Tech founders are, by definition, inventors, visionaries, and dreamers who put their ideas to work despite the daunting challenges that derail others. TechPoint’s Startup of the Year Award recognizes companies that are five years old or younger, have shown the most significant development market traction, and have the most promising potential for success, including substantial growth, company performance, and the management team.  

The award can often help innovators secure the funding and talent necessary to continue the company’s upward trajectory. Just weeks after its 2023 Mira win for Startup of the Year, for example, Ixana closed a $3 million seed funding round to develop its patented, wearable smart device that can securely communicate with touch.  

Those contending for the 2024 Startup of the Year award are tackling a wide range of challenges and, in many cases, pioneering services. They’re working to help real estate professionals reduce vacancies, help people dealing with bereavement issues, workflow, web3 customer relationships management and messaging, genomics data management, translation services management, cybersecurity talent development, and the creation and commercialization of lightweight advanced battery systems for the aerospace and defense industries. 

The summaries below of each company’s performance skim the surface of what led to their nominations but will give you a glimpse into why their entries were elevated to nomination status. We invite you to follow these companies and their exciting work. 

Nominees for the 2024 Startup of the Year are:   

Adverank, Zionsville: U.S. real estate investors and operators are challenged by a multi-billion dollar vacancy rate issue that costs them about $30 billion annually in revenue. Adverank created the first Property Tech (proptech) recommendation engine and a proprietary algorithm that caters to the industry. Adverank optimizes Google Ads campaigns to reduce Cost-Per-Click (CPC), offering sophisticated approaches and tangible results. The company’s proprietary algorithm, driven by property management systems and Google Ads data, efficiently ranks facilities based on advertising needs, enabling swift decision-making and daily campaign adjustments. Its algorithm ranked facilities based on their advertising needs, enabling quicker decision-making and daily campaign adjustments. The tool may be the first proptech entry to the Mira Awards. 

Alleo, Carmel: Pre-pandemic, only one percent of companies had a hybrid work element. Post-pandemic, that grew to more than 90 percent, making remote work tools essential. Video and workflow management tools offer productivity help but don’t fully address engagement equity or innovation. Driving innovation with a hybrid team requires visual collaboration without limitations, as remote workers must shift focus between multiple places to access the people, content, and tools needed for effective meetings, presentations, and workflows. Disengaged team members, missed connections, inefficient interactions, and poor outcomes are at risk. The Alleo team unifies the collaborative experience by allowing users to quickly assemble the necessary people, content, and tools in a way that promotes engagement and delivers collaboration equity in any hybrid environment. Used by the federal government and Fortune 500 companies, Alleo’s services are available to everyone, everywhere, regardless of location or schedule, and can also customize the tool to meet unique needs. 

Bereave, Indianapolis: Personal experience led to the launch of Bereave, the first digital death concierge solution to coordinate pre-need and at-need death services. In dealing with the death of parents, the team learned the time that follows loss is wrought with broken consumer experiences, difficulty in finding information and support for grief, and learning how to start a new life without loved ones. In late 2021, the team set out to prove these experiences were not isolated and turned that pursuit to learning about death, the business behind it, and the families that remain after death. By 2022, the team had launched consumer-focused services and spent 18 months producing multiple revenue channels within the death services industry, learning about the gaps and the most significant, fastest impact it could have in supporting mourners. That led to the discovery of a more comprehensive opportunity: to provide bereavement-related workplace benefits, which was launched in December.  

Folia, Bloomington: Knowledge workers’ daily tasks involve the development and presentation of new ideas, usually after reviewing documents and source materials, swiftly capturing insights, often through annotations or brief notes, and refining all that information into impactful presentations or shareable content. Despite the availability of modern tools, regulated industries face specific challenges, including the failure to retain work products from research and insight capture, leading to missed opportunities and significant financial and environmental costs, exemplified by the more than one trillion sheets of paper printed in 2023. Existing solutions also leave critical security gaps. Folia closes those gaps with its market-defining platform integrating a user’s workflow across desktop, tablet, mobile, and web. It enables users to work with any source, annotate various document types (audio, video, and images), and securely share and collaborate within their organization. It fundamentally shifts how ideas are nurtured and realized. Folia has partnered with Microsoft, secured several U.S. patents and trade secrets, and a $2 million seed investment to broaden its vision and market traction. It has launched go-to-market partnerships with major companies and is entertaining more. More than 200 companies have licensed the software, and one million customers are using the technology.  

Holder, Indianapolis: Holder is the first Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and messaging platform built for the web3 industry. Holder helps bridge a chasm that separates brands from communicating with their audiences through the emerging web3 channels. The Holder platform powers customer engagement in the decentralized world to help web3 companies and communities build more durable and sustainable businesses that make the world more equitable, open, and transparent. Holder is the Hubspot or Salesforce for web3. Its users can access audience-building functionalities, web3 marketing tools, messaging channels, web3 social data, marketing automation, and more. Considered trailblazers for the emerging crypto martech industry, Holder empowers web3 developers and educates traditional marketers with its comprehensive State of Wallet Messaging report. In 2022, Holder founded the group Indy3 to connect with those passionate about web3, NFTs, crypto, and more. More than 100 members meet regularly to network, learn, discuss critical topics in web3, and bring more Indianapolis residents into the web3 industry. Holder was the first High Alpha venture studio’s web3 company launch and the first web3 startup in Indianapolis. 

