The Landing Zone has Spaces Available

July 7, 2016 – Muncie, Indiana – The Innovation Connector’s Landing Zone currently has open work spaces available. Monthly passes are available for only $50/month.


The Landing Zone is a dedicated co-working space [that allows you] to work privately while being connected to an abundance of services including one desk in a shared workspace, high-speed internet, 24/7 access, use of IC conference rooms (Next Level & John W. Fisher), an individual locker with key, a USPS mailbox, access to a printer/copier, bookkeeping, business coaching, fully equipped kitchen, and ample parking. It offers a community work environment with like-minded entrepreneurs, independent professionals, freelancers, and startup business owners.

Interested in a space at the Landing Zone? Contact Ted Baker at

Muncie Innovation Connector Recognizes Entrepreneurs and Innovators at Excellence in Innovation Awards

November 23, 2015 – Muncie, IN – Muncie Innovation Connector recently hosted the Excellence in Innovation Awards at the Horizon Convention Center. The purpose of this inaugural event was to recognize leaders in business innovation including those who are well established and others who are emerging.

Ted Baker, Executive Director of the Innovation Connector, served as the evening’s emcee. Keynote speakers for the evening were Ontario Systems co-founders, Wil Davis and Ron Fauquher. The duo recounted the challenges they faced and the lessons they learned as they launched their software company, literally out of a garage. They also challenged the crowd of more than three hundred in attendance to learn from every experience, take the time to hire the right people, be committed to developing your staff, create a sustainable organization, understand your corporate and individual purpose, and always innovate.

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Awards were presented in three categories throughout the evening. Attendees celebrated five business owners and organizations with the Excellence in Innovation Award. These businesses have survived many challenges over the years to remain solid anchors for the business community in East Central Indiana. Also accepting an award was local high school student who was presented with the first ever Young Innovator’s Award. Lastly, the Innovation Connector awarded five emerging businesses with the top prizes in the 2015 Big Idea Pitch Competition.

These five recipients were honored as inaugural Excellence in Innovation Award Winners and inductees into the Innovation Connector’s “Innovation Wall of Fame”.

  • Thomas Office Solutions, Muncie, IN – represented by Gary & Michael Thomas
  • Little Diecast Corp, Albany, IN – represented by John Littler
  • Jacks Camera Shop, Inc., Muncie, IN – represented by Mike Powell
  • Carrera Manufacturing Inc., Portland, IN – represented by Jim Hiester
  • Boyce Systems, Daleville, IN – represented by Mike Galliher

The Young Innovator Award was presented to John Pugsley from Daleville High School.

In the spirit of innovation, the five finalists of The 2015 BIG Idea Pitch competition delivered their business ideas in live; two-minute pitches to all in attendance. A panel of distinguished judges then awarded the following winners later in the evening. Big Idea Pitch winners walked away with prize packages totaling nearly $40,000 in cash and services.

  • First Place: Brent Allred & Tyler Harris – Avec Audio
  • Second Place: Alex Call & Hunter Radke – Healthy Cookie
  • Third Place: Mark Ullom – Digital X-Ray Holder
  • Fourth Place: Greg White – GW Hops & Honey
  • Fifth Place: Johnell Kelley – Royale Curves

“The Excellence in Innovation Awards and the finals of the BIG Idea Pitch Competition met all of the criteria we established, including the number of businesses and individuals that were involved,” stated Innovation Connector Executive Director, Ted Baker. “Our region has a strong base of entrepreneurial and innovative leadership, and these two events were intended to highlight and encourage this strength. The Innovation Connector will continue to create opportunities for local entrepreneurs to develop and grow their business ideas and businesses right here in East Central Indiana.”

The 2015 BIG Idea Pitch and the Excellence in Innovation Awards were presented by the Innovation Connector and sponsored in part by First Merchants Bank, Ball State University, Ball Brothers Foundation, Indiana Michigan Power, MutualBank, Whitinger & Company, Star Bank, Ontario Systems, Whitinger Strategic Services, Ivy Tech Community College, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, LEAP Managed IT, and Defur Voran.

