Start Fort Wayne began in March 2015 as a rag-tag band of entrepreneurs and educators dedicating their spare time to help build a lasting community and culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in northeast Indiana.

Our Mission

We work to make our region entrepreneur minded, economically diverse, and future strong.


Our Vision

Start Fort Wayne will continue to grow as a hub for entrepreneurship by building programs and networks to get entrepreneurs to where they need to be and to connect them to current and new resources in our region.

We want northeast Indiana to approach the new economy with an “entrepreneur mindset”, ensuring our future generations have a place in the state, national, and global economy.


Our Core Values

Respect. We treat all people with dignity and respect.

Authentic. We serve our constituents with genuine care and concern for their well-being, not our own.

Agile. We work quickly, learn from experience, and immediately apply new knowledge.

Inclusive. We want all people, regardless of circumstance, to be able to succeed.

Cooperative. We work with other organizations, knowing that we better serve the community by being a part of the whole.

Fact-based. We evaluate and choose methods for their outcomes based on data. We measure our data to ensure effective outcomes.

Board of Directors


Dave Sanders


Dave is the co-founder and President of Avenue 80 Inc., a local software development consulting company, and has a long background in technology and business.

He also founded and operates CoWork Fort Wayne, a downtown coworking space, and has spent the past several years learning about coworking and entrepreneurial development.


Crystal Vann Wallstrom


Crystal Vann Wallstrom is the director for the Center for Creative Collaboration (C3). She is an entrepreneur, eternal optimist, and avid connector.

After 15 years in San Francisco, Crystal, her husband, and twins moved to Fort Wayne in June 2015 to start a new adventure.

She brings her years of experience in project management, business and brand strategy, marketing, event planning, and operations to Fort Wayne, Indiana—the new home that has captured her heart. She is passionate about making Fort Wayne and the region the best it can be.


Jeremy Diller


Jeremy Diller is the founder and owner of Scenario Seventy Seven, a software development consulting firm in Fort Wayne.

He has been an avid proponent of coworking and the shared office environment and a strong supporter of tech entrepreneurship and startups locally.


Dave B. Goode


Dave had more than two decades of branding and marketing experience executing strategies in customer-focused communication markets.

He also serves on marketing committees for the Three Rivers Festival, Night of Lights, Fright Night, and TEDx Fort Wayne.


Jon Rehwaldt


Jon is a professional educator with ten years of experience in Fort Wayne area schools. He has worked with all grade levels in the areas of technology and English and develops curriculum in those areas to grow proficiency in communication skills.

His professional focus is on assessment and data and how to leverage those tools to better understand and serve the needs of students.


Jon Swerens


Jon is the founder of local startup Rockhill Design LLC, which focuses on marketing consulting and web and print design.

Jon also brings an understanding of small businesses and nonprofits to the SFW board from his years working for the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. Before that, he worked for 20 years in the journalism industry.



Rhonda Ladig


Rhonda is a Noble County native who has worked and served in the nonprofit sector for over a decade in education, environmental causes, and social support. 

She earned a Master's in Public Management, with a concentration in Public Policy & Administration from Indiana University and a BS in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing from Indiana Tech.

Rhonda's personal mission is, "To always leave a place better than you found it."


Steve Franks


Steve is an entrepreneurship and arts enthusiast whose personal mission is to grow the entrepreneur community in northeast Indiana.

He has coached entrepreneurs and operated venture accelerators in northeast Indiana for over a decade and has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs ranging from part time side businesses to ventures raising significant venture funding.

Steve received an MBA degree from the University of Chicago and a BS degree from IPFW.  He serves on the boards of nonprofits Own Your Success and Believe in a Dream.


Bambi Guthrie


Bambi is an internationally-published, destination photographer with more than a decade under her belt. 

At Atrium, Bambi develops policies and procedures, manages the office and Atrium staff, supports member needs, and manages Atrium marketing and events.

When not photographing bands, awesome people, and delicious food, she spends her time with her two dogs and cat. You're likely to find her with a cup of coffee in one hand and a taco in the other!


Amy Poole


Amy is a Fort Wayne native who has spent her 20's ping-ponging around the United States. The next decade of her life will be spent working toward becoming an art therapist.

When she's not at Atrium, Amy molds young minds, frequents the library, and dreams about eating at Madea's Soul Food Place.

She's seen where Fort Wayne could be in ten years and wants to help it get there.


Jack Cantey


Jack has worked for and with numerous nonprofit arts organizations in Fort Wayne and Chicago over the past two decades.

He is an artist and writer, and also a co-founder of Italian Friend ArtRuckus, a small artist collective built around the core values of improvisation and experimentation.

Currently, Jack is directing "Lizzie Shea," an ongoing webseries based in Fort Wayne.