Potential investors and other interested parties soon will have a chance to see what gener8tor has accomplished with the first Fort Wayne companies to get through its gBETA business development program.

The nationally ranked startup accelerator hired Sarah Aubrey as its local gBETA director with plans to open an office at Start Fort Wayne’s Atrium co-working space and to offer office hours in various locations across the city.

The Atrium co-working space operates in about 5,500 square feet — including the entire second floor — at 111 W. Berry St. in downtown Fort Wayne. Because COVID-19 required it to shut down until recently, Aubrey said she has been doing much of the gBETA coaching online.

“Historically, the entire gBETA program is delivered in person: one-to-one team meetings, weekly luncheon lectures and group mentoring events. We have adapted all programming to be delivered virtually,” she said in a May 14 email.

“Our accelerator is driven by relationships and while we were nervous at first, it has gone fairly seamlessly throughout the transition. All founders, mentors, and speakers have really leaned in and made the experience participatory and engaging.”

The approach made it convenient for gBETA colleagues from across the country to attend meetings of the local cohort and advise its members, she said.

“Next week I’m excited about a virtual happy hour we’re hosting! It will be a tri-city networking event for the founders in Fort Wayne; Beloit, Wisconsin, and Houston, Texas, to mingle and share ideas with their gBETA peers,” she said.

“We’ve never been able to connect concurrent programs in different states in this way, and it is something that I think we’ll retain even when we move back to a mostly in-person model at the Atrium in the future.”

The unusual circumstances did not influence the selection of the first Fort Wayne companies to go through the gBETA program, which was scheduled for April 17-June 5, but Aubrey said it did require a quick pivot from in-person meetings and recruiting events to three days of virtual interviews.

The following emerging companies were selected for gBETA’s first Fort Wayne cohort:

• Glasses Gripper allows opticians to do their job safer, faster and more profitably. Each trademarked Glasses Gripper optical fixture mounts flush to the edge of any counter or table.

The non-slip, puncture-resistant material gives opticians a secure surface to adjust glasses and replace lenses, reducing the chance of damage to themselves or glasses with sharp tools.

Glasses Gripper deployed six prototype units for beta testing among opticians. Monica Miller is its CEO.

• Guardian Machine Protection’s maintenance-as-a-service program offers proactive preventative maintenance for industrial machinery.

Guardian Machine Protection extends asset life through tailored machinery upkeep plans so manufacturers can decrease downtime and increase the bottom line. Since starting in October, Guardian Machine Protection has $10,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Yan Wall is its CEO.

• Lensquote helps eyecare practices sell contact lenses in-office more effectively. On average, nearly 40% of sales are lost due to a poorly executed sales process.

Lensquote’s business-to-business, software-as-a-service platform replaces providers’ current systems with a user-friendly data visualization tool that encourages patients to purchase contacts directly from them. Lensquote is generating $8,500 in monthly recurring revenue. Ryan Gustus is its CEO.

• SimpleSortie matches private plane owners with fixed base operators to provide the best possible flight experience. SimpleSortie’s application brings together multiple resources on one platform, allowing FBOs to market their amenities and services while private aviators save time and money on each flight planned.

SimpleSortie has developed its wireframe, which it will use to test the user experience and gain feedback to complete the mobile app. Fourteen pilots and two FBOs have completed an initial survey supporting SimpleSortie’s concepts. Ryan Srogi is its CEO.

• Stre.me’s software-as-a-service platform improves patient satisfaction, outcomes, and hospital profitability by tackling the $270 billion spent annually in health care on premature deaths and avoidable health costs, which result from biases and inequities.

Stre.me’s platform enables human resources and diversity leaders in healthcare to train, set, track and view progress towards boosting organizational outcomes. Stre.me’s minimal viable product is being used by 40+ early adopters and generating $500 in monthly recurring revenue. Jack Patton is its CEO.

Companies in the cohort will present a case for investing in them during a Virtual Pitch Night that gBETA has scheduled for June 9.

“I hope everyone tunes in. It’s especially exciting as it will combine the Fort Wayne gBETA and gBETA Terre Haute cohorts,” Aubrey said.

The event will be a night of celebrating and showcasing innovation from across the state, she said, and will provide cohort members valuable experience at presenting a case for investing in the businesses they are developing.

That is important because the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the competition among emerging companies for early-stage investment.

Aubrey said gener8tor has observed this monitoring activity and trends in the venture capital community.

“It appears that investors may be looking for more substantial growth and traction before considering investment,” she said.

“It’s now more important than ever to not only clearly articulate your story but to also back it up with demonstrable customer validation and strong metrics.”

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