Karyosoft, Carmel: Karyosoft is one of the first technologies to focus on in-house genomics data management, analytics, and visualization to offer an innovative no-code genomics technology platform that disrupts the way scientists and companies discover new agriculture and life sciences products and accelerates time to market. Karyosoft’s technology empowers scientists to find the needle in the genomic haystack, much like an in-house secure Google for genomics data. The platform democratizes genome data and delivers insights through no-code data management, analytics, and visualization within seconds. Genome sequencing has gained momentum recently with lowering costs, but data mining infrastructure and analytics are lacking within the organizations. Karyosoft’s platform fills that gap. Karyosoft’s first market target is the global Agri-biotech industry, as well as institutes and universities conducting research using genomics data, estimated to be $640 million annually. Karyosoft’s platform can be expanded to other verticals in the life sciences industry, estimated at $1.1 billion annually. The platform is cloud, organism, browser, and device agnostic and empowers scientists to access their data anywhere and anytime. 

Lionfish Cyber Security, Indianapolis: Many of Indiana’s businesses lack the cyber resilience to withstand or recover from cyber attacks, a vulnerability exacerbated by a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. Lionfish’s solution, the Cyber Security Risk Management Enablement Platform, represents a pioneering step in workforce development within the cybersecurity space. This cloud-based platform is distinguished by its dual focus on Governance Risk and Compliance management and workforce development, utilizing modules for compliance, workflow solutions, tool identification, vendor management, and training. It bridges the gap between academic learning and practical, real-world cybersecurity challenges and fosters a skilled workforce ready to tackle the state’s and nation’s cybersecurity challenges. The platform’s scalability is evident in its growing partnerships with educational institutions across Indiana, creating a “force multiplier” effect that extends the initiative’s reach and efficacy. More than 47 students have already benefited from the program, and 50 are on the waiting list. The Lionfish platform is funded through state grants and employer participation. Through its comprehensive platform, strategic partnerships, and focus on creating a skilled, locally-based workforce, Lionfish significantly enhances cyber resilience in Indiana and beyond. 

Tenon, Indianapolis: Three out of four marketers are unhappy with how their team manages work or the tools they use. As a result, 70 percent of them end up working in spreadsheets with manual processes to manage their work. Tenon  

offers a marketing work management solution that revolutionizes how enterprise marketing teams plan and execute their initiatives at scale. Built on ServiceNow – a worldwide leader in digital workflows trusted by 85 percent of the Fortune 500 – Tenon gives marketing teams the technology needed to collaborate and execute campaigns while providing visibility to drive company-wide alignment and support and to prove the value of marketing initiatives. Tenon provides out-of-the-box tools like pre-built project templates and advanced capabilities like agile marketing.  The company is focused on solving project bottlenecks for enterprises working to align large marketing departments challenged by remote work silos, overlapping systems, and turnover. Tenon is already the top choice of global, enterprise-level marketing departments. With integration into Veeva Vault, Tenon provides one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world with the ability to expedite marketing campaigns and streamline compliance processes with ease.  

Traduality, Bloomington:  Traduality was established as the world’s first translation management system, seeking to address the challenges faced by freelance translators, particularly in marketing initiatives and dealing with delayed payments. The solution was a marketplace offering fair and timely opportunities. Early validation of the concept came with a $20,000 investment from Indiana’s Community Ideation Fund. Despite development challenges causing delays, the product was successful and generated $80,000 in revenue in its first year, and the company secured an additional $80,000 investment from Elevate Ventures. Traduality was accepted into Gener8tor Milwaukee, raised more money, and formed partnerships with industry giants. It also managed projects for other clients. Eventually, the company pivoted from solely a marketplace to a comprehensive platform combining project management for language operations with a marketplace. This shift responded to the needs of translation agencies and language localization departments struggling with finding qualified linguists and managing projects. 

Valgotech, LLC, Fishers: Valgotech is an Indiana-based company at the forefront of developing and commercializing made-in-USA lightweight advanced battery systems for the aerospace and defense industries. Valgotech is developing lithium-sulfur batteries to replace lithium-ion batteries. Valgotech’s new battery technology uses low-cost and readily available sulfur as the cathode instead of expensive and foreign-sourced cathode materials like nickel, cobalt, and manganese used in lithium-ion batteries. Valgotech’s technology will reduce the US dependence on foreign-sourced battery materials and batteries. In addition, Valgotech has developed a proprietary solvent-free cathode and solid-state electrolyte manufacturing process that reduces the time to fabricate battery cathodes by up to 15 times. Eliminating toxic solvents makes the battery manufacturing process more eco-friendly and cost less. The company’s technology will make environmentally friendly and low-cost battery manufacturing in the U.S. commercially viable. Valgotech plans to open a manufacturing facility in Indiana where we will supply its batteries to the aerospace and defense industries in and outside the U.S.  

All award winners will be announced at the 25th annual TechPoint Mira Awards gala on 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.