While access to angel and seed-level capital resources for tech startups in Indiana has improved significantly over the past five years, securing additional funding for those same companies as they scale up continues to be a challenge.

There is a handful of venture capital firms in Indiana that can help these companies take the next step. However, in most cases they are dependent upon firms from out of state with interest in investing in the region. This need for additional scale up venture capital is only met when out-of-state firms take the time to get informed on the growing tech scene in Indiana.

Over the past three years, TechPoint’s annual Winners’ Circle event has made great strides to fill this gap by bringing in local and out-of-state investors to meet face-to-face with emerging Indiana tech companies. This year’s event was the biggest ever, pitching 37 tech companies with 35 VC firms from 17 different states. Many of these firms were visiting Indiana for the first time — including Grand Ventures from Grand Rapids, Mich.

In April, TechPoint reached out to Maitlan Cramer, a principal investor with Grand Ventures, about participating in the Winners’ Circle event in June. Cramer agreed to take part and was impressed with the companies and the ecosystem he witnessed.

“I had not been to Indy in quite some time,” Cramer said. “I was blown away with the city’s growth and dedication to becoming a thriving tech hub — not just at the regional stage, but on a national stage.”

Sigstr founder Dan Hanrahan attended Winners’ Circle and the on-site introduction to Maitlan Cramer of Grand Ventures led to an out-of-state investment in the Indianapolis-based startup.

Bryan Wade

Bryan WadeCEO

During the Winners’ Circle event, TechPoint matched Grand Ventures with Sigstr, an email signature marketing company based in Indianapolis. “Because this was our second year attending, we had already built relationships with some of the firms,” said Sigstr CEO, Bryan Wade.  “We met with five or six new firms and one or two firms that we were talking to about our Series A.”

This was the very first meeting between Grand Ventures and Sigstr. “I was very impressed with their passion for what they wanted to build at Sigstr,” commented Cramer. “It was evident the entire first conversation. They knew everything about the business, soup to nuts, which showed tremendous confidence in what he and his team were building at Sigstr.”

In an interview with Inside Indiana Business following the June Winners’ Circle event, Cramer said, “Hopefully, in the next six months we can do a deal here.” Grand Ventures made good on their word in only three months by contributing as a major investor in Sigstr’s $5 million Series A raise. It was only the firm’s second portfolio company investment and their first in the state of Indiana.

“Winners’ Circle is a great way to get introduced into venture firms outside the Indianapolis area,” shared Wade. “TechPoint makes it easy for us to flag who we think we want to meet and matches us with the right possible investors. There is a lot to gain from attending. We make more connections with potential investors and get introductions into their networks where it makes sense.”

Developing a relationship and procuring funding with a new venture capital firm doesn’t just bring in financial resources; it also brings in the industry expertise and business network of the firm.

“Grand Ventures has already made several introductions for us into their network and is helping us make investment decisions,” Wade said. “Tim Streit, the partner at Grand Ventures we work with most, has a background in investment banking. It’s been great having him collaborate with us on financials and investment decisions.”

While the Sigstr raise included Indianapolis area firms Charmides Capital and High Alpha, it also brought in Chicago-based Hyde Park Ventures and Battery Ventures of Boston — one of the largest venture capital firms in the country. Additionally, Sigstr caught the attention of HubSpot, an industry-leading inbound marketing and sales platform software company. The Cambridge, Massachusetts, company also participated in the Series A raise.