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POWDER KEG Entrepreneurship Conference – Special Offer from IndianaStartup

Experience 2 1/2 days of engaged learning and vantage-shifting inspiration.  Connect with a group of exceptional entrepreneurs, developers, and creatives.

The Powder is excited to offer some sweet deals for the huge Powder Keg conference that our friends at Verge are throwing next week.


For a limited time, you can use the code “STARTUPITUPNOW” when you register and receive a $100 discount on the ticket price!  Tickets are going fast – so get yours pronto!  Purchase tickets at


In addition, the next 5 start-ups that (1) tweet something awesome about the conference (be sure to include mention @indianastartup and @powderkegconf), and (2) send an email to, we will cover the cost of your ticket!


More info about the Powder Keg below and at

This conference is for the crazy ones. The ones who sometimes ignore the rules. The ones who strike forth to boldly pursue their passion, and in doing so, ignite the genius in others. We’re packing the limited space in the Powder Keg with an explosive combination of entrepreneurial energy and creative talent to grow together.

The conference will host keynote presenters like Exact Target founder Scott Dorsey, Startup America CEO Scott Case, and Professional Magician David Blaine.

A full-scale startup pitch competition will be hosted at Lucas Oil Stadium (venue of this year’s Super Bowl), and each evening will feature world-renown music acts in some of the Midwest’s hottest venues.

This inaugural conference will draw hundreds of high-caliber entrepreneurs and investors to downtown Indianapolis for a perspective-shifting entrepreneurial experience.  Presenters include ExactTarget founder Scott Dorsey, founder Scott Case, and New York Times best-selling author, Julien Smith.

For more information, check out

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The Innovation Showcase – VIP Pass / Verge Shirt Giveaway!

The Innovation Showcase – VIP Pass / Verge Shirt Giveaway!

Next Tuesday, July 12th, The Innovation Showcase is going down at the sweet new Developer Town facility .  If you read this blog, you already know this.  There is a ton of buzz around the event – which will be showcasing 50 of Indiana’s hottest startups – and hopes to attract upwards of 1,000 people.  To help make sure this is an epic event, our friends at Verge are giving away one Verge t-shirt and one entry pass to the invite only VIP reception that takes place before the showcase.  Here is what you need to do to get in on this fabulous prize package:

  • Sign up for the Innovation Showcase by clicking ======>>>> HERE
  • Tweet about this blog post by clicking ======>>>>.

And that’s it!  One lucky person who executes those simple instructions before 5pm TODAY (randomly chosen) will win the VIP Pass and Verge T-shirt – a prize package worth literally nine or ten dollars!!  Even if you have already signed up, click on the link to tweet this post and you will be eligible for the prize package.

Now if I can just figure out a way to get a Verge t-shirt of my own (I’m looking at you @hunckler).

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Connecting the Indie Rock and Tech Scenes

Connecting the Indie Rock and Tech Scenes

There was a great article at about the goings on in Omaha, Nebraska.

As many of you know Omaha has been a rising star in the tech/start up scene over the last few yearsBig Omaha, a yearly event that this limited to about 600 people and attracts some of the best and brightest tech stars as speakers and attendees. I haven’t gone but many friends have and they all rave about the experience. But back to this NPR article.

The gist of this article can be summed up in this excerpt:

“While I was there, I met several architects and web designers who all said they moved back to Omaha, at least in part, because of this club (Indie Rock club The Slowdown) and the movie theater (Film Streams) next door.”

I know my buddy Rebecca Ryan from Next Generation Consulting wouldn’t be too surprised. This is what she, and others like Richard Florida, have been preaching for years. “Cool” cities attract and retain top talent. What makes a city cool? There is nothing, that I can think of, cooler than Indie Rock.I’m talking stuff here. If you have a city that has venues where Pitchfork bands regularly play then you basically have the foundation for a cool city.

