Nurturing Entrepreneurial Spirit: The Faith Driven Entrepreneur Group at Muncie’s Innovation Connector

Exploring the intersection of faith and entrepreneurship, The Faith Driven Entrepreneur Group/Book Study at the Innovation Connector in Muncie has been a dynamic forum for entrepreneurs and business leaders. Anchored around the book “Faith Driven Entrepreneur,” participants engage deeply, discussing how their values, habits, and traits contribute to their success.

Led by Ted Baker, CEO of the Muncie Innovation Connector, Inc., this four-week program has invited everyone, regardless of their faith beliefs, to delve into the principles outlined in the book. By weaving faith into the fabric of entrepreneurship, this group has aimed to build businesses, serve our communities, and nurture a deeper connection with God.

Two successful sessions have already been held, fostering great discussions among group members. The upcoming sessions are on Wednesday, May 22, and Wednesday, June 5. 

 

The Innovation Connector – Your Entrepreneurial Support Organization

By: Ted A. Baker, CEO/Executive Director

MUNCIE, IN—2023 was a remarkable year for the Innovation Connector, marked by unprecedented activity and events. Our team was privileged to assist over 450 Muncie area entrepreneurs and business owners on their business journeys. Notably, we housed the East Central Indiana Regional Office of the Indiana Small Business Development Center, collaborating to serve the eleven Indiana counties they cater to.  Last year, we extended our reach beyond national borders, partnering with the Delaware County Commissioners and Delaware County Economic Development to support foreign-based companies in establishing their North American Headquarters in Delaware County. These achievements, among many others, underscore the Innovation Connector’s commitment to fostering business growth and success.  

As we embark on 2024, we want to ensure that every business owner, leader, and aspiring entrepreneur knows our organization’s diverse and valuable services and resources. While this list is not exhaustive, it provides a good overview of our mission and vision and how we support your business journey.  

  • The Innovation Connector is not solitary in serving the Muncie community. We have forged partnerships with over twenty-five other organizations, each contributing unique services to our residents. While we do not directly offer leadership development opportunities and training events, we collaborate with The Shafer Leadership Academy, a renowned leadership training organization in our region. Similarly, we promote the ‘Start Your Own Business Workshop’ sessions offered by the Indiana Small Business Development Center, recognizing their expertise in this area. Our approach is collaborative and client-centric, ensuring we connect businesses with the services they need, even if we don’t offer them directly. 
  • One of the core services offered at the Innovation Connector is client coaching and advisory services.  The Innovation Connector meets with over 400 businesses/organizations annually and over 100 startup business owners.  Our goal is to meet each client at the point where help is needed.  For some, it might be understanding the viability of a business idea. For others, we might review yearly financial statements to provide input on growth strategies or survival.  
  • Our name is the Innovation Connector for a reason – we are great “Connectors.” During our twenty-plus years serving the Muncie community, we are familiar with resources and service options that most people do not know are available. Our organization regularly receives business requests for information such as: What’s the difference between an LLC and a Sole Proprietor, or the difference between an employee and a 1099 contractor? What are the options for getting a loan from a lender?  Who would we recommend for business legal assistance or financial accounting?  Through our experiences of working with attorneys and lenders, we can provide lists of these businesses that have served our clients and community well.  
  • The Innovation Connector, as a business incubator, has over thirty offices leased to businesses and organizations needing assistance beyond just office space.  Our resources and services are “wrapped around” each business in the Innovation Connector, helping them on their business journeys. We regularly assist clients with understanding financial statements, marketing initiatives, business formation, and advancement, identifying sources to obtain capital, and more. Open-Coworking Space is available for those looking to get out of their home offices for a day or so to engage with others and to have access to fast internet connections. 
  • The Innovation Connector supports and provides opportunities for life-long learning for business owners and leaders.  A wide range of workshops, networking opportunities, seminars, guest speakers, and events are provided for one main purpose – to empower entrepreneurs at every business stage with an opportunity to benefit personally and professionally.  This information can be found on our website, www.innovationconnector.com, or several social media sites.  

