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 http://www.ballstatedaily.com/article/2015/08/reith-brothers-company


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 https://forgestrength.io 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 www.nbia.org 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 www.shaferleadership.com 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 contact@aitpeci.org or visit aitpeci.org.


Innovation Connector Announces Opening of Downtown Business Connector Coworking Space

November 25, 2014 – Muncie, IN – The Innovation Connector is excited to announce the opening of the Downtown Business Connector, a partnership between Innovation Connector and the City of Muncie.  An open house for the new facility was held on Friday, November 21st and the grand opening will be on Monday, December 1, 2014. This is Muncie’s first coworking space and is an integral piece in the revitalization of downtown Muncie. Read more

Innovation Connector Welcomes Secretary of State Connie Lawson

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson will speak at the Muncie Innovation Connector on Tuesday, September 23rd at 3:00pm. Most recently, her office has focused on two primary initiatives to support Hoosier businesses: Business One-Stop Portal and Crowdfunding. The Indiana Secretary of State’s Business One-Stop Portal is in the process of eliminating confusion for Hoosier business owners by offering a “one stop shop” for all business transactions within state government.  Instead of business owners registering their business with multiple state agencies, which can often times cause unnecessary stresses, the Secretary of State’s office is working to make it so businesses will eventually only need to register once within the office.

The Crowdfunding initiative offers a new way for Hoosier entrepreneurs to raise money in order to start or continue a business right here in Indiana with the help of Hoosier investors.  Not only will this strengthen the state’s economy, but it also opens the door to a new type of Hoosier investor.

Connie Lawson is Indiana’s 61st Secretary of State. As Indiana’s Chief Elections Official, she is focused on ensuring integrity and security for our state’s elections. Since taking office, Secretary Lawson championed the most sweeping election reforms since photo ID, and has led the effort to clean Indiana’s voter rolls. A tireless advocate for increasing Indiana’s financial literacy and protecting Indiana investors, Secretary Lawson educates Hoosiers about smart money decisions and fights for stringent penalties for white collar criminals. She has also partnered with Indiana’s motor vehicle industry to ensure the best possible customer service,including prompt title delivery. Secretary Lawson is directing substantial innovation and leveraging cutting edge technology to improve how businesses interact with

Indiana Secretary of State, Connie Lawson

Indiana Secretary of State          Connie Lawson


“This is a great opportunity for Muncie area business owners, business development advisors and others interested in learning about these two issues to meet and hear from Secretary of State Lawson. The Innovation Connector is very proud to host this event,” states Ted Baker, Executive Director of the Innovation Connector.

The event is FREE but please RSVP to 765-285-4900. Light refreshments will be served.

Innovation Connector to Host The BIG Pitch Competition for Local Entrepreneurs

August 25, 2014 – Muncie, IN – The Innovation Connector of Muncie, Indiana is hosting a baseball-themed competition called The BIG Pitch 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. This event is for individuals in all phases of business, including startup or pre-startup, idea stage. High school seniors and college-age students also are encouraged to apply. Those interested can submit their ideas in one of two categories: technology or non-technology. Read more