If you had any concerns of the vibrancy of Indiana’s tech ecosystem, they should be allayed with just a glance at the more than two dozen nominations made in the 2024 TechPoint Mira Award category for Rising Entrepreneur of the Year. Winnowing that list down to 27 final nominees was, to put it mildly, difficult.  

Past winners of TechPoint’s Rising Entrepreneur of the Year Mira Award have included Indiana tech luminaries like Tactile Engineering CEO Dave Schleppenbach, Qualifi CEO and Co-founder Darrian Mikell, Malomo Co-founder and CEO Yaw Aning and Authenticx Founder Amy Brown. 

Each of the above living legends saw a need and worked – sometimes for years – to address it. In so doing, they made dramatically positive impact in their various fields and epitomized excellence, creativity and determination. 

The 2024 nominees for this prestigious award clearly belong in that august group. Personal experience inspired each of these innovators, inspiring them to bring much needed improvements to healthcare, financial literacy, fashion and translation services. 

The summaries below of each leader’s work just skims the surface of what led to their nominations but will give you a glimpse into why their entries were elevated to nomination status. Only one can be the Rising Entrepreneur of the Year. The nominees are:  

Diego Achio, Traduality, Bloomington: Like many founders, Diego Achio has overcome a host of obstacles, but he had extra hurdles. He’s an introvert with stage fright and an immigrant. Achio began his career as a freelance linguist, then launched a translation agency and later, with his co-founder and wife, Cynthia, created Traduality, the world’s first translation management system, marketplace and language operations center app. He originally focused on helping freelance linguists address challenges, like marketing and coping with delayed payments but soon a bigger opportunity. An introvert, Achio overcame his fear of public speaking to excel in pitch competitions, networking and sales. He participated in two business accelerators and secured $80,000 in his first pitch competition. He failed twice before being accepted by gener8tor Milwaukee, which led him to a $100,000 investment. After two years of impressive sales, he made a strategic shift to a data-driven sales approach, which revealed opportunities with translation agencies and language localization departments. Without sacrificing attention to his freelance clients, Achio pivoted to also serve translation and language localization departments struggling with finding qualified linguists and now offers a comprehensive platform combining project management for language operations with his marketplace.   

Kerry Ao, Intertwined, Newburgh: Kerry Ao has always had a knack for entrepreneurship. He was eight-years-old when he made and sold rubber band bracelets to his classmates. He had a couple failed ventures before, in high school, he and his co-founder created the financial management education app that he would later take international. At 19, he was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. Intertwine personalizes and gamifies the learning process. With support from investors, as well as the Indiana Department of Education, Ao piloted the program in schools across the state, officially launching in September 2023. Intertwined gives educators, schools and banks a financial literacy curriculum, adaptive assessment tools and simulative games like a stock market simulator. A budget simulator and broader curriculum is in development. The app is marketed to schools across the country, and Ao has partnered with Old National Bank, to underwrite costs for under-funded school districts. Globally, Ao is in talks with Spain’s Institute for Financial Studies, Nigeria’s Financial Fitness Clinic and New Zealand’s Ministry of Education. He anticipates revenues of $280,000 this year and plans to raise up to $1.5 million in venture capital to further accelerate growth.  

Jessica Bussert, Wave Therapeutics, Nashville: As an emergency room nurse, Jessica Bussert cared for a double-amputee military veteran who was living on the edge financially and nearly dead from pressure injuries, which are common for bedridden or wheelchair bound patients. To avoid injury, those patients must be regularly turned, or moved. The veteran said he couldn’t afford a $4,000 alternating pressure cushion that could have helped. Bussert learned the veteran’s situation was far from uncommon, especially for elderly and/or disabled patients. So, she set about creating – by hand – a more affordable, but effective product. Her company, Wave Therapeutics is the result of years of prototypes. The company has won national awards, was accepted into the mHub Medtech Accelerator in Chicago, which led to investment from one of Chicago’s largest healthcare systems and earned $50,000 at the recent NBA All-Star Pitch Competition. Most medtech devices are developed by teams with multi-million-dollar budgets. The Wave Therapeutics team of two full-time, and two part-time employees and contractors had a budget less than $1 million. The product, which offers benefits beyond pressure, is the first automated cushion to target prevention rather than treatment and will be 80 percent cheaper than that $4,000 cushion that so inspired Bussert. 

