Fort Wayne teen unveils fellowship program for young entrepreneurs

Twelve Cities Project logo.

News release from the Twelve Cities Project:

Fort Wayne Teen Unveils Fellowship Program for Young Entrepreneurs
Program aims to strengthen Northeast Indiana’s entrepreneurial ability

In September of 2011, then 18 year-old Fort Wayne native Nick Arnett began an ambitious tour of twelve cities across the country in a quest to study how other locations attract talent, foster innovation, and catalyze economic growth. Thursday evening, he took it to the next level by unveiling plans for a fellowship program to increase entrepreneurship among Northeast Indiana’s young people.

The Twelve Cities Fellowship, a program of nonprofit Twelve Cities Project Inc., was announced before a crowd of nearly 100 people Thursday evening at an event held in partnership with Wunderkammer Company, a not-for-profit that will soon be housed in what was formerly Casa D’Angelos. Arnett presented observations, stories, and findings from his first four trips and emphasized the importance of social connectivity in catalyzing economic growth – something the fellowship aims to build. The fellowship is set to debut in July of 2013 by sending three fellows on a year-long voyage to study entrepreneurship in twelve different cities across the country. Each trip will last one week, during which fellows will be learning the ins-and-outs of launching their own venture from CEOs, successful entrepreneurs, and leaders throughout the country in an apprenticeship-style format. In between trips, fellows will work with area partners and community groups to help foster a culture of entrepreneurship among Northeast Indiana’s young people through guidance, mentorship, and providing access to resources they have collected throughout their visits.

In addition to the visits, fellows will be tasked with launching a venture of their own during their tenure as a fellow and committing to locating it in Northeast Indiana for at least three years. $2,500 of seed money will be provided to each fellow accepted into the program, as well as access to a local network of mentors to help them conceptualize, plan, and launch their venture. The fellowship’s first three years of programming are expected to cost roughly $300,000, but it is hoped that the program will be entirely self-sustaining by the fifth year as fellows will be asked to dedicate a small percentage of their venture’s revenue to the ongoing work of the fellowship for a period of four years following their tenure. Tonight marked the launch the fellowship’s fundraising campaign and the establishment of a national mentor network. Applications for the program will be available in January of 2013.

“Northeast Indiana is in the midst of an exciting entrepreneurial revolution. From my travels to other cities over the past several months, I can tell that we’re nearing a tipping point of catalytic economic growth,” said Nick Arnett, founder of the Twelve Cities Project. “I’ve never witnessed such an exciting time to live in this region. The fellowship program offers Fort Wayne an opportunity to dramatically enhance its connectivity to the nation’s startup scene and produce real, tangible benefits to residents at the same time in the form of knowledge, future job growth, and increased access to capital. It’s a win-win scenario.”

Arnett reported that before the fellowship launches he intends to first complete his tour with the Twelve Cities Project, having eight more cities to visit. He emphasized the importance of connectivity between Fort Wayne’s residents and the residents of other cities in fostering innovation, spurring entrepreneurship, and enhancing Northeast Indiana’s quality of opportunity. Within just a few short years, the fellowship program has the potential to dramatically increase Fort Wayne’s connectivity to entrepreneurs throughout the country.

For more information about the fellowship and the Twelve Cities Project, visit


About Twelve Cities Project
Founded in 2012, Twelve Cities Project is a Fort Wayne-based nonprofit dedicated to catalyzing economic growth through entrepreneurship and immersive education. The group currently carrying out a twelve city tour to study how cities foster innovation, attract talent, and strengthen their entrepreneurial ability, with a goal of funneling social and intellectual capital back into Northeast Indiana. In 2013, Twelve Cities Project will begin operations of its fellowship program dedicated to cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship among Northeast Indiana’s young people while building social capital between the Fort Wayne area and the national startup scene.


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