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The 2014 Venture Summit West

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February 12, 2014 | Mountain View, CA 

 Where Innovation Meets Capital

Register Now and Save 50%
Early Bird Discounts Expire January 9th 


Come meet, interact and network with more than 500 VCs, Corporate VCs, angel investors, investment bankers and CEOs of early stage and emerging growth companies at the prestigious Venture Summit | West™ being held on February 11th-12th, 2014 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

Whether you're an investor seeking new deals or a startup seeking capital and exposure, Venture Summit West™ presented by youngStartup Ventures - is one event you won't want to miss.

A highly productive full-day venture conference, Venture Summit Westis dedicated to showcasing VCs, Corporate VCs and angel investors committed to funding early stage and emerging companies.

This exclusive summit will feature a distinguished line up of more than 40 Investors on interactive panels; presentations by more than 50 Top Innovators seeking funding, and high-level networking opportunities.

Partial list of VCs confirmed to speak includes:

Dan Ahn, Managing Director, Voyager Capital | Julien Creuzé, Senior Associate, Aster Capital | Duncan Dashiff, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Epiphany Health Ventures | Stephen DeBerry, Chief Investment Officer, Bronze Investments | Ashley Dombkowski, Managing Director, Bay City Capital | Andy Donner, Investment Director, Unilever Ventures | Ted Driscoll, Partner, Claremont Creek Ventures | Michael Dybbs, Principal, New Leaf Venture Partners | Andrew Farquharson, Managing Director, InCube Ventures | Mark Gorenberg, Managing Director, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners | Tim Guleri, Managing Director, Sierra Ventures | Mike Hammons, Partner, Sail Capital Partners | Nathaniel Henshaw, Managing Director, CEI Ventures | Caribou Honig, Founding Partner, QED Investors | David Hornik, General Partner, August Capital | Tetsuro Iwata, Senior Manager, MP Healthcare Venture Management | Nadeem Kassam, Director, Zynik Capital | John Kim, Managing Partner, Highbar Partners | Yoav Andrew Leitersdorf, Managing Partner, YL Ventures | Noah Lichtenstein, Partner, Cowboy Ventures | John Loiacono, Venture Partner & Market Strategist | Jim Long, Partner, Gabriel Venture Partners | Jeb Miller, General Partner, Jafco Ventures | Peter Moran, General Partner, DCM | Umesh Padval, Partner, Bessemer Venture Partners | Renata Quintini, Partner, Felicis Ventures | Bill Reichert, Managing Director, Garage Technology Ventures | Lisa Rhoads, Managing Director, Easton Capital Investment Group | Rosemary Ripley, Managing Director, NGEN Partners | Miriam Rivera, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Ulu Ventures | Mary Rozenman, Vice President, Longitude Capital | Ned Scheetz, Managing Director & Founder, Aphelion Capital | Rupam Shrivastava, Director, ePlanet Capital | David Siemer, Managing Partner, Siemer Ventures | Michael Staton, Partner, Learn Capital | Mark Silverman, Partner, Catamount Ventures | John Steuart, Managing Director, Prolog Ventures | Bruce Taragin, Managing Director, Blumberg Capital | Steve Vassallo, General Partner, Foundation Capital | Sharon Wienbar, Partner, Scale Venture Partners | James Woody, General Partner, Latterell Venture Partners and many more.


For more information and to register: 

In addition to providing access to leading Investors, the conference will feature more than 50 pre-screened early stage and emerging growth companies seeking capital, and hardcore networking. 

This conference will be attended by the best people in the industry. Please register early to avoid disappointment. 

Get Noticed > Get Funded > Grow Faster

A select group of more than 50 Top Innovators from the Technology, Life Sciences, CleanTech and Edtech sectors will be chosen to present their breakthrough investment opportunities to an exclusive audience of Venture Capitalists, Private Investors, Investment Bankers, Corporate Investors, and Strategic Partners.

The deadline for presenting company applications is January 9th 2014.

Apply to Present:
To be considered for one of the Top Innovator slots, click here for an application.

To Nominate a Company:
To nominate a company please click here.

