The gas pump. The refrigerator. The juke box.

What do they all have in common?

They have ties to northeast Indiana entrepreneurs. The region has seen many successful endeavors through the years, and on Dec. 12, Ivy Tech Fort Wayne introduced new ideas to the community.

The atmosphere on Coliseum Campus was ripe with tradeshow energy as guests attended the 3rd Annual Jingle and Mingle Entrepreneurship Student Showcase and Open House. Local business leaders met with our students to hear their business pitches and offer feedback and services.

“I am proud of the students for their initiative in creating a business and promoting it,” says James Tolbert, Program Chair of Entrepreneurship. “They’ll gather feedback to use in refining their business model, product, and presentation. This event continues to inspire community understanding of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is vital to the health and growth of the local economy.”

Some students in the program have been operating their businesses for years already, while others are just getting started. The Entrepreneurship program at Ivy Tech is for people at any stage in the business planning process, and events like Jingle and Mingle encourage confidence in participants.

So, what are the future businesses we might expect?

Exquisite Burgers

Richard Nichols is hoping to spice up the Fort Wayne burger scene with his new take on sandwiches. Like the Bruin Burger, for example, topped with fries, nacho cheese, bacon bits, and scallions. There’s also the Red Sox with coney sauce, pepper jack cheese, and hot Cheetos. Nichols’ next step is to start a food truck, so he can share his creations with the community.

FFC Lawnmowers

Bob Lemish took his father’s hobby and has turned it into a small shop. FFC Lawnmowers is located in Corunna, Ind. and offers services like repairing, reconditioning, and renting out mowers. Lemish is also excited about their new effort in replacing gas engines with electric ones to keep up with current trends. He says the time it takes for services depends on the project, but they always try to be as quick as possible.

Shop Phone Number: 260-585-2417


Sergio Pizano is confident that soon everyone will “Come dress like a winner.” His sports clothing brand is named after his old football jersey, number 53. Pizano’s brand is dedicated to finding the most comfortable and breathable clothing that will support athletes’ success on the field.

Fort Wayne International Puppet Theater Festival

Aída Calderón Galvis wants to make sure Fort Wayne isn’t left out when it comes to International Puppet Theater Festivals. She went to one such festival in Chicago and fell in love with it. She believes her passion for theater mixed with Fort Wayne’s appreciation for the arts would make this event a hit.

“A festival like this is for kids ages six to 99 because it’s really for everyone,” she says. “Ideally we’d have it four times a year, once every season, so that way everyone has a chance to go to it.”

There would be affordable admission fees that would help pay for the talent travelling in from around the world. She says she’s hoping to create a nonprofit that would allow people in need to waive admission fees through the help of grants. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook.

Facebook: Fort Wayne International Puppet Theater Festival
Instagram: @puppetsinfortwayne

Fur-Ever Friends Doggy Daycare

Vanessa Lovell adores animals. She’s already working as a pet sitter, but she’d like to expand this passion by creating a full-on daycare that includes pet boarding and even transportation. Eventually, she’d love for her business to have an in-house vet, so people boarding their animals can leave feeling stress-free.

Kiddie Konnection

Laquesha Stewart’s 17 years of working in early childhood education has prepared her to open her own affordable learning school. In her vision, she plans to provide education according to children’s developmental needs with a curriculum that collaborates between children’s creativity and cognitive abilities. Stewart has her plan all laid out, so next steps go towards finding a location.


Samsawn Pakasawn is the founder and CEO of MONO Custom Solutions LLC. His brand offers affordable, custom embroidered clothes. It has a “commitment to fostering unity through individuality”. Right now, he and his team sell their designs at sporting events, but you can also shop online.

Instagram: @monofortwayne

So Cute Sweets

Laurie Read started her business back in 2019 after family members complimented her baking skills every holiday. She got her associate in hospitality administration from Ivy Tech Fort Wayne in 2022 and honed the new skills she learned into her chocolate craft.

“I came up with the name because people would see my products and say, ‘oh that’s so cute’!” Read explains. “Now when I hear it, I just smile.”

Her goal is to eventually have a licensed kitchen at her home. For now, she’ll continue marketing her creations on Facebook and Instagram and visit local farmers markets around Warsaw.

Instagram: @so.cute.sweets

Squidlipz Production Studios

Taylor Royse was full of enthusiasm for his media and invention production company. It offers a vast range of services including media production, custom cosplay commissions, and 3-D printing services. Royse’s business has a lot of experience in cosplay, but he’s ready to expand to other areas.


The Entrepreneurship program through the Garatoni School of Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech can be completed in as little as two semesters. Students can take just three classes to get a certificate and have the tool they need to get started or grow their business.

Students who successfully complete the program will be eligible to participate in the New Venture Competition happening in Fall 2024. At the event, students have the opportunity to pitch their businesses and win up to $40,000 in seed money. Read more about 2022’s New Venture winner.

Interested in Entrepreneurship? Visit our website to learn more or fill out this quick form.

This event continues to inspire community understanding of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is vital to the health and growth of the local economy.

– James Tolbert | Program Chair of Entrepreneurship

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.