‘Hoosier Hospitality’ is a viable alternative to Silicon Valley

The Indianapolis we have all come to know and love was once a well-kept secret treasure, but it’s a secret no more as we continue getting national accolades and gaining an impressive reputation as a national tech hub and destination for ambitious new grads.

Indianapolis has been ranked:

Publications specifically praised Indianapolis’ multiple college and professional sports teams, museums and cultural trails, and a wide array of neighborhoods to cater to just about anyone wanting to call the Hoosier state home.

Indy is also ranked 6th on the Fast Company list of ‘The Next Top 10 Cities For Tech Jobs‘ due to the city’s estimated 28,370 tech job openings in the Greater Indianapolis area.

Salesforce, the customer success platform and world’s #1 CRM company, recently announced it will invest more than $40 million over the next 10 years to expand its regional headquarters in Indianapolis. As part of the new investment, Salesforce plans to add 800 new jobs over the next five years. The company also announced it will move into a new regional headquarters location at 111 Monument Circle, which will be known as Salesforce Tower Indianapolis — the tallest building in the state.

While Silicon Valley is still a massive hub for tech-minded people and organizations, some are leaving the “Golden State” and bringing their considerable talents to the land of “Hoosier Hospitality.” Susan Marshall, CEO of Torchlite, and Tim Harvey, CFO of Scale Computing, are just two of the many talented people who decided to make the move from the Bay Area to the thriving tech community in Indianapolis.

What was the reason you came to Indy?

Susan Marshall

Susan MarshallCEO, Torchlite

Marshall: I grew up here and always considered it home, even though I spent most of my adult and professional life in California. I moved home eight years ago when I was pregnant with twins and my mother started to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease. I felt like I needed to be near her and I wanted my children to get to know her, so it was the right thing to do for me at the time.

Tim Harvey

Tim HarveyCFO, Scale Computing

Harvey: I had worked in the Silicon Valley for 14 years. After two companies were successfully acquired (VERITAS Software by Symantec ($13.2B) and WebEx by Cisco ($3.2B)),  a recruiter in Silicon Valley made me aware of a position here in Indianapolis, as CFO at Angie’s List. After talking it over with my family we agreed to join the team at Angie’s and moved to Indy.

What were your biggest worries coming to Indy?

Marshall: I honestly thought I would have to reinvent myself when I returned, because I didn’t think I’d find anything in technology. Back then, there was a coastal mentality that denied the possibility that anything interesting could ever happen outside of Silicon Valley. New York, maybe—but that was it. The rest of us were “fly over states” which was naïve and downright backward.

Harvey: I didn’t really have any big worries, just the normal ‘new area nerves’. Having lived in CA for a number of years and being a native New Yorker, there were things I knew we would have to adapt to as part of life between the coasts: new neighborhood, new city, our new Hoosier State. One of the big differences was the reality of being in a smaller, more nascent tech market. What made the transition from Tech’s ground zero in the Silicon Valley to Indy exciting was that there were a lot of interesting things going on here.

What do you think Indy could improve on?

Marshall: The education system. There are many well-meaning people that are trying to solve our educational issues through privatization. A great community is built on access to great public education. This means that everyone needs the ability to pull himself or herself out of poverty through an accessibly educational system.

Harvey: TechPoint does a fantastic job of keeping talent here in Indiana (through the Orr Fellowship and other programs), but the local community should also look for opportunities for people to get exposure elsewhere and then bring those experiences back to Indiana. Without the cross pollination of ideas from other places, you run the risk of becoming isolated, and insulated. This can lead

to feeling too comfortable with where things are and the system can lose its edge. Indy needs to be able to attract people and bring them in, but also have people leave, gain other experience, and come back. This city has a lot to offer, including potentially as a real tech hub, so we need to constantly be challenging and striving to have it reach its full potential.

Although both Harvey and Marshall came to Indy for very different reasons, they both agree on one thing Indy has that the Silicon Valley doesn’t, a great sense of community.

Marshall: This is a very collaborative environment, and the community here really does believe that that rising tides lift all boats. This means startups have access to mentorship, talent, technology and funding. I would recommend anyone interested in technology move to Indianapolis. They’ll have all kinds of interesting opportunities.

Harvey: When we first moved here we immediately felt the strength of Hoosier Hospitality. It’s a genuine part of the culture. In fact, in 2010 we had to make a decision to stay here, return to California, or move to Austin. My wife, Anna, and I had to consider a number of factors. From a family standpoint we felt the Indy community was a great fit, but we also realized that professionally there was appeal. There were a number of very young companies doing interesting things in tech. We decided that it would be exciting to be a part of that new group of companies, maybe help the ‘next generation’ of Aprimo/Exact Target/Interactive Intelligence-type businesses grow and develop.

Looking to make a career move yourself? Check out TechPoint’s job board and company directory to stay up to date on our growing Indianapolis technology community and the opportunities to work within them.

Salesforce

CATEGORY: Marketing/Sales Technology CITY: Indianapolis

Salesforce, the Customer Success Platform and world's #1 CRM, empowers companies to connect with their customers in a whole new way.

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Scale Computing

CATEGORY: Data Storage/Hosting Technology, Technology/Services CITY: Indianapolis

Scale Computing™ integrates storage, servers, and virtualization into an all-in-one appliance.

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Torchlite Marketing

CATEGORY: Marketing/Design/Sales Services, Marketing/Sales Technology CITY: Indianapolis

Torchlite is a SaaS-based marketplace that connects businesses to experts who build, manage and optimize digital marketing campaigns.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kaitlin writes about the tech industry in Indiana. She is studying media and public relations at the IUPUI School of Public and Environmental Affairs.