The startup scene has really taken off in southwest Indiana over the last several months. Terre Haute, Evansville and Bloomington seem to form a ‘startup triangle’ for the region.
For starters, there has been no lack of Startup Weekend events. The first Crane event launched on October 5th, 2012. Bloomington on November 9th, 2012. Terre Haute‘s first ever event on February 8th, and right on it’s heels Startup Weekend Evansville 2.0 kicked off on February 22nd. Not to be left out, a little outside the triangle Louisville, Kentucky fired off an event the following weekend!
As we prepared for Startup Weekend Terre Haute, Demi Wetzel was kind enough to Skype in and give our ‘How To Prep‘ meetup a great Q & A session. Demi hails from Evansville and after attending her first Startup Weekend, she found her calling. Demi now works for Startup Weekend HQ in Seattle Washington!
As I watched the Sunday night pitches in Evansville this year, Andrew Moad and his team walked away with 1st place honors. Andrews startup is a physical product called Fence Chips. Andrew had joined my team at Startup Weekend Crane in 2012 and was a huge help pushing through those 54 hours.
Another very active team in the Indiana startup scene is Matt Burris and Jessica Falkenthal. I had the pleasure of meeting both at Startup Weekend Bloomington back in May 2012. Jessica graciously agreed to lead my team at that event. Both are at every Bloomtech and Verge Bloomington meetup I’ve ever attended! Plus they have been the facilitators at Startup Weekend events in Bloomington, Crane, Terre Haute and Evansville. Wow!
Of course I can’t leave out Bloomington’s own Nick Tippman. Nick has helped organize Startup Weekend events and was recently invited to speak at Evansville’s event in February. Nick is no stranger to the startup life and is now CEO of a relatively new – and very cool startup based out of Memphis, TN called Nibletz – ‘The voice of startups everywhere else’.
Another tie to both Bloomington and Evansville is Andrew Heil. Andrew mentored at the first Startup Weekend I attended held in Bloomington and organized Evansville’s events. These days he works his 9-5 in Evansville then jets off to Bloomington each evening to work on his new startup – Tourize. I talked to Andrew recently about this cool new app. Here is what he said:
“Tourize (www.tourize.com) is a new way to travel. We are creating a mobile platform to consume tours from professional guides. We believe that often times knowledge is missing as each tourist experiences a new attraction or is planning a new trip. I will be able to take you on a demo soon..
Currently, we are working through RunUp Labs. Runup labs is a travel startup accelerator which is a 10 week program and helping 7 companies launch. It’s been great. My team and I have been working around the clock and of course learning a whole lot.
The interesting part of the story: As you may know it is March Madness season and I decided that it was time to incorporate the signup process with the time of the year to peek interest in our travel startup… This was no longer a sign up form, but a bracket of people interested in travel fighting for the number 1 seed.
This turned into a road to the early access of tourize and not just a launch rock page. This is a big dance tournament where each person that signs up is given information and a link to share. The more each link is shared – the more you score and the more you win.
When I set out to launch this, I thought if “Hipster” could get 10k signups with just a launch page and mailbox app could make a que of 600k signups, certainly I could make madness in march happen!
And it’s starting to – we launched on Sunday 3/24 and have already passed 1,000 page views rather quickly in the first 5 hours. We’ve continued to that rate and are at 2,500 page views in the first 36 hours. After reaching out to people who have signed up, people are interested in the hype of a new way to travel and of course, being part of the tournament!
We can’t wait to see where the next 6 days goes and all the way down to the final four early adopters of Tourize!
The link is www.tourize.com – please sign up and play! “
You can find Andrew at most Evansville Tech on Tap meetups each month.
Tech on Tap Meetup
One of southern Indiana’s startup scene champions is Drew Peyronnin. Drew hosts the Tech on Tap meetups in Evansville and has become a Startup Weekend regular like most of us! Tech on Tap is a great networking event and has grown by leaps and bounds over the last year. Drew has been involved in many of the ‘startup triangle’ events and was the keynote speaker at our Terre Haute event. A huge applause is standard fair after his insightful talks.
It’s amazing how the Indiana startup communities are tied together and support each other. Maybe that’s Hoosier hospitality showing itself.
Over the last few weeks Bryan Jackson and I have been discussing the next step in the evolution of the Wabash Valley startup, tech and innovation community. We both want to see the startup and tech community grow to foster a living, breathing culture that benefits everyone. Bryan started the Tech Haute meetups with similar goals as Terre Haute Tech and has hosted great seminars on popular social media tools and how to use them in business.
After discussing the benefits and future possibilities we have decided to join forces and merge both groups, combining memberships. This will foster even more great connections in our startup community. Bryan has been working on the new Tech Haute site as the next step in this exciting merger. We are planning some awesome things for our members and the Terre Haute startup scene.
It’s been very exciting to see the startup culture grow and to be a part of it. There are many others not mentioned here that make this community thrive, but that’s for another day. If your not involved in your startup community and events, now is the time! The connections, learning and business opportunities that happen at each event are hard to put a price on. So join a startup meetup and get plugged in to this amazing southwest Indiana startup triangle!