  Questions about presenting? email us at

If you have any questions/suggestions about the program or would like to inquire about our sponsorship opportunities please email at joe (at)



Entrepreneurs: Regular: $395 | At the Door: $790

Investors: Regular: $495 | At the Door: $990)

Service Providers: Regular: $695 | At the Door: $1,390)


To inquire about group rates, register by phone or for more information contact:
Avi Maderer of youngStartup Ventures at 212.202.1002



'Explosive' Market Grows Business for Algae Supplier

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A cluster of greenhouses is humming on Indianapolis' northwest side, using Algaeon, Inc.'s patent-pending technology to grow algae 10 times more efficiently than other forms of production. But company leaders refer to this operation as the "pilot production facility," because—on the heels of its first major commercial agreement worth millions of dollars—Algaeon is just weeks away from expanding to a new production site in central Indiana that will dwarf its current one. Just one year from its seed funding investment, the company believes it's also just months away from inking contracts for a second algae-based chemical "that's just huge."

"We have about 45 functioning bioreactors currently, and the new facility will house 800," says Algaeon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Paul DeLacey. "It's exciting." Listen

While Indianapolis-based Algaeon can't disclose the exact dollar amount of its agreement with Florida-based Valensa International, DeLacey says this first significant contract is "very important to the business." Valensa supplies nutrients that go into "nutraceuticals," or nutritional supplements, and will rely on Algaeon for astaxanthin, a "powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory" the company extracts from the algae it grows.

"Astaxanthin is the red coloring in salmon, shrimp and lobster. It's the [chemical] that makes those products healthy," says Algaeon Vice President of Business Development Mike Neibler. "When a doctor advises you to take Omega 3, it's because of the healthy oil…that comes from algae. Fish—salmon, shrimp and lobster—eat algae. We take it directly from the algae and bypass the fish." Listen

"Explosive" is the term company leaders use to describe the market for astaxanthin, projected to reach $700 million next year and $2 billion by 2020. Neibler says the key to Algaeon's business is that the company's technology has mastered a notoriously difficult process.

"There aren't very many people who have been able to grow the algae that astaxanthin comes from; there are only four major suppliers in the U.S.," says Neibler. "Valensa chose us because we were able to climb that hill and be successful."

While growing algae for astaxanthin has been the company's primary focus, it's on the doorstep of specializing in a second nutrient: beta glucan, which is known for boosting the immune system and promoting heart health. While Algaeon says beta glucan is "used widely today," the company has developed a technology that produces the chemical at a much higher concentration level.

"An illustration many Hoosiers can relate to is, on an acre of land, you get one harvest of corn or soybeans per year, but beta glucan doubles itself every eight to 12 hours," says Neibler. "Every eight to 12 hours, you get a complete new harvest of algae. The rapidness of the growth is what makes it so attractive."

DeLacey says, not long ago, Algaeon had just one potential customer for beta glucan, but now has five and "a list of other people who have shown interest."

"I'm most excited about the breadth of the opportunity here," says DeLacey. "The opportunity in the beta glucan market is $100 million over the next five years, and that's just huge." Listen

Just one year beyond the company's seed funding and with a significant commercial contract in hand, the company is ramping up at a rate many startups would envy. Algaeon credits its success to the "management fiber" of the company and its resolve to maintain focus.

"The great temptation of a startup company—especially for us—is to do a lot of different things, because there are a lot of things you can make from algae, and a lot of them are very attractive," says Neibler. "We want to focus on a few things and be successful at those. That's been key, and people know we're serious about what we're doing and want to partner with us."

Algaeon's new production facility will increase its cultivation footprint from one-tenth of an acre to 10 acres when it begins operating in the spring of 2014. Fueled by focus, booming demand and a second product waiting in the wings, DeLacey simply chuckles, "We're too busy to pinch ourselves."


Purdue Entrepreneur-in-Residence Named to National Business Incubation Association Executive Committee

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Published: November 4, 2013

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. and ATHENS, Ohio - The National Business Incubation Association’s board of directors named John Hanak, an entrepreneur-in-residence and venture funding relations officer for the Purdue Foundry, as second vice chairman to its executive committee.

