If you just want to get away from it all, did you know Barbados is developing a 12-month remote work program for people who want work-life balance to include balancing on a paddleboard? Read more about getting paid to move, also in this edition.

For those trying to break into remote work and seize these opportunities, I encourage you to attend 36|86 Festival

For ten days this August, LaunchTN will provide a digital experience that connects innovators, change-makers, investors, and leaders from around the globe. I’ll be co-hosting the pitch competition and many of the talks so I hope you’ll join me. 

C’mon little butterfly—let’s learn how to emerge from the quarantine cocoon and lead the way in the new economy together! This week’s edition of the Spark could be the wind beneath your wings.

In this Issue:

  • 💥You’ve Got Bailouts!
  • 🏡Get Paid to Move
  • 💖New Section: Unvalley Spotlight


PS:  We just announced new speakers for our July 30th event celebrating Indianapolis, an important piece of the “Unvalley” new tech economy. Learn what makes the Crossroads of America the perfect response to Silicon Valley.

Reserve your spot here (space is limited)


 ⚖️AOL Founder Makes His Case

You’ve got bail…outs! Steve Case, the co-founder of AOL is making waves with his backing of a stimulus package supporting startups that could put upwards of a trillion dollars into the economy. 

Our team got to know Case, the CEO of venture capital firm Revolution, travelling around the country for the Rise of the Rest pitch competitions over the past several years. So it’s no surprise to us that Case has been vocal about the need of aid for startups, particularly during COVID-19. 

Case recently published a blog detailing the plight of the startup world, which has seen 70,000 startup employees laid off due to the virus. And he isn’t the only one leading the charge for these efforts. Pete Blackshaw, the CEO of Cincinnati-based Cintrifuse, testified before Congress to communicate the message that we are living in a time of unending disruption, and small businesses in crisis need to learn to pivot to survive.

However, Mark Cuban recently spoke about the dangers of an overly-hyped and inflated stock market, even comparing it to the 1990s dot-com bubble. Though there are many factors to consider, one thing is clear: tech startups are still on the minds of leaders all throughout the industry. 

💊Are Fresh Starts the Best Medicine?

Anyone else need a 2020 do-over? Though time travel may not be an option, many are considering getting a fresh start with a career change. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new realities, but one area still thriving is the tech industry. There are stories everywhere about the new demand for talent in technology startups. Companies in the tech space are practically built for remote work, and many tech employees have reported they expect a salary raise due to the increased need and workload. 

True, there have been many adjustments to the new remote working environments, and some tech veterans have reported challenges to maintaining their usually vibrant cultures. But there’s good news, as folks new to the tech industry can pursue career paths without having to drop major coin on coastal living. 

Research has shown that millennials have already found affordable homes in the Midwest. Much of that can be attributed to shifting corporate location strategies, 67% of which are now located in suburban areas as opposed to large cities. Raleigh, North Carolina recently topped the list for best cities for tech jobs during the pandemic, and many others like St. Louis and San Diego made their way into the top 10. 

Looking for a new opportunity? Check out our list below of companies currently hiring.

🏡Relocation Incentives: The New Curb Appeal

What is the value of home? That’s a complicated question, one each person answers differently. And many states and cities across the US want to simplify the equation and attract new residents by offering cash and other incentives to remote workers. 

Just a few examples:

  • Savannah, GA offers as much as $2,000 to remote tech workers
  • Tulsa, OK is offering $10,000 cash and other incentives to 250 remote workers
  • Alabama’s Shoals Region also offers $10k in cash to remote workers that move to their area

Some of these initiatives started before COVID, but the new remote work realities brought to the workforce by the pandemic mean these programs are ramping up. Other states offering relocation incentives include Kansas, Connecticut, and Michigan. Even nations like Barbados are rolling out a 12-month travel program to appeal to remote workers.

Remember back in 2019, when the idea of being able to work from Barbados for a year seemed dreamy-but-impossible? 

