May 16, 2018
On May 1-2 in Indiana, Elevate Ventures hosted Kinetic, an inaugural portfolio conference dedicated to startups around the state. Designed to be where entrepreneurship, venture capital and community converge, Kinetic focused on fueling Indiana’s startup ecosystem.
The gathering brought together entrepreneurs, higher education institutions, community leaders, regional economic development partners, institutional and angel investors, legislators and others representing startup communities to engage and spur collaboration.
The 2-day conference had a jam-packed schedule for attendees with 73 speakers and panelists, 2 keynote speakers, 18 informational sessions, the Kinetic Expo, over 115 investor one-on-one meetings, numerous networking opportunities, a happy hour conclusion and more.
Below, we have highlighted a few of the informational sessions Kinetic had to offer. Whether you want to read about a session you missed or you simply couldn’t make it this year, we encourage you to check out a few highlights below.
And be on the lookout for details coming soon about next year’s Kinetic! To stay in the loop, sign up for 2019 Kinetic information.
Economic Forecast: Expected Effects on Investment
Alex Chausovsky is an accomplished Speaker and Consultant at ITR Economics. He is a highly experienced market researcher and analyst with more than a decade of expertise in subjects that include macroeconomics, industrial manufacturing, energy efficiency, automation, and advanced technology trends. At Kinetic, he gave a presentation on the Economic Forecast: Expected Effects on Investment.
Next Level Fund
A conversation around the Next Level Fund featured IEDC President Elaine Bedel, former State Senator Luke Kenley and Aaron Gillum, senior vice president of 50 South Capital, the firm charged with managing the $250 million Next Level Fund.
Bedel stressed the importance of investments in Indiana companies. The goal is to distribute $50 million each year over the next five years. Gillum said he has already received a lot of interest from investors in state and out of state.
“You are the most important, biggest, best economic opportunity for us,” Kenley told the crowd of entrepreneurs. “Think more globally. Think more on a macro basis. Think about how we can help the state as whole and as an ongoing process where these folks are the lead element to lead the economy,” he said.
Schellinger: ‘People Are Looking to Us’
“It is our time. It is truly Indiana’s time. … People are looking to us around the country and the world,” Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger told entrepreneurs, investors and leaders from around Indiana during his keynote address on May 1 at Elevate Ventures’ inaugural Kinetic portfolio conference in Indianapolis.
Schellinger touted low taxes, a lack of restrictive business regulations and smart policies for making Indiana a pro-business state. Corporate income taxes are set to dip to below 5% by 2021, and businesses in Indiana enjoy zero inventory or inheritance taxes.
In his role promoting job creation and business, Schellinger hears from companies like Salesforce that Indiana’s technology ecosystem is thriving, and our colleges and universities are strong. Indiana is committed to innovation and entrepreneurship, and clients for companies like Salesforce are in their own backyards. But the major differentiators are cost of living (among the very lowest in country) and cost of doing business (second lowest in the U.S.).
“We can give them a great place to live, work and play, and that translates into loyalty,” he said. People stay here and invest here and mentor here.
“For 32 consecutive months, we have had more Hoosiers working in private sector jobs than ever in the state’s history,” Schellinger said. “We also have nearly $2 billion in cash reserves, a record low unemployment rate, the highest credit rating in America, and a high allocation of state funds going to education.”
Indianapolis International Airport has ranked No. 1 in North America for six years in a row. Making business easier to get done around the world, on May 24, travelers will be able to fly direct to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, Indy’s first transatlantic flight. Latin America and Asia are also on Schellinger’s radar.
“I have the best job in the state of Indiana because I get to tell Indiana’s story all around the country and world. My batting average is really high when I can get eyeball to eyeball, because right away they get the value of Indiana,” he said.
Indiana Steps Up to Entrepreneurship
“Entrepreneurship is synonymous with economic development. Every time we get a successful business to start here, it’s a big win for Indiana,” Elaine Bedel, president of the IEDC, said during a conversation around Indiana stepping up to entrepreneurship.
“State and local government engagement is especially important in Indiana because we don’t have the natural attractions and environment other states have,” said Donald Densborn, a partner in the law firm Densborn Blachly.
Scott Fadness, Mayor of the City of Fishers, a city that has become a model for growing an entrepreneurial ecosystem, stressed the criticality of government support of entrepreneurship on a local level, saying if you grow these companies in your city, they tend to stay because their roots are there. “We have to scratch and claw our way to create that kind of ecosystem to support entrepreneurs today and any entrepreneurs that are thinking about Indiana,” Fadness said.
If he could do it all over again, Fadness said he would double down on programmatic engagement, such as working sooner and more closely with the school system — kids are the gateway to dual-income parents to get them excited about entrepreneurship.
Scale Up Your Leadership
During a talk on scaling up leadership as your company grows, four seasoned leaders shared what they have learned and observed. “No matter what stage you are at, you will always be scaling up leadership,” Vennli co-founder Gary Gigot said.
Dave Wortman is the chairman, CEO and co-founder of Diagnotes. “Part of the equation to scale up any business is to be true to yourself,” he said, from what you believe in to how you behave and perform.”
“There are big differences between management and leadership. I want to hire people who are better than me at managing the organization,” John McDonald, president, chairman and CEO of ClearObject, said.
hc1.com President and CEO Brad Bostic said leaders should create a culture within their companies where people want to be, where they can thrive. And a bit of caution: Don’t “strangle progress.”
Building an Economic Advantage
Panelists focused on sharing and solving problems during a talk on building entrepreneurship around Indiana.
Pat East, Executive Director of the Dimension Mill, said that Bloomington has a problem of complacency. The city has the lowest unemployment rate in Indiana, but its wage growth has been flat over the last 10 years. Less than a year on the job, East is working to build engagement through Dimension Mill, a coworking and business incubator space, and working with Indiana University.
Serving Indiana communities in the Louisville Metro region, Kent Lanum, president and CEO of the Paul Ogle Foundation, said building cross-border relationships is a challenge, but one strategy to solve it has been to emphasize the value of and need for collaboration.
Gary Neidig, president and CEO of ITAMCO in Plymouth, has similar geographical challenges with Michigan communities. His region’s greater focus has been to identify a large pool of applicants, whittled to 25 viable companies, to go into an accelerator program at the University of Notre Dame. Elevate Ventures is currently assisting the region with this project.
Higher Ed Partnerships Boost Entrepreneurship
Leaders from four Indiana higher-ed institutions planted a seed of a potential collaboration onstage during their panel discussion May 1. While all of the speakers are currently working to promote entrepreneurship within their respective schools, they agreed that sharing commercialization best practices with each other would be valuable.
Commercialization of technology was top of mind, as there is an extensive catalog of IP available, often just sitting on a shelf. A challenge for entrepreneurs is determining what IP is most relevant to what they want to accomplish. “You have to understand what the problem is that it solves. You need to have a purpose in mind,” says John Hanak, managing director of Purdue Ventures.
Events play an important role in the work of promoting entrepreneurship at the University of Notre Dame, where James Thompson serves as an executive director at the IDEA Center. James had just wrapped up Idea Week, SXSW-style innovation festival that drew 6,000 people from the South Bend-Elkhart region.
IU is working to create one place where people can access entrepreneurial resources, reported Tony Armstrong, president and CEO of the Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation. Richard Fetter, an associate professor at Butler University, said engaging everyone on faculty, not just entrepreneurship-focused people, is also a critical step toward growing entrepreneurship.