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January 2019

Applying an Engineering Mind to Creating a Business and the Importance of Having a Founding Team

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E  ngineers are smart, hard-working, and often think outside the box. However, when it comes to getting out of the mousetrap and starting their own business, engineers often focus on designing a great product with bells and whistles that make it innovative. Many of them, like myself, start out alone. When you’re focused on the product, or when you’re doing everything yourself, the process gets difficult. In this post I will talk about how to approach business as a designer/engineer, what kind of people need to be involved, and what to focus on when developing your product.

In starting a business, the first step is reaching out. Whether you have an idea, a skill, or even just a desire to be your own boss, chances are you don’t have the necessary guidance.

In starting a business, the first step is reaching out. Whether you have an idea, a skill, or even just a desire to be your own boss, chances are you don’t have the necessary guidance. For engineers and designers, the guidance is extremely necessary. Often, we get caught up in trying to make the perfect product that we forget the importance of how it makes money! To get on track, you need the right resources to pave the road ahead. These can be books, articles, people, etc. that have the experience you need. Many people try to be nice, others can be jerks, so find someone in between that can give compliments on your achievements and progress yet still call you out on your BS. Check out your local chamber of commerce, economic development committee, and work connections. Many larger cities have a “Launch” or “Start” company that helps entrepreneurs get started. Also, a great book for building a business that sells product is Disciplined Entrepreneurship by Bill Aulet. It lays out the process step by step to get you to seed investments.

After you’ve made connections, the first thing is to take your idea, skill, etc. and list out all the potential applications. Then pick out one of those that will be the easiest to launch into; this is your “Beachhead” Market. This market normally costs less to enter, doesn’t have strong competition, and has customers that can pay for your product or service. A large amount of research on the market is required at this stage; figure out what makes the customer tick and apply it to the product or service. Keep this info handy, you’ll need it later.

Once you’ve managed that, it will be time to map out your business.  This is the fun part!  You get to draw diagrams, mess with spreadsheets, and contemplate “what if” scenarios.  The design part of building the business requires critical thinking, which your business connections can help you think through.  They’ll ask things like, “How do you plan to sell product?”, “What are critical points in making your product?”, “How fast can you provide your service?”, or even, “What are the important values and goals of your business?”.  From my experience, sketching out a diagram of the company makes it clearer to understand sales processes, cash flow, even taxes (gasp!).  I can’t answer every question here, but I’ll wrap up with this: be creative, be confident, do your research, make connections, and shift your focus to meeting people’s needs.  All of this is required to be successful.

One person running a business is tough. One person running a large operation is near impossible. It takes a team of people with different skill sets to be successful…and to have fun doing so.

  • Technical Co-Founder

  • Marketing/Sales

  • Other Specialty

Technical Co-Founder

This person is often the one who has the skills in the technical field that you need. Often, the field is software or circuitry; such is my case. This person can also have similar skills to yours, just more focused. The ideas here is to have someone on board who is solely focused on the technical aspects of the product, which allows you to keep the focus on the building the business.

Marketing/Sales

As a technical minded person, I’ve never dealt with how to sell the product I designed.  Therefore, I need someone on my team whose priority is to focus on selling the product and using different marketing avenues to get our name out there.  When you’re ready to launch, or even if you need someone who knows business, look for someone with marketing or sales experience.  You also need someone who has the personal drive to succeed.  A person with no experience or drive to be successful will only hold you back and cause your business to crumble.

Other Specialty

Sometimes you need more than just someone with skills in the technical fields and marketing/sales. It often helps to have someone with a background in finances, such as a CPA. In manufacturing a product, you’ll need someone to manage labor. Although these additions often come later in the process, it is good to start making these connections early on. The better relationship with those you work with, the better the flow of the business.

In designing a product, engineers and designers often come up with ideas of things that would be useful or interesting. I tend to get carried away in what could be added to an original product to make it better or more suitable to the end user. This can be good, but it leads focus away from the main requirements that the product needs to fulfill.

First, take information from researching the market to determine what your product/service needs to do. Sometimes the need is just innovation on an existing product/service to increase its effectiveness. Other times there is a need that a current product/service doesn’t meet. The overall objective is to get something to market; if you spend too much time on bells and whistles, you suspend your time to revenue! So, the next step is to find what the minimum requirement is to meet the needs of the customer.

