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Vickie Hall
Executive Director

info@zworks.org
317-732-7096

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85 East Cedar St.
Zionsville, IN 46077

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Featured Member – Tissue Source

The discovery that human tissues and organs share many similarities with pig tissues and organs has led to medical advances that have benefited many and even saved lives.  Because of these similarities, pig tissue is often used in medical devices to treat various injuries or conditions in human beings. The need for pig tissue, also known as porcine tissue, continues to play an important role in medicare and innovation.

Sherry (Ziboro) Mitchell, an Indiana native, started her career in student lending and software development before moving to a medical device company in Lafayette that uses urinary bladders of pigs. This is where Sherry learned about the importance of pig tissue. While she may not have a biology background, she took an interest in learning about where and how companies obtained what they needed. She quickly realized there was an opportunity to be a sourcing company for pig tissue so in 2007, Sherry founded Tissue Source.

“I was most inspired to start Tissue Source because our products heal people. These products give people a quality of life that they otherwise wouldn’t experience. Sometimes our products are life-saving,” Sherry says. “We’re using an abundant resource that, after it’s used for food, is often discarded, but the parts we use are not used in the food chain, so we are extending the value of that animal.”

Sherry started Tissue Source with one goal in mind: high quality, specialized, pig tissue sourcing. They are a boutique sourcing firm that focuses on providing high quality pig tissue for specialized uses. From nose to tail, different parts of the pig are used for different purposes. Tissue Source works with companies that need precision extraction of a particular pig tissue — this could be anything from a small organ being used for children or a specific kind of tissue used for research and development. 

Today, Tissue Source has grown to include over 250 customers. 

“We pride ourselves on understanding our customer’s end use of the pig tissue. Then we source it with the highest quality we can find,” says Sherry. “It was important to me to make sure we are raising the bar because of the delicate nature of how our products are used and providing the best outcomes.”

To support their continued growth, Sherry added Zach Morris to the team in 2020. Zach brings over 10 years of operations and production management expertise. He is responsible for the planning, scheduling, production and shipping of the Tissue Source product. 

In addition this past year, Tissue Source brought on Dr. Laura Lemmons, a licensed veterinarian, to direct the Tissue Source Quality Management System. Laura helps ensure applicable FDA regulations and ISO standards are maintained and continuous quality improvement initiatives are met.

Now that Tissue Source has more employees, they need a place to meet with customers, complete the many audits they must go through, and present a level of professionalism. They chose zWORKS because it is near their homes and use it every week for face-to-face meetings. It has become very important post-COVID.

“It was really important to me as we added staff that we have some face-to-face time. We established a collaboration day every week so that we can get together, discuss customer needs, meet with whomever, and strategize about our business,” Sherry says. “We love the location and the perks of being in the village and being close to everything is really nice.” 

Planning for the future, Tissue Source is looking for ways to improve logistics for production, shipping, and coordination. Now that some restrictions on traveling and events have been lifted, Tissue Source is  looking forward to conferences and tradeshows returning in an attempt to help grow important referrals and spread the word within the medical and research community. 

Featured Member – King Lou Pets

Ask any dog owner, and they’ll agree with the sentiment that a healthy dog is a happy dog. And a healthy, happy dog makes its human very happy, too.  

This is the fundamental idea behind the founding of King Lou.

A few months after losing his beloved dog Lou to Canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a form of canine heart disease, Clayton Farris was surprised to see an FDA communication linking common ingredients in several well-known pet food brands to rising occurrences of DCM in dogs. 

“I was shocked to find out the condition that afflicted Lou was linked to the ingredients in some of the most popular dog food brands on the market,” Farris comments. “The sad reality is that most of these companies are more focused on volume and profit instead of creating products that are healthy for pets.”

Farris, an Indiana University Kelley School of Business grad, has a background in health and nutrition.  After working as a personal trainer through college, Farris built his career scaling brick & mortar sales for high-growth, startup CPG brands in the health and dietary supplements space. After an unexpected job change at the height of the pandemic in 2020, he decided it was the ideal time to take the plunge into full-time entrepreneurship. 

Hence, King Lou Pets was founded, named after his beloved, rescued, Labradoodle.

