Q4 & Annual 2021 Indiana VC Report
Records shattered as new leaders step into next phase of tech ecosystem
Indiana tech investment, mergers & acquisition (M&A) activity in 2021 didn’t just break records: they ground those markers into dust. Perhaps more importantly, the indications from those bringing in that all-important capital are that the new generation of the state’s ecosystem are following the path of past giants in that they’re planning to grow here and keep the ripple effect going.
The year began on a high note—a Q1 $90 million investment in Terminus—and the announcements just kept jumping octaves. Greenlight Guru announced a capital raise of more than $120 million. Just weeks later it was OnBoard with a $100 million raise, and finally, an ear-piercing $425 million investment in Formstack to close out the year’s biggest raises.
From my own perspective tracking venture capital activity, we saw unprecedented, massive investments last year, and they, together with all of the other capital raises, signal big ambitions by the executives and entrepreneurs at those companies. That means increased opportunities for Hoosiers and big market opportunities for growth as well.
The ecosystem’s fourth quarter was its strongest ever, led by the biggest single tech investment since TechPoint began tracking publicly announced raises by Indiana tech companies: Formstack’s $425 million raise. All told, more than $958 million was raised and 57 Hoosier tech companies were involved in M&A activity last year.
It’s fair to say this was the biggest year for investments into Indiana tech companies ever, as investing in Indiana tech companies wasn’t really a thing until the last 10-15 years. (I started tracking Indiana tech investments myself in 2014.)
Venture capital, as it is known today, matured in the 1960s and 1970s primarily in places like Boston and the East Coast, and then the Bay Area. For the most part, the interior of the country was not a target for investors.
Indiana’s Software Artistry raised significant money in the 1990’s, but the amounts were undisclosed. The company was later purchased by Tivoli who was then acquired by IBM. Companies like Aprimo, Interactive Intelligence and ExactTarget would go on to raise hundreds of millions of dollars and be acquired. These companies were the exception for Indiana, but they contributed to setting the stage for the current tech ecosystem.
The impact Hoosier tech companies of the last 10 to 15 years have made on the state’s ecosystem should never be forgotten. Those leaders raised significant capital, but also strategically used those funds to execute strategies that led to scaling their companies.
They also didn’t take their winnings and run. Several of them have launched a series of companies, while others have started venture capital funds to ensure continued investment in Indiana tech. That’s huge.
I’m not prepared to predict whether the ecosystem will continue to break records as it did in 2021. It’s hard to say what might happen, but I never count Indiana tech out.
I anticipate the leaders who contributed to 2021’s record year will repeat the pattern of the state’s founding tech leaders by continuing to invest in Indiana’s tech ecosystem in the decades to come.
When you think about the potential of our newest home-grown venture funds, the sky might be limit on where we go next.
TechPoint has reported public investments and M&A activity involving Indiana technology companies since 2014. Share your funding deals with us via firstname.lastname@example.org. If you represent one of these Indiana tech companies and it is not yet listed on the TechPoint Tech Directory, please add them today. The listing also enables you to post job openings on the TechPoint Job Board. For additional information and insights on this historic year for Indiana’s tech sector be sure to stay connected to TechPoint Index by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.
Q4 2021 saw 13 companies involved in M&A activity and more than $465 million in 15 publicly announced raises and grants by Indiana tech companies. All but $40 million of the quarter’s activity came from Formstack of Fishers.
Continue reading for 2021’s Q4 month-by-month listing of publicly shared investments, grants and acquisitions involving Indiana technology companies:
October was a huge month for High Alpha as on the heels of raising its third overall fund at $110 million earlier this year and celebrating the creation of more than 30 companies, it announced the launch of its third venture studio, High Alpha Studio III. The $18 million fund is supported by repeat investors Emergence Capital, based in San Francisco, and Foundry Group, based in Boulder, Colo. High Alpha’s Venture Studio companies also continued to scale and get acquired. MetaCX raised more than $7 million in funding. The Indianapolis company’s software platform aligns suppliers and buyers on expected outcomes and measures value delivery over time. Details regarding the raise were not publicly shared. Filo.co, a virtual collaboration platform, announced the close of a $3 million seed round led by Flyover Capital of Kansas City and High Alpha Capital. The Filo platform has been used to power TechPoint virtual events including VC Speed Dating and Xtern Fall Finalist Day. Canopy was acquired by Outreach, an engagement and intelligence platform company based in Seattle. Going forward, Canopy will be known as Outreach Commit, a new solution leveraging Canopy technology to help companies take the guesswork out of their forecast process and guide their sales teams to take actions that push the forecast higher. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
High Alpha also launched two companies in October: Pillar and Castiron. Pillar is an interview intelligence platform that leverages AI and in-interview coaching to provide companies with a more reliable way to assess a candidate’s fit for a role during the interview process. It enables teams to hire more equitably while saving time and money. Castiron is an e-commerce platform for independent culinary artisans. The purpose-built suite of tools is the first to focus on the needs of independent culinary artisans, a group of passionate and talented creators who are underserved and underappreciated by existing e-commerce and website tools.
