Founder Factory

Startup summit celebrates Region’s entrepreneurs

The South Bend – Elkhart region commemorated Global Entrepreneurship Week on Nov. 18 with the return of Founder Factory.

The summit brings together entrepreneurs, investors, enthusiasts and students for a one-day event. They share knowledge, network and draw inspiration from each other. The event was hosted by Startup South Bend – Elkhart at the Studebaker Building in South Bend.

“The South Bend – Elkhart region and Indiana as a whole is a bustling hotbed for entrepreneurship,” said Bethany Hartley, president and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership, in a press release. “We are now in our third year of Founder Factory, and it has sold out every time.”

David Rosenberg, Indiana secretary of commerce, kicked off the event by citing Indiana’s entrepreneurial strengths. In 2023, Forbes Advisor named Indiana the best state to start a business. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. recently launched ConnectIND, an online portal to connect entrepreneurs to state resources. Indianapolis was chosen to host the 2025 Global Entrepreneurship Congress.

Lisa Sun, founder of the fashion brand GRAVITAS, gave the keynote presentation, offering inspiration to future entrepreneurs. Sun started her business out of her apartment and later garnered an endorsement from Oprah.

The event also featured a pitch competition. Ten area businesses pitched their ideas for businesses to a panel of judges. They competed for three $3,500 prizes. Winners include Mixxture, a plant-based line of cosmetic products; A Bite with Mee, a Mexican/Korean caterer; and Brewhers, an all-female developed and run brewery.

The event concluded with a Global Entrepreneurship Week launch party and an unveiling of the IEDC’s Entrepreneurship Yearbook. The yearbook features entrepreneurs from around the state.

“It is exciting to see so many regional entrepreneurs featured in the 2023 yearbook,” said Marty Mechtenberg, director of entrepreneur ecosystems at the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. “The South Bend-Elkhart region has an eclectic and diverse array of startups, each with a significant story to share.”

The partnership focuses on advancing the Region’s economy. They work with economic development partners in 47 communities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan.

Startup South Bend – Elkhart, an initiative of the partnership, promotes and fosters entrepreneurship in the Region.


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