September VC Collaboration Events a Big Win for Indiana Tech
Collaboration is one of Indiana’s super powers, and it was on full display this year for the return of in-person investor meetings hosted by TechPoint with assistance from Venture Club of Indiana and the Next Level Fund. By coming together with our similar missions and events over three days in September, we created a larger pool of participating companies and investors. Thirty-seven investors from across the U.S. and Canada showed up in Indianapolis to meet with 35 emerging companies at the Biltwell Event Center with generous support from our title sponsor, Ice Miller.
Since its creation nearly two decades ago, TechPoint has taken an active role in connecting emerging Indiana tech companies with venture capital firms and other investors. For the past eight years we have put a spotlight on this effort by literally bringing these groups together at a table for curated meetings. This effort goes back to 2015 when we brought together winning companies from the Mira Awards to meet with investors. We called this first event “The Winner’s Circle,” and it was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during “Fast Friday” practice for the Indy 500.
In 2017 the event moved to the Biltwell Event Center and was renamed “VC Speed Dating” the following year. For 2020 it was decided that we would move to hosting two of these company to investor matching events a year but the pandemic caused us to hold only one event and utilize a virtual format. In 2021 we were able to host two events virtually, using technology from Filo, an Indiana-based High Alpha Studio company. Finally, in 2022, we were able to host both a virtual event in May and an in-person event on September 1.
One of the more outstanding parts of this most recent VC Speed Dating event was the level of diversity among the 31 companies that participated. Our efforts (and efforts from many in the tech ecosystem) to ensure Indiana’s tech community reflects the wide array of diversity among Hoosiers are working.
We also saw growth in the diversity of tech companies participating. While Indiana continues to produce highly investable B2B SaaS companies, this year’s VC Speed Dating crop included marketplace, direct to consumer, Web 3.0, life science and deep tech companies. VC Speed Dating companies are usually from Indiana or areas near the state. However, this year we had seven teams from The Heritage Group Accelerator’s 2022 cohort. These deep tech companies hailed from six states and Canada. It isn’t unusual to see companies return to VC Speed Dating year after year, but we also love to see new companies participate. At our in-person event we welcomed 21 first-time companies.
Getting a first look at companies is also very important to the 37 investors who attended VC Speed Dating and the VC Social. These investors came from 10 states and Canada, and 13 were first-time participants.
Venture Club of Indiana’s Innovation Showcase and 50 South Capital Advisors’ Next Level Fund Summit were held August 31 at The Heritage Group’s “The Center” campus.
The Innovation Showcase brought 21 companies to pitch for $30,000 in prize money; 12 of them also participated in VC Speed Dating. In an unprecedented tie, Adipo Therapeutics and LaunchCodes each took home the first-place prize money of $10,000. Holder and Zero Carb Lyfe received second and third place respectively.
The Next Level Fund Summit brought together leading companies and investors from all over the U.S. for a series of discussions and spotlight sessions with founders and management teams of exciting and innovative venture-backed companies, as well as with leading venture capitalists that invest in these companies. The Next Level Fund, created by the Indiana General Assembly in 2017, is a $250 million fund that invests in Indiana venture capital firms and out-of-state firms that invest in Indiana companies. Essentially, it’s a way to further the work that venture capital funds do in Indiana—investing in Indiana companies—by providing those firms with additional capital from the State. 50 South Capital Advisors administrates the fund for the State.
Collaboration has always been key to Indiana moving forward economically, and we were very pleased at response from participants who said it allowed them to make great use of their time. We may not know for a while how many of these interactions will result in funding, but we know already that new relationships were formed and existing ones were strengthened as well collectively gathered to shine a bright spotlight on the many innovative companies in Indiana.
TechPoint plans to continue down this path of collaboration and to provide even more opportunities for all tech company founders to grow and scale their businesses. Let me know if you have ideas or opportunities to further our collective goals by emailing me at email@example.com.