Since 2018, The Kinetic Conference has brought together top entrepreneurs, investors, educators and ecosystem builders to share best practices, make connections and support high-growth companies in Indiana. More than 1100 people have attended the conference over the past five years, showing a widespread commitment to making Indiana a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation.
We introduced the Elevate Awards at Kinetic in 2019 to recognize businesses, entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders that have gone above and beyond to create impact and drive change in Indiana’s entrepreneurial community.
On September 20, we announced the 2021 Elevate Award winners at the 5th annual Kinetic Conference. The awards and winners are:
2021 Region of the Year: Velocities
Velocities generated the highest count and dollar value of Elevate Ventures deals (Elevate Direct Investments) from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021.
Velocities is a partnership between Bloomington, Columbus, and Elevate Ventures that supports innovation, entrepreneurship, and startup growth in South Central Indiana. Initially launched in 2019, the partnership was set up for a period of three years, and it has recently been renewed for another three years.
Largest Financing Round of 2021: SIMBA Chain
This award is given to the company that closed the largest funding round in 2021 in which Elevate Ventures participated.
SIMBA Chain, a company that simplifies blockchain app development and reduces energy usage, closed a $25 million round in September. The round was led by Valley Capital Partners and included participation from Elevate Ventures, the Notre Dame Pit Road Fund, Stanford Law School Venture Fund and various angel investors.
2021 Regional Business of the Year: Folia
This award recognizes a company in an Elevate regional partnership that is positively impacting the community now and in the future. Companies were nominated by each region in their respective geographical areas.
Folia helps modern enterprises streamline their research, analysis and idea generation practices. Its leading product is iAnnotate, an award-winning product that lets users mark up and share documents on tablets. The company currently serves more than 1 million users—including Wall Street investors, lawyers, and Hollywood screenwriters.
2021 Exit of the Year: Socio Labs
The award recognizes an Elevate portfolio company that provided an outstanding return to its investors as a result of a liquidity event in 2021.
Socio Labs was acquired by Cisco and added to the company’s Webex portfolio. Now known as Webex Events, the event management solution offers continuous engagement for in-person, virtual and hybrid events.
Community Champions of 2021: These individuals have gone above and beyond to support the region’s entrepreneurship and innovation efforts.
Dr. Michael Mirro has served as the chair of the board of Elevate Northeast Indiana since 2019. Dr. Mirro has been a key player in the region’s startup ecosystem for years, mobilizing resources and keeping entrepreneurship at the forefront of the region’s economic growth. Recently, Dr. Mirro played a significant role in the implementation of Eleven Fifty Academy in Northeast Indiana and leading fundraising efforts for Elevate Northeast Indiana.
As a passionate advocate for empowering entrepreneurs, Hammel aims to help others realize their potential by connecting them with the resources, ideas and people they need to succeed. Since 2017, Hammel has served as Executive Director of RISE, an organization that prepares students to become entrepreneurial thinkers through real-life learning experiences. Under Hammel’s leadership and vision, the RISE model has evolved quickly, allowing it to expand beyond North Central Indiana to communities across the state.
- SOUTH CENTRAL INDIANA: Cindy Frey, President of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.
With more than 30 years of experience, Frey plays a pivotal role in driving growth and visibility within government, nonprofits and educational organizations. As president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce since 2013, Frey has led the organization through several initiatives, including establishing a 9000-square-foot innovation center, receiving a $600,000 READI grant, and adding staff and other resources.
- SOUTHWEST INDIANA: Mark Schroeder, Executive Chairman at German American Bank.
In 1972, Schroeder began working at German American Bank as a vault teller, rising through the company’s ranks to become CEO in 1999. He served as CEO until assuming the role of executive director in 2022. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of Elevate Southwest Indiana, Schroeder has played a key role in leading German American’s support of the partnership, ensuring its continued success.