Here in Indy we have seen a local promotion company start to actively fill that void – This is an offshoot of, which is actually very much an Indiana blog but started by Kentucky native Craig “Dodge” Lile (who coincidentally works for Raidious a web content company here in Indy) when he moved to Indy in the early 2000s. Running the blog and a Sirius radio show lead naturally to booking shows. MOKB Presents brings a wide diversity of mostly Indie Rock acts to Indy. About 50 shows a year. I don’t think you can find any entity that is changing Indy’s national brand (at least for 20 somethings) as much as MOKB. Think of all the bands that come play Indy and then go tell everyone else about what a great experience, hopefully, they had here. Think of all the fans that see Indianapolis show up again and again on tour schedules, YouTube videos, etc. Word is getting out. Indie’s coolness increases with every MOKB show. There are others doing great work in this area but I’m singling MOKB out since they are the clear leaders. How many of you reading this article know about MOKB? Did you go to a show this year? Chances are they were the promoters.

At the same time we are seeing a huge boom in the tech scene here. Monthly Verge meetings fill up almost immediately. Start Up Weekends are becoming regular, very successful events. New tech companies are popping up everywhere like mushrooms. Develop Indy and Tech Point are noticing and doing what they can, often behind the scenes, to help create the right conditions.

Many of these tech startups are populated with 20 something kids that have grown up on Indie Rock. MGMT, Sufjan Stevens, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Arcade Fire, etc. These tech “kids” love music almost as much as code.

So you have a bunch of fans on one side that want to go to shows (local and national acts) and on the other side you have bands (local and national) that need tech help and fans. When you start to bring these two scenes you have some amazing synergies. This is what Omaha is witnessing and it is an affordable, effective tactic that Indianapolis should pursue as well.

How do we do this?

We need venues and we need audiences. Mostly audiences. Tech companies need to consider sponsoring bands, helping them with their tech and marketing needs. If Exact Target, for instance, wants to attract and retain top talent then they why not send out of state prospects a mix of local music? Why not sponsor a showcase at the Vogue? There are endless creative ways to cross-pollinate and collaborate between the tech and music scenes. So let’s tear down the wall and start making it happen. Connecting the Indie Rock and Tech scenes will create new jobs and grow our economy.


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Check Me Out On The Latest Podcast

Check Me Out On The Latest Podcast

I am a huge fan of and its fearless technology ninja leader @BrandonCorbin.  Earlier this week I had the pleasure to spend an hour talking with Brandon on episode 20 of his great @8ify podcast series.  I think it turned out pretty good, and we talk about what’s going on around Indy, about designing sewers (not kidding), and other wine/bourbon induced topics.

You can listen to the podcast here, or you even better, subscribe to the whole podcast series on iTunes.  You may note that the logo to the right has a really neato caricature of none other than Brandon Corbin himself.  This is way cooler than the stuffy picture of me wearing a tie that continues to circulate the Internet and is shown on the podcast page.

If you have any interest in recording a podcast, or if want to know more about why you SHOULD be recording a podcast for your business, you need to check out Brandon’s podcast production studio Digital Good Studio!  Tell him sent you, and maybe he’ll give me a cookie.

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Tech startup?  Yes?  Sign up for The Innovation Showcase Now!

Tech startup? Yes? Sign up for The Innovation Showcase Now!

As I blogged about a few weeks back, there is a great event for Indianapolis tech community coming up on July 12, 2011 – The Innovation Showcase.

The Innovation Showcase, hosted by the Venture Club of Indiana and Verge, is a venture capital conference for fundable companies to present their business idea. It showcases over 50 high potential companies in the areas of information technology, alternative energy, life sciences, medical devices, and industrial products, that are commercializing market changing, cutting-edge technologies. Guests range from a diverse network of more than 300 venture capitalists, angel investors, business executives, and other entrepreneurs.

I honestly think this year’s Innovation Showcase could be a threshold event/moment for Indy.  The venue is HUGE (hello Developer Town)!  The co-host is the hottest tech startup event in the universe (hello Verge).  There is a ton of buzz around town, regionally, and nationally about Indy and its startup movement.  Everything seems to be aligning for this event to take all of that buzz, vibe and energy and blow it out in one great night highlighting the best of what is happening here.

In a nutshell, it is going to be awesome, and potentially a watershed moment for Indy.

