New direction: Launch Fishers transitions to new leadership team after founder steps away

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Launch Fishers, a coworking space in Fishers, didn’t have to look far for a new leader.

David Bolling, formerly the vice president of finance for Launch Fishers, will become the organization’s executive director July 1. John Wechsler, company founder and CEO, is stepping down from the role to pursue other business opportunities. He will remain on the board of directors, but Bolling will oversee day-to-day operations.

Moving forward, the Launch Fishers leadership team will consist of Bolling, IoT Lab Executive Director Jason Pennington and Rachel Drake. IoT stands for “internet of things.” Pennington will continue to oversee IoT Lab operations and Drake will remain in her role in marketing and communications.

Bolling expects the transition to be seamless.

“I’ve been with John for 20 years, so it’s an entrepreneurial journey on how I’ve gotten here,” he said.

Bolling’s background is in accounting and finance. He will continue as Launch Fishers’ CFO in addition to being the executive director. Pennington will continue in his role at the IoT Lab. Bolling and Pennington will join efforts to secure grant funding from the state and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to spread the Launch Fishers and IoT message regionally and statewide.

Bolling said Launch Fishers also plans to focus on coworking strategies to enhance entrepreneurism across the state.

“We are trying to outreach to small communities to try to find those entrepreneurs that may not know how to get to a local coworking facility,” Bolling said. “We can outreach to all these communities to showcase the things we have and our collective knowledge around the state.”

Pennington echoed the sentiment.

“We have some good assets, and now we want to essentially amplify those assets to the state,” Pennington said.

Other projects include reintroducing the Launch Fishers High School Fellowship Program, which was on a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program provides high school students in the Fishers area an opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship while working for an actual business.

“That is our program to get high school students in Fishers connected and working for local companies get them out and involved and get them experience in entrepreneurship,” Bolling said. “We are looking for students at Hamilton Southeastern and Fishers High School, and we give them an opportunity to get connected for companies here at the IoT Lab or Launch Fishers or here in our city give and them experience on what it is to be an entrepreneurial company.”

Planning for Fail Fest is also in the works. Previously, Fail Fest has been a daylong festival spotlighting the role failure plays in innovation. Drake said Fail Fest might return in a multiday format.

In the meantime, Pennington said he expects the Launch Fishers leadership transition to go smoothly.

“With any transition, one of the first things to do is manage the change well,” Pennington said. “Fortunately, in our case, we had a year to plan for some sense of succession with John (Wechsler) and his decision. It didn’t happen overnight.”

Bolling said he wants Launch Fishers to continue to be of service to anyone starting their business or who wants to own a business.

“There are so many opportunities for us to help them, whether that’s just to be a connector and understand what their aspirations are, or they could be someone who just wants to run a business for themselves or have aspiration to grow and we can take them down that journey,” Bolling said. “I think for us, that’s what we’re here for. That is, getting them started within our two facilities, provide them the space and the flexibility to do that.”

For more, visit launchfishers.com.

David Bolling works with Launch Fishers member Myki McDorman.

John Wechsler announces next steps for Launch Fishers 

John Wechsler founded Launch Fishers in 2012, and after 10 years, he is stepping down from his position July 1.

“It is kind of a natural progression of next steps,” said Wechsler, a Fishers resident. “After 10 years of doing this, I think it is definitely a good time for fresh eyes and fresh leadership.”

Launch Fishers Vice President of Finance David Bolling will become its executive director. IoT Lab Jason Pennington, who already is the lab’s executive director, will also became its vice president. Rachel Drake will continue in her role in marketing and communications.

“That’s what the team looks like in terms of who’s going to be running the shop in my absence,” Wechsler said. “I will be still involved with things as a board member, and I’ll be helping manage the overall operation. But as a board member, I’m not so involved in the day-to-day part of the DNA of the company. This is all really good. It’s a natural step for me to go out and explore other entrepreneurial options.”

Wechsler said he wasn’t ready to announce what his options are.

“I already had multiple oars in the water, and things are really beginning to get traction,” he said. “It’s been an amazing 10 years.”

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