Your goal is to get to market as soon as possible. If you develop a product, look at developing the minimum viable product (mvp). If you’re offering a service, keep focused on doing one or two things well to start.

The next major steps are showing the idea to potential customers; a physical thing to show is better (prototype, brochure, service example). Be sure to mention the main capabilities and keep the focus on the functions that meet the customer needs. You don’t want to get distracted on other things that the potential customer may or may not need. Also, ask for advice. Your customers will be your future salespeople (consumers talk about products all the time). Developing a good relationship with a potential customer now will lead to an increased chance of selling to him/her later.

The last step before taking the big step toward fundraising or launching your service is to gain market traction. Show the final proposed design to several people. See if any of them are willing to buy a product like yours! If so, you know you’ve got something good. If not, you may need to make changes to your product, your sales strategy, and sometimes your entire launch market.

In using your engineering/designer mind to build a business, it’s important not to get caught up in the things that you think are important. Focus on your customer; they are the ones that will make your business successful. Although you may have the skills necessary to do everything on your own, it wouldn’t be wise to do so. I’ve accomplished a lot on my own, but now I’m at the point where I literally can’t; I need to grow the business internally to get things going. Lastly, when starting out, keep things simple. Focus on the minimum requirements for customer satisfaction. It will save you time and money that you can put toward scaling up and planning for the future. Always remember that your job is to grow the business, but more importantly to have fun doing so!

Article written by Kyle Craig, Farnsworth Founder and Founder of Apollo Dynamics

Turning a long-time passion into a small business: My experience, my fears, my wins, and lessons learned along the way.

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I started Lunar Infusions one year ago. This first year has been somewhat like riding a rollercoaster, an exhilarating journey of high and low points. The lows have come in the form of obstacles between me and my goals, the highs are the breakthroughs in getting to the next step.

Let me preface by saying I did not go to business school, did not grow up in an entrepreneur family, and I basically had no idea what I was doing when I started Lunar Infusions. I did, however, have over four years of experience brewing kombucha

Let me preface by saying I did not go to business school, did not grow up in an entrepreneur family, and I basically had no idea what I was doing when I started Lunar Infusions. I did, however, have over four years of experience brewing kombucha (a healthy, carbonated probiotic tea beverage). I brewed my first batch in 2013 while I was living in Arcata, CA. It was then that I became obsessed with fermentation. Changing something ordinary into a magical superfood was thrilling, and it was clear I had a knack for it.

It didn’t take long before I began taking my elixirs everywhere I went and sharing them with whoever stopped by my place. I was so happy to share and I did not expect what would happen next; Even though you could buy all kinds of kombucha from all kinds of stores in this little hippy town, people loved my small batch kombucha and wanted to buy it from me. So, I began selling it from my little studio apartment. Soon my walls were lined with jars of kombucha. If you have seen it brewing before, you know the SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) floats around the tea liquid, looking like some kind of science experiment. I have actually always found it beautiful. I was busting at the seams, and it was getting a little challenging to keep up with the demand!

I dreamed of making this a legitimate business but I was so scared. Starting a real business seemed overwhelming and I had no idea where to start. I thought about it constantly though. Every time I saw a new brand of kombucha pop up on the store shelves, I would panic a little, thinking that my window of opportunity to start would not last forever.

Then, my life took a turn when I was visiting family here in Indiana 2.5 years ago. I began feeling like I should be closer to family, and out of nowhere, I met the man of my dreams. I seriously was not expecting that! Okay Universe, I thought, I hear you! So, I found myself moving back to Indiana in January 2017. I got a couple of jobs and started brewing my kombucha. I loathed the jobs but the kombucha brought me so much joy. Again, I started sharing it, hoping people would love it here too. They did, and I started selling, again from my tiny apartment. It took me almost a year to feel confident making it an official business. Thankfully I also had the support of my fiancé. It truly helps to have people close to you who believe in you! I was excited and nervous, but I knew one thing was for sure, I did not want to work for someone else much longer.

It took me almost a year to feel confident making it an official business. Thankfully I also had the support of my fiancé. It truly helps to have people close to you who believe in you!

With no formal business training or experience and only a few thousand dollars and some credit cards, I knew that I wasn’t going to start big. My theory was to start slow and grow organically. I googled how to start a business and did the bare minimum of registering a name and filing with the state. Now I needed a place to sell it. How scary! Was I just supposed to walk in and ask a business owner to carry it? The fear of rejection was always on my mind. But one day during a class at Fusion Yoga, I felt inspired and asked the owner, Celeste Sexton, if I could do a tasting at her studio. To my surprise, she not only agreed but was super excited to maybe even put my kombucha in the studio! I was ecstatic. That one step forward gave me so much confidence. I decided to go for it.