The Hoosier native and father of two young sons soon discovered something that many of us realize: it’s difficult to work from home, let alone launch a business, especially with young children at home.   

After relocating to Zionsville, Farris discovered zWORKS, which offered him an ideal opportunity to work in a coworking space among other entrepreneurs and focus on growing his company.  

“Having the ability to be surrounded by business people who are experiencing many of the same challenges was a motivating factor for me to pursue a place with zWORKS,” Farris commented.

He joined zWORKS in January 2021 and soon after brought a partner on board. zWORKS allowed him the chance to set regular office hours and dedicate the time necessary to kickstart his vision into a growing business.  King Lou Pets officially launched in August 2021.

What sets King Lou apart from other brands in the space are the core values:

  • Real, clean pet nutrition: all of the ingredients are top quality whole food, human-grade, without preservatives or filler ingredients
  • Sustainability: as a 100% USA company, all of the ingredients are sustainably-sourced from family farms in the USA, and the packaging is made from post-consumer recycled material
  • A healthy dog is a happy dog: King Lou products are designed to help dog’s live longer, healthier, happier lives

Aside from living the core values for King Lou Pets, Farris is proud of starting his business in the community where he lives, too.

“It’s exciting to launch a CPG brand in the area,” says Farris. “There’s a great deal of hometown pride in Zionsville, so I’m excited to launch a local brand with the potential to scale to a national level.”

zWORKS also provides an opportunity for Farris to have a flexible schedule so he can focus on other important things when he is home, like his children and the dogs. Clayton and his family can often be found enjoying time in the great outdoors.  

zWORKS Graduate Spotlight – AERIFY.io

There are few things we love to see more than watching the zWORKS’ mission play out right before our eyes. That couldn’t be more true as we witness the growth and success that our friends at AERIFY.io have achieved. What was a small idea with humble beginnings at zWORKS turned into a growing business.

Aaron Toops

Co-founder Aaron Toops worked in IT managed services and saw first hand the frustrations customers experienced with their IT services. As with most great ideas, Aaron and AERIFY.io’s other co-founder, Rob Michels hatched an idea over a few drinks. Between Aaron’s background in IT and Rob’s background in operations, business development, and marketing, they founded AERIFY.io. The company was founded with the idea that technology should be simple, safe, and fast. Computers should just work, and when they don’t, an expert should be available to fix it quickly and efficiently.

But how do you turn an idea into a startup? You join zWORKS. Aaron and Rob credit zWORKS with providing a foundation to turn their idea into a reality.

“Having an actual place to go to work on our business was what made it real from day one,” says Aaron. “We couldn’t possibly take on the risk and long-term commitment of renting a space, but rather zWORKS allowed us to invest our resources in things that really mattered when getting started.”

Rob Michels

As AERIFY.io grew over the next few years, the COVID-19 pandemic really shed light on the need for cloud-based technology in order for companies to maintain business continuity. That certainly helped propel AERIFY.io even further to more growth, but being involved in a co-working community had its fair share of benefits.

“Our business growth is heavily dependent on referrals and networking,” says Rob. “So we stay connected and talk to people at all of the co-working spaces.”

Aaron adds that it is more than just help with generating leads. There’s so much to learn from getting involved at a co-working space like they have at zWORKS. With such a wide variety of members and partners working together at zWORKS, they were able to tap into expertise they didn’t have on their own.

“Everyone we have come across is happy to help. You just have to be brave enough to ask,” comments Aaron. “We knew starting out there were things we didn’t know. The hardest part is that we didn’t know what we didn’t know!”

The AERIFY.io team took advantage of leveraging all of the shared experiences of other startups and using them as a sounding board when they needed some perspective on how to approach a business challenge. Another advantage that they say was important to their success was the programming and events that zWORKS facilitated for members. These resources brought people together and kept the conversation going among fellow entrepreneurs.

“You get out what you put into it when you join a co-working space,” says Rob. “Take advantage of the programing, lean into the idea that you have to get in there to get the most out of it, but also be an open book and help others.”

AERIFY.io has recently graduated from co-working and moved to their very own office space, right around the corner from zWORKS in Zionsville. But that doesn’t mean they are abandoning their zWORKS membership. They plan to stay involved.

