Lisa Sun, Awesome Pitch Competition, Global Entrepreneurship Week Launch Party Headlining Founder Factory on Nov. 15

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (Oct. 5, 2023) — Founder Factory 2023 is happening Nov. 15, 2023, at the Studebaker Building in South Bend. Bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and enthusiasts, the annual event celebrates startups throughout the region. The Founder Factory summit, now in its third year, has sold out twice.

“Founder Factory is an event near to my heart,” said Bethany Hartley, President and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. “It brings together all elements of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in one room to inspire and share, motivate and commiserate, cheer and celebrate the entrepreneurial journey. I fully expect attendees will leave feeling excited and connected, with new ideas on the horizon!”

This year’s keynote speaker is Lisa Sun, Founder and CEO of fashion brand GRAVITAS. Sun started GRAVITAS in 2012, after 11 years at McKinsey & Company advising luxury, fashion and beauty brands and retailers in the U.S., Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Inspired by her first professional review, in which she was told she ‘lacked gravitas,’ Sun developed her clothing line with a focus on size-inclusivity and confidence-building through fashion. She is the national best-selling author of “GRAVITAS: The 8 Strengths That Redefine Confidence” (USA Today bestseller, #1 Amazon bestseller). The first 75 people who register for Founder Factory will receive a signed copy.

“My experience finding my own gravitas is a story I am excited to share with my fellow entrepreneurs at Founder Factory,” said Sun. “Entrepreneurship is oftentimes a tough and lonely journey, and I have always found inspiration and support through my peers, so I hope by sharing my experience I can inspire others at different stages in their personal entrepreneurial journeys.”

The day continues with a pitch competition. The Awesome Fund is joining Startup South Bend – Elkhart to award three $3,500 prizes to startups in the South Bend – Elkhart region. To be eligible, entrepreneurs can apply here by Nov. 8th at 5 p.m. A minimum of eight startups will be selected to participate in a live pitch and Q&A at Founder Factory, with winners being announced that evening.

“We are excited to partner with Startup South Bend – Elkhart for the pitch competition,” said Gavin Ferlic, dean of the South Bend Awesome Fund. “This collaboration is a natural fit for our organization’s mission of supporting people, ideas, businesses and causes that make the area even more awesome.”

Founder Factory will wrap up with a Global Entrepreneurship Week Celebration Party, hosted by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). The networking reception includes the regional debut of the 2023 Entrepreneurship Indiana Yearbook, which spotlights founders from around the state. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet honorees, learn more about the new ConnectIND entrepreneurship portal and enjoy the company of the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“Entrepreneurship is a key to growing the state’s economy,” said Morgan Allen, Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Director at the IEDC. “Forbes Advisor named Indiana the best state to start a business in 2023, due in large part to our business-friendly climate and available resources and support. We look forward to celebrating Indiana entrepreneurs at the Global Entrepreneurship Week Celebration Party and welcoming other members of the ecosystem.”

Founder Factory takes place during Global Entrepreneurship Week, celebrated Nov. 13-19, 2023.

An Early-Bird discount is available for the first 25 registrants using code EARLYBIRD25. The discount expires Oct. 18.

For more information, as well as registration, visit


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 South Bend – Elkhart 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

Media Contact
Liz Folkerts
South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership