Serial entrepreneur John Wechsler traveled the state last year, spending time with like-minded Hoosiers looking to grow “innovation-driven enterprises”—small startups with big potential.
As the Indiana Small Business Development Center’s so-called entrepreneur in residence, his goal was to help company founders line up the necessary building blocks. He shared his experiences, made introductions and steered his charges toward possible funders.
Now Wechsler, founder of the Launch Fishers coworking space for entrepreneurs and a former partner in Indianapolis tech incubator DeveloperTown, will lead a statewide expansion of the mentoring program.
Launch Indiana SBDC aims to guide high-potential entrepreneurs by connecting them with others—like Wechsler—who have navigated the same minefield-laden path from idea to execution.
“We want to shorten the learning cycle, get them up and running fast,” Wechsler said.
The statewide program will operate from Launch Fishers, located on the ground floor of the Hamilton East Public Library in the town’s municipal complex. Plans call for a series of all-day boot camps, workshops and online webinars in addition to mentoring.
Indiana has pledged $100,000 toward the initiative in 2014, and the town of Fishers agreed to pitch in $50,000.
The town helped found Launch Fishers in 2012, making a three-year, $350,000 commitment to give promising startups an alternative to the extremes of coffee-shop squatting and long-term leases.
It wrapped up its first year of operations in November with more than 200 members and its first “graduate,” mobile app developer BlueBridge Digital, which is subleasing office space elsewhere in Fishers.
Using Launch Fishers as home base for the state’s program will help the town build its reputation as a hub for entrepreneurs, Town Manager Scott Fadness said.
“It pushes the community forward,” he said, by exposing the “brilliant” up-and-comers to what the town has to offer—and vice versa. “All boats rise with the tide.”
Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann unveiled plans for Launch Indiana in a statement released Wednesday, saying the state’s Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship is committed to supporting high-potential enterprises.
"This partnership with the highly successful Launch Fishers team will provide important services to Hoosiers in an environment designed and staffed to service this special group of innovative entrepreneurs,” she said.