Innovation Connector Helps Ashley and Bob Runkle Launch New Business: “Kiddo Keepsakes”

“Entertaining tiny humans and trying to get dinner made can sometimes feel like a noteworthy feat. Sometimes you need a new idea. Sometimes toys just lose their appeal and you have to get creative,” said Ashley Runkle. Ashley and her husband, Bob, pitched the idea for Kiddo Keepsakes, a children’s activity set, at the Innovation Connector’s BIG Idea Pitch.

Innovation Connector Brings 1 Million Cups To Muncie

In the spirit of ”getting connected”, the Innovation Connector is bringing a new initiative to Muncie to do just that. It’s called “1 Million Cups.” 1 Million Cups is a nationwide program created and funded by The Kauffman Foundation, designed to educate, engage and accelerate the growth and implementation of entrepreneurial ideas.

Innovation Connector: Home And Resource Partner To Shafer Leadership Academy

A professional and beautiful building, and amenities such as plenty of free parking and back-office staff support,  adds to the credibility and professionalism of an organization. Align these attributes with matching values and missions and you find a resource partner that calls the Innovation Connector their home—The Shafer Leadership Academy.

The Traveler – Resources & Professional Services in Technology

The Innovation Connector team believes connection drives innovation. So when Executive Director Ted Baker was introduced to Kyle Parker and Mark Caravello and learned of their mobile app The Traveler, he knew there were resources available that could help their business succeed.

Coding Connector Gives Kids Computer Coding Experience And More

The Innovation Connector has a unique opportunity for young people to learn “the language of the future” — computer coding. “The students learn not only how to code, but also learn how to problem solve,” said Brandon Coppernoll.

An Innovation Connector Success Story: Nate Spell

Many business incubators and business start-up support organizations employ on staff an Entrepreneur-in-Residence: someone who has been a business owner and can share their practical insights. At the Innovation Connector, we mixed this up a little. Meet Nate Spell, a 17 year old high school senior and the IC’s Young-Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

An Innovation Connector Success Story: The Rieth Brothers

*Original Story posted on the Muncie Journal. *

An Innovation Connector Success Story:

The Rieth Brothers

Nick and Patrick Rieth, owners of Reith Brothers, is an Innovation Connector success story.

The Rieth Brothers are two young entrepreneurs passionate about telling great stories through digital media. They operate their business out of the Innovation Connector in Muncie, Indiana, creating videos for local businesses and organizations, and producing films for themselves and other artists.

Rieth Brothers is a digital media company that combines both brother’s skill sets. Nick is a 2015 graduate of Ball State University and has been doing commercial video work for the past four years. Patrick is a 2017 graduate of Ball State University in Animation, but his skill sets are many. He creates beautiful work not only through 2D and 3D animation, but also in his digital paintings, story boards, and motion graphics.

Nick Rieth wondered what he was going to do with his life when he began college at Ball State University. “I liked film and that’s about all I knew,” said Nick. He worked in a startup business with a college buddy who had heard of the Innovation Connector. They visited with SCORE, Service Corps of Retired Executives, that provide free business mentoring services to entrepreneurs. SCORE was located in the Innovation Connector at that time.

When Patrick started at Ball State University, the two brothers decided they wanted to merge their talents and make creative things together, including feature films. In looking at a variety of paths to take in order to reach their dream career, they chose to start a business and begin creating and filming commercials. That decision led them directly to the Innovation Connector.

“That’s when we met Ted Baker and he told us about The Big Pitch Competition,” said Patrick. “We ended up winning the technology category.”

(The Rieth Brothers video above is magical. Please watch it and give it time to play for a while.)

The Innovation Connector (IC) is a full-service business incubator. The IC exists to help entrepreneurs succeed by offering resources and support to address their ever-changing needs. The IC is the host for the annual BIG Idea Pitch competition for local entrepreneurs and innovators to “pitch” their business, business concepts, product or invention to a panel of judges from the business and investment community. Competitors have three minutes to talk, or pitch, before a panel of judges

“After the Rieth Brothers won The Big Idea Pitch competition, it was obvious to me that these two young men were special,” said Ted Baker, Executive Director of the Innovation Connector. “At that time, I decided the Innovation Connector would do whatever we could to assist them in growing their business. From there it’s been a journey, step-by-step, of learning and successes.”