So…if you have any interest in helping Indiana / Indianapolis continue to evolve as a leading place to start and grow a business, particularly with respect to cutting edge technologies, you need to participate in this event.  Why wouldn’t you?  There are two ways:

  1. Are you a tech type startup?  Then you need to be an exhibitor.  Period.  Go here, and sign up NOW.  You can thank me later.
  2. Are you an investor?  Startup junkie?  Technology junkie?  Love all things Indy?  Then you need to register here NOW.  You can also thank me later.

See you there!

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“Young Entrepreneur Auction” Bill Passed In March – Why Doesn’t Anyone Know?

“Young Entrepreneur Auction” Bill Passed In March – Why Doesn’t Anyone Know?

A couple of months back I blogged on here about a bill that at the time was making its way through the Indiana state senate – The “Young Entrepreneur Auction” Bill.  The bill has excellent potential to help keep some of Indiana’s entrepreneurial college grads in this state.  There is not really much to dislike about a program that can be implemented with almost zero fiscal impact, although with even a small budget behind it, the program could have been opened up to more than just entrepreneurs that are 3 years or less years removed from a state entrepreneurial studies curriculum.  Still, it is a step in the right direction.

What puzzles me, though, is that nobody seems to know anything about it, despite having been signed into law by Governor Daniels in March.  Small communities I have spoken with that are ACTIVELY offering incentive packages to startups know nothing about this bill.  Representatives I spoke with from DevelopIndy had never heard of it. Tech incubators and accelerators had never heard of it either.  In the social media age, how can this happen?  I realize the bill is still relatively hot off the press, but maybe this speaks to a fundamental problem we have in this State.  State government sticks to itself.  Local governments stick to themselves.  And for the most part, state and local governments are saving up incentive packages for the easy hit out of the park – the startups that are no longer startups – that give them the most press at the time they give an incentive package. Lets hope this bill gains some momentum and changes that.

Cities like Shelbyville get this, with their Intelliplex facility that is providing lease deals and actual capital to promising early stage tech startups that can meet certain workforce growth requirements over a span of time. How smart will Shelbyville look if ends up being this area’s next Angie’s List?  How smart would Indianapolis have looked had they jumped on white hot Slingshot SEO’s bandwagon 2 years ago?  I am all for offering incentives to the Slingshots and ExactTargets of this state (they deserve it for sticking around) – but how many promising Indy metro area startups never make it because they don’t have enough funding / support?

Maybe larger cities like Indy feel they have way less to gain by supporting early stage startups.  And maybe that is where private companies like Developer Town come into play.  Who knows?

What do you think? If you can articulate a thought and not ramble like I just did – please leave a comment.


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The Innovation Showcase + (Verge + Developer Town) = Awesome

The Innovation Showcase + (Verge + Developer Town) = Awesome

For the past two years, the Venture Club of Indiana has hosted an event called the Innovation Showcase.  The event in the past has drawn 40 startups and 350 investor-types to the Purdue Research Park in Indy.  A great idea, and great way for businesses looking for funding to find local people looking to invest.  I am a fan of anything that helps the entrepreneurial community in Indiana grow  – but I have never had the desire to go (probably because I have never been invited). I won’t be missing it this year though.  3 reasons:

  • Verge
  • Developer Town
  • Developer Town’s GIGANTIC new digs
  • (and a 4th, it is open to the public so even lame blogging attorneys like me can get in the door).

If you don’t already know, Verge is the ridiculously awesome monthly event that brings together the Indy tech startup community (200+ at each event) for pizza, beer (shout out to @thr3ewisemen, an @brewhouse production), 5 minute pitches, and most importantly, great networking with some of the brightest tech and startup talent around.  This year Verge is throwing its hat in the ring as a co-host for the Innovation Showcase, and I imagine that means this event will take on a whole new look and vibe.  Consider also that Developer Town, the Indy venture development shop that is changing how non-technical people get early stage tech ventures off the ground (one little house at a time), is not only a sponsor, but will be physically hosting the event in its ambitious and groundbreaking new MONSTER facility just south of Broad Ripple, and I sense this could be the start of something big for Indy/Indiana.  Don’t get me wrong – Venture Club is great and it has ties to lots of big players in central Indiana – but The Innovation Showcase was never going to become a destination event like it may now with Verge and Developer Town involved.  Those organizations are young, hungry, hip…and right now they are white hot.  They are run by some of Indy’s most passionate entrepreneurs (@hunckler, @mecloran, @nathanjaltman, @YawA, @jcorwin6…the list goes on and on) – and they are the kind of people that will claw and scratch if need be to make this event something special.  They also have lots of Twitter followers and Facebook friends/fans – so that helps.

