Recently, Julie Heath was hired as the new executive director for The Speak Easy Indianapolis, a collaborative workspace for entrepreneurs. In her post, Julie reflects on her journey to her new role and how important community is to developing a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Landing at the Indianapolis International Airport for the first time was a memorable experience. All the praise heaped on the airport by outsiders is entirely warranted. As someone who traveled extensively domestically and internationally for work, and who was in town for business, I appreciated the well-designed user experience. It was clean and efficient. But what stood out most was how welcoming the airport felt.

Four years later I was moving to Indianapolis from Philadelphia after my husband was hired to work at Lilly. I grew up in Northern California and had worked in Washington, DC. I had limited connections in the Midwest. My first impression was that of friendliness; it seemed like there was earnest desire on everyone’s part to be of assistance. Help where you can.

Julie HeathThe Speak Easy Indianapolis

I knew acclimating myself to my new city was critical. Research shows that the number one reason relocations fail is that the trailing partner isn’t able to plug in to the new city. Fortunately, I had one person to call—longtime Speak Easy member Richard McCoy. On his recommendation, I made my way to the Broad Ripple location. I credit The Speak Easy community with being able to plug in to Indy: I was able to do my consulting work, I found my first job—vice president of partnerships at Boardable—and made my first new friends. For me, The Speak Easy was the entry point to business, culture, and social life in Indianapolis.

In the Bay Area and on the East Coast, the entrepreneurial and tech scenes are larger and more complex. Here in Indianapolis, everyone in the startup community is just one or two phone calls from the person or people they need to meet. The Speak Easy membership is comprised of a vast and diverse bench of talent; some of our alumni have built multimillion-dollar companies, but when they come in and sit down for a cup of coffee or a beer, they strike up conversations with recent college graduates and new arrivals to Indiana.

Since assuming the role of executive director just a few weeks ago, I have had the pleasure of meeting additional Speak Easy members–tech entrepreneurs, non-tech entrepreneurs, corporate members, freelancers, and remote workers. The primary benefit members point to is the sense of community. The social bonds that The Speak Easy creates, alongside the depth and diversity of expertise among our membership inspired me to take the job leading this organization–and are an asset to this startup ecosystem.

The Speak Easy is already an identifiable brand in the startup scene and features an incredibly vibrant community of members and alumni companies. Indianapolis is growing, and companies like Salesforce and Cummins and Lilly attract people from all across the country. But when new folks arrive in Indy, what do they do? Where do they go? Who will help them connect? Where will they sit down to just talk and have a beer? We know The Speak Easy helps fill this need. The Speak Easy isn’t just an economic engine for this city, it’s a port of entry to Indianapolis.

Julie Heath
Executive Director
The Speak Easy Indianapolis

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