A Whole Lot More than Hoosier Hospitality

Posted October 14, 2013

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Indiana Startup Communities

Verge Pitch Night events have taken me across Indiana over the past few months:

  • Bloomington
  • Indianapolis
  • Terre Haute
  • West Lafayette

My recent experiences have yielded an eye-opening cross-section of the state, and I have not only learned about what makes startup communities thrive in Indiana–I’ve also been surprised in more ways than one.

What talent shortage?

We talk a lot about the shortage of technical talent in Indiana. In fact, most growing communities around the country are dealing with their own challenges around attracting and retaining strong  technical talent. And to be sure, it’s something we have to work on.

But when Matt, Tim and I were at the Anvil the other month for a Verge Lafayette / West Lafayette pitch night, we were blown away by the number of Purdue University developers and designers that were eager to get involved with startups. The room was practically busting at the seams with tech talent that’s already engaged in the local entrepreneurial community.

Success stories like Found Ops (recently acquired by Angie’s List) have already come out of the Verge WL community, and I’m excited to get to know the startups this growing entrepreneurial hotspot continues to produce.

Indiana startups or founders looking to connect with strong, young technical talent should get to a Verge WL Pitch Night or talk to Mike Asem, the Verge WL hub organizer.

Kicking The Old Oaken Bucket

If Verge West Lafayette is one of Indiana’s most talented group of techies–and it is–then Verge Bloomington is where you’ll find of some of the state’s brightest founders. Despite the in-state rivalry, Verge Bloomington and Verge WL have a lot to offer each other.

With community assets like SproutBox, a leading Midwestern venture capital and development firm, Bloomington Tech, and Indiana University’s top-ranked undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship programs, Verge Btown is one of the Indiana startup community’s cornerstones.

Collaboration is a big part of what makes this group so special. Excellent relationships between the University, SproutBox and the local community enable tons of meaningful connections between Verge members in Bloomington. And the group’s size–nearly 200, compared to Verge Indy’s 2,000–lends itself to smaller, more intimate Pitch Night events where members can expect to make long-lasting connections with folks they’ll see every month.

Other startup ecosystems on the rise and startup teams around Bloomington should get in touch with Kacey Martin, Katie Birge or Jeff Wuslich to learn more about what makes Verge Btown unique.

Manufacturing a Startup Community

My experience at the Verge Terre Haute launch event was inspiring. Some of the nation’s brightest engineers are tucked away in Rose Hulman’s RISE group and around the Indiana State University campus.

As business leaders from Terre Haute and bright students from across multiple campuses gathered to welcome Verge to Terre Haute, I thought of the town’s long history as a manufacturing center–and how, thanks to the work of people like David Dubree and the rest of the Verge Terre Haute team, that trajectory is shifting. Before attending the Verge TH launch event, I wasn’t sure exactly how large or engaged the entrepreneurial community would be at first. Now I know that they have hit the ground running.

For the first time in Terre Haute, founders, designers, developers and entrepreneurs have a home base. If you’re looking to plug into the entrepreneurial community in southwest Indiana, get yourself to their next meetup!

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Vergeday, Friday

Indiana entrepreneurs have been building lots of momentum lately, and the city of Indianapolis certainly feels like it’s on the verge of taking a big step forward. If you’ve been to a recent Verge Indy event, you know what I’m talking about.

Now is a great time to be an Indy entrepreneur. We’ve noticed. And increasingly, the rest of the world is taking notice, too.

In addition to traveling around the state over the past few weeks, I’ve also been speaking with entrepreneurs and community leaders around the US. I was on the phone the other week with a coastal Venture firm that is looking to expand. They have offices on three continents, and they’re looking at Indy as their next location.

“It’s exciting to see so much activity coming out of the Midwest,” one of the partners said. “And Indianapolis is right in the middle of it all.”

If accessible funding is one of the final hurdles separating Indianapolis from other startup hotbeds, there is good news: help is on the way.

Yes, Indy really is in the middle of it all.

If you’d like to get in touch about Verge Indy or anything related to Verge Startups, reach out to Matt Hunckler or me on twitter.

 

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