Launch Indy’s New Program for Entrepreneurs

Indianapolis may not be the most bustling city in the world, but despite its size, it is full of creative, ambitious people with good ideas. We write about them all the time for PATTERN, and there are countless other local organizations dedicated to helping them thrive. One of those organizations is Launch Indy, a new coworking space in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.

Launch Indy’s building, Union 525, is a place for entrepreneurs and innovators to collaborate and be surrounded by like minded people. Launch Indy aims to be a home for new businesses and start-ups, and in turn promote economic development and “build a stronger city,” as they state on their website. But in addition to providing new business owners with a space, Launch Indy wants to pass on their knowledge. This thought is what inspired them to launch their new social enterprise accelerator program.

Katie Birge, the executive director of Launch Indy, described this program as providing mentorship and guidance to new or aspiring business owners who may not have a business background.

“This was born out of several people in the Launch Indy community of advisors and mentors coming together and discussing the need for mentorship and help along the way during development of a business,” Birge said. “One thing we’ve found in meeting with lots of different social entrepreneurs is that lots of them don’t really have a business background at all. And so, while they’re hoping to make an impact, they may not necessarily be starting off on the right foot because they don’t have a business background.”

She went on to explain that instead of scaring them away due to their lack of experience, Launch Indy wants to help people who may not have tons of business knowledge feel confident while advancing their business.

While Launch Indy’s coworking space has been geared towards people in the tech industry in the past, they are hoping all different kinds of entrepreneurs apply for this program. Specifically, those involved with social enterprises and social entrepreneurship. In the end, the accelerator program is for anyone who is planning on starting a business, or already has a business that they want to take to the next level.

“I’m not concerned if a company has been around for three years or three weeks, as long as they have a desire to move their business forward and they can commit to showing up every week for this,” Birge said.

The program is twelve weeks long, but is spread over fifteen weeks due to the holiday season. Members will meet every Wednesday night at the Launch Indy office at 525 South Meridian. The program costs $100 per company, which is quite reasonable compared to other accelerator programs. Launch Indy’s program is also primarily education-based, and doesn’t take equity in the companies who enroll or loan them money.

Birge said that most of the Wednesday-night meetings will be in the form of meetings with advisors or workshops.

“In general it’s going to be workshops with guest presenters and facilitators,” she said. “But some weeks will be focused on scheduling time to meet with representatives from local law firms to talk about what kind of business you should incorporate as, if there are any legal concerns for intellectual property or anything like that.”

Aside from the law representatives, the speakers for this accelerator program will be business professionals and mentors in Launch Indy’s network. They will be leading workshops on all topics related to starting a business– from customer discovery to marketing and branding to funding and finance.

The application for applying to Launch Indy’s social impact accelerator program can be found here. The application deadline is November 14, and the application should take ten minutes or less to fill out.

The accelerator program will run from December 5 through late February. It will culminate with a “pitch day” at the end of February.

On this day, “the public is invited and all of the companies in the program will present on their company. So it’s an opportunity for the public to see what everyone’s been working on and to hopefully get the word out about what these companies are doing, as well as hopefully networking with people who can take them beyond what we’re doing,” Birge said.

Despite the stereotypes, Birge maintains that Indianapolis is a great place for entrepreneurs and creatives. With programs like Launch Indy’s, Indianapolis’ entrepreneurship culture will only continue to grow.