You only tease the ones you love, right? And I don’t just love our audience, but also Indianapolis. 

But I’m not going to tease you about the Indianapolis Tech Profile. I’ll just say it’s the chance to learn more about the Indianapolis tech community, on demand, in its own words. 

Though Hoosiers do tend to like catfish, I promise, this profile is the real deal. You don’t have to take just my word for it. Indianapolis was just ranked as the 4th-best startup ecosystem in the Midwest by M25’s Midwest Startups. Check out their full Best of the Midwest list.

Access to resources, business climate, venture capital availability and more inform these rankings. It’s lucky we took the time to fully explore those topics in creating this Indianapolis Profile, and I can’t wait to help provide more data and testimonials about Unvalley tech hubs in the future. 

For now, get to know the city Powderkeg calls home, and check out some of the top stories this week. 

In this Issue:

  • đź’ĄMighty Middle’s Mighty Rivalries
  • đźš—Self-Driving Success
  • 🏊Detroit’s Deep Talent Pool



đź’ĄBattle for Midwest Best

Even when we compete, the whole Midwest still wins! Midwest Startups just released their 4th annual rankings of the Top 50 Midwest startup environments. While the top five cities – Chicago, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and St. Louis – remain unchanged, Midwest Startup uses loads of in-depth research to explore nuances that make each city unique.

One intriguing development in this year’s rankings is the drop in pole position for several well-known college towns. Madison, Lafayette, and Bloomington all slipped down. 

According to the research, the downgrade was caused by lower-than-average emphasis on life sciences at their respective universities, though they still perform at a generally higher level than other similar-sized cities without a university.

Cincinnati is betting big on tech talent. One of the biggest reasons for the City of Seven Hills’ strong finish in the top ten is the city’s $1 billion investment into an “Innovation Center.”

Another rising Midwest star is Pittsburgh. Though the city’s known for steel manufacturing, big-name companies like Facebook and Uber have recently opened research and development hubs there thanks to the contributions of Carnegie Mellon. 

If it were up to us, we’d all be tied for first!

💰Making the Middle Mightier 

No need to open the piggy bank. According to Rise of the Rest’s Anna Mason, cities in the Mighty Middle are doing more without burning through capital. Mason points to the vibrant startup communities driving growth and attracting top talent as the reason for the energy efficiency of these communities.

Unconcerned about potential COVID downturns, Mason suggests that “now is the time to place bets on entrepreneurs.” One city in particular doubling down is Philadelphia, where it’s hoped the pandemic will actually push talent into their emerging tech market, unlike Silicon Valley where tech exodus continues. 

Can Austin get any cooler? Perhaps we should say hotter, as the city continues to rack up accolades for its rankings in quality of life and entrepreneurship. Now, they’ve got another trophy to add—leading the world in tech salary growth, according to a report by Hired.

Yet another reason for Mason’s confidence in the Mighty Middle is evident from the recent Inc. 5000 List of America’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs. Three Middle Coast companies made the top 10 alone, with Atlanta’s Onetrust nabbing the top spot. 

Call us optimists, but we think the future looks pretty dang bright.

đźš— Look Ma No Hands!

Where we’re going, we’ll need roads… but we might not have to drive. Despite early predictions that the COVID pandemic would cause the autonomous vehicle industry to stall, these companies have actually grown significantly. As you may suspect, we’ve got several hubs in the Mighty Middle to thank.

Unsurprisingly, the Motor City has exciting developments. Michigan officials announced plans to purchase a 40-mile stretch of highway to use as a self-driving car corridor.

Let’s talk about the Little Company that Could. Another big cause for celebration is Argo AI. Based out of Pittsburgh, the company has grown to a value of $7.5 billion barely three years after they turned heads with a $1 billion investment from Ford. 

TuSimple continues its efforts to build the world’s first network of self-driving delivery trucks. With 2024 set as the target finish date, the project has attracted interest from UPS, Penske Truck Leasing, and McLane.

These are the nice robot cars like Herbie the Lovebug, NOT the ones from our recurring Fast and Furious nightmare. 

Got Midwest startup pride? Keep a lookout for the super easy, 1-minute applications to the Tech Culture Awards. We’ll be recognizing the best company cultures at Unvalley startups, and we want that to include you.


Top fundings, acquisitions, and IPOs between the coasts. 

Atlanta, GA

  • PadSplit, the software company helping to create affordable housing opportunities, raised $10 million Series A. The round is led by Core Innovation Capital.
  • American Express agreed to acquire lending platform Kabbage.

Austin, TX

Birmingham, AL

Cedar Falls, IA

Chicago, IL

Los Angeles, CA

Nashville, TN

Tempe, AZ

Youngstown, OH

Washington, D.C.


Know someone looking for a new gig? The economy is unpredictable right now, but startups in the middle of the country are still hiring. 

We have a few our Top Powderkeg Picks below:

Companies who are hiring:

Austin, TX

  • RigUp is an energy workforce marketplace hiring a Director of Brand, Sr. Analytics manager, and many other roles across all departments.
  • Disco is a discovery tool hiring in IT, DevOps, Finance, and more.

Detroit, MI

  • StockX is an online sneaker marketplace hiring a manager of engineering, diversity and inclusion professionals, sneaker authenticators, and more.
  • Censys is a digital risk management company hiring software managers, product managers, cloud architects and more.
  • Guardhat is an industrial workplace safety startup hiring a full-stack lead, DevOps engineer, system architect, and more. 

Indianapolis, IN

  • Zotec Partners is reshaping the healthcare financial process and looking to add a Client Relationship Manager and Software Engineers to the team.
  • OneCause provides powerful charitable fundraising solutions looking for a Sales Development Manager and SDRs. 

Multiple Locations or Remote

  • Toptal is a tool for sourcing freelance talent-hiring data scientists, delivery managers, business analysts, and more.
  • Aha! Is the world’s #1 software roadmap creator, hiring Ruby engineers, software engineers, and in multiple marketing roles. 

Need to optimize your resume for opportunities like these? Get feedback using our new resume review tool.


Detroit, MI: 14th Largest US Metro Thrives With Diverse and Talented High-Skill Workforce

In this section of the Spark, we illuminate some of the biggest opportunities in tech beyond Silicon Valley.

Detroit is home to the largest engineering workforce in the US and, overall, has a larger workforce in its metro area than 30 states can collect in all their borders. Don’t let the stereotypes of this incredibly diverse and talented city cloud your perception. With more than 1300 companies from 38 nations calling Detroit home, Michigan’s biggest city is the heart of its economy and thriving startup ecosystem.

Key Tech Facts about Detroit, MI:

  • Job Growth: Over 583,000 high-skilled tech workers employed in the region, with an 18.8% increase in household income over the last 5 years.
  • Fastest Growing Companies: Deephow, Lip Bar, Rivian
  • Most Active Investors: Fontinalis Partners, Grand Ventures, Renaissance Venture Capital
  • Biggest Industries: Information Technology, Mobility, Life Science

Awards and Accolades:

  • In 2019, 19 Detroit startups attracted more than $63.8M in venture capital.
  • Over 26% of Michigan’s high-tech startups are in Detroit.
  • 58% increase in high-growth companies over the last six years.

Read more about Detroit’s entrepreneurial and talent ecosystem.

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