Anna Dorris, Everewear Inc., Noblesville: Anna Dorris was in high school when she realized that fashion creation and delivery carries a major carbon footprint, and that new clothes are often made by underpaid workers. Buying a used clothing item reduces a person’s carbon footprint by 82 percent compared to buying new. Inspired by successful companies like Stitch Fix, she envisioned introducing artificial intelligence (AI)-powered solutions for the thrift industry. In college, she established a partnership with Goodwill, a recognized leader in the secondhand clothing market. Together, they set out to transform sustainable shopping.  Everwear, an AI-powered shopping platform catering to both consumers and resale vendors, uses an API to source inventory from strategic suppliers and to curate a personalized selection of clothing items based on each customer’s unique style, size and budget. Customers can find their perfect secondhand clothing in minutes, rather than hours. Dorris won pitch competitions and raised more than $80,000 in institutional investments, which has enabled Everwear to be ready to tap into the secondhand clothing market, which is on the verge of significant expansion, with 272 million active participants and an addressable market expected to reach $385 billion by 2027. Expected to launch this year, more than 1,200 users have joined Everwear’s waitlist. 

Peter Dunn, Your Money Line, Indianapolis: Over more than two decades as a business leader and financial matters educator, Peter Dunn (aka Pete the Planner) has repeatedly reinvented himself, first as a financial planner, then a media personality, author, then corporate educator and most recently, as a fintech Chief Executive Officer. Founder of Your Money Line (YML), which helps people improve their financial wellness, Dunn set out to harness AI and expand YML from website and “line” to a full fintech Software as a Solution product.  YML’s core value – that financial literacy should not be a privilege of the few but accessible to everyone – has not changed even as Dunn had transformed the company from a literal phone line employees could call for financial advice. Now, YML is a full fintech product that is scaling Dunn’s two-decade-long-mission of financial wellness to more than 250 companies and about 200,000 households. YML’s pairs empathetic human financial coaching with the power of artificial intelligence, offering suggestions based on employee spending and financial account data. Dunn raised $2.85 million to build his fast moving, go-to-market engine in a down economy, drove 84 percent year over year revenue growth and more than 100 percent net revenue retention. 

Raymond Fraser, Vital View Technologies, South Bend: Raymond Fraser’s father, an immigrant entrepreneur, inspired him to also be a business leader. His brother Hugh, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 13 months, influenced his decision of where to focus that ambition. A serial entrepreneur, Fraser has designed ed-tech tools, worked with sustainable packaging and was at Lime Bike as it grew into a market leader, showing him the importance of a cohesive team aligned toward a common mission. After leaving Lime, he became an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Pit Road Fund, the University of Notre Dame’s venture fund where he learned about contactless sensor technology developed by one of the university’s engineering professors. That discovery brought his family’s influence full-circle and led to the launch of Vital View Technologies. Black and Hispanics have a higher prevalence of heart failure than Whites, and in 2023, Hugh Fraser’s diabetes led to heart failure and kidney disease. Vital View’s proprietary medical IoT platform offers patients like Hugh patent-protected heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure monitoring for hospital and home use. Its promise led Fraser to raise an oversubscribed $5.5 million seed extension round in 2023. U.S. Food and Drug Administration testing is expected to begin this year. 