Innovation Connector to Host the BIG Idea Pitch Competition for Local Entrepreneurs

September 14, 2015 – Muncie, IN – The Innovation Connector of Muncie, Indiana is hosting the second 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. There are many very creative and interesting concepts from people in our region, and this competition will showcase those ideas and offer what it takes to advance them. This event is for individuals in all phases of the business, including startup or pre-startup. High school seniors and college students also are encouraged to apply.

The BIG Idea Pitch competition is your chance to prove the potential of your business idea, meet people who can help you succeed, and maybe even win a cash prize! Competitors will have three minutes to “hit it out of the park” before a panel of judges from the business and investment community.

The schedule of events is as follows:

OPENING DAY – Monday, October 19th

Opening Day: Fun, informative session to find out what this is all about. The event will be held at the Innovation Connector. Ball Park Setting – Enjoy free hotdogs and stadium style treats. 6pm – 7:30pm. The BIG Idea Pitch Competition Application Forms will be available on-line this day too.

TRAINING CAMPS – Monday, October 26th and Monday, November 2nd
Cover Your Bases: Workshop Session #1 – 6-7:30 pm – Learn from experts (people who have already done it) – Learn what is needed to take your idea to reality.

Workshop Session #2 – 6-7:30pm

THE DRAFT- Friday, October 30th
Final Day to submit your BIG Idea Pitch application (submissions close at midnight).

SEMI-FINALS COMPETITION – Monday, November 9th
Come out of the Dugout and be ready to qualify for the Finals! Competitors will pitch to a panel of judges. Five finalists will be selected to compete in the Finals to claim the place of The BIG Idea Pitch Winner 2015.

The BIG Idea Pitch Finals & Excellence in Innovation Awards – Wednesday, November 18th
Throw Us Your Curve Ball! – Champion Final Competition at the Excellence in Innovation Awards Event held at the Horizon Convention Center.  Attendees will be able to see and hear the five finalists from The BIG Idea Pitch competition – two minutes to pitch business ideas to a panel of three distinguished judges. The final results will be revealed that night with prize packages of nearly $40,000 in cash and services awarded.

All competitors will receive invaluable feedback, a fun experience, and valuable exposure to business leaders & potential mentors.  For more details or to make a submission go to and click The BIG Idea Pitch link or contact Ted Baker at 765-285-4900.

The Big Idea Pitch 2015 and the Excellence in Innovation Awards are presented by the Innovation Connector and sponsored in part by First Merchants Bank, Ball State University, Ball Brothers Foundation, Indiana Michigan Power, MutualBank, Whitinger & Company, Star Bank and Ontario Systems.

Downtown Focused Business: New Corner Brewing Company

Sean Brady loves beers. He loves the art of crafting special beers. Sean changed his hobby into a business model and New Corner Brewing Company was formed. However the details of starting a business were somewhat overwhelming for Sean. Focusing on being part of Muncie’s downtown was important to Sean and the development of his business. Since winning the BIG Pitch, Sean has found new ways to connect to the Muncie community. He now regularly features his four different hand-crafted beers at gatherings and events which continually opens his business to new clientele. Sean is still currently working hard to build out his near-downtown location and expects to open in the near future. Sean attributes his involvement in the BIG Pitch to opening his craft to new client markets and has made many great relationships as a result of the competition. The cash prize, as well as the awarded services, was instrumental in assisting Sean to master a few new challenges and hurdles.


2014 Non-Technology Division Winners: Blue River Towers

Mark Thompson and Mark Sears began with a simple idea: Recycling Water Efficiently. Utilizing a patented process for geo-textile water recycling helps our government and is very cost efficient for communities to operate. Mark T. commented how The BIG Pitch helped their cause.

“Starting a business is a daunting task. Making sense of the process and details was nearly a full time endeavor for us. However, we participated in the BIG Pitch Training Camps which allowed us to see the value in our idea and how we could monetize it. The team of advisors was spot on to help us with our pitch and in the end, winning $5,000 and lots of services that we used. Stepping out of our comfort zone to enter this competition turned out to be a very good decision for us. We are sure glad that we did.”



The Power of a Story: Brothers Build a Business in Film after Winning The BIG Pitch

“Toy Story” was the first movie Nick and Patrick Rieth saw in theaters. Now the brothers are on the other side of the camera, with their own Muncie-based film company called Rieth Brothers.

“Since a young age, we’ve been in love with movies and the power of story,” Patrick, a junior animation major, said. “We want to use the power of story to help people deliver messages.”

