Regional Tech Companies: Are You a Part of the Growth?

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“I don’t look at South Bend as an area that’s restricted by its geographical boundaries … I look at what it can do as a hub and how it can connect to these immediately accessible hubs around the Midwest…,” Gary Gigot, formerly of Microsoft, Ogilvy & Mather, Visio and currently Vennli. [Source: South Bend Tribune]

South Bend is an opportune place to start and/or grow a company. The City’s location makes connectivity accessible and affordable. There are also convenient sites for innovation and collaboration. Union Station Technology Center and its future co-working space, Innovation Park and The Branch are great examples of spaces where bright minds convene to foster entrepreneurship and capitalize on South Bend’s array of assets. Pair these concepts with the re-emerging social scene in downtown South Bend and the result is a place where young professionals want to ‘live, work, and play’.

This is not a theory – we are witnessing a cultural revitalization and a resurgence of STEM focused jobs in the city. The ancillary benefit of these careers for the community is best described by Enrico Moretti’s concept of the multiplier effect – that STEM jobs yield an approximately five-fold job growth in the services industry. These are the jobs that maintain communities and develop culture.

At enFocus, we get a front row seat and a close ear to the street for new startup buzz in the region. This piece takes a snapshot of exciting technology companies that deserve recognition…
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Data Series #2: What Does Data Mean to You?

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Data is important, but it is not always relevant. Sometimes getting at the good data can be very expensive, and too much information is just extra noise that distracts from and eliminates our focus. Either way, you’ve got to measure it to manage it. How can YOU use data to improve yourself, your business, or your life?

In my last blog, I discussed the ways in which using data to measure the performance of your small business can be exciting and valuable, but also toxic and potentially a killer to your culture when only managing to a number. In this article, I will walk through some examples of how valuable information can be found and understood both by you and by big companies. In addition, I offer new apps and valuable new techniques that can improve your effectiveness by managing to your own data. Looking to the future, my next blog will dive into the information technology that it takes to support data-driven management in our economy.

Your Energy Bill: Getting Comfortable with Real-time Data Management

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Slactivism: Activism in your PJ’s

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The internet gave birth to some strange personalities and even stranger jargon. For example, “trolls” lurk about on your favorite forums, submarining conversations with meaningless and often incendiary comments. Meanwhile, “keyboard warriors” frequent the same forums with the purpose of starting arguments and acting tough, all from the safety of their couches. However, not everyone on the internet gains pleasure from aggravating people they’ve never met. Quite the opposite; a new-age form of activism has taken shape over the last few years, capitalizing on the widespread usage of social media and humankind’s compassionate nature. “Slacktivists” use their networks to raise awareness for causes like Kony 2012 or the fight against ALS. While slacktivism seems to be an innocuous activity, not everyone views it in a positive light.

What exactly is Slacktivism?

Google defines slacktivism as “actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement,” such as “signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website.” Wikipedia postulates that the term has been in circulation since the 90’s and has found its way into articles from major journalism outlets, like the New York Times and the Huffington Post.
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Lee-Roy Chetty, in his article “The Rise of the Slacktivist” proposes that you may be a slacktivist if you engage in any of the following activities:
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My Journey with enFocus and Downtown South Bend

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Guest Spotlight
By: Kelsie Ferguson, Ambassador of Buzz

Kelsie Ferguson, the enFocus "Ambassador of Buzz", has been interviewing Downtown South Bend businesses about what they offered their customers during the 2014 Holiday Season.

Kelsie Ferguson, the enFocus “Ambassador of Buzz”, interviewed Downtown South Bend businesses about what they offered their customers during the 2014 Holiday Season.

When I began my journey with enFocus, I never expected to discover so many wonderful stories of businesses giving back to the community. Countless owners, managers and employees share not only a love for South Bend and the Downtown area, but they all express it in unique ways. From helping to start an event such as Art Beat, to donating to the homeless shelter and pig rescues, the spirit of giving is alive and well in South Bend.

Some of them have been in Downtown for decades, and others recently moved in to be a part of the changes that are coming soon. All of them spoke of similar interests – be it the South Bend Renaissance, sustainability and transparency, or different ways to help the area flourish.

