Results' Junkies Tech Tour was in Fort Wayne, and now that everyone has slept just a little bit, we wanted to give a wrap up and get information out to everyone. Here are a few recollections and realizations we came to after last week.
From me, Dave Sanders, President of Start Fort Wayne:
1) We have a LOT of entrepreneurs. We had 31 signups for office hours slots with Paul, and originally only 21 slots available. We moved some stuff around on the schedule to get more of these folks in with Paul, but we couldn't serve everyone.
We had 50-60 people at our opening night, about 20 for VC 101 for Founders, 30-40 for our Indiana Tech Student talk, 70+ for the Indiana Tech talk, 20+ local leaders for a breakfast, and 30 people at our investors lunch. This is a great base to grow from, and everyone seemed extremely excited and enthusiastic about the future.
If you weren't able to meet with Paul, PLEASE reach out to me. We'll chat and I'll introduce you to other coaches / resources that can help you.
2) Lets work on "base hits". Paul talked about this several times during the week - finding and investing a little in a lot of companies, and then doubling down on the ones that are successful. Start Fort Wayne is internalizing this lesson and is already developing some programs to enact this strategy in 2017.
3) We need an entrepreneur pipeline. While we have a lot of entrepreneurs, skill level, saavy, and experience is all over the map. Investment is out there, but they need solid people they can invest in. Again, Start Fort Wayne is working to address this in 2017 with programs we will be announcing soon. Our goal is to create a "pipeline" that educates entrepreneurs and links them with other organizations, resources, and dollars so that the successful companies can scale fast.
4) Our region has work to do, but we are on the right path. We need to continue to build community and cooperation amongst founders, industries, regions, investors, and organizations and gain the benefit of the multiplier effect. As we create collisions, we get the flywheel moving, and everyone can accelerate our growth faster than if we all do it alone. Money and talent spreads out, successful companies beget other new companies, and the entire region prospers. Psst: the big secret is that this is happening all over already - we just need to be better at telling people about it.
From Paul Singh at Results Junkies:
"Fort Wayne was much more than I expected, honestly.
From the outside, it sounds like a quiet little town with it's first real coworking space. Once on the ground, it was clear that it's much further along than many of the other places we've visited this year. You've got investors, you've got recent exits (even a $55M exit the same week we were there) and infrastructure (eg, universities, a coworking space, tech-related events, etc). If you can't start a business (or side hustle) in Fort Wayne, you won't be able to do it anywhere else.
As for next steps, a couple of tactical steps:
1) For entrepreneurs, focus on sales. Building a company is simple but people overthink it. Sell, sell, sell.
2) For community leaders (ie, Start Fort Wayne), make physical spaces (like Atrium) where collisions happen. If there's an elected official that wants to learn about entrepreneurship / startups, they ought to see places like Atrium as the hub.
3) For everyone, try to reduce the gap between the tech community and everyone else. I think the price of entry to any tech event ought to be bringing at least one "non-tech" person in the door.
Company building and community building are ultra important and places like Atrium are at the center of it."
There was a lot of interest in Paul's slide deck that he used this week. You can find it here.
Be sure to sign up for Paul's mailing list at the top of ResultsJunkies.com and read his past blog posts. They post great stuff every day.
Come visit Atrium at 111 W. Berry Street, 2nd floor whenever we're open. (8-8, M-Sat)
We learned a lot last week, and like a duck on a pond northeast Indiana might look calm on the surface, but we are paddling like heck under the water.
While Tech Tour is over, Start Fort Wayne's plate just got a lot more full. We see exactly where we need to be and what we need to do next, and are already mobilizing to pull together the resources to do it. We hope you join us in this journey to build a stable entrepreneurial ecosystem and culture in our corner of Indiana. We'll absolutely need your help and enthusiasm to make it happen!