“We’re maintaining our membership, but we feel strongly about giving back to the community that gave so much to us,” says Rob. “We’re planning to still attend events and get to know our fellow entrepreneurs. There is still a lot left to learn.”

AERIFY.io is looking forward to continued growth. Future plans include expansion and being able to replicate what they have started in Zionsville. They are always on the lookout for good talent, especially in the tech space. Keep an eye out for their next move!

Featured Member – Izzy Branam

Izzy Branam, zWORKS Featured MemberJoin us for a walk down memory lane for a minute and think about the days of summer right before beginning your senior year of high school. If you were like many incoming high school seniors, you were soaking up the final days of summer and hanging out with friends. If you were a band kid, you were probably preparing for Indiana State Fair Band Day. Shout out to those band kids – Indiana summers can be unforgiving! You might have had a summer job that gave you a little spending money. But if you’re one local teen and fellow zWORKer — you’ve got other things on your mind.

When Zionsville Community High School incoming senior, Izzy Branam, isn’t at one of his two internships this summer, he is working with his co-founders on their latest startup. We say latest because this isn’t his first foray into business. Izzy has done this before. In the sixth grade, he realized there was an opportunity to start a record label for aspiring DJs. There was an abundance of talent on the DJ scene, but many artists were overlooked by record executives because of their age. Izzy started Xygen Records and managed it throughout middle school. At the height, he’d signed over 150 artists.

By age 14, the business bug had bit. Not one to sit on his laurels, Izzy found another business opportunity. He realized he could make more money than his part-time job at Chick-fil-A by reselling a wholesale lot of sunglasses so he quit to focus on that. This quickly peaked his interest in eCommerce and digital marketing.

Izzy and his co-founders, Krishna Thiru and Emma Hamilton, created the startup Fia Recruit to make hiring more objective, efficient, and effective. Instead of playing a game of pin the tail on the donkey, which is oftentimes the traditional way of filling positions, Fia uses artificial intelligence and data-driven technology to help streamline this business critical process.

Their startup is grounded in the idea that finding the right fit for a company’s culture is a huge part of hiring as well as reducing the time and effort it takes to sift through the dozens, sometimes hundreds of applicants. In addition, there are inherently unconscious biases at play during the hiring process. There are other applicant platforms out there, but Fia takes it a step further by identifying applicants that meet both the job requirements and fit the company’s culture.

Fia identifies lacking perspectives and personalities in a company’s existing team and suggests applicants from the applicant pool that rounds out the team. Then the platform analyzes how the candidates’ personality and social styles align with the company’s unique culture and team. And finally, Fia analyzes the applicants’ education and work experiences to automatically sort out those that lack the necessary job qualifications. This method creates a more qualified, well-rounded applicant pool but also improves the talent acquisition experience by saving valuable time in the applicant review process.

The local teens have won several awards for their innovation. Izzy credits zWORKS as a place he can get the help he needs to be successful.

“It is such a great environment to put me in the right headspace to work on our startup,” Izzy says. “Sometimes we meet at zWORKS and just talk through things together and whiteboard ideas.”

It’s also a great place to leverage the collective community. Finding other people to give guidance as they launch their product has been advantageous. They don’t feel overlooked because of their age or the fact that they actually have very little experience themselves in talent acquisition.

“zWORKS is such a great place to talk to other people who have already been in our shoes,” Izzy comments. “Everyone has been so welcoming and other zWORKers are happy to answer questions. They take us seriously. They know we are committed to making our business work and they offer their connections and broader network to help us achieve our goals.”

Fia has concluded alpha testing and is now in the beta testing phase. They have several well-known Indy-based firms beta testing the platform and they are actively seeking more companies to sign on to the beta test. If any company is interested in becoming a beta tester, you can sign up on the Fia website.

Fun facts about Izzy:

  • Even though he is busy and works hard, he loves to hang out with his friends like a normal teen.
  • He loves watersports and tries to get on the water whenever possible.
  • He’s looking at colleges and weighing his options for the future, but he knows it will involve his love for entrepreneurship.

