November 17, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS, IND., – Widespread economic growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and according to Ken Miller, Elevate Ventures’ new Chief Operating Officer, innovation is key to driving economic momentum in Indiana and boosting statewide entrepreneurship and innovation.
Miller joined the Elevate Ventures team on November 6, 2017. Since 1992, he has spent the majority of his career in the technology industry, most recently as Partner at DeveloperTown. His experience in tech, operations, leadership and professional development has led him to place a particularly high value on innovation, so much so that he assists companies across industries in shaping processes and cultures that foster it.
“I am personally fascinated by the interplay of innovation between large organizations and startups as well as how this drives economic growth,” Miller says.
Large organizations, over time, can grow to be protective of their market, customer and brand. Oftentimes, this can lead them to focus only inward and take fewer risks. The result can be a culture of protecting and conserving instead of growing and expanding. On the other hand, Miller says, small companies are trying to grow and are interested in taking risks and trying new things on their path to becoming successful businesses.
“If you only take one of these approaches, it’s not healthy for long-term economic growth,” Miller says. “You must learn to protect and manage resources, while continuing to take new risks and try new things to grow. Established organizations and entrepreneurs can learn a lot from each other. It’s a cross-pollination and culture exchange between larger corporate environments and smaller startup environments.”
Getting these two groups to play in the same sandbox creates benefits beyond their own balance sheets. There is growing evidence of the importance of driving business creation and startups, not just job creation, for the good of the entire economy.
A September 20, 2017, New York Times article reports that the U.S. has been in a startup funk since the recession. A total of 414,000 businesses were formed in 2015, according to the Census Bureau, well below the 558,000 companies launched in 2006. Reporter Ben Casselman writes that many economists attribute the lack of new business to the “rising power of the biggest corporations, which they argue is stifling entrepreneurship by making it easier for incumbent businesses to swat away challengers.”
Such conclusions support Elevate Ventures’ approach to growing entrepreneurship, creating regional partnerships that engage municipal leaders, corporate executives and other stakeholders in a united effort to empower new founders and startups. As COO, Miller will help develop Elevate Ventures’ growing network of corporate partners.
“For many people, Elevate Ventures is best known as a source of venture capital, and for good reason, but it’s really our people who make us who we are. With Ken on board, our statewide team is growing exponentially in terms of experience and passion for entrepreneurship in Indiana,” says Elevate Ventures CEO Chris LaMothe.
He will also look for opportunities for our clients. The impact that machine learning, AI and automation process technologies promise to make on our Indiana workforce excites him. Elevate Ventures’ Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, the seven-person team that advises individual entrepreneurs around the state, will also closely collaborate with Miller.
“Early in my career, I had mentors who advised me in building my businesses. Often, I didn’t recognize how important their advice was around collaboration. As I gained more experience and understood the impact, it led me to want to share what I learned with our Indiana startups and enterprises,” Miller says.
He has turned that desire into board positions and volunteer hours for organizations and events that foster business in Indiana, including the Venture Club of Indiana, Innovation Showcase, TechPoint, inX3, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and others.
As Elevate Ventures COO, Miller will expand his passion for innovation and learning, and continue to pursue his ambition to help build the best entrepreneurial ecosystem in the world.
About Ken Miller
Ken Miller is the COO of Elevate Ventures. Since 1998, he has consulted multimillion-dollar companies on developing sustainable innovation within their organizations. Prior to joining Elevate Ventures in November 2017, he was a Partner at Developertown (2015-2017). He also formed the non-profit IoT Innovation Network, focused on creating a sustainable IoT ecosystem for the State of Indiana and led by some of the state’s biggest, most innovative companies.
From 2008 to 2015, Miller was director of IT operations at MISO, a Carmel-based company that helps deliver electric power across 15 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Manitoba. While at MISO, he helped the company expand to build multiple data centers to house the operation of the power grid in just 36 months.
Miller has worked with leaders in startup and scale-up companies including Glassboard, 120WaterAudit, Pierce Aerospace and College Mentors for Kids, as well as large corporations such as Rolls-Royce, Delta Faucet, Caterpillar, Roche Diagnostics, and DowDuPont.
About Elevate Ventures
Elevate Ventures is a private venture development organization that nurtures and develops emerging and existing high-potential businesses into high-performing, Indiana-based companies. Elevate Ventures accomplishes this by providing access to capital, rigorous business analysis and robust advisory services that connect companies with the right mix of resources businesses need to succeed long term. To learn more about Elevate Ventures, visit elevateventures.com.