Investment into Indiana’s tech community is continuing to flow during the COVID-19 pandemic, and TechPoint isn’t letting up on its efforts to attract more investors to the state. What is new for the tech community growth accelerator is a focus on building relationships with more Black, Hispanic and women-owned venture capital firms, as well as helping to connect more startups with minority founders to funding sources.

Based on publicly announced deals, investing in Indiana tech companies, along with M&A activity was relatively flat in Q3 2020 compared to the first two quarters. A total of 16 capital raises for Indiana tech companies were publicly announced, with two of the deals not including financial details. A little over $28.3 million in investments were publicly announced. Nine companies were involved in mergers and acquisitions. See the details of those deals in our Q3 VC Report.

“The work that TechPoint and a number of other community groups, university startup incubators, angel investors and trailblazing investment firms have done over the years have pushed Indiana tech companies onto the national radar as a tech hub ripe for new investment,” said TechPoint President and CEO Mike Langellier. “With some of those proven activities and a genuine desire to bring equity and opportunity to underrepresented tech entrepreneurs, we expect to greatly expand the relationships we have with minority owned and led tech companies and to connect those who are raising capital with funding sources.”

One example of the work to increase diversity in Indiana tech is last week’s VC Speed Dating event, which highlighted efforts by organizations focused on funding underserved groups including Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs as well as women and those who identify as LGBTQ.

Twenty-eight venture capital firms from 15 different states, and 32 investable companies took part in the VC Speed Dating event, which convened nearly 200 meetings between companies and investors.

Candice Matthews-Brackeen, General Partner at Lightship Capital, and Kelli Jones, Cofounder of BeNimble and Sixty8 Capital as well as Program Manager at Allos Ventures helped kick-off the event.

The Cincinnati-based Lightship Capital is on track to raise $50 million for investment in underserved groups. Candice said the company opened a local office because they were so impressed with a 16 Tech tour and talks with TechPoint, Allos Ventures and others in the tech community.

Kelli, who has long worked to champion underserved tech companies, noted that Indiana’s tech community is working to level the playing field, but said investors need to know that investing in underserved communities isn’t charity, and that having diversity within your company is more than making a hire and checking a box.

“I don’t think we can have diversity without inclusion. I don’t think you can have inclusion without equity. And you definitely can’t have equity without actual belonging,” she said. “As long as all those things are available and present, I think we can start to see more diverse tech ecosystems as a whole.”

This year, TechPoint also opened the doors of VC Speed Dating to university students and faculty with startup or venture capital aspirations. Franklin College, DePauw University, Ball State University, Indiana University – Bloomington, Purdue University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students and faculty took TechPoint up on the offer to observe and interact with the venture capital investors.

Emali Grose, a Junior at Ball State University, said she was initially intimidated at the prospect of joining the event, but said the VCs “truly desired to help each student.” She’s now looking forward to potentially pitching a company in the future.

Andrea Martin Tovar is pursuing a Masters of Science at Purdue University. “I thought the experience was very insightful for us to learn first-hand what VCs expect out of entrepreneurs. I will definitely be keeping these insights in mind as I move through my journey.”

Connections made at last year’s VC Speed Dating and VC Social events helped lead to investments in Qumulex from the Indiana University Philanthropic Venture Fund; SupplyKick from Decathlon, and a $6 million Series A raise by Vibenomics after getting introduced to BIP Capital. 

The 2020 VC Speed Dating event was sponsored by Ice Miller and Katz, Sapper & Miller with underwriting sponsors BKD, Elevate Ventures and Human Capital Concepts.