Ethan Rodriguez and Adriana Morales, KLOTOFY, Fishers: Adriana Morales and Ethan Rodriguez partnered after determining demand existed for a solution to their shared unhappiness with the fashion industry’s traditional approach to marketing. They plan to revolutionize fashion by championing diversity, inclusivity and authentic representation. Their market research showed 79% of survey respondents believed clothes looked different on them compared to models in ads and that U.S. fashion brands lose about $180 billion annually due to returns, primarily attributed to size issues. KLOTOFY offers a user-friendly and visually appealing experience that prioritizes mental health awareness and body positivity. Users can find relatable fashion inspiration based on body types and personal styles, upload their outfits, tagged with keywords for easy searchability by others, providing a space for authentic expression. Because users decide the type of content they wish to see, their shopping experience is personalized and empowering. Based in Indiana, the ethnically and gender diverse company also operates in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. In 2023, the team grew and launched its product, earned positive feedback and more than 17,000 social media impressions for it; formed a strategic partnership with the Indiana Fashion Foundation; secured investment from Elevate Ventures; and was a finalist for the NBA Pitch Competition. 


Brian Schroeder, Preventia, Indianapolis: Brian Schroeder was already frustrated by the healthcare industry’s typical approach to care, which generally responded to illness rather than preventative actions, when his wife was diagnosed with cardiac disease. That served as a catalyst for him to build a platform focused on proactive lifestyle change and prevention. Preventia initially created a “whole-person care solution to guide people to live better lives and was gaining momentum when the COVID-19 struck. Schroeder had 20 years of experience in healthcare leadership but was new to entrepreneurship. He turned to mentors and his team for advice and guidance to persevere. During this time, the team noted a rising trend of mental wellness challenges, especially in students. That trend was validated by a national survey that showed more than 75 percent of undergraduate student respondents experienced some kind of “moderate or severe psychological distress.”  Schroeder’s daughter was about to join the surveyed demographic, which inspired him to pivot Preventia’s focus. The team created a one-of-a-kind platform that is revolutionizing the wellness tech space and which won the 2023 MIRA Tech Team of the Year Award. This year, Schroeder worked with Butler University to host the first “Student Mental Well-Being Summit,” which grew to a campus-wide, multiple-day educational experience that gained national attention. 

Julia Regan, RxLightning, New Albany: Julia Regan has made history as a tech innovator in one of the most difficult industries in the world – healthcare – as well as at the Mira Awards. Her company, RxLightning, is a repeat double winner at the annual event, taking home Startup of the Year and Tech Product of the Year awards in 2022 and Disruptor of the Year and Product Launch of the Year in 2023. This year, she is up for Rising Entrepreneur while the company is a contender for Tech Innovation of the Year. Launched during the COVID pandemic, RxLightning transformed the specialty prescription onboarding process to speed the delivery of lifesaving specialty medications to patients that previously could take weeks or months to deliver. As Founder and CEO, she attends to regular duties that involve leadership and vision, commercial growth, product development, culture, but also drives innovation and positive more broadly.  The solutions developed under her leadership are instrumental in reducing barriers to care, enhancing patient outcomes, and ensuring that life-saving specialty medications are more accessible. A pioneer in healthcare technology, she is also a source of inspiration and mentorship for the next generation of healthcare leaders of all genders.  

Jean Ross, Primary Record, Fishers: For 13 years, Jean Ross grappled with how healthcare professions could most effectively communicate with patients and their families. As a nurse, she knew her colleagues traditionally bore the burden of keeping patients’ medical stories updated as electronic health records, but often failed to have key information from various healthcare providers involved in patient care. Often, it was older adults whose medical records were incomplete. After years of following the often paper-heavy common practices, she worked with a co-founder to create Primary Record, an app that centralizes and documents the medical stories of families, offering permission-based access for viewing, editing and adding medical data. It enables families to collect medical information from various sources, including newly released healthcare APIs, documents, and notes, and to organize and share it securely from a single platform. The company uses large language models to simplify navigating medical histories and to enhance communication with healthcare professionals, making medical information more accessible for families. The team is now collaborating with 150 families and developing a care management platform with pilots that includes two nurse navigation businesses and a nonprofit agency. 

Award winners will be announced at the 25th annual TechPoint Mira Awards gala Friday, April 26, 2024, at the Old National Centre in Indianapolis. The event is presented by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Salesforce and a host of the state’s most innovative companies, universities and organizations.   See that growing list, learn more and get your tickets here.