Karl R. LaPan
President & CEO
Karl R. LaPan is the first President & CEO of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center. He has served in this capacity since the formation of the organization October 16, 2000.
Karl received his undergraduate degree in 1986 from Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, New Hampshire, where he was graduated with a B.S. degree in Business Management with High Honors, Summa Cum Laude. He was also Class Salutatorian. Upon completing his academic degree, he joined General Electric Company, and in 1988, graduated from its prestigious Financial Management Program. Subsequently, in 1993, Karl received his M.S. degree in Human Resources Development from The American University in Washington, D.C. and is a member of the Pi Alpha Alpha Honorary Society. Karl graduated from the Mahler Program for Executives in December 1998.
What are you most proud of at The NIIC?
I am passionate about the range of projects, clients, and programs we offer. I’m proud of the difference we are making in creating sustainable, growth-oriented companies. We have a global reputation and are a recognized entrepreneurial thought leader. We have achieved this status because we see a wide range of ideas, inspiring business builders and cool companies. I am proud of the clients who entrust their dreams and ideas to us and our team for delivering exceptional value and services every day.
Why do you enjoy working at The NIIC?
I enjoy my job because of the endless variety of things to do. All of our companies are different–which is the nature of innovation–with unique sets of entrepreneurial challenges and opportunities. For someone like me who loves entrepreneurship and believes in its benefits, helping them find new and creative ways to succeed is a very enjoyable way to spend my time. Simply put, I have never had two days that have ever been the same!
The NIIC is a unique entity in Northeast Indiana. Tell us what sets it apart.
The NIIC is very special. We are driven by helping entrepreneurs and innovative companies be successful. Our metrics prove that. We help business builders across the spectrum of type and stage of business. We also do significant community outreach into underserved communities to grow the hometown team. We are inclusive, evidence-based and entrepreneurial. This is what sets us apart. We bet on the business builder – we play different roles depending on their needs – advocate, trusted advisor, accountability coach, and/or a component of their support system.
What advice would you offer to those looking to start their own business?
Find people who make you better. Question everything. Focus your energy. Stay in your lane. Lean in. Be authentic and self-aware. Pause occasionally and just get started!
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
My spare time is often spent with my family. Golf and tennis with my sons, family vacations in the surf and sun, visiting new places, sampling other cultures. Those are all my ideas of a good time. I’ve also made a lot of new friends in other non-profits and enjoy serving on other boards of directors. And, of course, my research and training travels on behalf of the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) is enormously satisfying.
What is your favorite Fort Wayne feature or place to spend time?
My wife and I enjoy The Embassy Theatre and the Broadway series. It is both an incredible entertainment venue, and an exceptional and historical building to see and experience great national traveling shows.
What do you like to do in the community?
Everything! I’m constantly amazed at how our city has grown and all of it located less than 20 minutes from my home. We have some significant community assets, too. I love the quality of the Embassy performances, and Science Central reminds me of my internal curious kid. With opportunities like these for our kids to be exposed to, the wonders of nature, science and technology, it’s no wonder we have such a talented pool of aspiring, young entrepreneurs. Kids today are starting their own businesses while they’re still in school! How great is that?