Microsoft announced its acquisition of Clear Software, an Indianapolis company that provides iPaaS and business process solutions with connectivity into SAP and Oracle. Clear Software’s API access and system knowledge will strengthen Microsoft Power Platform’s integration with outside systems and accelerate how customers leverage data and processes that reside beyond Microsoft first-party services. Financial details of the acquisition were not shared.
GittaSitta, a South Bend startup that focuses on helping parents book babysitters, announced a $20,000 investment from Elevate Ventures’ Community Ideation Fund.
Perfleek, a Jasper-based online marketplace for real estate listings and vacation rental properties, merged with Two Ladders, a marketing consulting firm in Tell City. Financial details of the acquisition were not shared.
Patrick Industries of Elkhart announced its acquisition of Rosenburg, Texas-based Wet Sounds, Inc. Founded in 1959, Patrick Industries is a component solutions provider for the RV, marine, manufactured housing and various industrial markets. Wet Sounds sells audio products and accessories direct to OEMs and consumers, and to dealers and retailers, primarily within the marine industry, as well as to the home audio and powersports markets. Wet Sounds’ trailing 12-months revenue through September 2021 was approximately $55 million, and the acquisition is expected to be immediately accretive to net income per share.
First Internet Bancorp, the parent company of First Internet Bank, announced plans to acquire First Century Bancorp of Roswell, Georgia for $80 million. First Century is a technology-driven financial solutions company with lines of business focused on payments, tax product lending, sponsored card programs and homeowners association services. These business lines provide First Internet multiple growth opportunities, further diversification of its revenue profile and access to a stable, low-cost deposit base.
MakeMyMove raised $2.2 million of capital in a venture raise. MakeMyMove is a unique marketplace that matches remote workers and their families to communities across the country offering relocation incentives. The company, which did not share details on the source of the funding, was co-founded by Bill Oesterle, co-founder of Angie’s List, and Evan Hock.
FloWaste announced a $1.1M pre-seed funding round from Rockstart AgriFood’s accelerator program based in the Netherlands; Underdog Labs, a boutique startup studio with offices in the Bay Area and New England; and Flywheel Fund of Bloomington. The pre-seed funding round will help FloWaste scale its technology and help the team contend with the challenges of creating a hardware system from scratch using off-the-shelf cameras. FloWaste went on to participate in the Rockstart Agrifood accelerator.
Shaker is another High Alpha Studios company, launched in 2020. The firm offers a collaborative transaction management & communication platform built exclusively for real estate professionals and their clients. In November, it announced a $2 million seed round with participation from High Alpha, Elevate Ventures, and angel investors. A portion of the new funding will be used to fuel new marketing and sales efforts and to grow the company’s engineering team.
Eight companies were selected for Purdue Foundry’s new Boost accelerator. Each of the companies received a $5,000 grant and have a chance to receive a $25,000 investment from Purdue Foundry. Four of the eight companies are tech startups including American Evidence Management, Araqev, Helthi and Pluto Aerospace. Araqev participated in TechPoint’s spring VC Speed Dating event in 2021.
Stagetime, a networking platform for the performing arts industry, announced a $1.5 million raise in a round led by Hyde Park Angels with participation from M25 and a follow-on investment from IU Angel Network. The funding will enable the Bloomington company to build its team, further fuel its organic customer growth, and continue to enhance its product features.
As we were just past the midway point of 2021 it was apparent that Indiana was having it’s biggest year ever with regards to investments made in tech companies. We experienced the two largest single investments into tech companies about a month apart when OnBoard raised $100 million and Greenlight Guru raised $120 million–both from JMI Equity based in Baltimore and San Diego. And then Formstack, the Fishers-based workplace no-code productivity platform, announced a $425 million growth investment led by Silversmith Capital Partners and returning investor PSG, both growth equity firms based in Boston. Since PSG’s initial investment in 2018, Formstack has more than tripled its revenue, completed four acquisitions, made significant R&D investments, and profitably scaled to more than 250 global employees. Formstack also significantly expanded its Salesforce offerings to become a complete online forms, document generation, and digital signature suite, native to Salesforce. This latest investment will continue to accelerate Formstack’s growth in key business areas, including go-to-market, product development, and expansion of its remote-first team.
