Fishers launching business incubator

August 23, 2012
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The town of Fishers is making a bid to keep its entrepreneurs close to home, investing $350,000 to develop shared office space for the startup community.

Co-working facility Launch Fishers  is slated to open this fall in what is now vacant space on the ground floor of the Hamilton East Library, located at the northeastern edge of the town’s municipal complex. (Read IBJ's June story on co-working here.)

The 16,000-square-foot space will get a $225,000 overhaul, creating a collaborative atmosphere officials hope will give homegrown entrepreneurs the tools they need to grow high-potential businesses.

“We want to make it easy for people to get started and increase their odds of success,” said John Wechsler, a local tech startup veteran (and Fishers resident) who is consulting on the project.

Wechsler also is a partner at Indianapolis-based tech firm DeveloperTown, which shares a sprawling building south of Broad Ripple with the Speak Easy, a tech-focused venue its co-founder called a “Moose Lodge for geeks.”  

Like the Speak Easy, Launch Fishers will operate as a separate not-for-profit governed by a five-member board: two members of the town council, the town manager and two business leaders.

Fishers also is providing $125,000 in seed money for the first year of operations, said Town Council Member John Weingardt. Revenue will come from donations, sponsorships and user fees.

Members will pay an annual fee for basic services—things like mailboxes and conference room access—with two “upgrades” available on a month-to-month basis. A dedicated desk, for example, will cost $100 a month. A company “enclave” suitable for two or more employees will add another $100 per month.

Launch Fishers also plans to offer educational programming, including some in collaboration with other organizations. Venture Club of Indiana will have its monthly meeting there on Nov. 1, and networking group Verge will use the space Nov. 8.

Weingardt said the Launch Fishers initiative came about as a result of requests from the entrepreneurial community for flexible co-working space. Officials hope nurturing high-potential businesses now will pay big dividends later.

“It’s a shift in economic development strategy,” Wechsler said. “Instead of picking individual winners and losers [to receive financial incentives], we’re investing in the overall ecosystem to allow entrepreneurs to do their thing.”

What do you think: If Fishers builds it, will entrepreneurs come? And if they do, will they stay?

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  • Why just tech?
    I think it's great they're making a co-working space, but I have to admit that I'm sick of people equating entrepreneurship with tech startups. There are a lot more industries than just Internet websites, and it' would be nice if those vertices could get the same kind of treatment.
    • Correction
      *verticles
    • Not just for tech
      Scott, I agree there is a tendency to associate the world of startups with "tech". I read this news with excitement, however, knowing it is a space where like-minded entrepreneurs can work along side one another regardless of the ideas they're building. The goals is to "give homegrown entrepreneurs the tools they need to grow high-potential businesses". This does not specify tech startups. High potential could be the next franchise venture or manufactured product just as much as it could be the next software service or app. The more diverse the crowd that begins working at Launch Fishers, the more opportunity for a wider range of dots to connect for all of these ideas/startups to flourish.
    • Coworking in Central Indiana
      Scott, Not sure if you saw the coworking article earlier this month in the IBJ, but the great thing is that there are multiple coworking facilities opening up in Indiana and not all focus strictly on startups. There is one opening up downtown and I just launched one in Castleton this month called Indy CoZ (pronounced cozy). Additionally, there is one opening in Fort Wayne and one that has been operating in Bloomington for a little while. I am a Fishers resident and think it is great that our town is launching an initiative that will help grow our community (both Fishers and the Coworking community).
    • Take a second look ...
      Scott: Andrea's article above doesn't say anything at all about tech compnies in relation to this new space in Fishers. John Wechsler is associated with tech companies and the word tech is used to describe him and his other ventures, but every description of the new space is broad based for all entrepreneurial ventures exactly as you are wishing. Also, tech is a lot more than websites. Many new manufaturing, healthcare, and other industries outside of traditional IT are also highly technical and heavy on new technologies - so sometimes when "tech" is used, it might just be an umbrella word that is describing the nature of our knowledge-based new economy rather than a specific reference to an IT or true-tech startup. Regardless, the trend of communities working to make the startup environment for entrepreneurs (from any industry) more inviting and offering them a leg-up with existing, low cost infrastructure and services is laudable and likely to have a significant ROI in the form of new jobs and community reinvestment.
    • LIve/ work incubator
      THere is a live/work incubator just down the road launching as well but not open to the public. Its a small group of talented people working on high tech startups just south of there on kessler, but they live there. ITs a hush hush but worth checking out on kessler.
    • Semantics
      First, let's get the facts straight - it's NOT an incubator. Incubators are high-support, high-service oriented entities, with physical space - the National Business Incubation Association states, "Critical to the definition of an incubator is the provision of management guidance, technical assistance and consulting tailored to young growing companies. Incubators usually also provide clients access to appropriate rental space and flexible leases, shared basic business services and equipment, technology support services and assistance in obtaining the financing necessary for company growth." This is more of a "drop-in space" or Co-working space (as some have correctly mentioned), which is also a great thing for the Fishers area - but not an incubator - that's different, and takes a whole other form, function and support mechanism. I do hope it works, although as also mentioned there are quite a few of these popping up, and they are not inexpensive to support over time - plus, providing early-stage financing is the real "key" to success. Good luck to them!
    • Launchpad Potential
      Great comments; I've been working close at hand with Launch Fishers (LF) for over a month now, so to see these comments and opinions open up is great. I know John W. would agree that diversity is a key in the co-working space, especially within the city of Fishers. As with any co-working space, LF is open to the entrepreneurs, and the ideas that they bring. Sometimes this means high potentials will trend, other times it means breaking free of a trend. We have seen this happening across Indianapolis with Developer Town in Broad Ripple and as Frank said, across Indiana at other co-working spaces. (Go Indiana, am I wrong?) Lets start from the start, and take LF for what it is; a great opportunity for the city of Fishers, the surrounding areas, and all of Indiana to produce some potentially wonderful things, tech based and most certainly otherwise.
    • Fort Wayne
      Speaking as one of the co-founders of Founders, the new coworking space in Fort Wayne (see atfounders.com), I agree that people tend to confuse incubation and coworking. The two are separate and synergistic parts of the ecology - but people do tend to interchange the terms. I also will give a shout out to entrepreneurial diversity (i.e. not all tech) as being important. We encourage it. While there are developers that work here most every day, we also see all sorts of creatives and others among our regulars - photographers, videographers, a band promoter, an online radio producer, non-profit founders, an event promoter, teachers, and a DJ. Plus even more diversity among our less frequent visitors. Welcome, Launch Fishers.
    • boondoggle
      This whole thing smells. I can't believe Fishers has gone for this, and it's not funding $125,000 for the first year; in total, there is $550,000 in grants from the Town to this thing; including the 200K to the new Director. We'll see...

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