Starting their own business took the Rieth brothers 15 minutes and $90. The two started the company in May 2014 through the services of Innovation Connector. Innovation Connector is a business incubator in Muncie that supports start up businesses and helps them grow.

The Rieth brothers won Innovation Connector’s “The
BIG Pitch” idea competition in October 2014. They’ve been working with Ted Baker, Innovation Connector’s executive director, ever since. The competition provided the brothers with connections and opportunities they didn’t have before.

Nick, a Ball State alumnus, and Patrick are starting to get their footing in the film industry. They are currently doing a lot of “bread and butter” work, including weddings, events and training videos. They’ve not been able to create as many creative projects as they’d like, but these kinds of projects are in the works.rieth bros winners

“We’re definitely looking forward to what we have planned this fall,” Nick said.

One creative project the brothers recently made is a parody of Taylor Swift’s song “Bad Blood” called “Dad Bods.”

When it comes to schedules, Nick and Patrick’s are jam-packed. Aside from running their business, Patrick is a full-time student and works with Ball State’s Digital Corps while Nick works as a redshirt at Brothers Bar and Grill.

Nick’s schedule can change from week to week, which doesn’t bother him in the slightest.

“That’s part of the fun of it,” Nick said. “I like knowing my schedule, but also like having a varied schedule.”

Patrick said owning a business requires “way more hours than you’d think.” The hours depend on the work that needs to be done. Some weeks can be slow while the next week requires 50 hours of work.

“The hours don’t count, it’s what you do that counts,” Patrick said. “If you can perform when it matters, that’s what’s the most important.”

And the brothers can do that, Baker said.

“Nick and Patrick are awesome people to work with,” he said. “They want to learn and make their business successful.”

Baker works with the Rieths as a facilitator and coach and answers questions when needed. He monitors their company’s processes.

“It’s their business; it’s not my business,” Baker said. “I’m here to guide them into the best practices.”

The brothers are taking advantage of Innovation Connector and other resources in Muncie to expand their company.

“Muncie’s definitely on the upswing in the small business community,” Nick said. “It’s really cool to see all the growth that’s happening and to be able to be a part of that.”


Miller Kern. “The power of a story: brothers build a business in film after winning competition” Ball State Daily Published 08/21/15 8:45am


Forge Strength Designs Unique Fitness Service Website

August 6, 2015 – Muncie, Indiana – Darik Hall has always had a drive for entrepreneurial pursuits. He was constantly trying to come up with fun, new ideas pdarikertaining to fitness and technology. After creating several apps and comparing what works with what doesn’t, he noticed one thing. All you could with the information was read it. Why not apply the information in the midst of a workout? Using the database’s knowledge of equipment and muscles could allow an app to dynamically hide or swap out exercises you don’t have the equipment to do.

Forge Strength’s technology allows you to do just that! It gives you great workout ideas, but it also offers a unique approach to tracking them that enables the app to do more than plot points. It can find correlations between muscle groups, recommend exercises based on the equipment at your location, and much, much more. This allows the app to more accurately interpret a trainer or athlete’s intent which, in turn, translates to a more efficient workout experience. More progress, less plateaus, and less time wasted on trying to track it all.iphone-mockup


The app is currently under development, but don’t worry! You can still pre-register to get the latest updates and be the first to sign up when it’s available later this year! Point your browser to to pre-register and learn more.

IC Executive Director, Ted Baker Elected to the NBIA Board of Directors

July 7, 2015 – (Orlando, Florida)The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA), an international non-profit organization and global advocate for stakeholders within entrepreneur-driven economic ecosystems, recently completed its board elections and five new board members were elected to three year terms. NBIA’s board of directors is comprised of 15 members who are elected by members. The newly elected board members will begin their term October 1, 2015.

An NBIA member since 2010, Ted Baker is in his fifth year as CEO and Executive Director of the Muncie Innovation Connector, a technology incubator and coworking space in Muncie, Ind. Ted previously built, grew and sold several successful businesses and has remained involved with several community economic development projects. David Fonseca serves as Associate Director of the Innovation Center and an Adjunct Professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. An NBIA member since 2010, David is an experienced innovation activist who has presented at NBIA events in Mexico, the U.S. and Russia.