Once the ball started rolling, my creative mind went to all of the other possibilities with my business.

I did, however, need to get it cleared with the health department which meant: It had to be brewed at a commercial facility, I had to get the proper permits, insurance, and inspections before I could sell. I might as well have been asked to climb Mount Everest because it all seemed so foreign and out of my realm of experience. But I was determined. So, thanks to google, I found a local shared commercial kitchen, The Cookspring Kitchen at The Summit. Finding them was like finding a hidden treasure. They have a great program for budding culinary entrepreneurs, and their kitchen manager, Troy Tiernon, was and has always been a great resource for helping navigate those waters. Then I called the health department, asked them what I needed to do, and then I did it, one step at a time. Getting my Indiana wholesale distributor license was surreal! I was a legitimate business.

One of his nuggets of wisdom was, to get out there, and get it into as many people's mouths as possible. I figured the Fort Wayne Farmers Market would be a great place to start.

Soon after this, I asked my uncle, Scott Howard, a marketing guy, what he thought about in terms of marketing my product. One of his nuggets of wisdom was, to get out there, and get it into as many people’s mouths as possible. I figured the Fort Wayne Farmers Market would be a great place to start. Again, I was nervous about asking for fear of being rejected or unprepared. I had zero experience being a vendor for anything, and I was a brand-new business so I wasn’t sure if they would give me a chance. Almost exactly a year ago, on January 13, 2018, I worked my first farmer’s market. My product was well received and I sold out the first few weeks! I was on cloud nine.

Once the ball started rolling, my creative mind went to all of the other possibilities with my business. I knew the next step was to get my product in stores and on draft. With a lot of research, a branding makeover, a trailer outfitted with a draft system (built by my fiancé) and hard work, lunar infusions entered the retail market. The first place to give me a try was the Three Rivers Distillery. They started using my product to make mimosas and kombucha cocktail which are a very trendy thing in big cities, but not yet in Fort Wayne. I am so grateful to the president, Marla Schneider for giving me a shot and starting the trend here in Fort Wayne. I am proud to say that they still carry my kombucha, and you can get a draft glass if you want an alternative to alcohol, or if you spice things up you can get a delicious kombucha cocktail. Soon after, I approached the River Coffee House, Conjure Coffee, The Three Rivers Co-op and Deli, and The Fresh Food Hub. Needless to say, after each new retail location, I was beaming. My business was working!

I might be making this sound too easy. There have been more obstacles and setbacks throughout this journey than I can write about. But let me tell you about one of the most embarrassing and expensive learning lessons so far. Packaging. I had no idea this would be so difficult to figure out. I mean, you just put your product in a bottle and sell it, right? Ha. I will spare you the technical details of finding a suitable bottle at an affordable price and not in increments of 200,000… harder than you think! And Labels. Once I got the design figured out, I had no idea where to get them printed. The minimum order for a professional printer was in the thousands and I thought, what if I go through a few hundred and need to change something on the label? My answer was to buy an at-home label printer capable of printing quality labels on demand. Boy were those expensive! I got the cheapest professional one I could find. At $1225 I got a printer and soon found that the labels and ink for the thing were a small fortune in themselves. But at that point, there was no turning back. I figured I would use it momentarily and find a way to get the cost down later. Meanwhile, I had hundreds of bottles on store shelves when something odd started happening. With the humid summer air hitting the bottles as cooler doors opened, the labels began coming off of the bottles and then sticking to other labels on bottles next to it. It became a nightmare. Oh yeah, and the ink was rubbing off onto people’s hands. I thought my business was done for, and I was mortified. And worse, I had no idea how to fix the problem! Luckily, hundreds of failing labels later, I ended up finding a local company and an online company who could print quality, PERMANENT, and waterproof labels, and soon the problem was solved. The mistake only cost me a couple thousand dollars and a lot of stress and embarrassment. Hey, Hindsight is always 20/20.

Here are some of the key lessons I have learned so far:

1. You can over-think starting a small business.

If you have no idea what you are doing in the first place, thinking about it for years is not the best use of time. I wish I would have just put myself out there sooner so I could be ahead of where I am now.

2. Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from asking for what you want.

Many of the places I have approached about selling my kombucha have said no. And so what?! So many have said yes! And every time I get my product into a new place I feel like a superstar. If you never ask, you will NEVER get what you want.

3. Starting a new business, or having any big goal for that matter, can seem overwhelming.

The key is focusing on one step at a time. It is the little things you do every day, that adds up over the course of a year, or over many years, that make it happen.

4. We live in a time where there are unlimited resources.

Not knowing what you are doing is not an excuse. Google it, ask people for advice, network and utilize the Farnsworth Fund (If you are in Northeast Indiana)! Some other sources of information and inspirations have been entrepreneur and business podcasts, books, and audiobooks.

5. Starting a business with something you’re passionate about might become more about a business than your actual passion.

I love brewing kombucha, but a year later, I only spend a small percentage of my time actually brewing kombucha. All of the sudden, I am also a bookkeeper, production manager, sales rep, distributor, marketing manager, researcher, etc. If you are starting on a small budget, it can be hard to hire people to fill these roles. This works for me personally because I like challenge, change, and tend to get burnt out doing the same thing for too long. I picture this being the same in other industries as well. For example, if you are passionate about baking and open a bakery, you might not end up spending that much time actually baking!

Overall, this rollercoaster of entrepreneurship has been fun and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Of course, it has been scary at times too. But learning to relax through the stress and keep going has been worth it! I am so excited to see what the next year has in store. I hope sharing my experience was at least entertaining, and hopefully inspiring to someone out there with dreams of starting their own business.

Article written by Sarah Trombley Founder/Owner Lunar Infusions, LLC lunarinfusions.com

Q & A with Karly Wolfcale

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“I have fallen in love with business and entrepreneurship, so no matter what I decide to do when I am older, I am sure it will have something to do with this new passion.”

What is it like running a business while balancing school?

Running a business while balancing school can be super challenging. Trying to balance the SAT and meetings can get very overwhelming, very quickly. I have had to learn how to manage my time wisely a lot quicker than most of my classmates have. It is challenging working with people that have more normal business hours when I don’t get home until 9:00 at night, therefore my workday starts pretty late. However, the time management skills and people skills that I am learning early on in my career will serve me well for my future, which makes it extremely worthwhile.

What do your family and friends think about you running a business?

I would not have started a business and received all of these amazing opportunities, such as the Farnsworth Fund, without my parents. My dad has always been there to discuss business issues I am facing and has kept me motivated throughout the process, especially when I get discouraged. My family helps keep the flame inside me alive. On another note a lot of my friends have heard a lot about my business because I will enthusiastically tell anyone who will listen to me, but many of them are truly not sure what I’m actually up to.

Does this affect future plans such as college, career, etc?

This has impacted my entire future plans! In my earlier teen years, I was convinced I was going to be a Veterinarian. Because of these opportunities, my vet school plan has gone completely out of the window. I have fallen in love with business and entrepreneurship, so no matter what I decide to do when I am older, I am sure it will have something to do with this new passion.

Why should students just "jump in" and not wait to start their own business?

Students should just “jump in” and start their own business because…why not? Why wait until tomorrow when you know you can accomplish something today! Don’t think you are required to have college or business school completed before you can start your own business. I was worried because I knew I didn’t know every aspect of business, however I found out that there is no written guide to entrepreneurship when you are passionate about something. Every single person’s experience is different, so, yes, having a degree in business would be extremely helpful but it shouldn’t stop you. Not to mention the amazing people in the community that have had my back through everything. School can’t teach you how to have a passion for an idea or motivate you to change the world, this is something you have to find in yourself. I have talked to a lot of people my age with revolutionary ideas but are too afraid to start something. There are a million reasons not to do something and if you don’t start something now, when are you going to?

“School can’t teach you how to have a passion for an idea or motivate you to change the world, this is something you have to find in yourself.”

Credits of the app creation: Benjamin Steyer, Nicholas Hawn, David Bell, and Andrew Luttenbacher

Two entrepreneurs launch community-centric businesses in Fort Wayne’s up-and-coming ’05

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Two entrepreneurs launch community-centric businesses in Fort Wayne’s up-and-coming ’05

| Input Fort Wayne

December 12, 2018

When entrepreneurs Kylee Hays and Leitia (Lay-shuh) McHugh started looking for a shared location for their two, growing businesses, they knew what they wanted to find.