The National Business Incubation Association, or NBIA, works to advance business incubation and entrepreneurship.

At the foundry, Hanak works directly with Purdue University faculty, staff and students to create startups based on Purdue innovations by providing assistance such as product development and market analysis on an innovation, development of a business plan and help with finding funding sources.

Hanak previously served as statewide director of the Purdue Technology Centers. He previously held positions at a Fortune 500 metals manufacturer, a middle-market machine-building company and a technology product development firm. Additionally, he co-founded a technology commercialization and consulting firm (North Riverside Partners) and a small investment partnership (CN Associates).

Other Indiana-based leaders newly named or currently serving on the committee are:

* Karl LaPan, president and CEO of Northeast Indiana Innovation Center in Fort Wayne, Ind. LaPan also was named chairman of the NBIA board.

* Mark Long, president of Long Performance Advisors in Ellettsville, Ind.

About the National Business Incubation Association

Based in Athens, Ohio, the National Business Incubation Association is a leading organization advancing business incubation and entrepreneurship. Since 1985, the association has provided industry professionals with information, education, advocacy and networking resources to bring excellence to the process of assisting early-stage companies. The organization estimates that in 2011 alone, North American incubators assisted about 49,000 startups that provided full-time employment for nearly 200,000 workers and generated annual revenue of almost $15 billion.

About the Purdue Foundry

Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. The foundry collaborates with longstanding activities already taking place in the center with a goal to increase the growing demand from Purdue innovators who have an interest in forming a startup or licensing their discoveries. The foundry is supported and managed by the Purdue Research Foundation and its team of intellectual property, business development and venture capital experts.

Contact: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 588-3340,

Source: John Hanak, (765) 588-5255,


Ike Willett Honored for Developing Pro Bono Guardianship Program

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Media Contact: Andrea Andrews, +1 317 237 1318, (

Indianapolis, 96th Street (21-October-2013) - Isaac (Ike) Willett of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP received a Pro Bono Publico Award from the Indiana Bar Foundation (IBF) at the Randall T. Shepard Award Reception on Oct. 18.

Willett, an associate on the health and life sciences team at FaegreBD, was recognized for his service with the Indiana Health Advocacy Coalition (IHAC) and the Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) at Wishard Health Services.

MLPs aim to provide multi-disciplinary resources to patients with health care needs requiring social solutions. In 2012-13, Willett created the Wishard MLP's first pro bono guardianship program, organized training programs for participating attorneys and recruited 20 of his FaegreBD colleagues to volunteer. Attorneys represent low-income clients in obtaining guardianship of family members and loved ones who are incapacitated and incapable of making their own health care decisions, giving patients access to much-needed care. He has personally litigated three pro bono guardianship cases.

IHAC supports the development and growth of central Indiana MLPs by providing education and training. As a board member and current president of IHAC, Willett's vision is to transform the organization into an umbrella for all central Indiana MLPs that will identify and distribute funding. This preferred model for funding nonprofits is expected to lead to increased support for central Indiana MLPs.

The awards ceremony took place during the Indiana State Bar Association's Annual Meeting in French Lick, Ind.


New gadget revives waterlogged cellphones

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Joel Trusty’s promising invention and new company, Revive Electronics, started with a real sob story.

After his wife, Theresa, accidently soaked, soaped and spun her cell phone in the washing machine 18 months ago, she turned on her own water works.

“I told her I would buy her a new phone and all I heard was boo-hoo-hoo,” said Trusty, principal of local manufacturer Trusty-Cook Inc. “What she really wanted was all the data, the contact information, photos and video she had on her phone.”

Joel Trusty, left, and Reuben Zielinski explain how their invention dries out the interior of cell phones and other electronic devices and brings them back to life. They hope to be in mass production later this year. (IBJ Photo/Anthony Schoettle)

Trusty isn’t one to give up on a problem. The 51-year-old grew up watching his dad do things others said was impossible. Jon C. Trusty Sr. built Trusty-Cook by using urethane, a thick, plastic-like material, to make dead-blow hammers that were later sold under the Matco Tools and Snap-On Tools brands.

