Q1 2022 VC Report: A New Wave of Tech Growth in Indiana
Last year was the biggest year ever for investments in Indiana tech companies. Three of the four quarters were the biggest ever for the ecosystem at $198 million (Q2), $159 million (Q3) and $465 million (Q4). Based on the number of investments in later stage companies (e.g. Formstack, Greenlight Guru, OnBoard and Bloomerang all with nine-figure deals) and the high dollar amounts invested, one could argue that 2021 was the culmination of years of early stage investments that turned into scale-up successes from Indiana founders. In all of 2021 there were nine different eight-figure raises and a total of $795 million in later stage investments alone, including Series B, growth, private equity, etc. In just the first quarter of 2021, more than $127 million was invested in later stage investments.
TechPoint’s CEO Mike Langellier has long used the flywheel as an illustration for how a healthy tech ecosystem gets started, grows, is successful and then starts the process over again. I will argue that as 2022 begins, we are retooling and preparing for continued success in Indiana tech based on the most recent investment activity and the promise of new and existing accelerator programs in the state.
In 2022’s first quarter, there were 38 companies involved in publicly shared raises and one grant for a total of $52.2 million raised. Thirteen companies were involved in M&A activity.
I argue that the drop in the dollar amount invested between 2021’s first quarter compared to 2022’s first quarter is not necessarily an area for concern. Instead, I see 2022 as the beginning of a new growth wave for tech companies in Indiana. Here’s why:
More than $30 million of the dollars invested this year were put into seed or pre-seed companies. Furthermore, 24 of the 38 companies that raised money received capital from Elevate Ventures, which specifically targets “early stage” companies and “high-potential entrepreneurs.”
Allos Ventures, another Indiana venture capital firm, which also invests in early stage companies, was involved in only two of these investments. However, it was only in February that Allos announced its latest fund, which offers another $75 million to invest in Midwestern tech companies in the coming months and years.
High Alpha Capital was involved in four raises in the quarter from its $110 million fund created to fuel the next generation of enterprise cloud companies at the pre-seed, seed and Series A level, and from its $18 million fund for High Alpha’s venture studio focused on creating new B2B SaaS tech companies, both of which were announced in October 2021. To-date, High Alpha has launched more than 30 companies and some have “graduated” via successful acquisitions. Most of the High Alpha Studio companies are anchored in Indiana.
HG Ventures plays an important role in finding and nurturing early stage hardtech companies and was involved in two tech company raises during the quarter. (Yes, Virginia, there’s more than B2B SaaS in Indiana’s tech hub). One of these investments was made into a company that participated in its first accelerator program in 2019.
Finally, the impact of universities on all facets of the tech ecosystem is evident. Indiana University, Purdue University and Notre Dame continue to innovate and invest in companies led by students, alumni and faculty. These and other Indiana-based universities are firing up efforts to encourage their alumni’s entrepreneurial efforts through investment as well as networking, accelerators and other support structures. IU Ventures is noted several times in this report, along with companies launched from places like the Purdue Foundry and the Notre Dame Idea Center.
Strong economies include a mix of established or legacy firms that provide lots of jobs and instill economic confidence, along with scale-ups and startups. Startups provide a pipeline of new talent, product and service innovations. Successful startups grow into scale-ups and then become the established, larger firms and enterprises.
Investment activity this past quarter convinces me we are revving up the flywheel with fresh energy and ideas. This is an important development that we should celebrate.
As TechPoint’s business development program manager, I work every day to introduce tech entrepreneurs to the investors and support systems they need to get their ideas to market. I want to talk with you if you are the founder of a company or know of an early stage Indiana-based tech company that needs to raise capital.
If you represent an investment firm that wants to get more involved in the Indiana tech ecosystem, I want to talk to you, too. There are immediate and future opportunities you need to know about.
VC Speed Dating, for example, is a great opportunity for startup and scale-up companies to meet with venture capital firms. Send me an email or use this form to let me know that you’re interested in the event.
Our next VC Speed Dating event is virtual and takes place on May 26. The fall iteration of this event is in-person on October 27.
Continue reading for 2022’s Q1 month-by-month listing of publicly shared investments, grants and acquisitions involving Indiana technology companies:
Delivra, an Indianapolis-based provider of advanced email marketing automation, was acquired by Redbrick of Victoria, British Columbia. Redbrick is the holder of a number of digital portfolio companies. Details on the acquisition were not shared.
GyanSys, Inc., a systems integrator based in Indianapolis, announced their acquisition of Groundswell Cloud Solutions of Vancouver, B.C. Groundswell provides comprehensive Salesforce advisory and implementation services. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Fort Wayne’s Xillum, a business intelligence software-as-a-service company focused on helping healthcare businesses, announced a $1.1 million seed round of investment with participation from Elevate Ventures and angel investors. Xillum offers a portal to help healthcare companies increase profitability. The company’s technology uses a series of algorithms to analyze data to identify key business metrics as well as opportunities to cut costs.
Inside Indiana Business reports that two student-led startups at Indiana University, HotDrop and Natrion, have each received $5,000 from the Shoebox Fund, which supports student innovation at IU. HotDrop is a smartphone app used for new music discovery while Natrion is an electric-vehicle battery part supplier. Both companies are in the process of closing on additional capital rounds.
Castiron, an e-commerce platform for independent culinary artisans launched from High Alpha Venture Studios, announced $6 million in seed funding from Bowery Capital, Foundry Group, and High Alpha. The company, which launched in October, helps talented culinary artisans dramatically simplify their businesses with free e-commerce websites, elegant back-office tools, enabling content, and an engaging community.
American Resources Corporation (NASDAQ:AREC) of Fishers, a next generation and socially responsible supplier of raw materials to the new infrastructure and electrification marketplace, announced a new strategic partnership between its wholly owned subsidiary, American Rare Earth LLC, and HG Ventures of Indianapolis. With the partnership American Rare Earth and The Heritage Group will be expediting the path of being the United States’ first and lowest cost producer of domestically-sourced, purified and sustainable battery and magnet metals.
Transcat (Nasdaq: TRNS), a provider of accredited calibration, repair, inspection and laboratory instrument services and value-added distributor of professional grade handheld test, measurement and control instrumentation, announced their acquisition of privately-held Tangent Labs, LLC (Tangent) of Indianapolis for $9 million. Founded in 1995, Tangent provides in-house and on-site calibrations of precision measurement and control instrumentation to customers in life science, aerospace and other regulated industries.
Elevate Ventures, through its higher-education program Elevate Nexus, announced the winners of the most recent regional pitch competitions, which resulted in $660,000 in investments. Most of the companies were launched out of Indiana-based colleges and universities including Notre Dame, Indiana State, Indiana University and Purdue University. Nine companies landed $20,000 investments (Groundata Technologies, SAFA, Tessellated, Adjuster Tools, Fia Technologies, NanoBio Designs, American Evidence Management, Utiliz, Quiptu) while six companies received $80,000 investments (Intrepid Phoenix Ventures, ProstheTech, LeafTech Ag, Peak Mind, DiningTek, WayZada). All 15 companies will have the opportunity to compete for $320,000 during the Elevate Nexus Statewide competition in the summer 2022.
Fulcrum Equity Partners, a growth equity fund located in Atlanta, announced their investment in Indianapolis-based DriverReach, a recruiting and compliance management system that solves trucking’s primary challenges of driver recruiting and retention. The $7.5M investment round also includes participation from growth equity studio CreativeCo Capital of Charlotte, North Carolina, who has operating and investing experience in the logistics space.
