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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…

1) Trek10
Leader: Andy Warzon, President and CEO
Founded: 2013
Description: Trek10 provides Amazon Web Services expertise to architect cost-effective and flexible solutions for public cloud computing needs.
Employees: 8 and looking to hire more!
Location: Union Station Technology Center
Forecast: With 20 customers already secured, keep your eyes peeled for the growth of this startup.

2) EmNet
Luis Montestruque, President
Tim Braun, Enterprise Architect
Tim Ruggaber, Lead Optimization Strategist
Founded: 2004
Description: EmNet, short for embedded networks, uses remote sensor technology to monitor, control and optimize sewer flow levels within a city to prevent overflows, back-ups and pollution.
Employees: 14 and another 4-5 expected in 2015
Location: Emporium Building
Forecast: EmNet has based itself in South Bend since its inception via Notre Dame and Purdue collaboration. Company leadership indicates that we can expect to see accelerated scale and growth in the coming years that will yield more jobs and economic prosperity for South Bend.
[Source: Tim Braun of EmNet, EmNet website, South Bend Tribune]

3) F-Cubed
Leader: Leslie Ivie, President and CEO
Founded: 2010
Description: This biotech startup developed at Innovation Park from research out of the University of Notre Dame. The patented technology incorporates DNA analysis to facilitate contamination field-testing.
Employees: 18 with expected 10-15 new jobs in 2015
Location: The old St. Joseph High School
Forecast: After outgrowing initial labs and breaking ground on a new location in Ignition Park, South Bend looks like it will have a home for this high-growth company for many years to come.
[Source: WNDU, F-Cubed 2014 Media Guide, F-Cubed website]

4) Emu Solutions
Leader:Dan Fangman, CEO Peter Kogge, Co-founder Jay Brockman, Co-founder
Founded: 2004
Description: Hardware and software company, Emu (enhanced memory utilization), builds on patented technology licensed through the University of Notre Dame. As the data analysis requirements of a company increases, systems experience bandwidth and processing challenges. Emu’s patented technology enables faster processing of large amounts of data. The technology optimizes the volume, velocity and variety of data to improve memory-processing capabilities and reduce data-flow bottlenecks in computing environments. This provides enhanced, new capabilities that were not previously available for complex analysis of large data sets.
Employees: 10
Location: Innovation Park
Forecast: “Emu Technology has doubled from 5 to 10 employees in the last year and is in the process of developing a new computer specifically designed for big data analytics,” says CEO Dan Fangman.  With this employee growth and progress across research and development, we can expect to see growth in the coming years for the South Bend-based company.
[Source: Innovation Park website, Emu website, EMU CEO, PR Newswire, South Bend Tribune]

5) Vennli
Leader: Gary Gigot, CEO
Founded: 2013
Description: Cloud-based software company, Vennli (like Venn Diagrams), provides a platform to design and develop growth strategies. They operate on a model that incorporates customer surveys and a proven strategy model that identifies growth opportunities through the ‘vLens’ to drive business decisions.
Employees: 23
Location: W. Jefferson Blvd., Downtown South Bend
Forecast: The leadership of Gary Gigot, Vennli has executed a successful beta period and developed of a strong team of bright, innovative producers. With anticipated job growth and the launch of a platform 2.0, Vennli will continue to be an exciting company to watch. We have only felt the first drops of the splash Vennli will make in the region.

[Source: South Bend Tribune, Vennli website, Griffin Eaton – Vennli Business Development]

Since 2010, these five companies have generated more than 50 high-tech careers in South Bend. In other words, these companies have enabled 50 individuals and their families to ‘live, work, and play’ in South Bend. Building off of Moretti’s multiplier principle, we have also seen the development of more cultural and lifestyle oriented companies.  This is demonstrated by the growth of Chicory Café, Purple Porch Co-op, The Indiana Whiskey Company, and South Bend Brew Werks. What we are seeing develop is a healthy professional and social ecosystem consisted of engaged citizens. I have watched this happen over a period of four years – I’m excited to see what the next four years brings.

Yours Truly – Dan Lewis

Disclosure: The company spotlights include information gathered from a collection of sources ranging from company staff to news articles. Due to the dynamic nature of technology startups, people and companies shift to satisfy market demand. If any information has become outdated we will update upon request. We affirm that company shifting and moving forward are positive signs of economic growth for the region.