Recap of the 2023 Entrepreneur Showcase Week

From the Kickoff Celebration and Awards to the Big Idea Pitch Competition and a spectrum of enriching workshops, the 2023 Entrepreneur Showcase Week at the Innovation Connector stands as a testament to the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in the Muncie community. 

The 2023 Entrepreneur Showcase Week kicked off in style with a lively celebration at the Innovation Connector on Monday, November 13. Several awards were presented at the event including:

  • The 2023 Technology Business Entrepreneur of the Year, Travis Street from CTS Multifamily IT Solutions; 
  • The 2023 Life-Style Business Entrepreneur of the Year, Jeff and Debra Williams, from the Williams Carpet Shop; 
  • The 2023 Food and Beverage Business Entrepreneur of the Year, Mike Robinson and Chad Massoth from Amazing Joe’s; 
  • The 2023 Business Supporters of the Year, Bill Walters (ECI Regional Planning District) and Brad Bookout (Augusta Consulting, LLC); 
  • The 2023 Community Impact Entrepreneur of the Year, Mike Martin from The Common Market; 
  • The 2023 Champion Entrepreneur of the Year, Frank Scott II from K & B Car Wash-Detail; and 
  • The 2023 Champion Entrepreneurs of the Year, Jennifer and Tom Sheridan from Gibson Arena. 

These remarkable individuals and businesses deserve to be celebrated as they exemplify the spirit of entrepreneurship, inspiring others with their passion, perseverance, and dedication. Owning a business is no easy career path. Therefore, we commend them for their incredible achievements and wish them nothing but success in their future endeavors. 

As this Entrepreneur Showcase Week was the second annual event of its kind, the Innovation Connector meticulously curated a series of events and engaging speakers, keenly attuned to the diverse needs of Muncie’s entrepreneurs and business owners. Throughout the week, a wide array of workshops delved into pivotal topics essential for budding and seasoned entrepreneurs alike. 

The workshop sessions covered a spectrum of themes, ranging from foundational aspects such as ‘How to Start Your Own Business’ and ‘The Fundamentals of Business’ encompassing Marketing, Finance, HR & Employee Management, to more nuanced subjects like ‘The Art of the Side Hustle’ and ‘Building Resilient People and Teams’. These sessions also addressed critical challenges, including ‘Managing Your Business During Tough Times’ and empowering discussions on ‘Overcoming Challenges for Women and Minorities in Business’. Plus a variety of other topics and discussions. 

This year also marked the resurgence of The Big Idea Pitch Competition, after a year hiatus. On November 16, entrepreneurs and innovators pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. There were two divisions this year: Lifestyle and Technology. The top achievers in the Lifestyle Division were Molly McGuire, securing the first-place position, followed by Andy Markelz in second place. In the Technology Division, two talented Ball State Entrepreneurship students triumphed: Will Pancake claimed the first-place spot, while Reid Glassen secured second place. Each first-place winner was awarded a prize of $5,000, while those achieving second place won a prize of $2,500 each. As the Big Idea Pitch ran for 8 years previously, the Innovation Connector was pleased to see it return better than ever. We would like to extend a congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to all the participants for taking the leap to pitch their innovative ideas. 

Collaboration played a pivotal role in the success of this showcase. The Innovation Connector extends its gratitude to Ball State University’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute for hosting several events at their premises. This collaborative effort exemplifies the shared mission of empowering and celebrating local entrepreneurs.

A vibrant atmosphere pervaded the showcase, not only through insightful discussions but also with moments of refreshment. F45 Training treated attendees to Jack’s Donuts during the Kickoff Celebration and Awards, while Pizza King, Café at the Crossing, and Chick-Fil-A provided food items throughout the week! This ensured that everyone stayed fueled and engaged during the events.

None of this would have been possible without the generous support of sponsors. The Innovation Connector extends its sincere appreciation to the title sponsor, First Merchants Bank, for their continuous support. Additionally, immense gratitude goes out to all the sponsors whose invaluable contributions made Entrepreneur Showcase Week a resounding success.

The 2023 Entrepreneur Showcase Week encapsulated a week of innovation, collaboration, and celebration! It served as a beacon for aspiring entrepreneurs, fostering a community of support and learning and setting the stage for continued growth and success in Muncie’s entrepreneurial landscape. 