For entrepreneurs and business owners/leaders, the Innovation Connector has something for you and your business.  Please contact us at 765-285-4900 or visit our website, www.innovationconnector.com.

Faith Driven Entrepreneur – Discussion Group

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. But it doesn’t have to be. God has a purpose and a plan for all those entrepreneurial dreams and creative gifts He has given us. The work we do today – the companies we have created, the employees we work with, the customers we serve – is an active part of what God wants to accomplish on earth. We are not alone on this journey. Faith Driven Entrepreneur discussion group, facilitated by Ted Baker, CEO of the Muncie Innovation Connector, Inc. in Muncie, is a four-session, four-week opportunity to join other entrepreneurs and business leaders to identify values, habits, and traits that empower successful business builders, service our communities, and faithfully pursue a loving relationship with God. Everyone is welcome to join regardless of faith beliefs.

All sessions will take place at the Muncie Innovation Connector, Inc., 1208 West White River Blvd., Muncie, IN 47303, from 7:30 – 8:30 am. The cost to participate is $25.00 per person to cover the cost of the hardback study book Faith Driven Entrepreneur by Henry Kaestner, J.D. Greear, and Chip Ingram. Coffee and water will be provided. Registration, including payment for the book, is required in advance. The final day to register for this cohort is Monday, April 22, 2024, so we can complete the book order.


Discussion Group Dates:
Session 1: Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Session 2: Wednesday, May 8, 2024
Session 3: Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Session 4: Wednesday, June 5, 2024

 

If you have any questions, please contact Ted Baker at 765-285-4902, M – F, from 9 am – 4 pm. If I do not answer, please leave a message, and I will return your call. I can also be reached by email at tbaker@innovationconnector.com.

 

FREE Workshop | Thursday, March 14th

Following the successful BEST Workshops held in Jay County in January, the ECI Regional Planning District and the Innovation Connector are collaborating once again to bring you more BEST Workshops. Join us for this enriching series at the Innovation Connector— led by our Executive Director and CEO, Ted Baker— designed to empower business owners with valuable insights and strategies for success. Best of all, participation is completely FREE and open to all business leaders and professionals!

The second session of the three part series is coming up this week! The title is “Team Well-being: Staying Healthy for Your Business” on Thursday, March 14th from 5:30 to 7 pm. A healthy and thriving team is the cornerstone of any successful business. Explore effective strategies to prioritize well-being in the workplace and understand how it directly impacts your business’s productivity and success. Join us for an engaging discussion on fostering a culture of well-being within your organization and discover actionable steps to support your team’s health and happiness. To register, click here.

Intersessions Powered by Intersection: interactive marketing sessions

We are proud to be a sponsor of Intersessions Powered by Intersection: interactive marketing sessions.

Please visit the Innovation Connector on the last Tuesday of every month for an innovative, interactive, marketing creative session. These take place from 8-10 AM on the last Tuesday of every other month and are free to attend.  To register and for more information, click here.

Elevate Your Business with BEST Workshops at the Innovation Connector

Following the successful BEST Workshops held in Jay County in January, the ECI Regional Planning District and the Innovation Connector are collaborating once again to bring you more BEST Workshops. Join us for this enriching series at the Innovation Connector— led by our Executive Director and CEO, Ted Baker— designed to empower business owners with valuable insights and strategies for success. Best of all, participation is completely FREE and open to all business leaders and professionals!

