Why did Jay Baer move to build his business in Bloomington, Indiana?

Posted April 10, 2014

Matt Hunckler

CEO & Founder, Powderkeg

I lived there for three years of my life. But I was still surprised when I heard that Jay moved his wife and kids more than 1,600 miles to make their home in Bloomington, Indiana.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Bloomington. I mean, I started and sold my first real business in B-town. It’s just that you don’t run into many people who relocate their lives to what you might call a “college town,” and then not do business with the university. Best-selling author and marketing keynote speaker, Jay Baer recently explained his reasoning for moving to Bloomington, Indiana. Watch this candid story, shared at The Speak Easy co-working space  in Indianapolis:

In case you don’t have a relational database pulled up in another tab, let’s break it down in case you’re considering “B-town” for your business.

Pros of Bloomington, Indiana for Business:

  • jay baer bloomington indianaSave your capital for building your company. You sure as heck won’t need it to find a great place to live. In Bloomington, you can live and eat well, while keeping cash in the bank for your next full-time hire.
  • There’s literally a talent factory producing tech talent through the IU Informatics and Computing program as well as business brains pumped through the #1-ranked public school for entrepreneurship, The Johnson Center.
  • There’s a community of other people building businesses in Bloomington. Whether you visit startup accelerator, SproutBox, or an event at Verge Bloomington, you’ll find an energy unlike anything you’ll find on the coasts.

Cons of Bloomington, Indiana for Business:

  • It’s a college town, so there is a certain amount of transience. It could be more difficult to get local clients, if that’s your thing.
  • You have a smaller pool to test your product. Whether you have a new service, widget, or app, you have around 100,000 people in the town to use as your testing ground.
  • There’s less access to capital, if you don’t know where to look. While there are startup accelerators like SproutBox, who have helped build several successful companies (with a few wins, already), there just aren’t as many angels or VCs as you’d find in a metro area. That said, many investors travel to Bloomington regularly for business, visits to IU campus, and national conferences like The Combine.

Speaking of The Combine, I hope I’ll see you there this weekend. Yep. I’m going going, back back to B-town.

And I’m pretty stoked about it. With a few hundred people registered and keynote presenters like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (and serial entrepreneur, Jay Baer!), Bloomington is going to be a blast this Thurs-Sat. Use the code “INDYVERGE2014” and get 25% off when you register. So, if you haven’t already, get yours now!

So, what has your experience been with doing business in a college town? Is Bloomington an anomaly?

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Matt Hunckler

CEO & Founder, Powderkeg

Matt is the founder and CEO of Powderkeg, a network of local communities with global reach for tech entrepreneurs, investors, and top talent. Powderkeg entrepreneurs have collectively raised more than $500 million in capital and are disrupting industries, creating wealth, and changing the world from areas beyond Silicon Valley. Hunckler has led successful teams with his own ventures, as well as Inc. 500 companies and venture-funded tech startups. He's been named an Under 30 CEO Entrepreneur to Watch and an IBJ Forty Under 40 Honoree for his entrepreneurial endeavors. @hunckler