Founder Factory ’23 Celebrates Region’s Entrepreneurs

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Entrepreneur Lisa Sun gives the keynote presentation at Founder Factory '23.

South Bend, INDIANA (November 21, 2023) – The South Bend – Elkhart region celebrated Global Entrepreneurship Week in style on November 15, as Founder Factory returned for the third year. Hosted by Startup South Bend – Elkhart, this startup summit for the South Bend – Elkhart region brings together entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, investors, and students for a day of inspiration, knowledge-sharing and networking. 

 Indiana Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg kicked off the event, welcoming attendees and citing Indiana’s entrepreneurial strengths. Named the best state to start a business in 2023 by Forbes Advisor, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. (IEDC) recently launched ConnectIND, an online portal connecting entrepreneurs to resources throughout the state. Indianapolis was recently announced as the host of the 2025 Global Entrepreneurship Congress. 

 “The South Bend – Elkhart region and Indiana as a whole is a bustling hotbed for entrepreneurship,” said Bethany Hartley, President and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. “We are now in our third year of Founder Factory, and it has sold out every time. Seeing the enthusiasm for small business and entrepreneurs on a regional scale, I look forward to welcoming the world to Indiana to celebrate at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress.”  

Lisa Sun, a best-selling author and founder of fashion brand GRAVITAS, gave the keynote presentation, discussing her entrepreneurial journey – including starting a company out of her apartment, the effects of an Oprah endorsement, and identifying and developing key skills and confidence.   

“What ends up happening is self-awareness easily becomes self-doubt,” said Sun. “We start to create comfort zones because what is courage? After all, courage is self-belief that leads us to take action. Then we evaluate the results of those actions from a place of strength. To learn and do it all over again. If you replace self-belief with self-doubt, there is no action.”  

In partnership with the South Bend Awesome Fund, ten area businesses competed for three $3,500 prizes in a pitch competition. Pitching companies had three minutes to present their idea, with an additional two minutes of Q&A from the panel of judges. Competitors included a range of businesses, from pet food to beekeepers to technology companies. Winners included Mixxture, a plant-based line of hair, skin, and body products; Mexican/Korean caterer A Bite with Mee; and BrewHers, an all-female developed and ran brewery. 

Founder Factory concluded with the Global Entrepreneurship Week Launch Party, hosted by the IEDC. The event unveiled the organization’s annual Entrepreneurship Yearbook, featuring entrepreneurs from around the state.  

“It is exciting to see so many regional entrepreneurs featured in the 2023 yearbook,” said Marty Mechtenberg, Director of Entrepreneur Ecosystems at the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. “The South Bend – Elkhart region has an eclectic and diverse array of startups, each with a significant story to share.”  

Founder Factory traditionally occurs during Global Entrepreneurship Week, happening the week of November 11-17, 2024. Global Entrepreneurship Week involves more than 40,000 events held in 200 countries.   

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 About Startup South Bend – Elkhart 

The mission of Startup South Bend – Elkhart, a non-profit initiative of the South Bend Elkhart Regional Partnership, is to promote and foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the South Bend – Elkhart region. Startup South Bend – Elkhart works to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit and culture in the regional community, identify and nurture new business startups, and support the growth of existing high potential businesses. For more information about Startup South Bend – Elkhart, visit StartupSouthBendElkhart.com.  

About South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership 

The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership is a collaboration of the economic development partners from 47 smart connected communities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. The Regional Partnership focuses on a long-term systemic approach to advance the region’s economy by aligning the efforts of various stakeholders around five key areas: educating a world-class workforce, recruiting, and retaining great talent, attracting, and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing industries, promoting inclusion and sparking opportunities for minorities and helping entrepreneurs thrive. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region to work together to achieve what cannot be done individually. For more information about the Regional Partnership, visit SouthBendElkhart.org. 

 Media Contact 

Liz Folkerts
South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
lfolkerts@southbendelkhart.org