As remote work lets us evaluate which roots sustain us and which ones are holding us down, it’s going to be incredible to see the shifts in satisfaction among our population. Like longtime Powderkeg member Kristen Nunery, founder and CEO of myCOI, living her best remote life traveling the US in a RV. 

Remote work is the kind of reality that always seemed like it should be possible as technology and society grew. Now, though the growing pains are still hurting, this shift in the professional status quo and all the potential it brings seem to be here to stay. 

🤖Do Androids Dream of…Funding?

Part-Human, Part-Machine, All-Awesome. While coronavirus continues to slow down venture capital funding in traditional tech areas, the artificial intelligence industry is having its moment in the sun. 

One of the most exciting developments has been OpenAI and its new release of GPT-3, a brand-new AI language model that can not only produce text indistinguishable from that of a human, but also analyze context, compose music, and even be used as a doctor to prescribe medication.

Startups everywhere are finding new, novel applications for AI. Companies like Gradescope and Bakpax are creating artificial intelligence-powered tutors for educational purposes. Space exploration is using AI to dramatically improve navigation and aid astronauts in their outer space studies. Even competitive racing is getting in on the action, with the Indy Autonomous Challenge inviting startups to produce self-driving cars for a race at the famed Brickyard track. 

Clearly, AI is booming across industries, and funding follows success. We’ve reported on startups like Vacasa out of Portland and DISCO out of Austin, both of which are breaking funding records. With artificial intelligence more common than ever, we’re worried we might be robots, too!


Top fundings, acquisitions, and IPOs between the coasts. 

Atlanta, GA

Austin, TX 

Chicago, IL

Denver, CO

Hoboken, NJ

Lehi, UT

Los Angeles, CA

  • Uniper Care, a social engagement and telehealth company created for older adults, announced it closed a $4m funding round.

Miami, FL

Phoenix, AZ

Raleigh, NC

San Diego, CA


Indianapolis, IN: Momentum in Marketing Tech, Digital Health, HR Tech and more at the Crossroads of America. 

In this new section of The Spark, we share some of the biggest opportunities in tech beyond Silicon Valley. This week, we’re covering Indianapolis (keep an eye out for Raleigh-Durham next week!)

Indianapolis Tech is growing at full throttle, but there is still so much untapped potential.

From startups to tech giants, high-growth companies have found Indianapolis (Indy) to be an ideal home. The city is outpacing the competition by providing experienced talent, lower cost of living, and a productive environment of innovative founders, investors, and leaders. Much of the momentum comes on the backs of some major tech exits: 

These companies have maintained a large presence in the Indy tech community, creating an even stronger center of gravity for growing SaaS firms in the city. So much so, that Indy was a finalist in the Amazon HQ2 search and other large tech companies like Jobvite have made this Midwest tech mecca their home. 

In the last year alone, Indianapolis has seen numerous companies land new rounds of funding and get acquired. Some of the most notable: 

  • $100 million: Kenzie Academy, a tech-training college alternative
  • $22.5 million: Zylo, SaaS enterprise-management platform 
  • $15 million: Lessonly, enabling better work for frontline teams
  • Acquired: Doxly, software for managing legal transactions
  • Acquired: Analytic.li, a workforce analytics platform 

With all of the fundings, acquisitions, and IPOs, Indy has become a magnet for talent. Nearly 30 percent of local tech workers are transplants in Indianapolis, according to the 2019 Indiana Tech Census. This national talent draw is supplemented by the city’s proximity to top-rated programs like Indiana University Kelley School of Business and top-ranked Engineering schools like Rose-Hulman and Purdue. 

Curious to learn more about the incredible growth happening in Indianapolis? 

Our team at Powderkeg last week launched a new way to plug into the biggest opportunities in tech beyond Silicon Valley. Whether you’re looking for a new job, want to expand your business, or are looking to invest—this one-time virtual event on July 30th will give you new tools to level up…

Plug Into Indy Tech (New Speakers Announced Today!)

Are you looking for more news in tech between the coasts? It’s free to sign up for our hand-curated newsletter, The Spark, delivered to your inbox each week with the tech news outside Silicon Valley you need to know. Sign up here!