“We took [the win] as a sign that we should keep on doing this,” stated Patrick. “Winning the contest gave us a little bit of cash so we bought some equipment, spent a lot more time mentoring with Ted Baker and got some of our very first gigs.”

Not only did the Rieth Brothers get some gigs, they landed a job to create a series of videos for online textbooks for Pearson Educational Resource. Ted Baker landed the contract from Pearson Educational Resource and then contracted the Rieth Brothers to do the filming and editing.

The brothers also enjoy talking about the work they have done for the Excellence in Innovation Awards the last two years for the Innovation Connector.

In the spring of 2015, and lots of business coaching later, Nick and Patrick bought a company. Ted Baker suggested they move into the Innovation Connector.

“The Innovation Connector has been huge for our growth. Ted gave us a ton of vital help and advice that otherwise we would have missed if we had just bought a small office downtown,” said Nick Rieth.

“The best thing about working with the Rieth Brothers is their ability to learn, or their teach-ability,” added Baker.” They listened and they learned and they were able to gain insight and growth in their business because they were willing to learn from others.”


What’s Next?

“Our dream is to move to the West Coast,” said the Rieth’s. “We have a group of creative people that always work together. Recently, part of the group moved out to Los Angeles and found the beautiful paradox of LA is trying to find a place to live.” The creative group re-grouped and decided that the integrity of the creative team, and staying together, was more important than moving to LA.

“We know that LA is the hub of entertainment. We don’t do things arbitrarily. We are taking a little more time in an area that we know, around people and business that we know, to get even better prepared. We are moving to Indianapolis for a year,” said the Rieth’s.

“Ted Baker and the resources at the Innovation Connector did more than help us learn how to start a business, he showed us the possibility of a business,” said Patrick Rieth, when asked about memorable lessons learned.

“When we bought the business and had to go into debt for it, the dream became a reality!” stated Patrick. “What gets me up in the morning is knowing that Nick and I take on the business part of the dream. We’re the ones who are going to make it tangible to keep our creative group together and make a living doing something we love to do AND be with people we really love to work with. And THAT’S the end goal.”

Visit to view Patrick and Nick’s online portfolio and follow them on their dream job journey.

Coding Connector – Summer Robotics Camp 2017

In the week of July 10-July 14, the Coding Connector held the first Robotics Camp at Southside Middle School. During this week of activities, students learned how to program EV3 LEGO robots to move different directions, follow a line by using color sensors, and some even learned how to make sounds with their robots. (An elephant noise was programmed into one of the robots!)

The hot word for the week was Algorithm. – A process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.

The students were taught that the robots would not move if they did not have rules or a process to be followed. By having this way of thinking, each student walked through the steps with their group before programming the steps into the EV3 LEGO robot.

Ryan Hunter and Brandon Coppernoll with TechWise Academy instructed the students all week long with help from Roza Selvey (teacher) and Joyce King (teacher.) The instructors made sure each student knew that the number one rule throughout the week was to HAVE FUN.

The Coding Connector (a partnership between TechWise Academy and the Innovation Connector) was honored to have held the robotics summer camp at Southside Middle School.

Make sure to watch for future Coding Connector classes and camps.



Special thanks to Southside Middle School and TechWise Academy. 

First Ever Robotics Camp Coming To Southside Middle School

By: Ted Baker of the Innovation Connector and Ryan Hunter of TechWise Academy—

Muncie, IN—The idea for the camp was conceived by Roza Selvey, Southside STEM teacher, and Ryan Hunter of TechWise Academy during a MCS Professional Development Day in January. Ryan reached out to Ted Baker at the Innovation Connector who was immediately on board with the vision. As an outcome of this partnership, the first Robotics Summer Camp will take place at Muncie Southside Middle School during the week of July 10 -14 from 9am to noon each day. Muncie Southside Middle School has taken care of signing up interested students. There is no cost for the camp.