The first session will be “Raising the Bar for Customer Experience” on Wednesday, February 28th from 5:30 to 7 pm. In today’s competitive market, delivering exceptional customer experiences is crucial for business growth. Join us as we dive deep into the world of customer experience, offering innovative strategies, insights, and practical tips to enhance your customers’ journey and leave a lasting impression. This session also provides a unique networking opportunity to connect with industry experts, share ideas, and gain invaluable knowledge to elevate your business. Additionally, free pizza will be provided for all who attend! To register, click here

The next session will be “Team Well-being: Staying Healthy for Your Business” on Thursday, March 14th from 5:30 to 7 pm. A healthy and thriving team is the cornerstone of any successful business. Explore effective strategies to prioritize well-being in the workplace and understand how it directly impacts your business’s productivity and success. Join us for an engaging discussion on fostering a culture of well-being within your organization and discover actionable steps to support your team’s health and happiness. To register, click here

The last session will be “Pursuing Innovation in Your Business” on Thursday, March 21st from 5:30 to 7 pm. Whether you’re a startup or an established company, this session is tailored to inspire and equip you with practical strategies to thrive in today’s dynamic business landscape. From disruptive technologies to creative problem-solving techniques, this event will provide you with valuable insights and actionable takeaways to drive growth and success. Explore the latest trends and best practices in innovation, learn from industry experts, and connect with fellow professionals who share your passion for growth and innovation. To register, click here

Jay County’s BEST Workshops

In a collaboration with the East Central Indiana Regional Planning District, the Innovation Connector is excited to present a dynamic workshop series in Jay County. Led by our Executive Director and CEO, Ted Baker, these workshops are meticulously crafted to equip business owners with insights and strategies for success. These sessions, offered completely FREE of charge, welcome all enthusiasts without the need for prior registration. Set aside your calendars for the last three Wednesdays in January—17th, 24th, and 31st—to immerse yourself in enriching discussions, acquire invaluable knowledge, and establish meaningful connections. Covering pivotal topics such as “The Art of Managing a Side Gig,” “Fostering Mental Health for Business Owners,” and “Crafting Exceptional Customer Experiences,” the BEST Workshops offer a worthwhile experience. Join us at the John Jay Center For Learning in Portland, IN, starting at 5:30 PM until 7 PM. 

About the Workshops: 

How to Start a Business While Having a Full-Time Job – the Art of the Side-Hustle | Jan. 17th at 5:30 PM in Room 204

Join us for an exciting in-person event where we will dive into the world of side-hustles! Discover the secrets of starting a successful business while juggling a full-time job. Whether you dream of becoming your own boss or simply want to earn some extra income, this event is for you. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from experienced entrepreneurs and gain valuable insights. Get inspired, network with like-minded individuals, and take the first step towards turning your passion into a profitable venture. 

 

The Loneliness of a Business Owner – Mental Health Awareness

| Jan. 24th at 5:30 PM in Room 203

It is often said, “It is lonely at the top.” I believe this is especially true for business owners – especially small business owners.  In a time of ramped up awareness of mental health issues, this workshop will look at why and how business owners can cope with the stresses encountered daily.  This practical and interactive workshop will provide tools to identify and cope with the everyday stresses that only a business owner understands. This may be the most important workshop you will attend all year! 

 

Providing Excellent Client Services

| Jan. 31st at 5:30 PM in Room 204 

It is the goal of most businesses to provide excellent customer service. While this sounds great, most businesses do not have a plan to make that happen. And even more concerning is that they have no processes or initiatives to empower employees and customer-facing team members with adequate tools to deal with customer service issues. This session will be a practical session for all business owners and entrepreneurs discussing various aspects of Providing Excellent Customer Experiences and ways to implement them into their daily business. While customers are the core component of a business, dealing with them can be difficult and tiring. This workshop will be instructed by Ted Baker, CEO/Executive Director of the Innovation Connector, who has been trained at Disney’s Institute of Customer Experience.

Holiday Hours & Closings

The Innovation Connector will be closed on Friday, December 22nd – Tuesday, December 26th. We will be open for normal hours on December 27th and 28th. The Innovation Connector will be closed from December 29th – Jan 1st. As always, residents of the Innovation Connector can access the building 24/7. We will resume normal hours on Tuesday, January 2nd.

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.