Steve at rehab

Those of you who know me personally know that I had a freak accident, broke 2 elbows and 1 knee, and have been in rehab for weeks (with plenty more to go). This morning as I coped with my body not working the way it used to, I thought about how that applies to business innovators.

As unexpected change occurs in your markets, customers, operations, business setting, or competitive landscape, your old ways can stop working — triggering the need for change and innovation.

Your business solution can borrow much from the world of physical rehab. Here are some lessons…


Photo by jasper benning on Unsplash

My ebook Made From Scratch describes a process for conducting one-on-one customer interviews to discover what customers value relative to a problem, need, or product. The goals are threefold.

  • To develop a deep understanding of what customers value and why.
  • To use that understanding to help you see insights into the key value-producing design challenges you face.
  • To apply those insights and solve those challenges as you design your new product solution.

Good one-on-one interviews use a series of open ended questions that can’t be answered by “yes” or “no” and are designed to encourage the customer to share their…


+1 Entrepreneur Interviews celebrate Fort Wayne area entrepreneurs who deserve an upvote. This post celebrates serial entrepreneur Lauren Caggiano.

Imagine that you own two businesses, each of which feeds one of your personal passions and lifestyle. You have two solid income streams and spend your time doing work that you absolutely love. Sounds like a charmed life, doesn’t it? Meet Lauren. It’s her life.

The People

Lauren Caggiano

It was inevitable, I’ll argue, that Lauren would be an entrepreneur. She is, in fact…


Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

I know that many friends of mine who own businesses are rethinking their businesses today, given the constraints of COVID-19. Some friends have become unemployed and need a way to make ends meet — maybe just a temporary side gig. Some simply want to jump in and help make their community’s situation better rather than watch idly while it suffers.

Whatever your motives, you may be considering starting a new business of some sort. Here is one way to methodically think through the very front end process of conceiving a good business idea. It builds on the work I did…


The Lean Startup / Business Model Canvas / Customer Development process for developing a new product (and business) has become widely used, with well-documented techniques. On the other hand, innovation (starting with new product invention and early product development) is still sometimes seen as a serendipitous happening, not a process.

  1. Innovation is very much a process, with its own set of well-documented techniques.
  2. The two processes, innovation process and startup process, fit together nicely — and together produce superior new products.

I recently had the pleasure of presenting at Startup Week Fort Wayne. During an hour I introduced the audience…


+1 Entrepreneur Interviews celebrate Fort Wayne area entrepreneurs who deserve an upvote. This post celebrates Stephen J. Bailey of With a PH Digital.

Every city needs a Stephen J. Bailey!

But you can’t have this one. He’s Fort Wayne’s. Well, to be honest, actually Fort Wayne is his.

Over the past few years, Stephen has grown a business that is best characterized as unabashed champion for all things Fort Wayne — and especially downtown Fort Wayne. …


Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

I have a theory. It’s just a hypothesis. I could be totally wrong.

But, since the hypothesis is at least based on some actual observations, I could also be totally right.

Whether my theory is right or wrong, you can still take away an important bit of knowledge to help your startup.

Here goes. See what you think.

Over a number of years, I’ve noticed that some people are more prone than others to pitch ventures with a price-competition value proposition. This is nothing new, but I bring it up today because I just saw it in action at a…


+1 Entrepreneur Interviews celebrate Fort Wayne area entrepreneurs who deserve an upvote. This post celebrates Nathan Miller of the Linvill Center, a restored historic building that now provides premium office suites in downtown Columbia City.

Livill Center’s view of downtown Columbia City

The People

In the 19th Century, a stunning mansion was built just a block from the Courthouse Square in Columbia City, IN. Originally a home, it later was rebuilt and reborn as Linvill Hospital. As it aged, it served as Columbia City Hospital and in the 1980’s was acquired by Parkview Health and became a therapy center. But eventually, it lost its sheen (hard to…


Photo by Stanley Dai on Unsplash

True story

I have a good friend who started planning startups when he was in high school. He was the idea guy, the planner. His ideas were always software tech companies, but back then he always lacked a technical cofounder. As a result, his earliest ideas never got properly launched.

A few years later, he earned massive respect by realizing that his lack of technical skills, something that was seemingly blocking him from achieving the startup goals he wanted, was a correctible shortcoming!

He enrolled in and graduated from The Starter League, an early tenant at 1871 (and eventually acquired…


Maria and Dustin kicking off INVANTI’s Cohort 2 Showcase

First let me say that Maria and Dustin don’t know I’m writing this. I’m not affiliated with INVANTI Ventures in any way. I just happen to believe they have a really good thing going — and that people working with startups everywhere can, and should, learn from them.

Last week I was at INVANTI’s Cohort 2 Showcase. I heard pitches from the cohort’s seven companies. After it was over, I mentioned to both Maria and Dustin that the evening was “tight”. By that I meant that the pitches were spot on — each and every one had a special feeling…

Steve Franks

I help innovators & entrepreneurs create a better tomorrow and call Fort Wayne, IN home. Author of ebook Made From Scratch. stevefranksinnovation.com.

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