Kristine DanzWe started 2011 with news around the proverbial water cooler focused on Facebook’s $50 billion valuation. According to the Associated Press, the social networking site’s value is about equal to the open market value of more well-established companies like Boeing and Kraft. The terms of the private offering of as much as $1.5 billion in shares of Facebook have changed as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., recently announced that it was restricting the offering of Facebook shares to non-U.S. citizens due to concerns that the media spotlight surrounding the private offering might violate U.S. securities laws and expose the firm to legal action. While the terms of the Facebook deal continue to evolve, there is little doubt that companies in the tech sector will continue to make front page headlines in 2011.

Recently, we’ve seen a number of Indiana’s tech companies rise in prominence. In fact, in December 2010, Lead411 announced its list of the Technology 500. To be eligible, companies must be privately held, headquartered in the U.S. with over $1 million in revenue in 2009. The rankings were determined by calculating the highest percentage revenue growth between 2007 and 2009. Seven Indiana companies made the list to include Scale Computing (ranking an impressive second overall), BlueLock, Vontoo, Iasta, ExactTarget, Angie’s List and Delivra.

So, what makes the Crossroads of America so attractive to emerging tech companies and what drives their growth? Some of the contributing factors are: access to capital, competitive tax credits/incentives and a commitment to develop and commercialize advanced technologies in Indiana.

Access to Capital

The Facebook deal redefined "alternative financing strategies." The cash infusion from Goldman Sachs enabled Facebook to delay an initial public stock offering (and the heightened scrutiny and regulation that comes along with it) while simultaneously allowing it to make valuable improvements in its technology. Capital is the key component to success for emerging and entrepreneurial companies looking to grow and gain market share.

Today, private companies in Indiana have a variety of resources in the financing arena available to them. A number of angel investor groups consisting of current and former entrepreneurs have come to fruition and are looking to make investments in early stage technology companies. In addition, Indiana has a broad representation of private equity funds focused on investing in areas such as technology, health care and life sciences. The banks are also starting to get back into the game with Small Business Administration-backed loans for smaller companies.

Competitive Tax Credits/Incentives

The leadership in Indiana has also recognized the importance of creating new jobs for Hoosiers through the development and growth of entrepreneurial companies by supporting their growth from small start-up companies to significant employers within our state’s economy. It has become more expensive and competitive for the state to incentivize companies to move their businesses to Indiana. As such, Indiana has focused on fostering an entrepreneurial culture where individuals are encouraged to start businesses which leverage the talents and strengths that are already inherent in the state’s economy as well as the current workforce. One such method used by the state is the Indiana Venture Capital Tax Credit, which provides a tax credit for investors making an investment in privately held companies in Indiana. In addition, the Indiana Research and Development Tax Credit provides a tax credit for certain expenses spent on research and development. These tax credits were designed to encourage investors to provide capital to emerging growth companies and the activities that may be conducted by them.

Commitment to Develop and Commercialize Advanced Technologies

Government, business and education leaders within the state are committed to working together to foster an "entrepreneurial friendly environment." Programs like the state’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund were created in an effort to diversify the state’s economy by focusing on developing and commercializing advanced technologies. According to research by Ball State University, the 21st Century Fund has given 188 awards of $238.5 million spread across 10 rounds. Award amounts experienced a few peaks and valleys until Round 6, peaking in Round 7 then gradually declining.

Programs like TechPoint’s HALO Capital Group also provide funding opportunities for early stage companies. The group, comprised of over 20 former and current executives, assists with investments between $250,000 to $2 million.

The tech rush in Indiana has already begun. Fortunately, the state is well-armed and eager to attract the next generation of entrepreneurs. If you think you can wait another 10 years to bring that great idea to market, think again. A decade is a millennium in tech time. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg.

If you have questions regarding Ice Miller’s entrepreneurial services please contact Kristine C. Danz. Danz is a partner in the Firm’s Business Group. She focuses her practice on entrepreneurial legal issues, start-up commercialization, private equity/venture capital financing transactions, and mergers and acquisitions.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader must consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.

Name: Kristine Danz
Company: Ice Miller LLP
City: Indianapolis
State: IN

Kristine Danz is a partner in Ice Miller’s Business Group. She focuses her practice on entrepreneurial legal issues, start-up commercialization, private equity/venture capital financing transactions, and mergers and acquisitions.