“This really is a great example of multiple organizations in the community working together for a common goal of impacting our youth,” says Hunter. “These students will be engineers for the week and use math, science, computer programming, and problem solving to address real-world problems with the robots. And they’ll have tons of fun while doing it.”

“This is an exciting “first” for the Innovation Connector,” states Ted Baker, Executive Director of the Innovation Connector. “This camp is a direct result of the success of our Coding Connector initiative and is our first move to partner with local schools.” The Innovation Connector recently purchased ten Lego robots with funds received from a grant by The George and Frances Ball Foundation and will be used in many other classes that will be held at the Innovation Connector.” Baker continues, “Programs like this camp and others would not be possible without the financial support from our community partners. These robots are definitely the most innovative learning tool we have now at our center.”

While the Innovation Connector focuses on the behind-the-scenes work, TechWise Academy does the hands-on code and robotic training. Led by Brandon Coppernoll and Ryan Hunter, TechWise Academy provides the technical training for all of the Coding Connector programs and is now leading the Robotics Summer Camp initiative. Future computer coding sessions and robotics programs will start again in the fall and will be posted on as soon as available.

For more information, contact: Alexis Dishman, 765-285-4900, or via email at



Story copied from: 

Innovation Connector Partners with the Venture Club of Indiana to Host Regional iNX3 Pitch Competition

June 2, 2017– Muncie, IN – The Innovation Connector of Muncie was thrilled to partner with the Venture Club of Indiana to be the sanctioned host for the Regional iNX3 Pitch Competition that took place on May 31st, 2017. The event consisted of a panel of judges listening to eight pitches from qualified candidates  who shared their business ideas in hopes of being one of the three finalists to qualify for the iNX3 Final Pitch Competition.

Pitches that will move to the Finals include:

  • 1st place – Drone Camp (
    Drone Camp is about hands-on learning, innovation and adventure. You’ll take to the skies and become an honorary junior drone pilot. Come make friends, play creative games and jump in at the forefront of an emerging field. This one-of-a-kind summer camp is for anybody and everybody. No experience needed, great memories guaranteed! We even supply the Drones and you will be able to BUILD your own drone!
  •  2nd Place – Aubry Lane (
    Aubry Lane is inspired by women’s intrepid pursuit of personal style. Each handbag is constructed from the highest quality materials. The Aubry Lane Amulet is a 1 Touch Emergency SOS, Cellular, and GPS device that allows you or your Aubry Lane handbag to be tracked almost anywhere in the world. Aubry Lane seamlessly integrates fashion and technology into each unique bag, ensuring both style and security.
  • 3rd Place – The Traveler (
    Whether you are planning your next vacation, road trip or weekend getaway, be sure to take The Traveler along for the ride.  For globe-trotting travelers to casual vacationers who struggle to capture, organize, and share their travel experiences, The Traveler is a road-tested mobile app, with a companion web site, that creates an immersive and digital journal of all those cherished memories.

“We were honored to be chosen as a sanctioned site for the inaugural iNX3 Regional Pitch Competition,” stated Innovation Connector Executive Director, Ted Baker. “A total of eight prepared, investor-ready pitches were delivered at the Innovation Connector.  All eight were worthy of being selected to move to the finals, the Innovation Showcase on June 14th, but the judges could only select three.  The Innovation Connector looks forward to a continued partnership with The Venture Club of Indiana and all that they do to encourage and promote entrepreneurship in our great state.”

These three finalists will pitch their ideas at the iNX3 Pitch Finals on June 14, 2017 for a chance to win over $100,000 in cash and services.

iNX3 is a phenomenal week of venture-focused events where entrepreneurs across all industries, venture capitalists and investors, and service providers of all kinds converge to inspire, innovate, and invest. It brings together multiple venture-focused events in one week to help venture capital and investors connect with scale-up and investment-ready companies. It combines the Venture Club of Indiana’s Innovation Showcase with TechPoint’s Winner’s Circle Event, and a series of other elements designed specifically to cause interaction between early-stage and later-stage companies and venture capital of all forms.