Lynch on Vimeo.

2012 Fort Wayne Crystal Ball

Well, it’s almost 2012, a time for predictions.  I’ve never made predictions before, but for some strange reason, I’m compelled to gaze into the future this year.  I work with, care about, and write about entrepreneurship, technology, and the arts.  So, my predictions will (loosely) touch on those areas.

In general, I believe that our community is nearing critical mass in three areas.

1. Significant local economic growth will come from downtown mini-economies.

Yes, I believe that we will see noticeable growth in our local downtown economy – more than from our suburban sprawl.  Shocked?  Well, just think of the growth already happening in the Calhoun-Wayne, So-Cal, Broadway, and Wells Street mini-economies.  Companies like Conspiracy, Studio 13, CS3, Pint and Slice, Dash-In, JK’s, Toscanni, Hyde Brothers, La Michocana, Fort Wayne Outfitters, George’s, El Amish, Revolution, and the Brass Rail have led the charge so far.  Look for more – success attracts success.  Be ready for these districts to break out in 2012.  We may not connect them all together geographically in 2012, but they will expand.

2. The today-mostly-unseen youth and alternative arts communities will be discovered, discover themselves, and receive their  due credit.

The growth of downtown mini-economies is largely driven by young diverse populations.  This growth will bring more people to those downtown areas.  Shops, boutiques, galleries, ad-hoc performance spaces, opportunities for the public to come mingle (and shop) with artists.  Conspiracy already regularly hosts art and music events that draw a few hundred people.  Drop Your Avant-Garde proves that a huge young audience is capable of filling downtown in the name of art (well, and to have some fun together).  With even more people arriving, we start to hit the critical mass for some new arts infrastructure.  If you want to envision this growth, go walk around a college town like Ann Arbor.  Sure, the traditional arts district will continue to grow, but 2012 is the year where growth of the arts community happens more organically, little by little, on streets and in shops.

3. At least one of the Innovation Center’s tech companies  – and at least one tech company not connected to the Innovation Center – will hit big growth.

Possibly coming from the ranks of NIIC’s student ventures, at least one venture will experience the kind of growth that entrepreneurs only dream about.  Just like downtown districts, the startup community in Fort Wayne is growing in number.  Just like downtown districts, the startup community in Fort Wayne has nearly hit a critical mass.  From my viewpoint at the Innovation Center (for those who don’t know, I work there), the 50 or so companies at the Innovation Center campus are just the tip of the iceberg.  Over 100 have passed through the Innovation Center, and there are many more entrepreneurs that are out there in the city dreaming right now.  2012 will be the year that a couple of them go big.

4.  Nick Arnett will be named Mayor of Fort Wayne – no election needed.

OK, well this probably won’t happen – but it should.

Happy New Year to you all!


Culture Hacking in Fort Wayne

It seems like more and more of what my friends and I are doing today can be defined as “culture hacking”.  I didn’t invent the phrase.  I read it here:  http://adamfeuer.com/blog/2011/11/20/culture-hacking/.

What is culture hacking?  Adam writes, “Culture hacking at its best is about creating cultures that enable people and teams to achieve greatness. Culture hackers combine and edit cultural systems, practices, values, and viewpoints, try them to to see if they work and share them with others.”  Here are a few examples from around the community

  • The Innovation Center and its Student Venture Lab – creating a place where entrepreneurship is the accepted norm.
  • Robert Clark and Elevate Ventures – growing the investment and entrepreneur community.
  • Craig Crook and TEDxFortWayne – creating a local society that is creative, social, sustainable, and caring.
  • Nick Arnett and the 12 Cities Project – identifying and exhorting growth of our Millennial population and cultural best practices for our city and region.
  • The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and Vision 2020 – writing a new chapter in a wide variety of cultural topics vital to our community.
  • Legacy Fort Wayne – funding cultural and other change in Fort Wayne.
  • Dan Swartz – enhancing the downtown Fort Wayne cultural district and the local arts community in general.

Although we do not lack activity by cultural players, I’m not sure these groups think of themselves as hackers – culture hackers, that is.  I’m also sure that I’ve probably offended some people by leaving them off of this short-and-not-intended-to-be-inclusive list (hit me up in the comments).  I’m also not sure that these people see themselves as connected – some do, and some probably don’t – by the common bond of culture hacking.

So, I want to leave you with the question Jim McCarthy asked Adam:  “Where is the culture hacker’s version of the Homebrew Computer Club?”  Where is our place?  Where do we meet and acknowledge that we are all working toward the same goal?
A goal that I say is to hack Fort Wayne culture, little by little, bit by bit – each of us in our own way working to make Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana a greater place tomorrow.