Kylee Hays, left, and Leitia (Lay-shuh) McHugh, right, are two entrepreneurs investing in the ’05 neighborhood.

Hays wanted an open space to host events, while McHugh desired a space with natural light that was close to home to accommodate her family.

So when they found a house-like building at 1412 Delaware Ave. nestled in the heart of Fort Wayne’s highly coveted Forest Park Neighborhood, they knew it was the perfect fit. The building, which formerly housed a marketing firm, dates back to the 1920s with hardwood floors, tall ceilings, and historic woodwork throughout. Now, it’s home to two new, creative ventures.

On the main floor, McHugh runs a one-of-a-kind party themed care-package company called the Confetti Post. Upstairs, Hays runs the Bookhouse Studio, which offers yoga, mindfulness/meditation classes, and a creative kids’ event center.

While these modern business concepts are unique in a historic neighborhood, both entrepreneurs say their neighbors have welcomed them with open arms since they opened in October.

“We were blown away by the community support,” McHugh says. “We had about 100 people through our doors for our open house up until the time of closing our doors.”

So what do the Bookhouse Studio and the Confetti Post do?

Input Fort Wayne sat down with the entrepreneurs to hear their stories and learn more about their shared interest in engaging the Fort Wayne community.

Meet the Bookhouse Studio

When Klyee Hays moved to Fort Wayne for her husband’s job, she knew it was time to plant roots.

Having moved two previous times, she was ready to find her community, and she had an idea for a business.

After finding herself in the pit of postpartum depression, she began practicing yoga and realized how incredibly helpful it was to her, so she wanted to share her passion for yoga with others.

She completed training to teach yoga and meditation and combined that with her background in social work to become an instructor at Simply Yoga Studio in Fort Wayne. But after teaching there for awhile, she wanted to find her own space.

She envisioned a place where she could not only teach yoga, but also invite the community in to host events and test ideas of their own.

From this, Bookhouse Studio was born. Hays says Bookhouse is an intentional blank space to be used for all types of gatherings where people can learn and connect.

An introvert herself, she was craving the closeness of community around her, which inspired her to rent her space to community members. On hard days, she says the connections she’s made in Fort Wayne are what keeps her going.

With a maximum capacity of 25, Bookhouse is ideal for intimate gatherings, Hays says. She describes the atmosphere as “cozy, intentional, and welcoming.”

In addition to yoga, events like workshops, craft gatherings, and kid’s classes have taken place in the studio so far.

She says it’s also great for birthday parties, bridal showers, private rentals, pop-up shops, and other creative collaborations.

For more information, connect with her on Instagram at @bookhousestudio.

Meet the Confetti Post

Similar to the beginnings of Bookhouse Studio, the Confetti Post came to be after McHugh had her second child and felt for an entire year that she was ready to get out of her house and do something more adventurous.

She loved being a mom, but she wanted to do something else, too. So in March of 2016, her passion for parties met a little Pinterest inspiration, and her idea for a party-in-a box company was born.

On her website, McHugh describes the concept as “kind of like a care package, but a lot more fun and without all the work hopping from store to store to find the perfect items, buying a boring box, then fighting the lines at the post office.”

She started the business in her basement and quickly expanded it to her daughters’ room. With steady growth, the Confetti Post doubled its sales in 2017 and needed more room.

Today, it’s a full-fledged online business that allows people to send themed care packages for birthdays, cheer-ups, and other (wittier) occasions, like pity parties. Visit the website and choose from dozens of options in package sizes ranging from $22-$104.

When collecting items for each package, McHugh says she makes it a point to give back by sourcing products from other small businesses and focusing ethical production as often as possible. She often buys from vendors she finds on Instagram, Etsy, New York Now, and through other online connections.

She recently hired two more people to join her team, so she has more time to focus on marketing her business in the Fort Wayne community.

Although the Confetti Post lives online, she says she still desires to interact with the local community daily. In fact, her office even has a tiny storefront open to the public for visits. Typical hours are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

For more information, connect with her on Instagram at @theconfettipost.

New business bubbling up: Kombucha entrepreneur launches sparkling water company in Fort Wayne

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New business bubbling up: Kombucha entrepreneur launches sparkling water company in Fort Wayne

| Input Fort Wayne

January 9th, 2019

A few years ago, Robert Johnson became a beverage entrepreneur by chance. A soda addict at the time, he wanted a way to get the fizz and flavor he loved in a soft drink with less sugar, so he started homebrewing kombucha, or fermented tea, in his kitchen.

