About Us


Inspired by one of the 20th century’s most notable innovators, television inventor and long-time Fort Wayne resident Philo T. Farnsworth, and modeled on the successful grant program of the Peter Thiel-backed 1517 Fund, elevate northeast indiana created the Fortitude Fund (formerly called the Farnsworth Fund) to be a catalyst for changing the entrepreneurial culture of the region.

Entrepreneurial Culture Shock demands a new approach to entrepreneurship. The Fortitude Fund is a vehicle to identify and support founders of companies from the very beginning. In the first year it will make at least 50 “bets” ($1,000 grants) on the people who will ultimately drive our entrepreneurial culture, even if their first idea is not their biggest success.

Grantees will be connected with each other, mentors, and other business support. Those who aren’t quite ready will receive an encouraging “not now” and receive support to prepare for success. This focus on inclusiveness and community is designed to grow civic investment and engagement.

By identifying, supporting and networking individuals like the young Philo T. Farnsworth, who have the vision and drive to put bold ideas into action, Northeast Indiana’s brand of entrepreneurism will create and grow new companies through a highly connected, collaborative culture with entrepreneurs at the center.

How It Works

  • Connect with the Fortitude Fund community online or at an event
  • Make a short, simple application
  • Have a quick conversation with our Program Manager
  • Receive a fast response and, if approved, a disbursement within 30 days

Potentially fundable ideas will include the full spectrum of entrepreneurial activity, from potential small businesses through high growth, venture-scalable concepts. The grants are available to entrepreneurs creating for-profit companies – those who are leading non-profit projects are encouraged to join the community, but are not eligible for a grant. Decision criteria will include the character and potential of the Founder and the potential for success and impact. Additional weight will be given to opportunities that align with the region’s focus areas.

Come for the Money – Stay for the Company

Grantees will have access to the Fund’s experienced Program Manager, Steve Franks, who has helped Northeast Indiana startup entrepreneurs for over a decade. He will foster community building among peer grantees, and help connect grantees to a network of experienced mentors, advisors, and community business resources.

About Philo T. Farnsworth

Farnsworth had his initial idea for TV invention at age 15 as a Utah farm boy. By 20, after brief stints in the Navy and at BYU, he had his own lab above a garage in San Francisco and was filing his 1st patent application. His bold, inventive impact on the world grew far beyond that first patent as he was cited as inventor on over 300 patents.

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