A Youthful February Meetup!

So, our February meeting featured a bit of a twist, a young twist.  10-year old Kendall presented her social enterprise, Kendi’s Cows of Grace.

When she was 9, Kendall started a nonprofit that provides livestock (chicken’s, goats, cows) to people and communities who need it (usually in developing countries).  Most importantly, Kendi’s Cows doesn’t just provide them something to eat, but helps them learn how to take care of their livestock and be sustainable.  As Kendall said, “Don’t eat the chickens!”

It was fun to listen to her talk about finding a web developer, tax accountant, and attorney.  It was inspiring to see how devoted she is to her mission.  If we didn’t know she was 10 years old, and just read a transcript of her talk (except for the parts about needing her parents’ help), we’d have thought she was just one of us.  Congrats, Kendall – and thanks to Mike King for introducing us to her!

Each month we continue to hear more Micro-Pitches than the last month.  This month we certainly had a diverse group presented.

Ray presented Founders’ “secret project”, Knowledge Base (the secret project perk for Indiegogo contributors at that level).  On March 1, Founders will send Knowledge Base live with hundreds of startup advice articles that they Ray, Steve, and Alex have curated for years.

Categorized, tagged, searchable, summarized, and with links to the detailed source posts.  You can Google for an answer to your startup question – and sort through the cacaphony of bad and good posts – or go to Knowledge Base where you know that every post was curated because it IS valuable information.  Available for a monthly subscription starting March 1.

The night continued with plenty of talk until WAY past our published 9:00 event stop time.

Wow, Great Crowd at Vertical Leap January!

The room was packed at Vertical Leap January!  A couple of people counted and the counts range from 41 to 50.  We don’t know for sure how many people were exactly there, but we know it was absolutely packed.

Many people came early, brought laptops, and started to work (the front room was basically full).  For a while it looked like folks were just going to get work done rather than get back to the meeting.

But once we started, the back room filled up to hear Lanah Hake of LanahLink Social Impact Solutions show us how social impact and profit are not mutually exclusive, and how companies can begin to create social impact.

Lanah Hake at Vertical Leap Fort Wayne

Lanah Hake addressing the Vertical Leap crowd

After that, we heard a wide variety of micropitches.



Ray introduced a new product that Founders is offering – Get Started – which includes signing new ventures up for thousands of dollars worth of perks from Startup America and Microsoft BizSpark (where Founders is one of only 8 Microsoft BizSpark Partners).  Founders will also be providing a hosted private website for your startup team to collaborate (complete with a tracking system for the software licenses you may receive from the Microsoft BizSpark or Startup America programs.  All of this for a one time, nominal fee.  The program will launch the following week.  For more information or to get your startup signed up for thousands of dollars of perks,  contact ray@atfounders.com.

Ray Angel introducing Founders Get Started product

 Ray Angel introducing Founders New “Get Started” Product

It was great to see all of the conversations that went on until about 10:00 after we closed the official presentation part of Vertical Leap.  Here are some pics.  The well-staged shots with decent lighting were taken by Justin Sheehan of Crown Jewel Productions.

See you in February!

January Event Speaker – Lanah Hake

We are pleased to have Lanah Hake coming to this Friday’s Vertical Leap to tell us about how LanahLink Social Impact Solutions came about – AND how we all can be a force for positive social change in our community!

Lanah K. Hake is President and Founding Social Change Agent of LanahLink Social Impact Solutions (www.LanahLink.com). LanahLink facilitates individuals and businesses to accelerate the pace of sustainable social change and community impact they know is possible. Providing innovative offerings, LanahLink focuses on maximizing your social impact from the inside out through executive level strategic social impact advising, linking the benefits of yoga to the workplace through onsite yoga and speaking engagements to share the adaptable message of social change to any audience.

With 15 years working on a variety of social issues both domestically and abroad, Lanah K. Hake founded LanahLink Social Impact Solutions in 2012 after returning from over a decade working and traveling across the globe, obtaining a Master of International Relations and settling back in her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Based in Fort Wayne – the heart of the historically conservative yet rapidly changing Midwest of America – LanahLink works locally, nationally and across the globe to connect, facilitate and link people to their purpose, businesses to their social impact potential and humans to each other. Based on the philosophy that business + social impact is a recipe for accelerated social change and and a better bottom line, contact Lanah@LanahLInk.com to learn more how you can accelerate your social impact from the inside out.

December 2012 Meetup – Back at Founders

In December Vertical Leap was back at Founders for the first time since their fire.  Yay!

About 30 people braved the cold and the predicted end of the world to be there for two great presentations, a bunch of excellent micropitches, and some time to just talk.

