Jeremy Diller

Entrepreneurial nonprofit brings youth coding education to Fort Wayne

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Local nonprofit Start Fort Wayne approved at last night's board meeting to formally partner with South Bend Code School to bring coding and computer programming education for kids aged 7-18 to Fort Wayne.
Founded in 2015, South Bend Code School helps students learn the fundamentals of web development and design, software craftsmanship and entrepreneurship. The curriculum grants students experience in conceptualizing, designing and building applications that work towards solving real-world problems.
“We are delighted to expand the reach of South Bend Code School to the Fort Wayne community,” says Alex Liggins, co-founder of South Bend Code School. “Through our curriculum, career mentorship and trips to major tech companies, the program gives students skills to help them in the job market and prepare them for higher education. It is very exciting for us to partner with the Start Fort Wayne team to bring a program we believe in to other parts of the state. We know that tech skills are in high demand in most regions. We are excited to grow and bring more opportunity to youth in other cities as well as South Bend.”

Since its inception, over 100 students in northern Indiana have completed the school’s formal program and over 600 students have been reached through its expanded outreach efforts. Over 120 websites have been built by students in South Bend Code School programs and students receiving education have been 47% female and 56% under-represented, minority students.

"No industry in our region is untouched by advances in technology. If northeast Indiana wants to compete over the next 50 years, we have to ensure that we are growing the talent to design, develop, and manage new technology. Software developers are in short supply, not just in Fort Wayne, but across the entire United States, and it will be difficult to attract all of the talent we will need.  We look forward to this partnership with South Bend Code School to help us grow these future programmers and engineers right here at home. We are very excited about this new program, and can't wait to see what these kids will create next!" says Start Fort Wayne board president and founder Dave Sanders.
Start Fort Wayne began in 2015 with a vision is to be a hub for entrepreneurship by building programs and creating connections for entrepreneurs that drive startup culture and prepare leaders with skills required in the new economy. In doing this, Start Fort Wayne helps entrepreneurs realize their dreams.  

In addition to Code School, other programs and projects brought to northeast Indiana by Start Fort Wayne include:

  • 1 Million Cups: A weekly Kauffman Foundation event for local entrepreneurs to meet and present their startups to the thriving peer networking of founders in northeast Indiana 
  • Atrium: A thriving downtown co-working space at 111 W. Berry St. that, since opening in October 2016, has waitlists for its dedicated desks and office spaces, and just 40 general memberships still available 
  • LevelUp Entrepreneurial Coaching:  Over 80 entrepreneurs from all stages of the business life-cycle have received coaching. LevelUp will include programming for the entrepreneurially-curious, to established ventures needing to power up, and to new innovations and tech startups looking for venture capital 
  • Start Up Week 2018: Start Fort Wayne will collaborate with other entrepreneur and small business supporting organizations for a week-long event that brings renowned speakers and conversations on topics surrounding startup culture to Fort Wayne and the region

To join the mailing list for South Bend Code School // Fort Wayne fall programming information, please email

To learn more about South Bend Code School visit To learn more about Start Fort Wayne or membership at the Atrium coworking space visit or

Media Contacts
Rhonda Ladig
Start Fort Wayne
(260) 969-9393  /
Ann Hastings
South Bend Code School
(574) 210-8425 /

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Start Fort Wayne Launches Entrepreneurship Coaching Program

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Start Fort Wayne, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to building a thriving entrepreneur and high-growth tech community, has announced the launch of Compass, the first program through LevelUp, a series of educational programs for startup founders and entrepreneurs. Start Fort Wayne was founded on the idea that our region’s startup community will grow stronger as our entrepreneurs gain skills. The LevelUp series was created to enhance those skills.

Compass is a one-on-one entrepreneur coaching program that gives startups and founders personalized help as they create their new venture. It is open to anyone planning a startup in the Northeast Indiana region, in any market or industry. Entrepreneurs may elect the full six- to ten-week curriculum, which features a structured walkthrough to create everything they’ll need to get funded and launched, or they may opt for a few conversations to work through a challenge or two.

By completing the full curriculum, entrepreneurs will:

Build their business model’s assumptions.
Validate those with buyers and sellers.
Project their financials.
Prepare to present to lenders, investors, or customers.
Compass coaching services, a $1,000 value for the six- to ten-week curriculum, are offered free of charge to individual entrepreneurs. Organizations that want Start Fort Wayne to provide a customized Compass program tailored to their clientele are asked to sponsor that program.

Steve Franks, entrepreneur coach with LevelUp, will facilitate the one-on-one coaching. He 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 love helping the Northeast Indiana entrepreneur community grow,” Franks said. “Since soft-launching Compass, I’ve met with over 40 entrepreneurs from over 30 ventures. And we are just getting started!”

“Coaching and mentoring are essential ingredients to a startup’s success,” said local entrepreneur Brendon Maxwell, owner of Utopian Coffee. “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 ten years ago when I started Utopian Coffee. It's greatly needed and will be a tremendous asset to the startup community. “

To register for Compass, complete the registration form at For more information, download a program description at or contact Steve at

About Start Fort Wayne
Start Fort Wayne fosters entrepreneurs and startups in northeast Indiana by providing community opportunities, educational programming, and space to collaborate and work. Atrium, our co-working space, is located at 111 W. Berry Street above Hoch Associates. The construction of Atrium is made possible by grants from Indiana Tech, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, and Greater Fort Wayne Inc., along with community support from Hoch Associates, Brightpoint, and Frontier Communications. Find out more about our work at

LevelUp contact
Steve Franks
LevelUp Entrepreneur Coach