Trusty wasn’t about to let a little moisture in his wife’s phone cause him to throw in the towel. In fact, he now believes his efforts have resulted in a company that could eventually generate $500 million annually.

Trusty realized that any drying method couldn’t run too hot, since the electronic components break down at 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then Trusty recalled that moisture can’t survive in a vacuum.

Trusty realized if he could remove all the atmospheric pressure from a chamber, he could turn liquid—even liquid inside a cell phone—into a gas at a much lower temperature than otherwise possible. And that gas would seep through the cracks and crevices of a phone’s plastic case.

At the Trusty-Cook plant near Fort Benjamin Harrison, Trusty placed the phone in a large vacuum chamber used to remove gasses from polyurethane. He tried several methods. “I really didn’t know what I was doing,” Trusty said with a broad smile.

Alas, after one of his trials, presto, Theresa’s phone came on. And that’s not all. The data, photos and videos were perfectly intact.

Trusty had done so much trial and error, he wasn’t sure what he had done right.

“I needed someone who understood the science behind it, someone who could help me replicate what I did,” Trusty said.

He almost immediately thought of his quirky neighbor, Reuben Zielinski.

Zielinski, 52, holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and an MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He spent 13 years inventing things for IBM and another 16 years making gadgets and gizmos for life sciences firms. But that’s not what Trusty remembered most from their first encounter a few years earlier.

“I walked into a room in his basement—I thought I was walking into a bathroom—and he cornered me and started grilling me,” Trusty said. “He said, what did you see? What did you see?! I told him I didn’t see anything—at least not anything I could make sense of.”

trusty-factbox.gifThe room is where Zielinski kept many of his inventions.

In the years since, Trusty came to appreciate Zielinski’s creative thinking and inventing skills. The two are equally energetic and animated—especially when talking about overcoming challenges with inventions.

“Joel recognized I can reduce an idea to a practice,” Zielinski said.

The duo tinkered until they came up with a device about the size of a 1970s video cassette recorder. More importantly, Zielinski pinpointed the 16-step sequenced process Trusty had stumbled upon.

Trusty and Zielinski convened at Trusty-Cook on a Sunday to test what they had put together. The duo remembers the date like it was yesterday: Dec. 4, 2011.

Before coming to the manufacturing plant tucked along 59th Street, they stopped by Walmart to buy a thumb drive and a camera. They also brought along an old Blackberry, a calculator and an iPod from home. They submerged each device in water for a few minutes, then through the 16-step process.

“Each device was restored,” Trusty said.

Going commercial

Days after her old phone was restored, Theresa Trusty made a trip to the cell phone store to have the data from her restored phone transferred to the new phone she bought while the old phone was dead.

She was astonished when the store clerk said he sees 20 to 25 phones that don’t work every day because they’ve been soaked. The clerk commented, almost offhand, that people would pay a lot of money to use a machine that could revive a wet phone.

“We started thinking maybe we had something,” Zielinski said.

Trusty’s wife didn’t need convincing. She pushed the duo to take their idea commercial. Others, too—family and friends whose electronics they revived—raved about their invention.

Rodney Samodral, a friend of Trusty’s, had a phone his wife “unceremoniously dropped in the toilet.”

“It was deader than a doornail,” said Samodral, who works in information technology. “We put it in a box of rice, replaced the battery and got nothing.”

One time through Trusty and Zielinski’s unnamed invention and Samodral’s phone worked.

“It didn’t dawn on me how valuable this device was until I started thinking about all that data on my wife’s cell phone,” Samodral said.

When Trusty asked Samodral and his wife how much they’d pay to have their dead phone revived, they said without hesitation, $100.

“We started talking about the potential of this, and then we slowed ourselves down, and said ‘let’s get grounded,’” Zielinski said.

Patent pending

Not long after that, the duo called Dan Boots, who leads the intellectual property and technology practice group at law firm Bingham Greenebaum Doll.

Boots has seen a lot of inventions in his career, and said this one has more commercial potential than most. Trusty and Zielinski now have a number of patents pending in 35 countries.

“With the onslaught of digital devices as part of everyday life, this is a ubiquitous problem that will need addressing,” Boots said. “It’s a nearly fail-safe way to resurrect electronics. We think it’s quite innovative.”