Big Idea Pitch 2023 Recap

The Big Idea Pitch Competition returned this year as part of Entrepreneur Showcase Week at the Innovation Connector.  On the evening of November 16, 2023, entrepreneurs and innovators pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. There were two divisions this year: Lifestyle and Technology. Adding to the ambiance of a baseball game, attendees enjoyed classic hot dogs and chips, evoking the nostalgic charm of a day at the ballpark. 

Two winners from each category rose victoriously, winning a cash prize for their innovative ideas. The first-place winners were presented with $5,000, while second-place achievers rejoiced with $2,500 each.  The winners of the Lifestyle Division in first place, Molly McGuire, and in second place, Andy Markelz.  The winners of the Technology Division were two Ball State Entrepreneurship students. Winning first place was Will Pancake, and in second place was Reid Glassen. Congratulations to all winners and participants.

The competition wasn’t just about who won. It was a chance for pitchers to get exposure, make connections, and further the opportunity for education and investment.  When people come together with their great ideas, amazing things can happen. Here’s to a future filled with even more innovation and success for the Muncie community. 

A big thank you to the sponsors as it would not have been possible without your support.  

Entrepreneur Showcase Week: Kick-Off Celebration and Awards

MUNCIE, Ind.— The 2023 Entrepreneur Showcase Week commenced with a vibrant Kick-Off Celebration held at the Innovation Connector on Monday, November 13, 2023. The event featured notable speakers such as Executive Director and CEO, Ted Baker; Program and Events Coordinator, Natalie Smith; Jeff Parsons, Market President of First Merchants Bank; Morgan Allen from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation; Muncie’s Mayor, Dan Ridenour; Ron Fauquher, Board Chairperson of the Innovation Connector; and Bernisa Elliot, Owner of BE’s Beauty. Together, they underscored the pivotal role of entrepreneurs and small businesses within the Muncie Community. 

Not only did attendees spend the morning networking with fellow community members while enjoying coffee and donuts, but Ted Baker also presented Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for several different categories. We would like to extend congratulations to: The 2023 Technology Business Entrepreneur of the Year, Travis Street from CTS Multifamily IT Solutions; The 2023 Life-Style Business Entrepreneur of the Year, Jeff and Debra Williams, from the Williams Carpet Shop; The 2023 Food and Beverage Business Entrepreneur of the Year, Mike Robinson and Chad Massoth from Amazing Joe’s; The 2023 Business Supporters of the Year, Bill Walters (ECI Regional Planning District) and Brad Bookout (Augusta Consulting, LLC); The 2023 Community Impact Entrepreneur of the Year, Mike Martin from The Common Market; The 2023 Champion Entrepreneur of the Year, Frank Scott II from K & B Car Wash-Detail; and the 2023 Champion Entrepreneurs of the Year, Jennifer and Tom Sheridan from Gibson Arena. 

The second annual Entrepreneur Showcase Week Kick-Off Celebration served as an inspiring testament to the ingenuity, dedication, and impact of entrepreneurs and small businesses within the Muncie Community. As we honor the recipients of the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards across various categories, we look forward to many more years to come of celebrating, empowering, and connecting entrepreneurs in the Muncie area. 

Please Join The Innovation Connector During Global Entrepreneurship Week

A brand new Showcase Week banner is pictured hanging in the lobby of the Innovation Connector. Photo by the Innovation Connector.

By Ted Baker, CEO, Muncie Innovation Connector, Inc.—

MUNCIE, IN—Each year in November, the Global Entrepreneurship Network hosts its signature week of events, Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW.) This year, GEW is celebrated from November 13 -19, with events and activities occurring worldwide. The theme for 2023 GEW is “Entrepreneurs Thrive Here.”  GEW aims to “celebrate and empower entrepreneurs in every country and community around the world – especially those individuals who face structural barriers or may have never considered the idea of launching a startup.” This year, over 170 countries hosting thousands of events will be part of this celebration. We are excited to be part of a week of events supporting millions of entrepreneurs worldwide. What does this mean for Muncie and the Innovation Connector?