Elevate Ventures awarded a total of $164,000 in grants to 11 organizations across Indiana, including TechPoint, to enable expanding entrepreneurship programming. The organizations were identified by startups during the Nexus Pitch Competition application process. Organizations receiving grants also include DePauw University, Dimension Mill, Indiana University, IUPUI, Orr Fellowship, Purdue University, Purdue University–Northwest, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Startup South Bend-Elkhart, and Notre Dame. These grants can be used on all types of entrepreneurial activity and are not exclusively earmarked for technology companies.
Cobomba, a marketing tech company based in South Bend, completed $1.6 million in seed funding. Angel investors made major contributions to the round and then in November the Leighton Elevate Angel Development (LEAD) Fund made an investment along with Pit Road Fund of Notre Dame. The company launched in 2020 from a partnership between Vennli, a South Bend-based market research provider, and three of its former employees.
Verra Mobility (NASDAQ: VRRM) announced the completed acquisition of T2 Systems, a parking management solutions company based in Indianapolis, for $347 million on a cash-free and debt-free basis, plus an additional up to $9 million related to an impending asset acquisition by a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of T2 Systems. Vera is a provider of smart mobility technology solutions based in Mesa, Arizona. T2 Systems provides parking software and hardware solutions to more than 1,900 universities, municipalities, parking operators, healthcare facilities and transportation hubs.
Indianapolis based RND Group, a software development firm focused on medical device and life science products, was acquired by Gener8 of Sunnyvale, California. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Gener8 is a portfolio company of Sverica Capital Management, a private equity firm based in Boston.
Finvi, formerly known as Ontario Systems in Muncie, announced the acquisition of Fonative, a compliant communications platform that helps businesses connect with customers. Fonative is based in Lowell, Mass. Finvi has offices in Muncie, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Washington.
Bloomington-based startup WayZada announced a $20,000 investment from Elevate Ventures’ Community Ideation Fund. WayZada allows athletes to showcase achievements through custom, interactive 3D representations of outdoor activities such as running, biking or hiking.
Alpine 4 Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALPP) of Phoenix, an operator and owner of small market businesses, announced its acquisition of RCA Commercial Electronics (RCA) of Indianapolis, and its operating entity DTI Services. RCA Commercial Electronics is the continuance of the US-based legacy conglomerate RCA Corporation which dominated the electronics industry in the 20th century. DTI Services acquired the rights to the RCA brand in 2006 to design and build products for the hospital, lodging, education, and institutional markets. In 2018, DTI Services acquired the entire lighting division of LG including all IP for smart lighting products, also now sold under the RCA banner.
Vyne Dental, a provider of revenue cycle, claims management, and electronic health information exchange for all-sized dental practices, announced its acquisition of Onederful, Inc. of San Francisco. The company provides a suite of APIs that connect to hundreds of dental payers companies for eligibility and benefits, claims and electronic remittance advice (ERAs). Vyne acquired Renaissance Electronic Services of Indianapolis in 2020 and lists the city as it’s operations center while the company is still officially headquartered in the Atlanta area.
IU Health awarded a $1 million grant to Eleven Fifty Academy over three years to launch Advancing Technology in Indiana, a workforce development program to provide technology training and digital literacy to adults and youth in Tippecanoe, Clinton, Cass, White, Benton, Montgomery, Fountain, Warren, Carroll and Pulaski counties in Indiana. The program aims to improve job skills and help participants earn a higher standard of living.
Moneytree Software, LTD, an Accutech Systems Corporation company and a provider of cloud-based financial planning solutions, announced its acquisition of eFinPlan, a Columbus, Ohio-based company dedicated to helping individuals understand the importance of robust financial planning. Accutech Systems is based in Muncie.
DemandJump, a marketing technology company based in Indianapolis, announced its acquisition of Metonymy Media, also of Indianapolis. The acquisition will accelerate DemandJump’s development of a “Center of Excellence” for content that powers more first page rankings, qualified traffic, leads, closed won customers and decreased cost per lead for companies across the globe.
Invoke Learning, an Indianapolis-based predictive-analytics company driving student success by providing insights to higher education institutions, announced a $50,000 investment from Flywheel Fund of Bloomington.
Docket, a SaaS productivity platform for managing effective hybrid meetings, secured $3 million in funding led by Elevate Ventures with continued participation from existing investors including Maven Ventures and High Alpha Capital. This round also introduces new investors from the Zoom Apps Fund, True Blue Partners, and IU Ventures. Docket is the 14th company to launch out of High Alpha’s Venture Studio.
Sondhi Solutions of Indianapolis announced its acquisition of S&R Resources, a professional staffing agency also headquartered in the city. Sondhi Solutions is a private, full-service IT consulting and staffing firm with offices in Indianapolis, Phoenix and Cincinnati.