Featured Member – Monisha Mitchell

Monisha MitchellzWORKS has always been about bringing people together for the benefit of the Zionsville community. You don’t have to look far to see the entrepreneurial engine at work whether that be the many small businesses that use the zWORKS spaces to host meetings and clients or the partners that offer their resources and expertise to help startups on their journey. That’s why we were excited when Monisha Mitchell decided to join zWORKS and bring her guidance on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) to our members so we can continue growing in a positive and meaningful way right here in Zionsville.

Monisha’s mantra is to engage, educate and expand. She carved this path over the years as a licensed therapist followed by work in nonprofit leadership roles and more recently in insurance. Monisha’s unique background and skill set has positioned her to be a positive change agent in the community.

“I come from a wonderfully diverse family that I feel gave me a deep appreciation for various cultures and experiences,” says Monisha. “The last year has been difficult for many people. It brought to light so much in terms of mental health but also in terms of diversity.”

Monisha strives to engage and empower whether on an individual level through therapy or an organizational level through engagement groups. She seeks to educate through community conversations about DE&I but also to bring awareness to mental health issues. In both instances, she aims to encourage people to expand their reach in the world and hopefully that results in people connecting with one another more inclusively and wholeheartedly.

“Cultural competency and diversity has always been an important part of growing communities,” says Monisha. “My desire is that we have a community that is more welcoming and inclusive. That creates an opportunity for self reflection and awareness which is where my experience and services come in.”

Monisha draws upon her experience working as an individual in a private practice and found the greatest challenge was working alone and feeling cut off. She recognizes that a space like zWORKS is a wonderful way for innovators, who may otherwise be isolated in their own spaces, to coalesce and have a sense of community. It’s the sense of community and entrepreneurial spirit that inspired Monisha to join zWORKS.

Please join us for a free DE&I Lunch & Learn on June 25, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. at zWORKS. Monisha will discuss the importance of employing a diverse workforce, what equity looks like, and how inclusion broadens your customer base and reaches new audiences.

Fun Facts about Monisha:

  • She is the proud mother of three children ages 28-5!
  • She loves to write; she published her first essay on cultural competence in 2005 and now blogs for Indianapolis Moms Blog.
  • She first started visiting Zionsville as youngster to ride horses at Pleasant Run (which if our memory serves us right, is now Target!)

Featured Member – Jeff Wraley

Jeff Circle“If you are starting a business or even thinking about starting a business, then zWORKS is the place to be.”

Jeff Wraley is no stranger to startups or the Zionsville community. He grew up in Zionsville, before going to Purdue University and later living in Virginia. While there, he worked in construction engineering along with building a few startups along the way. They weren’t all successful.

“Sometimes you learn even more from failure than you do success,” says Jeff. “I have an entrepreneurial spirit and have pursued many ventures, each one helping me learn and grow.”

When he moved back to Zionsville with his family, he was searching for his next big idea. Determining what his next startup would be was a challenge of its own and Jeff tackled it by creating a bracket challenge. Through his bracket, he conducted several MVPs and pilots to determine which one of his dozens of ideas had legs. He narrowed down those 50 ideas to what would become his business today, Groundwork.

Groundwork is a software that is dedicated to helping contractors qualify their leads and find their ideal customers. Contractors get video walkthroughs from homeowners before the site visit so they know what they are quoting and can qualify good leads. Jeff’s engineering degree from Purdue University and his background in construction engineering led to the inspiration for Groundwork and helping companies in the construction and home improvement industries be more successful.

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, Groundwork was just getting its start. Jeff competed in zWORKS’ first Pitch Night competition, opening the door for him to connect with the wider zWORKer community. This opportunity allowed Jeff to meet other startups, connect with investors, and eventually hire a partner for Groundwork.

“That experience was so helpful simply to grow the business, but also enlightening,” says Jeff. “To see other startups and hear their challenges and solutions was a huge opportunity that I learned from and took away to implement at Groundwork.”

But COVID-19 challenged businesses of all sizes to adjust their tactics and business models. Luckily, the Groundwork platform was in the perfect position to show it’s value. Jeff expected it to take 5-10 years to get to this point of working virtually with contractors. Now, overnight the industry had to adapt to working virtually as much as possible. One contractor had over a hundred homeowners submit videos in just May of last year alone.