Gail Gillian-Bain is President of the Canadian Association of Business Incubation (CABI) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and has been an NBIA member since 2009. With CABI, Gail has expanded the association’s events offerings to include regional LINK and leadership summits, a food incubation international program and an expanded annual conference. An NBIA member since 2010 while with TechTown Detroit, Leslie Lynn Smith now serves as the President of EPIcenter, a collaborative and community-wide strategic initiative led by Memphis Bioworks Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee.  Jorge Varela founded numerous startups before becoming involved with the incubation industry, and served as a mentor and advisor to the University of Texas at Arlington in 2009. In 2012 Jorge became the Assistant Director at TECH Fort Worth, and is currently the Executive Chair of the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks

“NBIA’s board is a working board and these new board members will play a vital role within the association by bringing new perspectives that are critical in ensuring NBIA serves the needs of our membership,” says Kirstie Chadwick, NBIA President and CEO. “As our governing body, the board sets policy and directs the Association’s affairs, and I am confident that David, Ted, Gail, Leslie Lynn and Jorge will be wonderful additions to the team.  I am very excited to work each of them over the next three years.”

The five new board members will replace the following members whose terms have expired. Two served on the executive committee – Tom O’Neal as Board Chair and Darlene Bourdreaux as Second Vice Chair. The remaining three include Sandra Cochrane and Russ Yelton.  Karl LaPan will also leave his emeritus position as the most recent past board chair, which will now go to Tom O’Neal. The remaining active term board members include:Baker, Ted

  • John Hanak, Entrepreneur in Residence and Venture Funding Relations Officer, The Purdue Foundry, West Lafayette, Ind.
  • Chuck Wolfe, President, Claggett Wolfe Associates, Auburn, Calif.
  • Charles Ross, Director, Enterprise Innovation Institute, Atlanta, Ga.
  • DeAnna Adams, Interim Incubator Professional, Hattiesburg, Miss.
  • Jamie Coughlin, Director, New Venture Incubator Programs, Dartmouth College, Lebanon, N.H.
  • Terry Howerton, Partner, TechNexus, Chicago, Ill.
  • Devon Laney, President & CEO, Innovation Depot, Birmingham, Ala.
  • Jeff Milanette, President, Innovative Partners Incubation, Annapolis, Md.
  • Catherine Pommier, Director, Montpellier Mediterranee Metropole, Montpellier, France
  • Rick Roeser, Business Development Specialist, Wisconsin Business Innovation Corp., Spooner, Wis.

The Board of Director’s, NBIA’s governing body, comprises 15 members who are elected by the membership. NBIA’s president & CEO also may appoint up to two members. It is a working board, not an honorary body. It sets policy and directs the Association’s affairs; conducts strategic planning; sets financial objectives and monitors their achievements; shapes, approves, and evaluates programs and activities of the Association; and hires and evaluates the performance of NBIA’s chief staff executives. The Board also advises NBIA staff on issues pertaining to the entrepreneurial support ecosystem.

Each year NBIA fills five Board positions, as one-third of the voting members rotate off the Board or seek re-election to a second term. NBIA Board members serve three-year terms and can be elected to only two consecutive terms. Terms begin Oct. 1.

Board members are elected to represent NBIA’s membership at large and not a particular nation, state, regional interest or other constituency. NBIA seeks candidates who have been active NBIA members for several years and who have sufficient professional experience to serve on an international board.

Members of the Board influence the direction of the Association, so they must first be familiar with NBIA operations, services and members. NBIA aims for a well-balanced Board representing the diverse interests of the 1,900 members of the Association. Therefore, NBIA seeks candidates from a variety of backgrounds, including different:

  • types of entrepreneurial support programs (mixed-use, technology, special focus, private, venture capital and others)
  • relationships to the industry (program managers, developers, sponsors and other stakeholders)
  • geographic locations

Candidates who are incubator managers should represent financially sound incubation programs with the resources necessary to support Board service.

To learn more about NBIA’s board of directors, or to read the current board member bios, click here.


About NBIA:

The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) is an international non-profit organization and global advocate for incubators, accelerators, educational institutions and regional economic development stakeholders. With nearly 2,000 members across over 60 countries, NBIA provides its members with essential information, education, advocacy and networking resources to bring excellence to the process of assisting early-stage companies succeed. Visit to learn more.