Fia, a winning team in Elevate Ventures Central Region Pre-Seed Awards Competition, received a $20,000 pre-seed investment at a $1.5 million valuation. Fia (Find Ideal Applicants) was founded by a team of Indianapolis high school seniors, making them some of the youngest venture-backed founders in America. The team developed an employment recruitment platform that revolutionizes the way sales job-seekers secure employment and employers fill sales positions by matching active job-seekers to their optimal open positions through the use of algorithms.
While I’m not including this in our quarterly totals, it’s worth noting that Ironclad, a digital contracting platform based in San Francisco, announced a $150 million Series E raise led by Franklin Templeton with participation from BOND, YC Continuity, Emergence, Lux, Haystack, Accel, and Sequoia Capital. Ironclad acquired PactSafe in 2021 and continues to operate and grow in Indianapolis.
Greenlight Guru, located in Indianapolis and pioneer of the only dedicated medical device success platform, announced its acquisition of CanvasGT. The Raleigh, North Carolina company’s software creates a modern solution for medical device companies to collaborate on initial designs and concepts prior to establishing a quality system and implementing formal design controls. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
The Juice, a High Alpha venture studio company that collects and consolidates resources from across the internet onto a single platform where you can save, share, and enjoy content on demand, announced a $1.5 million seed round with participation from High Alpha Capital, Elevate Ventures and Service Provider Capital of Golden Colorado. The Indianapolis company also lists Scott Kraege, former CEO of MOBI and Techstars Managing Director, and Sangram Vajre, co-founder of Terminus, as angel investors.
Exclaimer Group, a London, England area provider of email signature solutions for Microsoft 365, Microsoft Exchange, and Google Workplace, announced their acquisition of Bloomington’s Periodic, a provider of calendaring and appointment scheduling software. Details of the acquisition were not shared.
Demandwell recently secured $5 million in seed funding from High Alpha and a number of strategic angel investors. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Demandwell is a results-driven SEO platform for B2B SaaS marketers to drive demand, traffic, leads, and revenue. The company will use the funds to significantly grow its entire team across engineering, customer success, sales, and marketing, as well as further expand its platform, which helps marketers achieve their growth objectives through strategic focus, data-driven insights, and the premium support required to succeed with SEO.
Evansville-based MetroNet, the nation’s largest independently owned, 100 percent fiber optic network provider, announced a merger with Lubbock, Texas-based Vexus Fiber. Vexus builds and operates fiber optic networks that connect directly to homes and businesses in Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana. The combined companies will continue to operate under their current brands with their current leadership teams. Terms of the merger were not disclosed.
ConverSight.ai, an artificial intelligence and adaptive analytics platform company, announced a $4 million seed round led by Elevate Ventures with participation from Surface Ventures (New York), Rev1 Ventures (Columbus, Ohio) and several existing investors including Bread and Butter Ventures (St. Paul, Minnesota) and Charmides Capital (Carmel). Headquartered in Indianapolis, ConverSight.ai will use the new funding to accelerate growth by expanding its marketing and sales teams and continuing enhancements of the SaaS-based platform and AI assistant called Athena.
Lumavate, a SaaS company that empowers enterprises to create no-code mobile apps, announced the closing of $6 million in funding. The funding will support scaling Lumavate’s go-to-market team and continued platform innovation for businesses to design, build, and deploy mobile apps faster without requiring development resources. The round was co-led by Gutbrain Ventures and PBJ Capital, both of the Boston area, with participation from BioCrossroads and Indianapolis firms Allos Ventures, Collina Ventures, and 4G Ventures.
Indianapolis-based MakeMyMove, which offers a platform and services for communities hoping to lure new residents, has secured $2.6 million to help the company keep up with rapid growth. The raise was led by Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures with contributions from several individual investors. Located in Indianapolis, MakeMyMove is an outgrowth of a company called TMap, which was established in 2018 by Angie’s List co-founder Bill Oesterle and former Angie’s List executive Evan Hock.
Indianapolis-based Woven announced an $8 million Series A round of funding led by Allos Ventures with participation from Elevate Ventures and High Alpha. Woven’s platform is used by companies wishing to hire software developers. Woven scenarios predict work performance based on actual engineering work.