The Innovation Connector is proud and excited to be part of GEW this year with its event, Entrepreneur Showcase Week. In fact, as of the writing of this article, Muncie ranks 2nd in the United States in the number of events that are taking place during GEW.  The only city that outranks Muncie is Tulsa, OK – a much larger city with a well-established startup and technology ecosystem.  This amazing accomplishment illustrates the Muncie community’s value on entrepreneurship and supporting entrepreneurs and business owners.

Most of the events that are taking place during GEW will take place at the Innovation Connector.  The Ball State University Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute will host several events as well.  To maximize the impact of GEW in Muncie, the Innovation Connector and the BSU Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute are partnering to bring impactful events and opportunities to our community. For a complete listing and to register for Entrepreneur Showcase Week events, go to  Because of the generous support of over thirty partners and sponsors, all events are FREE to attend.  Registering in advance is very important because space is limited and the popularity of the events. Again, register at

As part of Entrepreneur Showcase Week, the Innovation Connector is thrilled to welcome back The BIG Idea Pitch competition.  This year marks the ninth time the Innovation Connector has hosted this event.   This locally grown program is one of the most popular events held in Muncie each year.  To prepare participants for the best pitches, the Innovation Connector hosts three Training Camps: October 26, November 2, and November 9.  Training Camps are held at the Innovation Connector from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm and are free to attend.  While attending Training Camps is not mandatory to participate in The BIG Idea Pitch, it is highly recommended. Registering for Training Camps is easy –  The deadline to register to be a participant in The BIG Idea Pitch competition is Noon, Friday, November 10.  Registration is easy and should only take a few minutes of your time.  Participants must be a resident of Delaware County or currently enrolled in school in Delaware County.  There are two competition categories: Tech-enabled businesses and Lifestyle businesses.  Cash prizes and entrepreneurial services will be awarded for 1st and 2nd places in each category that evening.

Entrepreneur Showcase Week is a fun and exciting time in Muncie and at the Innovation Connector.  There are many workshops, panel discussions, and seminars during Entrepreneur Showcase Week – something for all entrepreneurs and business leaders.  Please join us as we partner with the worldwide entrepreneurial community to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week and Entrepreneur Showcase Week.  For more information, please call 765-285-4900, or visit


TechWise Academy Named Region 7 Out-of-School Time STEM Leader

Ryan Hunter
TechWise Academy
October 24, 2023

TechWise Academy Named Region 7 Out-of-School Time STEM Leader
Muncie, Indiana – October 24, 2023 – TechWise Academy powered by the Innovation Connector, is excited to announce that they have been chosen as the Region 7 leader for the 2023-2024 Indiana Afterschool Network Regional Leadership Project.

The project is a partnership with Million Girls Moonshot, to identify out-of-school time STEM programs to operate as Regional Leaders, setting an example of high-quality STEM programming across Indiana and supporting other STEM programs in their efforts to begin, strengthen, and/or deepen their STEM practices.

The Million Girls Moonshot initiative is designed to spur girls’ interest, understanding, and confidence in STEM and equip them to become problem solvers with an engineering mindset. The Moonshot will not only allow girls to envision themselves as future innovators, but it will increase the quality of out-of-school STEM learning opportunities for all young people, particularly underserved and underrepresented youth.

“We’re proud of the work we’re doing to introduce computer science to students in our area and the organizations that we’re already partnering with, “ said Mikayla Rainho, Elementary Education Lead Instructor at TechWise Academy. “We’re excited to share our programming and best practices with other organizations in our region to help impact as many children as possible.”

About TechWise Academy
TechWise Academy, powered by the Innovation Connector, is a leading coding instructional initiative known for its comprehensive approach to computer science education. Its mission is to teach coding and computer science to children, K-12, and adults, introducing them to new ways to solve problems and explore curiosity and creativity.

For more information about TechWise Academy, please visit

ESW Luncheon Postponed

The Innovation Connector: Starting a Business is Not Easy – But it is Possible!

By Ted Baker, CEO/Executive Director—

MUNCIE, IN—The idea of starting a business is not new.  According to an article in Immerse Education 2023’s “A Brief History of Business and the Evolution of Business,”  “Business as we know it can be traced back 3,000 years to India and China, where companies – with structures resembling sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. At this time, they began entering into contracts and owning property, essentially setting up the basic frameworks of business that we use today.” Today, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 32.5 million small businesses are in the United States. In the United States alone, around 595,000 businesses fail or close yearly for various reasons, but over 627,000 businesses get started. Despite these discouraging numbers, countless individuals continue to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. This article will explore three compelling reasons people are willing to take risks and start or grow a business, even when the odds of success are low.