“The zWORKS community has been instrumental in making Groundwork the success that it is today,” says Jeff. “Not only did the exposure help bring our business to investors and partners willing to help, but it also gave me a community of fellow entrepreneurs to help navigate the surge brought on by the pandemic.”

With the huge spike in business, Jeff needed to bring on assistance. His LinkedIn post was shared with a zWORKer who had the perfect fit in his network for Jeff’s needs. Not only has zWORKS helped Jeff build the Groundwork team, it has been a source of support and connection with other startups. You can often find Jeff and Doug Wilcox of How’s Mom at zWORKS connecting to problem solve, ideate, and just chat, supporting each other through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.

As Groundwork continues to grow, the team is looking to expand. While they are always looking for talented people, they are hoping to grow in Development, Sales, and Marketing.

Getting to know Jeff on a more personal level…

  • Jeff attended Zionsville High School and may still hold some records for receiving for the football team. Go Eagles!
  • Jeff and his wife sold their home in Virginia and bought a camper to travel for two months before moving to Zionsville. They drove 17,000 miles and hiked over 70 miles with the kids, seeing 9 national parks along the way.

Featured Members – Doug Wilcox

Doug WilcoxAll startups are born when an entrepreneur tackles an unmet need, but the most successful ones are born out of a passion and driven by experience to solve a problem in the marketplace. It is that passion for changing the face of communications between long-term care facilities and families that drove co-founders Doug Wilcox and Matt Prasek to leverage their shared experience and create the app How’s Mom by Safekeeping.

Traditionally, it has been difficult for family members to stay apprised of their loved one’s care information without calling a facility directly or visiting regularly. This is a major source of frustration and confusion for families. In addition, facilities lack the bandwidth to stay in contact with all families. How’s Mom by Safekeeping is an app designed to connect family members with their loved one’s medical information. The company partners with two of the largest Electronic Medical Record (EMR) companies in the industry, combining to serve 95% of the market.

Not only does the app ease the frustration and difficulty of gaining access to information surrounding your loved one, but it also serves as an operational efficiency tool for the facility. Providing instant and actionable information to family members is convenient and time-saving for the facility staff.

Rarely is entrepreneurship a straight line but often a winding road. Prior to meeting Matt and learning about his idea for How’s Mom, Doug worked in sales and marketing for fourteen years for several Fortune 500 companies. As luck would have it, living in Zionsville, Doug was introduced to zWORKS at its inception when asked to support it by zWORKS founder and long-time friend, Dan Moyers.

“Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely business,” Doug says. “Sometimes it feels like it is you against the world, but being around others in the same position at zWORKS brings a sense of shared community with others that understand the challenges and opportunities.”

Little did Doug know at the time, but joining zWORKS was pivotal in the next phases of his career path. Wanting to make an impact and “see the needle move” in his work, Doug found an opportunity with another zWORKS startup success, 120Water. Having known the Founder and CEO, Megan Glover, Doug joined the team, offering Sales and Marketing support. It wasn’t before long that Doug was faced with his own startup story.

While Doug was visiting his mom in a long-term care facility in Anderson, Indiana, he learned about How’s Mom, which was called Safekeeping at the time. Matt Prasek had developed the idea in college and was conducting a pilot of the app at the long-term care facility Doug’s mom was living in. Matt and Doug connected over the phone and, after several conversations, began working together to build and develop what would become How’s Mom by Safekeeping.

Doug’s experience with 120Water gave him the experience he needed to embark on a startup journey, but it was his involvement with the zWORKS startup community that has undoubtedly driven decisions that led to the growth and success of How’s Mom.

“The resources and community that are available and openly offered by being a part of zWORKS brings startups an opportunity that they can’t get on their own,” says Doug. “Sometimes just running into others who already have experience solving a problem you have is all you need to move forward.”

From the very beginning, Doug and Matt came to zWORKS every day to whiteboard and map out their business plan. The two created the working platform and earned their first paying customer. Safekeeping would go on to win the inaugural zWORKS Pitch Night opening the door to additional connections, investors, and resources. Now, operating out of their own zWORKS office space, Doug collaborates frequently with the zWORKS community. He credits the depth and breadth of the zWORKS community for support and mentorship, especially in the areas that he is less familiar with for guidance.