Shafer Leadership Academy Names New Leader

Muncie IN – Shafer Leadership Academy would like to announce that Mitch Isaacs has been named Executive Director for the regional leadership academy. Isaacs succeeds Richard Crist, who announced earlier this year that he was stepping down from the position he has held since 2009. He will focus more time on his role as COO with Whitinger & Company and leading the firm’s business consulting division, Whitinger Strategic Services.

Isaacs has 16 years of college leadership experience spanning three campuses. He graduated from Ball State University in 2002 with a double major in History and Political Science and a minor in Counseling Psychology. Mitch completed his Master’s degree in Student Affairs and Higher Education at Indiana State University, where he worked as an Assistant Residence Hall Director.

Mitch returned to Ball State in 2005 and served as a Residence Hall Director for three years. In 2008, he became the Associate Director of Student Life, working with the Excellence in Leadership program, Civic Engagement, and the Leadership Studies Minor. In August 2013, Mitch took a new position at Ball State as the Retention and Graduation Specialist for First Time Freshmen.

Mitch is happily married to his college sweetheart, Becky. They have two boys, Charley and Wilson. Mitch’s passions include comic books, science fiction, wrestling with his boys, and cheering on the Indianapolis Colts.

“With such an extensive background in education and leadership, we believe Mitch is an excellent choice for Executive Director,” stated SLA Board President, Steve Smith. “ He has accomplished many things professionally during his time at Ball State and demonstrates the key characteristics of a leader in our community. We know he will show the same dedication to the success of Shafer Leadership Academy and its mission.”

Isaacs will take over as Executive Director on June 8th.

To learn more about Shafer Leadership Academy and the programs offered, visit or call 765-748-0403.

Source: Shafer Leadership Academy

Mitch Isaacs has been named executive director of Muncie-based Shafer Leadership Academy. He has 16 years of college leadership experience and most recently served as a retention and graduation specialist for first time freshmen at Ball State University.

Mitch Isaacs has been named executive director of Muncie-based Shafer Leadership Academy. He has 16 years of college leadership experience and most recently served as a retention and graduation specialist for first time freshmen at Ball State University.

Local IT Association On the Move

East Central Indiana IT group announces 2015 board members and new headquarters.







The Association of Information Technology Professionals – East Central Indiana (AITP-ECI) chapter was on the move in 2014 and plans for an even busier 2015. The group partnered with Carmel-based chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMICIC) to host a quarterly leadership series at the Muncie Innovation Connector presented by the Shafer Leadership Academy and established the Innovation Connector as its official headquarters.

Earlier in the year AITP-ECI rolled out new membership options as well as launching a corporate sponsorship program. Current local sponsors are Thomas Office Solutions, Ontario Systems, eKeeper Systems, the Muncie Youth Opportunity Center, PrimeTrust Federal Credit Union, and Pinnacle IT Solutions.

Also, in 2014 the group created an internship available to student AITP members at Ball State University. The internship program has been a huge success and will be showcased at the chapter’s first 2015 meeting, Tuesday, January 13th at 12:00 PM at the BSU alumni center.

Established in 2009, AITP-ECI is led by local IT professionals volunteering their time to deliver relevant technology and leadership education to the community, research and information on current business and technology issues, and forums for networking and collaboration.

Recently the chapter help a year in review meeting and elected chapter officers and board members. AITP-ECI is proud to announce the 2015 leadership team!

  • Chapter Officers:
    • President – Brandon Hall, Director Of Technology Services, Thomas Office Solutions
    • Vice President – Dana Baker, Senior VP Finance & Information, PrimeTrust Federal Credit Union
    • Secretary – Stephen Hunter, Manager, Software Engineering, Ontario Systems
    • Treasurer – Sara Humm, CEO, eKeeper Systems
  • Board Members:
    • Gary Kern, CIO, Mutual Bank
    • Gary Thomas, President, Thomas Office Solutions
    • Jeff Helm, Director of IT and Facilities, YOC
    • Justin Hughes, Application Administrator, Ontario Systems
    • Fred Kitchens – Associate Professor, BSU (Student Chapter Faculty Sponsor)

For more information please send a message to or visit