After Jim McIntosh graduated from the Purdue College of Technology in 1997, he moved west and swore he’d never move back.
That didn’t pan out exactly as he had planned.
The Director of Product at Indianapolis startup TinderBox (helping salespeople save time and make the sale from end to end) is originally from northern Indiana. He started college at the University of Kentucky but finished at Purdue. “I left the state for college thinking that I wanted to get out and do new things. I came back and recognized the value that was at Purdue. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I did had I not gone to Purdue. Even early on, I left the state to experience new things.”
The Indiana tech world has changed substantially since Jim left the state after college. “In 1997, Software Artistry and some others were budding, but I didn’t even consider Indianapolis as an option to start a career in technology.”
Jim landed in Salt Lake City after graduation, learned online marketing with a computer graphics company during the first dot-com boom/bust, and then had a chance to join Backcountry.com as employee number 45. He was a business analyst, but functioned as a technical project manager.
Jim and his wife Kelly lived in Utah for more than 10 years. They had two children in Salt Lake City. During one specific visit home for the Fourth of July it hit Jim and his wife that his children needed to know their family and grow up in the Midwest as they had. “The girls were playing with my mom and I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s not about me. They need to know their grandmother’”
So they prepared to move home, despite Jim’s love for his job at BackCountry.com. “I wouldn’t have left that company and the mountains were it not for my family.”
At first they looked at Chicago, because Jim thought that was the only place he could find a tech job. He had offers on the table from Google and FTD. But as they started looking for houses, they quickly decided the cost of living and long commute in Chicago weren’t what they wanted.
“I turned down those offers in Chicago and said, ‘Hey, we’re moving back for family,’ so we moved to Indianapolis to be closer to Kelly’s parents.”
After a short period as an independent consultant, Jim jumped to ExactTarget, a company with which he was vaguely familiar. He was one of four product managers at ExactTarget, just as that role was starting to take shape.
“I rode the rocket ship through December 2012. I made it through the explosive growth, built a product line and saw some great success there. I met a lot of wonderful people and had great relationships with many customers.”
In December 2012, Jim saw an opportunity at TinderBox. “TinderBox was an opportunity to join earlier than I did at BackCountry.com. For me, that meant helping define the culture and leverage my experience to support growing the business. At the time, TinderBox was operating out of the Speak Easy, a collaborative workspace in Broad Ripple just north of Indianapolis. Jim was employee number 13.
“I thought of myself as an investor in TinderBox. As an investor, I looked at the leadership already in place, the product and the market. TinderBox had a great start on all three areas so I chose to invest by pouring myself in. ”
Now Jim is just barely two years into his TinderBox life. “TinderBox has become, for me, an extension of my family. We’re not the kind of company where everybody just kind of comes in, punches the clock and then leaves. The shared investment is what drives us all to make this work.”
Jim and his (home) family have taken root in Fishers, where they spent $100,000 less for more property and just as much house as they did in Utah. On top of the cost of living benefits the Hamilton Southeastern school district “offers resources far and away superior to what we would have had in Salt Lake City.”
Jim’s advice for people considering a move to Indiana? “Get to know the networks that are here. What you’ll find is incredible.”