“Startups don’t have a lot of ancillary resources for office space and conference rooms, so having zWORKS and the space to think, create and meet was a tremendous benefit for How’s Mom,” Doug says. “We now have a dedicated space at zWORKS, but you will often find us in the common areas talking to others and trading advice.”

Unlike most businesses that were rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic, How’s Mom had an opportunity in front of them. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the How’s Mom app was a “nice to have” feature. Then overnight, the app became a “need to have” tool. It was more important than ever for long-term care facilities to quickly and effectively communicate with the families of their patients. How’s Mom grew rapidly, conducting 8-10 demos of the app a day. Things have begun to normalize, but the fact remains, family members want to check in and find out “How’s Mom?”

How’s Mom is operational in facilities across 33 states and has thousands of people logging on every day. As vaccinations reach more people and the world continues to shift back to normal, the app is coming out with new functionality that will allow facilities to schedule visitations on the How’s Mom app. This will allow them to ensure safety protocols are met and help ease the transition.

The How’s Mom team is made up of Doug Wilcox and Matt Prasek, along with various contractors. The team is looking to expand with the support of a Sales Professional.

Getting to know Doug on a more personal level…

  • Doug has been a cyclist for the last 12 years and has completed a race over 248 miles.
  • One day Doug would like to bike through France or another part of Europe.
  • His favorite place to travel to is Maui, and used to take trips there twice a year.

zWORKS Graduate Spotlight – Chris Jackson and Glampfitter

Connecting people to nature. It’s a simple idea and the genesis for zWORKS member Chris Jackson’s start up, Revival Recreation, founded in 2019. Some might remember the company name when Chris won the “People’s Choice” award at the inaugural zWORKS Pitch Night. A win he calls “proof of concept.”

Chris was first introduced to zWORKS through his close friend, zWORKS Board President and ongoing business mentor Paul Dreier. Paul encouraged Chris to join, so he could utilize the community, resources, and opportunity offered by zWORKS. The membership has proven invaluable to Chris’ journey.

Chris says “entrepreneurship is a lonely endeavor” and discovered the community zWORKS provided him resources needed for the twists and turns (known and unknown) ahead. His business isn’t the traditional tech-related, coworking, zWORKS startup. A retired US Air Force explosive ordnance disposal team leader, Chris wanted to create a glamping experience for the non-camper. His original idea was to simply set up a glamp site for his customers and take it down when they were done.

After retiring from the military, Chris earned his bachelor’s degree in leadership psychology and a graduate degree in outdoor recreation, while also completing the Syracuse University Veteran Entrepreneurship in residence program at Purdue University. This business foundation told him his idea was good, but the question remained: how do I scale it?

Chris consulted fellow zWORKS members including The Growth Coach Bob Paden and TRG Web Design. He formed a board of advisors that includes Dreier and zWORKS member, Jon Sheedy, founder and principal of Bull Capital. Chris says he “leaned on the support of the community to fail fast, learn, and succeed.”

In the fall 2019, he also met with Zionsville resident Hunter Smith, former Colts punter and owner of WonderTree Farm over breakfast. Chris remembers they talked for hours, a conversation that foreshadowed his future.

With fellow zWORKers input, advice, guidance and a small stipend from his People’s Choice win, Chris got to work shifting his business model to develop Glampfitter LLC, a campground outfitting company dedicated to partnering with existing campsites by outfitting glampgrounds nationwide at KOAs and other locations. The 2020 New Year would be the official launch.

In February 2020, Chris brought Glampfitters to the Indianapolis Boat Sport and Travel show where over 100,000 people experienced his Glamp setups over the course of one week. With the assistance of advisory board member’s Jon and Paul, they left the show with over $250,000 in contracts ready to be finalized at the end of March. Startup was feeling successful.

Then bam—COVID19 began closing the country. The orders were cancelled, and Chris was back to square one. What could he do with four glamp setups in a country quarantined during a historic pandemic?

On a whim, Chris called Hunter at WonderTree Farm to see if he was interested in outfitting a few glampsites (Chris’ display merchandise) during the summer. The two met. What was supposed to be a 30-minute conversation turned into a six hour vision-casting session. They discovered a mutual vision: connecting people to nature and the land.