Cell phone industry experts estimate 60,000 cell phones in the U.S. are ruined by water each day.

“No one chased this problem before because electrical engineers for years have said cell phones and other electronic devices were fried when they got wet,” Zielinski said. “They’re not fried. We’ve proved that.”

The co-founders formed Revive Electronics with the idea of having a kind of workshop where people would drop off or mail their electronic devices, but then they realized that wouldn’t work.

Micah Trusty

“In today’s age, especially with cell phones, that would take too long,” Trusty said. “We decided we needed to take this to the people.”

Size matters

The duo decided they needed to make their machine smaller—small enough to fit on a desk or a retail counter—and faster so customers could wait while their devices were restored.

Trusty brought in his cousin, Micah Trusty, to help streamline the product. Micah in 2000 founded Outbound Technologies Indiana, an industrial automation engineering company. The 38-year-old, who holds a degree in electrical engineering from Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, had just sold OTI when his cousin approached him about becoming a partner in his new company.

Micah had just the skill set the elder Trusty and Zielinski were looking for. He installed automated electronic processes in the machine to make it smaller and faster—much faster. Instead of taking 60 minutes to dry a device, the invention now takes 25 minutes. The current model is 22 inches long, 16 inches wide and 14 inches tall. Along the way, a function was installed in the machine so it can monitor the exact level of moisture in any electronic device.

Micah also developed a control panel that makes operating the device as easy as a microwave oven. The wireless device can also now be monitored remotely, meaning Revive Electronics can easily know how many devices have been dried using each machine—which will be key data for an eventual payment plan for the company’s customers.

This is no small gamble for Trusty and Zielinski. They’ve already invested $300,000 and the three have put close to 3,000 hours into development. But they have little fear they’ll recoup their investment.

“Selling these is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel,” Trusty said.

Some companies that make money selling cell phones might hesitate to restore old phones, Trusty said, “but there are lots of others that would be happy to take $75 or $100 to make a quick fix with our machine. Besides, it gets people in the door of their store.”

The co-founders are considering a contract where Revive Electronics would get an up-front payment plus a fee for each device dried and restored.

The invention not only works on larger electronic devices such as tablets and laptop computers, but Trusty said it also can restore devices soaked in other liquids such as soda pop.

In many cases, Trusty said, a device can simply be soaked in water until much of the other stuff—such as soft drink syrup—inside is washed out. And then it can be put through the drying machine and restored.

The machine is equipped with an ultra violet germicidal light that kills microbes and bacteria.

Only one thing can render an electronic device un-revivable, Trusty said: Plugging it into a wall outlet or other power source before it’s dried.

Capital campaign

Trusty and Zielinski said they’re already in late-stage talks with a couple of big retail companies that are interested in using their device. By the first quarter of next year they anticipate placing 50 machines and by the end of the year, 4,000. Trusty thinks each machine will bring in $20,000 annually for Revive Electronics with “a 90-percent gross margin on the service charge.”

If the Revive Electronics founders reach their goals, they’ll have $80 million in annual revenue by 2015.

When the company matures in four to five years, Trusty and Zielinski project they’ll have placed 30,000 machines worldwide.

Revive Electronics owners are talking to four Indiana shops about manufacturing the device, and are looking for investors to help launch the manufacturing process.•


Hunckler steps down as head of startup group Verge

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Local entrepreneurship initiative Verge will swap leaders, organization founder Matt Hunckler said Thursday.

Hunckler, 26, and a group of friends started Hackers and Founders in 2009 as a way for young technology careerists to meet casually and talk business over sandwiches and beer.

The group, which rebranded itself as Verge in 2011, has grown to almost 2,000 members, with monthly gatherings that typically draw hundreds. The organization also orchestrates smaller meetups, as well as larger affairs, such as this week's Innovation Showcase and the Powder Keg conference in October.

Leading Verge as executive director became a full-time job for Hunckler.

However, earlier this year he went to work for tech entrepreneur Scott Jones by spearheading Social Reactor, a social media startup within Jones’ question-and-answer service ChaCha Search Inc.

Hunckler told IBJ on Thursday he needed more time to dedicate himself to his latest project.

“Last year I was working on Verge full time, so I was going 50- to 80-hour weeks,” he said.

He will hand the reins to Alec Synnestvedt, 24, who is product marketing manager for parking software developer T2 Systems Inc.

Synnestvedt wants to maintain existing programs and events while determining what else to add.

Recruiting new cities could also be on the to-do list. Verge has hubs in Indianapolis, Bloomington and West Lafayette, with a fourth beginning this fall in Terra Haute. Synnestvedt and Hunckler both said they would like to see more members, including from out of state.

“I want to bring that value to more entrepreneurs. That requires a lot,” Synnestvedt said. “My goal is to spend all the time I can in, kind of, perfecting the Verge model and bringing those values to a wider audience.”


Anderson woman churning out dog chews made from elk antlers

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Cindy Dunston Quirk was a dog lover with a problem:

Her two canine companions loved to chew, but beef allergies kept them from gnawing on bones or rawhide—the most common alternatives to Mom’s favorite pair of shoes. The Anderson resident searched for other options, to no avail.

Then her veterinarian suggested Quirk design her own product, offering to invest if she came up with something. She spent a decade experimenting until she found her answer: elk antlers.


Male elk shed their nutrient-rich antlers each spring, leaving behind a natural source of rugged, splinter-proof bone that’s surprisingly versatile and infinitely chew-worthy.

Quirk came up with the idea in January 2010, mere days before she turned 52. Within two weeks, she had a product packaged and ready to sell.

“I was on a mission,” she said.

Today, Scout & Zoe’s Natural Antler Dog Chews are available in 460 stores in the United States and China. Named for Quirk’s dogs, the company doubled its revenue each of the past two years and is on track to do it again in 2013.

Although Quirk declined to share specifics, there’s plenty of kibble at stake. U.S. pet owners are expected to spend more than $55 billion on their animals this year, according to the American Pet Products Association, including over $21 billion on food and treats.

“We endear our pets to us in ways people in other countries do not,” Quirk said, explaining a growing demand for products made in the United States. “My dogs are my kids. I’m not going to feed them something I wouldn’t eat myself. … I don’t think I’m the only person on the planet who feels that way.”

Far from it. Despite its decidedly “premium” price point (chews cost $12-$40 each online), response to Scout & Zoe’s has been strong since the start.

The company scored its first significant retail placement at Indianapolis’ trio of Three Dog Bakery stores in mid-2010 and within a year was shipping products overseas.

By 2012, production had shifted from Quirk’s garage—where her husband, Steve, cut antlers for her to clean, package and ship—to an Anderson firm hired to handle fabrication and fulfillment. Outsourcing that work freed up Quirk to focus on sales and marketing.

“It’s an entrepreneur’s dream,” she said, recalling the first day she “felt like a CEO” by taking orders she didn’t have to fill herself.

Local Three Dog Bakery operator Stacey Petcu said Quirk’s enthusiasm is contagious.

“She really is a go-getter,” Petcu said. “She believes in her product so much, it carries over to us. It’s easy to sell that way.”

Scout & Zoe’s offers a range of products that make use of every inch of the naturally shed antlers it buys from brokers. The company sells dog chews in seven sizes, plus bird perches and so-called niblets for small animals (think rabbits and gerbils).

This year, human-grade chicken jerky and sweet potato treats joined the lineup after Quirk had a hard time finding snacks for her dogs that weren’t made in China, where recent pet food recalls have originated.

“It just kind of evolved,” she said.

She always has been a dog lover, but running a pet-products company wasn’t Quirk’s lifelong ambition. She studied marketing and advertising at Georgia State University and built a wide-ranging resume, including stints at a payroll processor, an insurance company, working as an event planner and a magazine publisher.

“I have a fairly large personality, and I got fired from a lot of jobs because of it,” she said.

In hindsight, Quirk said her circuitous career path makes perfect sense.

“All my jobs taught me something: organization, time management, what kind of boss to be, what kind of boss not to be,” she said, ticking off examples. “Lots of good, teachable moments.”

dog-treats-factbox.gifThose lessons helped Quirk shape the company, and Scout & Zoe’s helped her discover the passion that was missing from her previous professions. She’s having a ball working her tail off.

“It started out of a need to find something for my dogs, but I also had been searching for something for me,” she said. “Whether I have great success or not, I don’t want to be one of those people who say, ‘I wonder what would have happened if I’d done that.’”

Although Quirk said the company is profitable, she still has a part-time job as a safety net. That’s an improvement from the three she juggled at one point. And she’s hoping this is the year she can finally quit and devote herself to broadening Scout & Zoe’s reach.

To that end, Quirk will make a one-minute business pitch at the Innovation Showcase, an annual gathering attended by entrepreneurs and investors. More than 60 companies are set to compete for more than $60,000 in cash and prizes at the July 11 event. Then there are the connections to be made.

“I’m so ready to make this [enterprise] soar,” Quirk said. “It is my life. If a day ends in ‘y,’ I work on Scout & Zoe’s. There’s a lot of gratification in having a dream and bringing it to fruition.”

Quirk has invested more than $120,000 in the startup so far, bootstrapping operations until last year, when she took out a small loan from the Flagship Enterprise Center in Anderson to add inventory.

Business advisers there, at Purdue Research Park and at the Indiana Small Business Development Centers office in Muncie also have been invaluable sounding boards, she said.

“It’s great to have people who can help me find my path,” Quirk said. “They’re all very willing to provide insight, to listen to my logic and make sure it’s solid.”

ISBDC business coach Tom Steiner guided Quirk through the export process and helped put together company financial statements for outside review. He’s been impressed by her energy and intelligence.

“I have never seen a more dynamic businessperson,” he said, and the company is one of the most successful he has worked with in his five years at the ISBDC. “Keep an eye on her. She’s going to go places.”

Quirk expects to continue tweaking operations as needed. She already has several new ideas in the “incubation stage” and is weighing the possibility of launching another company.

“The only limit is my imagination,” Quirk said, then corrected herself. “And capital. With the right partner or partners, there really is no limit.”

So what about her vet—the guy who said he would back Quirk’s allergy-free innovation? He didn’t invest, but give the guy credit for pointing her in the right direction, anyway.•


Five things I love: John Wechsler

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John Wechsler is a start-up entrepreneur and founder of Launch Fishers, a 16,000-square-foot facility for start-ups in Fishers. He is currently prepping Launch Fishers for the grand opening of an art exhibition space. The first show, iCreate, opened June 14 featuring art created or processed on the iPhone. More information is available at

1. My wife’s kale fruit smoothie. We start almost every morning with one. Start with 1/2 cup of kale. Combine with 1/4 cup of strawberries,1/4 cup of blueberries and half a banana. Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk and two ounces apple juice. Supplement with two tablespoons of ground chia seeds. Blend for 30 seconds and enjoy. (233 calories — 70 from chia seeds, but they are worth it.)

2. Brickyard Chicken at Michael’s Southshore (11705 Fox Road). Owner Michael Moros is a Johnson & Wales-trained chef who favors locally grown ingredients for his Geist-area dinner spot. He seasons this half-chicken overnight and pan-sears it, serving it with smashed redskin potatoes and vegetables topped with chardonnay pan sauce.

3. Mathoos egg rolls ( I am a regular at this Fishers Farmers Market stand. Bea Gustin carries forward her mother’s egg roll tradition. Buy one or a dozen at the farmers market, 11601 Municipal Drive, Fishers, on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. One of the best egg rolls you will ever put in your mouth.

4. BBQ Chicken Flatbread Pizza at Hearthstone Coffee House & Pub (8235 E. 116th St., Fishers, Owner Mark Goff has done a great job of creating a public house with the best coffees, local microbrews and a full menu that keeps locals coming back. The flatbreads are great to pass around as appetizers or as a meal for one.

5. Zogurts Dark Chocolate FroYo (10134 Brooks School Road, Fishers, All-natural, gluten free, sugar free and no artificial sweeteners or flavoring. Seriously, what else do you need to know? Plus, five ounces of the dark chocolate are only about 100 calories. You’re welcome.



Startup aims to take on '11th commandment'

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Carmel tech firm owner Ron Brumbarger grows his own talent, and now he wants to help other businesses do the same.

Brumbarger on Thursday unveiled plans for his startup Apprentice University, an alternative to what he calls the 11th commandment: Thou shalt go to college.

“We think there’s a better way,” he said at the kickoff event at Launch Fishers.

The program is still in its formative stage, but Brumbarger said he has a couple dozen local employers interested in the idea of providing on-the-job training to Apprentice U. students, who will be paid for their work.

Students enrolled in the 30-month program will be given a series of assignments—and mentors—within the business network, and Brumbarger said they will leave with the real-world skills employers need. He hopes to start making matches by the end of June.

Brumbarger came up with the idea after growing frustrated by the effort required to get traditional college graduates up to speed at his Web development firm, BitWise Solutions.

“I’m not interested in new grads,” he said. “I’ll grow my own every day of the week.”

Apprentice U. will not award degrees, which Brumbarger insists have become more of a rite of passage for students than a value proposition. He cited the prevalence of unemployed and under-employed college graduates as proof.

“What other thing would you spend $100,000 on and not get a warranty?” he said.

In addition to the professional assignments, Brumbarger said students will take a “handcrafted” array of online courses like logic, rhetoric and entrepreneurship. The only requirement for everyone: an old-school acting class, which he said will help students become comfortable in the different roles they will be asked to play in life.

Brumbarger has experience developing young talent. His 7-year-old BitWise Fellows program allows high school students to run their own Web development firm, handling everything from sales and marketing to product delivery. The companion On Deck programis targeted at even younger students.

Fellows President Isabella Penola is a home-schooled sophomore who manages a staff of about 10. The 15-year-old Zionsville resident is an aspiring writer, but she jumped at the chance to expand her horizons. It is her first job.

“It is a really unique opportunity to get some real-world experience,” she said.

Brumbarger mentors students, but he takes a hands-off approach to the business.

“I don’t clean up after them or bail them out,” he said.

He hasn’t had to: The BitWise Fellows business unit posted a $2,200 profit on $6,000 in first-quarter sales. Annual revenue is close to $30,000.

Fellows “graduate” from the program when they finish high school, but several have landed part-time jobs at BitWise Solutions.


Tech startup PatentStatus counting victories

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It seems fitting that the America Invents Act spurred Indianapolis product-development pro James Burnes to conjure up a business that helps companies manage their intellectual property portfolios online.

PatentStatus launched in January 2012—mere months after President Obama signed the legislation updating U.S. patent law. Among its changes: a provision allowing patent holders to use a web address to mark protected products. Traditionally, individual patent numbers have been imprinted on the products themselves.

Burnes recognized the opportunity and enlisted the help of a development team from local software firm WDDinc. They built an online platform capable of handling millions of patent records, and Burnes set out to sell the idea to patent attorneys.

He scored an early win, prevailing in a startup competition with a juicy prize: tickets to watch the 2012 Super Bowl with Startup America CEO Scott Case. Burnes got feedback on his idea from Case (who was’s founding chief technology officer) and access to hundreds of decision makers in Indianapolis for the big game.

A year later, PatentStatus is still counting victories—the most recent coming March 1, when the company was named the Entrepreneurship Advancement Center’s Top Emerging Business for 2013. The Fishers-based not-for-profit supports innovation.

Burnes is just as proud of another achievement: The company is making money.

“We are cash-flow positive,” he said. “There’s still a lot of room to grow, but that’s huge.”

PatentStatus has landed a number of out-of-state clients in the consumer products, life sciences and medical-device industries, he said. It also has a robust pipeline of prospects including global brands such as Briggs & Stratton, Kimberly Clark and Caterpillar.

While virtual patent marking remains the firm’s primary service, Burnes has found plenty of demand for its patent-tracking platform, which helps companies understand how they are using existing patents.

“That’s the icing on the cake,” Burnes said.

Burnes financed the startup himself, but took Case’s advice and found investors to help grow the business. He declined to share specifics, saying only that he raised “more than six figures” from a number of private investors.

“I feel good about the future,” he said.

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