Robert Hostetler, Josh Smith, and Steve Batzka talked about how they got the private beta of HAPN.co up so quickly. For those of you who are unfamiliar, HAPN.co was formed recently during the one-day Millennial SparkTank, seeded a mere $500 as a winner of that event, and given the charter to get their “find what’s happening in Fort Wayne” app up and running quickly. It was interesting to here how they approached a rapid development cycle thoughtfully – and then made it happen! Go to HAPN.co and request a beta invite.

Ray Angel (yes, one of the cofounders of both Founders and Vertical Leap) introduced us to a brand new investment fund, Lion Fund. With his partner, Alex LaPrade, on a plane somewhere over the Midwest, Ray explained how Lion Fund bills itself as “an ‘institutional founder’ of B2B software companies and next generation businesses. We explore lots of traditional, slow moving, unsexy B2B industries and build companies from scratch with our own in house team and seed capital..” Go visit them at Lion.vc or at AngelList.

Micropitches were fun – lots of pitches and variety.  Ben Johnson’s micropitch got so many questions that you would have thought it was a full fledged investor pitch.  Scott Demarco introduced us to a new invention – a clapmob – like a flash mob, but with … wait for it … clapping.

Here are some photos of the night.

Nov 2012 – Back In Action!

After a month off, we reconvened yesterday at the Blue JacketNeighborlink offices.  Big thanks to Tony and Andrew for letting us meet there (and especially Andrew for hosting us)!  Oh, and Vertical Leap regular Justin Sheehan’s Crown Jewel Productions office is there, too.

Good crowd – over 30 people packed the place.


Matt Burris pitched for investment in Signed Visuals upcoming horror-comedy film production The Axe Murders on 9.  He also showed some footage from his first horro-comedy production CAN and the gamer-based short film “ZombiePrincess14 – What’s in a username”.  Very cool, Matt!

After a few micro-pitches, Andrew Hoffman told us about the work that Neighborlink Fort Wayne does.  He described some of the entrepreneurial ways this social service community has grown and will grow.  By the way, the melted head in the photo below is Matt’s – a prop from CAN – not Andrew’s.


Astonishingly, all of the presentations were done fairly early (yeah, I know – that NEVER happens), so we ended up with a lot of time to hang out and network.  Which we did.  Enjoy the pics!


Video – Natril Gear’s Presentation

Thanks to Justin Sheehan of Crown Jewel Productions, here is the video of Natril Gear’s wonderful presentation to Vertical Leap in September 2012.  For those of you who weren’t there, April and Nathan do a great job telling a story of a marvelous startup.


Natril Gear Vertical Leap Talk from Crown Jewel Productions on Vimeo.

Congrats Olivia and Michael!

We would like to congratulate two Vertical Leap presenters for winning their respective categories in the Fort Wayne Business Weekly’s Innovation Awards.

  • OFabz Swimwear, founded by the very first person to present at Vertical Leap, Olivia Fabian, was awarded an Innovation Award for Emerging Company.
  • Rusher Medical, owned by Michael Rusher, was selected as the Innovation Award winner for Health Care.

Very cool – we are jazzed to hear that you won!


Good luck to both of you in your quest for Innovator of the Year!

More Tickets Released for September’s Event

If you thought that the September Vertical Leap event had sold out, you’ll be pleased to know that we added 10 more tickets!

We don’t want you to miss the general entrepreneurial goodness along with speaker Nick Weaver.  Nick is one of the hosts of Pinestock, a music festival that just happened yesterday out in the wilds of Churubusco.  Nick will tell us what was like to plan and produce Pinestock.

Here’s a bit of a teaser – a photo of the ginormous Pinestock bonfire.

Don’t miss it!

  • Friday, September 21, 2012
  • 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
  • Founders
  • 614 S. Harrison Street
  • Fort Wayne,  IN 46802

August Event – Great Conversations, Amazing Presentations

The August Vertical Leap meeting took place at Founders, which is our new permanent venue.  Actually, we filled the place up.


The conversations were wonderful.  It was a shame to have to shut them down just to start presentations.


But, it was absolutely worth it.  The presentations were awesome!

April and Nathan Reinhard of Natril Gear gave a wonderful talk about how Natril Gear was formed and grew.  It was great to hear about how two regular folks became entrepreneurs.  I think we could have gone on listening to that story all night long.

Lori Block Keys talked about the personal side of leadership  - cultivating your passion, your willingness to venture into personally risky territory, and your ability to be yourself.  Those of you who really wanted to hear more about the growth of Fort Wayne Trails or her salsa and zumba classes will need to talk to her again later.

The three micropitches from Greg Scalet, Justin Gilbert, and Steve Batzka were nicely done.  As usual, Greg’s micropitch livened up the night!

Stayed tuned for September – put September 21 on your calendar.