Indiana tech founders on why tech companies thrive in the Midwest

Indiana has been reelin’ in the positive rankings. In the second quarter of 2017, we’ve been named one of the 6 best cities to start a business right now (Inc Magazine), one of 6 U.S. cities to watch in 2017 (Conde Nast Traveler) and one of the best states for Millennials (Money-Rates.com).

We asked a few Indiana tech entrepreneurs about why they chose to launch their business in Indiana. While each answer is unique, themes such as access to top talent, sustainable growth and interest from investors are a few reasons why they’re proud to call themselves Hoosiers.

Phil DanielsCo-founder, Springbuk

“Once a well-kept secret in tech, Indianapolis is an incredibly fertile place to scale software. Our top-ranked airport, vicinity to a handful of major cities and flexible real estate are a strategic advantage for growth. When you combine the access to top-notch talent from previous technology acquisitions and IPOs, it’s easy to see why second stage companies, like Springbuk, are gaining traction and growth here.” 

 

Brian PowersCEO & Founder, PactSafe

“The mentality around scaling up a startup in the Midwest typically involves a focus (by founders and investors) on sustainable growth, rather than growth for growth’s sake. That mentality is becoming more common outside of the midwest, but sometimes it’s perceived as preventing high growth. It’s possible to have both.” 

 

Josh GarrettCo-Founder and CSO, MOBI

“Starting and running a business in the Midwest is both easier and harder than it is on the coasts. There is enormous support from both the community and local/state government for technology-related companies. Stakeholders realize the importance of technical job creation to help prevent the “brain drain” of future talent to other locations. Many Midwest communities have created and subsidized incubators to help these fledgling start-ups gain traction.

Technical talent is more difficult to recruit here because it is in such short supply compared to the coasts. I sometimes feel like we’re fishing in a very small pond against a lot of other locally-based start-ups for senior technical talent.

Finding start-up funding is something that is very possible, however, the lack of growth capital in the Midwest is challenging. We talked with more than 50 private equity and venture capital firms when raising our growth capital, and they were all based in Boston, New York, or San Francisco. That said, it is much more cost effective – on everything from rent to human capital – to run a Midwest-based company.” 

 

Susan MarshallFounder, Torchlite

“The Midwest tech scene is a lot different than Silicon Valley. While at Adobe, Apple, and Salesforce, I worked with some of the brightest minds in the world. I did see a lot of folks burn out though. Here, there is more of a sense of family and balance that it makes for a more relaxed, yet still very competitive work environment.

The Midwest is retaining more talent than ever before, but we’re still in desperate need of tech talent across the board – whether that’s developers, UX/UI designers or product managers. We also still don’t have access to the funding here in the Midwest like people do on the coasts. That’s changing though, and it’s exciting to see things heating up as investors recognize the potential the Midwest has to offer.” 

 

Scott HillCo-Founder, PERQ

“In the Midwest, we’re all in this ‘flyover challenge’ together. The support you receive from other Midwest founders helps you to make quick jumps forward. We’re all learning from each other.”

 

Harris TurnerCo-Founder, BidPal

“The BidPal team is a unique mix of veterans who understand charitable fundraising and young development talent, turning ideas into effective technology. The availability of locally based, skilled developers, boosted BidPal to the fastest growing Indiana company (and 75th fastest in the country), as listed by ‘Inc 500/5000’ in 2013. The Midwest is an exceptional demographic in which to launch a technology with philanthropic appeal. While there was broad interest by national investors, our startup and scale-up funding from local and regional sources was seamless, due to a proliferation of Midwest supporters of charitable enterprises.” 

 

John HurleyCEO, SmartFile & Founder, The Union 525

“Technology is a people-driven business. It takes people with ideas, people with passion, and people that make it happen with initiative. It’s Indy’s people that have enabled SmartFile to fuel growth, and it’s Indy’s people who fill the halls of The Union.”

 

Haresh GangwaniCEO, Bolstra

“The tech community, in the Midwest, exemplifies Midwestern values. Hospitality, friendliness, and honesty along with a strong array of higher education institutions serving as a talent pipeline are driving forces in businesses started in the area. The focus is on the people and creating a strong team and culture first. The best advice I received was, ‘Getting the right team together will allow you to develop the right product for the right market.’ We followed this model and have been blessed to have built such a strong team so quickly who is leading the successful development of our product.” 

 

BidPal

CATEGORY: Mobile Technology, Nonprofits Technology CITY: Indianapolis

BidPal is Technology for Good®. We help nonprofits acquire new donors, communicate their messages, and engage and retain those donors.

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Bolstra, LLC

CATEGORY: Business Productivity Software, Technology/Services CITY: Carmel

Bolstra offers a customer success management solution for B2B companies looking to maximize customer lifetime value and increase retention.

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MOBI

CATEGORY: Big Data/Analytics, Mobile Technology CITY: Indianapolis

MOBI is a mobility management platform enabling enterprises to centralize, comprehend, and control their device ecosystems.

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PactSafe

CATEGORY: Compliance Technology, Legal Technology CITY: Indianapolis

PactSafe is the only contract execution platform that ensures confidence in your end-to-end contract experience.

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PERQ

CATEGORY: Consumer Technology, Marketing/Sales Technology CITY: Indianapolis

PERQ is an engagement technology company providing solutions that connect consumers to brands.

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SmartFile

CATEGORY: Cloud/Hosting Technology, Compliance Technology CITY: Indianapolis

With SmartFile's simple yet secure File Exchange Platform, businesses can share and manage files through cloud and on-premise technology.

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Springbuk

CATEGORY: Analytics, Healthcare Technology CITY: Indianapolis

Springbuk is a health analytics tool that simplifies employer data into a single warehouse for 1:1 engagement and predictive insights.

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Torchlite Marketing

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

Our platform helps turn big ideas into wildly successful campaigns by showing marketers what to do, how to do it, and who can get it done.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Croft is the director of communications at TechPoint. She writes about Indiana tech companies, jobs, people and events. Reach out to Sara @saraelysecroft.