Hunter started WonderTree farm to build something for his family for generations to come. Growing up on a ranch in Texas, he understood and believed in regenerative farming practices. He wanted to create a system with processes to prove how effective farming benefits the land while bringing fresh food options to the community. Chris was ready to focus and streamline many business operations of the farm while bringing people to the site for a glamping experience.

Four glamp sites were set up and sold out at WonderTree farms in 2020. The glamping experience allowed people to experience the farm while gaining insight and education to regenerative farming practices that benefits community, quality of food, and life of the animals. Overnight guests book a site and get to order fresh eggs, bacon, meat and other items to cook (grills included) during their stay.

Chris and Hunter poured entrepreneurial energies into operations by updating the point of sale system, creating business processes, installing new freezers, and managing costs by finding ways to partner with local farmers and business owners.

Ultimately, the two have developed a shared vision for an AgrilPark model, dedicated to becoming a food staple provider for people living in the surrounding 10 miles and creating job opportunities for the community. WonderTree Farm includes Indiana’s first drive-through farmers market that allows community members to visit the farm and purchase fresh meat, eggs, raw dairy and other food items.

When Chris reflects on his entrepreneurial journey, he credits zWORKS saying, “My successes in this community are solely based on my connections at zWORKS.”

About WonderTree Farms

  • Located at 2280 US 421 Zionsville
  • The glamping season opens April 15. Get rates, options and book a stay on the website.
  • The WonderTree Farm Market is open Tuesday to Friday. Hours vary

About Regenerative Farming

  • Regenerative farming focuses on building soil health. This allows farmers to invest in their farmland for future generations.
  • Regenerative farming is good for the environment. Regenerative farming practices help to decrease CO2 emissions.

Featured Members – Adelpha Twyman

Adelpha TwymanUncovering the career path you want to pursue can be a difficult and daunting task, no matter where you are in your life. Even after being in the workforce for years, many people change careers. Ultimately, this question is hard to answer and frequently asked early in your life.

As the Extended Experiences Coordinator for Zionsville Community High School, Adelpha Twyman connects students to opportunities to explore their interests and passions to uncover the possibilities for future careers.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Adelpha attended Texas A&M University earning her undergraduate degree in Education. She met her husband while working for the Plano Independent School District. After marrying in 1997, she and her husband decided to make Indianapolis, her husband’s hometown, their permanent residence.

Adelpha began her career in the Dallas Independent School District where she was a middle school English teacher for six years. Following this time, Adelpha returned to school at the University of North Texas to obtain her Master’s Degree in School Counseling. She would move on to work as a counselor for W.H. Adamson High School (Dallas ISD) and then Bowman Middle School (Plano ISD).

Upon moving to Indianapolis, Adelpha began work as the Dean of Girls at Southport High School. During this time, she earned her second Master’s Degree in Secondary School Administration from Butler University. At this time, the opportunity presented itself to be the Assistant Principal and Guidance Counselor at Speedway Junior High. Accepting this position made Adelpha the first African American professional to be hired in Speedway Schools.

Adelpha eventually found her position with Zionsville Community High School as the first Extended Experience Coordinator. The district’s administration researched local and national high school career programs to create the Extended Experiences resource that complimented Zionsville’s academic offerings. Adelpha’s experience  as a classroom teacher, administrator, and counselor made her the perfect candidate to help find opportunities beyond the classroom.

Her role as coordinator allows her to connect students with opportunities, whether it’s for careers, global travels, community services, or academic research. . This resource helps ZCHS students gain experience prior to graduation so that they may make more informed decisions post-high school.. Ultimately, the goal is to help students prepare for the next chapter of their life.Students have engaged in various endeavors from  interning with zWORKS partners  to  conducting research for a federal grant in IUPUI’s science lab to earning a  pilot’s license before graduation.

In the initial three years of developing the resource, zWORKS partnered with the high school to conduct a one-day Entrepreneurial Boot Camp. Following participation in the camp, students interned with various zWORKS businesses.. This partnership helped entrepreneurial minded students learn what it means to start and build a business. It also allowed these entrepreneurs to give back to the community and receive assistance with their businesses during the summer months. This win-win alliance helped students to learn a great deal about small business and entrepreneurship, as well as provide entrepreneurs with much-needed assistance.

