VC Advice from an Indiana Legend
When ExactTarget Founders Scott Dorsey, Chris Baggott and Peter McCormick, sold their marketing software company for a record $2.5 billion, they became instant tech legends in Indiana and perhaps the world. But they didn’t stop there.
McCormick heads a B2B SaaS investment fund in New York City. Baggot launched ClusterTruck, and Dorsey teamed up with partners Eric Tobias, Mike Fitzgerald and Kristian Andersen to launch High Alpha Venture Studio – and later High Alpha Capital and High Alpha Innovation – which together have helped launch more than 80 new startups, mostly in Indiana.
When author Rebecca Fannin kicked off the Heartland version of her “Ask a VC! Silicon Heartland Series,” Dorsey sat down as her first guest.
Dorsey and the ExactTarget story is also cited in her upcoming book, “Silicon Heartland,” which details progress being made in nine Midwestern cities – including Indianapolis – to transform metro areas from Rust Belt status to thriving tech hubs.
Fannin asked Dorsey what Indiana still need to continue that transition.
“More of everything,” he responded. “More founders, more successes and also more capital, and the way to attract capital is to build remarkable companies.”
Dorsey credited the state’s Elevate Ventures and Next Level Fund for helping fuel a local VC flywheel and said the best way to bring more in is to create the next – and even more successful Exact Target.
The book is available for pre-order, and while Fannin mentioned it often, she didn’t spill any secrets from it other than to say she spoke with Max Yoder, visited Bottleworks, noted that Indianapolis’s Saas tech leaders are highly connected and talked with others who told similar stories of finding great local support for their tech ideas.
The book is billed as “the story of a comeback with personal stories of some of the remarkable people Rebecca met who are restoring the region’s vibrancy and prosperity with a social and economic turnaround that is diverse, contemporary, and solidly realized” and “a timely documentation about a reviving economy and also a moving reminder of the importance of family and heritage.”
The “Ask a VC” series is designed to help entrepreneurs go straight to the source to get insights needed to be the next business legend in their community. Dorsey was forthcoming with answers and shared many insights from his own journey with typical humble Hoosier demeanor, crediting others and championing Indiana’s entrepreneurial support structure.
The hour-long, virtual event last week touched on questions like:
- “What VC funds are in Indiana now?”
- “As we look for seed funding should we expect compromise or will the right VC embrace our goals and culture?”
- “When is the time right to take on funding for growth?” and
- “What’s the difference between a VC Studio or an accelerator?”
Watch the recording of this Ask A VC conversation.