Entrepreneurs get help from new fund named for Philo T. Farnsworth, Fort Wayne’s ‘Father of Television’

The inaugural recipients of the Farnsworth Fund hold their prop checks Thursday after the grant presentation at the Philo T. Farnsworth home at St. Joseph and State boulevards. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)

At the age of 15, Philo T. Farnsworth had an idea for a process that one day would make television possible for the world, said Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry of the TV pioneer who produced the device locally from 1938 to 1951.

Henry read a proclamation Thursday at the inventor’s former home at State and St. Joseph boulevards to honor the Farnsworth Television and Radio Corp. founder, who died in 1971.

The event coincided with the first distribution of a planned 50 grants this year from a fund administered through Elevate Northeast Indiana that’s named for Farnsworth.

The Farnsworth Fund invites entrepreneurs to bring their business idea for a chance at a $1,000 grant. On Thursday, four checks were distributed:

•Chauntiel Smith, 25, a graduate of South Side High school and Indiana Tech, has formed Capture Sports Agency.

“My goal for my company is to be the next Eugene Parker – but better,” she told a crowd at Thursday’s announcement, referencing the late Fort Wayne sports agent whose client roster included football players Deion Sanders and Emmitt Smith.

•Sean Rassavong, 17, a senior at New Tech Academy has a production company called Vizion. He has been working in filmmaking and video since he was 10 and is planning to be the next Martin Scorsese.

“I want to help bring in a community of creatives,” said Rassavong, who wants to use the money to buy equipment.

•Ashli Pershing and Pamela Sprowl, who work as OB-GYN registered nurses at Parkview Wabash and Parkview Huntington hospitals. The duo, like other nurses helping women who’ve just given birth, make makeshift pads for new mothers to help with vaginal bleeding.

“We use baby diapers and stuff them with ice,” Sprowl said.

With help from the Mirro Research Center, they created the T-pad, a T-shaped pad that can hold an ice pack. They have already patented their invention and talked to a manufacturer. Once the T-pads are in production they’d like to try them in the Parkview system to get feedback from nurses and patients.

•Kyle Craig, 25, a mechanical engineering graduate of Trine University, has founded Apollo Dynamics. He invented a wearable biokinetics device that pairs with software to track and analyze body motion in real time. He has arranged pilot customers that include NCAA football champions, the University of Alabama.

Elevate will contribute $200,000 of seed money to the fund to put $20,000 into individual start-ups and at least another $800,000 is available for early-stage investment.

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