LifeOmic, an Indianapolis software company that leverages the cloud, machine learning and mobile devices to power precision health and wellness solutions, announced the acquisition of Bavard, a Utah-based conversational artificial intelligence (AI) startup offering intelligent digital assistants and platforms. The purchase comes as AI technology has experienced widespread adoption in the health care space, a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial details of the acquisition were not shared.
Novus Capital Corporation II, an Indianapolis SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) or “blank check company,” announced the completion of its business combination with Energy Vault, Inc., a Lugano, Switzerland company that develops sustainable, grid-scale energy storage solutions designed to advance the transition to a carbon free, resilient power grid. Financial details are available here.
SIMBA Chain, Inc., an Application Programming Interface (API) development platform that helps enterprise companies build technology on blockchain, has announced its acquisition of privacy and storage company, StrongSalt of San Jose, California. The increased privacy and secure storage solutions for NFTs across the SIMBA platform will open the doors for a broader range of NFT-driven use cases – including but not limited to enhanced healthcare data privacy, secure messaging platforms for government agencies and highly classified projects, and added digital asset and IP protection for next-generation gaming platforms. Details of the acquisition were not publicly shared.
SAFA announced a $20,000 investment from Elevate Ventures Community Ideation Fund. The South Bend company uses artificial intelligence to improve safety analysis of technical documents and software in the automotive, robotics, IoT (internet of things), and medical device industries. The SAFA software integrates with existing systems to automatically detect and analyze system changes, providing real-time warnings and recommendations for hazard mitigation. This is the second $20,000 investment made by Elevate to SAFA.
Allos Ventures of Indianapolis announced the first closing of its latest fund, Allos IV. The new fund continues the firm’s focus on investments in early-stage B2B software companies. Allos is led by managing directors Don Aquilano, David Kerr, and John McIlwraith and has offices in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Chicago. “The need for early-stage capital in Indiana and the greater Midwest continues to grow as highly talented founders launch and build innovative and disruptive technology companies.,” said Aquilano. Allos IV investors include the Indiana Next Level Fund, 50S Capital, and First Internet Bank of Indiana, as well as a number of successful tech entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 executives. Allos, winner of the Investor of the Year Mira Award in 2019, has invested in more than 40 growth companies since its founding in 2010 including Indiana companies Lessonly, Encamp, OneCause, Authenticx, and Lumavate, among others.
The Bee Corp announced a $1 million round led by IU Ventures with participation from Flywheel Fund, a member-managed capital fund run by The Mill in Bloomington. The Bee Corp’s agritech solution Verifli uses infrared (IR) imagery to measure the strength and pollination value of a honeybee colony without opening the hive. The funding will go to hiring key roles and scaling the technology to new, underserved markets.
Uncovered, an Indiana University-affiliated startup working to translate the collective fascination with true crime into real advocacy and action, has raised a $120,000 investment from the IU Angel Network. The company will use the new funding to further develop their proprietary software platform and acquire data and other resources that can be used to solve cold cases, expand its community of citizen crime-solvers, and develop partnerships with universities, law enforcement agencies, content creators and investigative journalists.
Qualifi, an on-demand screening platform allowing recruiting teams to phone interview hundreds of candidates in minutes, announced a $2.5 million seed round. Rally Ventures (Menlo Park, California) led the round with participation from repeat investors Techstars, Sixty8 Capital, Elevate Ventures, Debut Capital (Brooklyn), and Flywheel Fund, as well as newcomers Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator powered by gener8tor (Milwaukee), Converge (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Service Provider Capital (Golden, Colorado), and multiple strategic angels.
Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) of Columbus announced their acquisition of Troy, Michigan-based Meritor, Inc. (NYSE: MTOR), a global leader of drivetrain, mobility, braking, aftermarket and electric powertrain solutions for commercial vehicle and industrial markets. Under the terms of the agreement, Cummins will pay $36.50 in cash per Meritor share, for a total transaction value of approximately $3.7 billion, including assumed debt and net of acquired cash.