Coming in May, zWORKS and ZCHS will partner for the third time and host a “Shark Tank” event. Students will create and present their business ideas to participating zWORKS entrepreneurs, the way a startup would when searching for funding. This will help students gain real world experience by creating a business plan and presenting it for feedback.

In the future, Adelpha is hoping to build on the existing relationship with zWORKS to provide  students with greater opportunities  within the zWORKS community. As the Extended Experience Coordinator, Adelpha is constantly looking for new experiences  for the students of Zionsville Community High School to explore their interests, passions, and offer servcie.

If you are interested in partnering with ZCHS and offering students opportunities to partner with your organization, please feel free to contact Adelpha at atwyman@zcs.k12.in.us.

Getting to know Adelpha on a more personal level…

  • Adelpha holds two masters degrees: one from the University of North Texas and the other from Butler University.
  • Adelpha and her husband have one son who is a Freshman at Ball State University.

Featured Members – Kimberly Hartzel

Kimberly HartzelAs we surpass one year in the COVID-19 world, it’s easy to flash back to the memories of the early days of the pandemic. The uncertainty of what was to come led to the scramble to get your home stocked with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Many things have changed during this time and have evolved over the last year. As the pandemic raged on, the supply for cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer grew scarce. In an effort to alleviate the strain on local businesses and their community, Yellow Turtle Hand Sanitizer launched with the hope of providing quality, affordable bulk hand sanitizer.

Originally from Chicago, Kimberly Hartzel worked in Marketing and Advertising for several years at BBDO as she built her career. Mainly focusing on traditional forms of advertising she had the opportunity to work with Dodge Ram Truck and the Wrigley Company. She organized marketing campaigns and events all over the city of Chicago.

Upon moving to Indianapolis twelve years ago, Kimberly raised her four children and would return to work with the United States Tennis Association (USTA). As a nonprofit, their marketing budget was small so there traditional advertising efforts were limited.

At this point, content marketing was taking off and Kimberly took advantage of the early digital marketing space and the use of social media as a marketing tool. Her role with USTA allowed her to work with many different people, helping them stay active and healthy while also growing her career in marketing.

By the time the pandemic hit, Kimberly was ready to move on from the USTA and was looking for her next role. The sudden need for high quality and affordable hand sanitizer made in the US gave Kimberly the opportunity to launch Yellow Turtle.

A main driving force behind her ambition to start her own company was to set an example of strength and resilience for her daughter, to get her involved with small business and show her what can be done in the business world.

Yellow Turtle started as a family venture, with Kimberly’s daughter helping her name the company, design the logo, and support her throughout its development. Launching the business involved understanding and meeting all FDA regulations surrounding hand sanitizer. At the time, many people were selling harmful hand sanitizer, not approved by the FDA. Part of the mission statement for Yellow Turtle is to focus on giving its clients the chance to do the best they can. That means providing them with the highest quality, FDA approved hand sanitizer at the best price they can.

Yellow Turtle supported many small and medium sized businesses immediately during the early stages of the pandemic. With the limitations on shipping and high demand for hand sanitizer, the ability for Yellow Turtle to support these businesses with US-produced hand sanitizer allowed them to safely operate day to day. Now, Yellow Turtle continues to work with several of these businesses providing bulk supplies of hand sanitizer.

Part of the mission for Yellow Turtle is to continue to support single moms. As a way to do this, Kimberly and Yellow Turtle partner with Coburn Place, whose mission is to empower people impacted by interpersonal abuse. They provide resources, housing, support, and much more to their survivors.

Kimberly is optimistic for the future of Yellow Turtle, as they continue to work with their clients to supply them with affordable hand sanitizer. Looking to the future she hopes to expand her offering to include more cleaning supplies and to continue to give the clients of Yellow Turtle the chance to do the best they can.

Getting to know Kimberly on a more personal level…

  • Kimbely remarried a year and a half ago. Her and her husband love to play pickleball whenever they get the chance.
  • Kimberly has a daughter who lives in France. She was able to see her in January in the French island of St. Barts.
  • Kimberly lives just a bike ride away from downtown Zionsville in the new Vonterra neighborhood.

 

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