The first reason is the opportunity for potential financial benefits. For most people, income is earned by the work we do and the job we have.  The possibility of financial success is a significant motivator for entrepreneurs. Most entrepreneurs know the risks and hazards of starting a business, but their dreams and visions of financial success are driving factors to venture out on their own.   They see entrepreneurship as a pathway to financial independence and the opportunity to create a better future for themselves and their families.

Reason number two, why businesses are started when the success rates are low, is the allure of independence, flexibility, and autonomy.  According to Business News Daily, “freedom and passion, not money, is the main motivation” for someone to start a business. And continuing, “they are also motivated by the idea of creating something from the ground up.”  According to an eye-opening quote from AI/Chat GPT, “The appeal of autonomy goes beyond financial considerations. It encompasses the freedom to work on projects that align with one’s values and priorities, set one’s schedule, and build a company culture that reflects their vision. For many entrepreneurs, the prospect of being in control of their destiny outweighs the inherent risks of starting or growing a business.” The desire for freedom and self-determination can be a powerful motivator, even when faced with low success rates.

Let’s be clear here. Having the independence and freedom of being a business owner is not as easy as it sounds. I can recall from my personal experiences the first few years of my business startup were filled with long hours, long weeks and weekends, and many missed family meals and events. When the business is successful and continues to grow and mature, there will be opportunities to be flexible and enjoy certain freedoms.  I could leave my work in the middle of the day to attend school events with my children.  I loved having this freedom, but it usually included returning to my office afterward and working later in the day than normal. This is a wonderful part of business startup and ownership, but there will always be tradeoffs for the time spent at home and work.

Many entrepreneurs are driven by their desire to solve a problem, create something meaningful, or bring their unique vision to life. This intrinsic motivation often overshadows the fear of failure and drives them to persevere in adversity. This is the third reason people take risks when starting a business when the success rates are low.  Passion and purpose are powerful forces that can sustain entrepreneurs through the challenges and setbacks inherent in the business world. When an entrepreneur genuinely believes in what you are doing and is committed to making a positive impact, the prospect of failure becomes a secondary concern. For these individuals, the journey itself is as important as the destination, and they are willing to embrace the uncertainty of entrepreneurship. While passion is vital to the startup of any business, entrepreneurs must remain committed to handling the practical aspects of business, such as accounting, marketing, sales, and more. Without sound business practices, emotion and passion will not sustain a business.

The Muncie Innovation Connector, Inc. is committed to assisting entrepreneurs, startups, or those already in business with the necessary resources and tools. As East-Central Indiana’s only full-service Entrepreneur Support Organization (ESO), the Innovation Connector provides practical resources and connections for people at any stage of business development. If you need assistance with your business, please allow the Innovation Connector team to join you on your journey. Most of our business advising services are FREE and available to anyone needing help.

Mark your calendars now for the following event dates:

Entrepreneur Showcase Week 2023 – November 13 – 17 – visit for details and information about this event.

The BIG Idea Training Camps: October 26, November 2, and November 9 – each date from 6:00 – 7:30 pm

The BIG Idea Pitch Competition Pitch Night: November 16 – Starting at 6:00 pm

For additional information about the Innovation Connector, please visit or call our office at 765-285-4900.

Ted Baker Details The 2018 Excellence In Innovation Awards Banquet

Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with Ted Baker, executive director of the Innovation Connector, to discuss the upcoming Excellence in Innovation Awards banquet to be held at the Horizon Convention Center on November 14th. My interview with Ted is below.

Alexis Dishman Helps People ‘Get Connected’ At The Innovation Connector

Alexis Dishman is one of the Innovation Connector’s “key connectors.” She’s not just the smiling face that greets you when you walk in the door; she helps make connections for clients, stakeholders, and partners.

Innovation Connector Offers Business Consulting And Coaching Services

Yes, the Innovation Connector offers modern, well-equipped office space to entrepreneurs and startups. But in addition to space, the Innovation Connector offers a unique array of business consulting services to help your business succeed and grow.