Our region’s startup community will grow stronger as our entrepreneurs gain skills. To enhance their skills, Start Fort Wayne has created LevelUp, a series of educational programs for startup founders and growing entrepreneurs.

As Brendon Maxwell of Utopian Coffee puts it, “Coaching and mentoring are essential ingredients to a startup’s success. They can help founders get a much better return on their limited time and money and help them avoid pitfalls that can stop their venture in its tracks. I wish there had been a formal program like this 10 years ago when I started Utopian Coffee. It's greatly needed and will be a tremendous asset to the startup community.“

Compass – one-on-one entrepreneur coaching

The first LevelUp program to be launched, Compass, gives startups and founders personalized help as they create their new venture.

Compass is open to anyone planning a startup.

  • A brand new startup or a new initiative of an existing business
  • Anywhere in the Northeast Indiana region
  • In any market or industry
  • Zero startup experience or experienced

Founders and entrepreneurs can engage in one of two ways.

  • If you just need to have a few conversations to help you think through a particular challenge or two, we are always open to meet and talk.
  • If you want a structured walkthrough to create everything you’ll need to get funded and launched, we offer a full curriculum.

If you elect to pursue the full curriculum, you’ll meet weekly for 6-10 weeks, working to …

  • Create a Startup Business Model
  • Test it with buyers and sellers to ensure your model works
  • Create at least one revised Startup Business Model based on direct model feedback
  • Document the assumptions driving your financials
  • Create a complete set of financial statements
  • Create an Executive Summary
  • Create an Elevator Pitch
  • Optionally create an Investor Pitch Deck
  • Rehearse presenting your venture (and handling Q&A)

Start Fort Wayne and its generous funders have subsidized the costs for Compass. All Compass coaching services are free of charge! That includes the complete 6-10 week curriculum, a $1,000 value!

Lead coach Steve Franks has helped 100s of northeast Indiana entrepreneurs and startups over the past decade at NIIC, at regional venture accelerators he established in Whitley and LaGrange counties, in the Co.Starters program in Fort Wayne and Decatur, and informally over coffee.

He’s worked with startups ranging from part time ventures to ventures that raised millions of investment – across dozens of industries and markets.

Dave Corcoran of Trustbearer Labs and Third Rail Group said of Steve’s coaching, “The coaching I received from Steve Franks was essential to the successful creation, growth and exit of my startup. Trustbearer’s ability to create jobs, create wealth and contribute to revitalizing downtown Fort Wayne was materially impacted by his guidance. Steve was one of the single best things that happened to my startup. I continue to refer startups to him for assistance and consider him a vital part of the NE Indiana entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

To register today for Compass, just complete the registration form You can also contact Steve at sfranks@startfortwayne.com