Yvonne and Robert Johnson launched Bukál flavored sparkling water.

Before long, his hobby grew into a full-blown business called Crossroads Kombucha, which started producing the fizzy drink using locally sourced fruits and herbs at 810 Donnell Ave.

After building the company for about three years, Johnson sold it and is onto his next venture: flavored sparkling water.

But not just any sparkling water, mind you. It’s called Bukál (boo-call), and it’s a sparkling water brand devoted to sharing the exotic flavors of the world with a powerful mission.

“Crossroads Kombucha just kind of happened; it was never planned,” Robert says. “This time, we’re trying to be more intentional, so we can make this into something that’s not just a product, but a story.”

Along with filling a gap in northeast Indiana’s beverage industry with sparkling water, Bukál has a personal meaning to Johnson and his wife, Yvonne.

The couple met while teaching together in the Philippines in 2004. She grew up there, and he eventually moved there for three years, where they married and moved to Thailand for a while.

Robert says those years solidified his love of Southeast Asia. So when he left Crossroads in May and he and his wife returned to the Philippines for her father’s funeral that same month, they felt the desire to connect her homeland to their new hometown in Fort Wayne.

What both places have in common is water—or rivers, to be more exact. Bukál is the Filipino word for stream, fountain, oasis, source, and bubbles.

Since Fort Wayne has three rivers, the Johnsons decided to start their company based on three rivers in Southeast Asia: the Indus, the Mekong, and the Yangtze.

Each of these river regions defines the flavor profiles for Bukál’s first three types of sparkling water. The Indus is a mango rose, the Mekong is a guava lime mint, and the Yangtze is a passionfruit peach.

“It’s about drawing our customers into a bigger story,” Robert says.

Each of these river regions defines the flavor profiles for Bukál’s first three types of sparkling water. The Indus is a mango rose, the Mekong is a guava lime mint, and the Yangtze is a passionfruit peach.

“It’s about drawing our customers into a bigger story,” Robert says.

Along with giving local consumers a taste of Southeast Asia, Bukál is also connecting them with location-specific causes in the region. Working with an organization called WateROAM in Singapore, the company donates a portion of its proceeds to clean water projects within the same regions its flavors are inspired by.

The Johnsons hope to extend their flavors and support beyond Southeast Asia someday, too.

Robert says the goal of this effort is to expand people’s definitions of poverty and global need by showing them the range of places that are often overlooked and underserved around the world.

“A lot of times when we think of poverty, our mind goes directly to Africa, which has a huge need, but there are other regions that don’t get the recognition or support they need,” he says. “That’s where our passion lies—in those untapped regions.”

Along with being a good vehicle for giving back, flavored sparkling water is also a much easier beverage to produce and scale than kombucha was because it doesn’t have to ferment, Robert says.

“Kombucha was about a two-and-a-half-week process per bottle; this is about a day-and-a-half process per bottle,” he explains.

The Johnsons started making their flavored sparkling water at the Fresh Food Hub in Auburnearlier this year. Since then, they’ve received a Farnsworth Fund grant, attracted investors, and purchased the Hoosier building at 1036 Huffman St. to be the new home base of their operations.

They are currently in the process of renovating the space, and they plan to hire workers in production, delivery, event planning, and administrative positions soon. Check their website and social media for details.

While their space has a small storefront that will be open for visitors later this year, Robert says the easiest way to find Bukál’s products is at Fort Wayne area restaurants and grocery stores, like the 3 Rivers Coop where the water will be available by February, he hopes.

Since sparkling water doesn’t need to stay refrigerated like kombucha, he’s had an easier time getting it into restaurants, too.

“Sparkling water has a shelf life of about a year, as opposed to two or three months with kombucha, so it’s easier to work with,” he explains.

As he and Yvonne plan for the future, they are hoping to scale the product to even more restaurants and stores nationwide, making them potential competition for big name brands likeLaCroix.

While they didn’t initially plan on being serial entrepreneurs, Yvonne says the Fort Wayne community has inspired them since they moved here in 2011.

“I think it’s a very big reason why Crossroads and Bukál were born,” she says. “There’s an entrepreneurial atmosphere here in Fort Wayne, and there’s the support of the community, as well.”