Startup South Bend – Elkhart Celebrates Pre-Accelerator Graduates


SOUTH BEND, Ind. (Dec. 22, 2020) — Last week, Startup South Bend – Elkhart, an initiative of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership (Regional Partnership), concluded its second pre-accelerator program. Graduating eight participating companies, Startup South Bend – Elkhart’s Pre-Accelerator program is designed to help early-stage entrepreneurs validate (or invalidate) their ideas while adding to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and providing participants guidance on sound business practices.

Cohort Two Pre-Accelerator Program Graduates

  • Nich Lampson, Agape Health
  • Aaron McGuin and Connor Keaveney, ArrowWay
  • Kevin Patel, Calm TeleHealth
  • Leslie Pinson, Local Spirit
  • Kurt Meyer, Medata
  • Kelley Rich and Lisa Vetne, Purple Nation
  • Milagros Ramirez and Anthony Esplin, Sleep Easy
  • Jude Chagas Pereira and Gil Laware, Wizly


“This Pre-Accelerator program allows early-stage entrepreneurs to connect with peers and mentors in our region’s startup community. Every participant has the opportunity to learn together, see the struggles that startups are facing, and help to work through them, which is extremely valuable,” said Startup South Bend – Elkhart Pre-Accelerator Facilitator and enFocus Program Director of Operations, Patrick Jones. “It’s about building up the entrepreneurial ecosystem, everyone working together.”

This virtual 10-week cohort-based program connects entrepreneurs with mentors and subject matter experts. Each week, participants gathered virtually for group educational workshops and mentoring sessions. The one-on-one sessions allowed participants the time to work through individual business challenges with their mentor, while the group mentoring sessions were dedicated to pitch development and feedback. After completing this program, participants are now able to talk about their idea clearly and concisely to investors. Participants are also eligible for up to $2,000 of Proof-of-Concept grant funds to advance their products.

“The Startup South Bend – Elkhart Pre-Accelerator program allows early-stage entrepreneurs to take their startup idea from a concept to a viable business opportunity,” said South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership President and CEO, Regina Emberton. “The goal of this program is to not only prepare high-growth startups for a formal accelerator program or an initial investment round, but to also increase our regional entrepreneurial ecosystem, connecting entrepreneurs to each other and to mentors.”

The Startup South Bend – Elkhart Pre-Accelerator program will be offered in partnership with Elevate Ventures three times during 2021. Elevate Origins will provide virtual group learning, one-on-one coaching and live pitch practice to startups at no cost to the entrepreneurs. Applications are open through January 31, 2020 for the Spring cohort and participants can choose from the Pre-Seed or Seed stage tracks to develop investor-ready pitch decks, executive summaries, and end up prepared to compete for investment funding. Startup South Bend – Elkhart will continue to offer up to $2,000 Proof of Concept grants and mentorship opportunities to Elevate Origin participants who are ready to move their idea through prototyping or market validation.

Startup South Bend – Elkhart is helping early-stage entrepreneurs take an idea and evolve it into an investment-ready business pitch. Many startups begin with what they believe is a good idea. However, they can quickly run into business obstacles that stall their progress or set them up for future problems. Through this cohort-based programming and individualized mentoring, entrepreneurs are given the tools and the connections needed to take the next step in their startup journey.

Beginning January 6, 2021, we will post a featured graduate story every Wednesday at 9:00AM. Follow our FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter accounts to learn more about each of our amazing graduates and their startups.


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

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 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
Regina Emberton
South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership