ODON — More than 10 high-growth startups from across southern Indiana will be featured at the inaugural WestGate@Crane Startup Showcase. The showcase will take place on Tuesday at WestGate Academy, 13598 East WestGate Drive in Odon at 3:30 p.m.

The showcase will highlight innovators who have launched businesses from Purdue@WestGate’s Firestarter program this year. Firestarter is a free, cohort-based program connecting entrepreneurs with resources to commercialize their ideas. The six-week program covers a wide variety of entrepreneurial topics including business plan development, value proposition, ideation, validation and market discovery. Purdue@WestGate works closely with partners such as the University of Southern Indiana’s Eagle Innovation Accelerator and the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation’s pre accelerator program, B-Start.

Christopher Brown, an engineer at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division and entrepreneur, took technology he co-invented for the warfighter through Firestarter. Brown invested his personal time in the six-week program as an independent entrepreneur.

“This technology is a rope climbing machine built for our deployed Navy SEALs to stay in top physical condition,” says Brown. “Firestarter presented an excellent collaborative venue to explore the commercial applications of this technology and build a substantial business plan around the intellectual property.”

The Rope Climber is one of hundreds of patented technologies in the NSWC Crane portfolio available for private industry commercialization. Firestarter provides an environment for naval and industry innovators to efficiently test the market viability of their ideas.

“During the Firestarter process, I was able to see how the Rope Climber technology could be transitioned from the original military application to use at a home or commercial gym,” says Brown. “Exploring the commercial marketing side as the co-inventor of the technology has been an exciting and eye-opening process that offered insight to the business side of product development that I usually don’t get to witness as an engineer.”

A video about the Rope Climber is available here https://bit.ly/2u8r8C7

Heath Murray, president of 3 Goat Recruiting, says Firestarter was an opportunity to learn from the curriculum of the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator whose professionals help innovators create startups, as well as the other founders in the cohort.

“I was able to connect with other entrepreneurs strengthening their businesses from across southern Indiana,” says Murray. “Since I work on base for a government contractor in WestGate@Crane Technology Park, having access to a free program like Firestarter to propel my own business is immensely valuable.”

3 Goat Recruiting provides recruiting and services for first responders and veterans. After many years of public service, first responders and veterans may choose to enter new fields of employment.

Murray says this process of entering a new career may be difficult and with the appropriate training, this dedicated workforce may transition into technology-based jobs that need filled.

“At 3 Goat, we help combine the traits first responders and veterans learned from their professions such as leadership, decision making and responsibility with access to the technical skills and professional resources needed to begin new careers in Cyber Security and Information Technology,” says Murray.

Additional Purdue@WestGate Firestarter startups featured during the showcase will be Adventure Field Guides, Telescope Data Services, Wave Therapeutics, AXISENAQUA, Patron Exchange, RiseFi, Ora Pacem, Lodgepole Pine Productions, Rofori, Heliponix, Thermal Wall Technologies and Trinity Energy.

Several southern Indiana resources spanning from Bloomington to Evansville will be on site to serve entrepreneurs and business owners through development such as Rose-Hulman Ventures, Indiana Small Business Development Center, Elevate Ventures, Indiana Innovation Institute, University of Southern Indiana, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Radius Indiana, Battery Innovation Center and more.

The inaugural WestGate@Crane Startup Showcase is free and open to the public. Appetizers and refreshments will be available. To reserve your ticket to the showcase, contact purduewestgate@prf.org.



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