While evaluating these businesses’ collections and categorizing the stores into each series as the Ambassador of Buzz, I entertained the idea that I had become somewhat of a Shopping Sherpa for the South Bend community. In my eyes, I was forging ahead of the crowd and laying out the groundwork for shoppers – much like a Sherpa would lay out paths for climbers. Although my work was not life or death, it was much more substantial than a simple gift guide. It was about local business, getting boots on the ground in Downtown, and creating a local shopping community.

There are some outstanding businesses among the community, and none were without their contributions.

To highlight a few and expand on their efforts;

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Introduction to the Fellow: Katherine Rueff

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The dual-brain life that led to enFocus.

SCAN0005I fell in love with science as a little girl.  My parents encouraged me to be nerdy and required that I do well in school.  They let me play with microscopes, archeology toys, explore nature, and at night, my Dad would teach me about the Moon and the mythology behind the constellations.

By high school, I knew that I wanted to be a scientist. But, I was also enjoyed being a Thespian, acting in plays, singing in multiple choirs and being the editor of the gifted newspaper.

My two prized possessions growing up were my telescope and my guitar, both of which molded me into the equally “sciencey” and “artsy” person I am today. 196489_502987951770_7741_nThis dichotomy of interests between science and art guided me through high school, college, graduate school, and now into the real world. Continue reading

Introduction to the Fellow: Brett Belock

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enFocus: An Unexpected Journey

Celebratory dinner at CorndanceWhen people ask me about working at enFocus, I typically reply that it’s perfect. I explain that my undergraduate and professional backgrounds are in design and that I am passionate about using ethnographic, user-centered approaches to solving problems. Then I add that I earned my MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship so that I could take the conceptual solutions I developed as a designer, and forge them into viable ventures, giving them life in the world. I make sure to point out that I’m motivated by the social impact rather than profit, but that any venture needs to at least break even if it’s going to have lasting impact. And finally, I declare that as an enFocus Fellow, I get to do all of that everyday while working alongside some of the brightest, most talented young professionals in the region.

However, no matter how ecstatic I am about enFocus’ unique consulting model or how passionately I demonstrate our impact for clients and the community, I am inevitably confronted with three words: “Why South Bend?”

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Introduction to the Fellow: Dan Cole

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DanCole1I was born and raised in South Bend, IN. I served in the U.S. Navy as a member of the Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees). I deployed to Afghanistan in 2005 and returned home in 2006. After the Navy, I returned to South Bend and earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering Technology from Purdue University.  In 2014, I completed my M.S. through the ESTEEM Program from the University of Notre Dame.

Upon starting the ESTEEM Program, I knew my career trajectory would change. I would be exposed to more ideas and people throughout the year. I expected the combined influences would generate new interests. I just didn’t realize how much my envisioned career as an electrical engineer was about to change.

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Introduction to the Fellow: Daniel Collins

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I’ve been a wild rover for many a year…

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Daniel (stroller occupant)

I was pretty much on the move from day one. My parents were working their way across Australia in a campervan when I appeared on the scene and, rather than bringing them to a halt, I ended up hopping on the bandwagon with them.

To describe myself as a modern-day Marco Polo would be a stretch, but I definitely have a strong sense of wanderlust and a fair few miles under my belt. So, what brought me to South Bend and why did I decide to put my travels on hold to work with enFocus?

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Introduction to the Fellow: Kathleen Ryan

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An Ohioan finds a home away from home in Indiana

IMG_3110In a lot of ways, South Bend reminds me of my hometown, Columbus, Ohio. I realize that is a risky comparison to make for those of us who are football fans: Buckeye Nation and the Land of the Fighting Irish can hardly be compared – right?!

Well, not quite. Trust me, having been raised a Notre Dame fan in the backyard of THE Ohio State University and enduring countless hard times from my OSU loving peers, I would be the first to tell you just how different the Fighting Irish and the Buckeyes are. No one is more excited for Notre Dame to show its superiority in the recently announced match-up than me! Yet outside of the football mumbo jumbo, even I must admit that sometimes I feel so at home here in South Bend I forget that I am actually 279 miles from the place where I grew up.

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