UKG Inc., a leading global provider of human capital management (HCM), payroll, HR service delivery, and workforce management solutions, announced the acquisition of SpotCues and its award-winning mobile communications platform, Groupe.io. UKG is based in Lowell, Massachusetts and Weston, Florida but has a major office and presence in Indianapolis. SpotCues (Mountain View, California) Groupe.io solution offers a broad array of tools that streamline employee communications and workflows to keep people engaged and informed. Financial details were not disclosed.
AfterSchool HQ, a Fishers startup focused on making enrichment programs more accessible to students, has raised a seed round totaling $1.24 million. The round included participation from Elevate Ventures, Element Three, Sixty8 Capital and angel investors. The company’s web-based platform links students with local in-person and virtual programs. It also offers a database of programs for parents to locate, register and pay for activities. AfterSchool HQ also provides profiles and access to management tools for after-school program managers to market classes. AfterSchool HQ has experienced significant growth over the last year and is preparing for even more expansion.
Independence Science, an educational technology company from Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette, has received a $275,767 Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation. The company’s Sci-Dot product is a multiline Braille device that collects and analyzes scientific data to create a more inclusive laboratory experience for blind and deaf-blind students to prepare them for careers in STEM fields.
The Vertex Company of Madison, Mississippi made headlines in December when they announced their acquisition of Raytheon Technologies’ Defense Training and Mission Critical Solutions Business Lines with a significant presence on the Eastside of Indianapolis. In March, Vertex announced its merger with Vectrus, Inc. Vectrus, headquartered in Colorado Springs, produces solutions for military and government customers worldwide. Financial details can be found here.
Indianapolis-based specialty chemical company, MITO Material Solutions, raised $4.6 million dollars in a funding round that closed in late January. Funding came from a seed extension by existing investors and new MITO investors such as specialty chemicals solutions provider, Ingevity Corporation, and will be used to expand MITO’s Indianapolis operations, including new lab space for developing industry leading products and new composite material technologies. MITO was one of the companies featured in the inaugural The Heritage Group Accelerator in 2019.
Utilz, a subscription-based app created for utility companies that uses machine learning to determine the likelihood of water pipe failures, won first place in the Spring 2022 Crossroads Pitch Competition, held March 5 at The Mill in Bloomington. The Evansville company will receive $10,000 in cash and a package of startup and business services. Launched in 2017 as a regional event, Crossroads Pitch Competition is now one of Indiana’s biggest pitch competitions, attracting startups from all over the state. In 2022, for the first time, The Mill will host two competitions, one in spring and one in fall.
Porch Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: PRCH), a Seattle vertical software company focused on the home services industry, announced their acquisition of the home warranty and inspection software and services businesses from Residential Warranty Services (RWS) of Carmel for $33 million.
Carmel’s computer science curriculum startup Codelicious has received an investment from CareSource and Elevate Ventures through the CareSource Diversity & Social Impact Fund of Dayton, Ohio. The investment is the latest in a series of Elevate follow-on funding in Codelicious since 2017. Codelicious will use the funding to expand go-to-market strategy and technology development. Financial details of the funding were not disclosed.
Three Indiana-based, high-tech startup companies with connections to Purdue University each received $25,000 at the conclusion of Purdue Foundry’s Boost accelerator. West Lafayette’s Araqev advances the capabilities of additive manufacturing by leveraging machine learning to improve accuracy and quality while reducing waste. Pluto Aerospace, another West Lafayette company, is developing rapid and economical launch vehicle platforms for hypersonic and other suborbital applications. ReproHealth Technologies of Indianapolis is improving the efficacy of bovine reproductive technology, enabling farmers to save time and money while growing their herd.
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 Indiana’s tech sector be sure to stay connected to TechPoint Index by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.