The Innovation Showcase 2012 =  Midwest SXSW (would that be MXMW?)  Maybe…

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The “Lean Start-up” Process

The “Lean Start-up” Process

I recently stumbled across the “Lean Start-Up” Process, a term coined by Eric Ries, 31, an engineer, entrepreneur and blogger. His inspiration was the lean manufacturing process, fine-tuned in Japanese factories decades ago – which focused on eliminating any work or investment that doesn’t produce value for customers.  This is a concept I am familiar with in my solo, virtual law practice – operate lean and focus only on providing good legal service.  Any effort or energy expended otherwise is of no benefit to me nor my clients.

Part of the this process also involves developing a “minimum viable product” that will please some customers, and then build the business from there, responding and reacting rapidly to market responses to product changes.

This process kind of precludes developing a formal business plan – which I do not totally agree with.  I see too many startups, particularly tech startups that do not have the luxury of significant outside funding and investors/advisors that bring business acumen to the table , flounder on the business side of things even when they have developed a great application.  Sure there are exceptions, and a business plan is not always absolutely necessary – but without some sort of focus on making a startup idea / startup application into a real, money making, viable business entity – long terms success is difficult to come by.

Below is a great slideshow that illustrates the process.

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Listen to the Podcast with Matt Hunckler

Listen to the Podcast with Matt Hunckler and Brandon Corbin (@brandoncorbin) has started running a series of podcasts that, although only 9 episodes deep, has been fantastic.  Lots of local tech and startup gurus have been featured – so I encourage you to 8iFY on iTunes or the Podcast RSS Feed.

The latest podcast featured Matt Hunckler – who Brandon describes as:

…a non-stop startup adventurist and the driving force behind the hugely popular Indianapolis Startup meetup known as Verge (formerly known as Hackers and Founders). Matt is the Chief Evangelist of and is the Director of Marketing for Slingshot SEO.

Take a listen – Matt has a good story and a very fresh perspective.

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The Entrepreneurship Advancement Center – A Great Resource for Small Businesses

The Entrepreneurship Advancement Center – A Great Resource for Small Businesses

A few weeks ago I was introduced by Lorraine Ball (President of @roundpeg) to an economic development initiative in Hamilton County called the Entrepreneurship Advancement Center. Cathy Langlois, Executive director of EAC (@go_eac), was kind enough to answer a few questions about EAC, which you will find below.  They have a number of great initiative to advance entrepreneurship in Hamilton County, including a business plan competition that culminates with the winner receiving a package of professional consulting services.  If you are an entrepreneur or small business in Hamilton County, make sure you check out EAC!

Can you give us a little background about the EAC?

The Entrepreneurship Advancement Center (EAC) started as an initiative of the Hamilton County Alliance (HCA), the county’s economic development organization. HCA had a study done on Hamilton County for the purpose of developing an entrepreneurial strategy for economic development. The study recommended a number of actions and the HCA board decided to support entrepreneurship education in the high schools. In 2009, the HCA board suggested expanding the initiative and decided to spin-off the initiative into its own 501(c)3. EAC became its own organization on January 1, 2010 with a mission to foster and advance entrepreneurship with a focus on Hamilton County.

How does the EAC help entrepreneurs?

EAC is a central point of contact for anyone interested in starting a business or growing an existing small business. EAC recognizes that there are many good resources and organizations that already exist to help businesses get started and our role it to connect people to those resources. When we see gaps in resources, we will fill them. In our first year, we have offered education programs and networking events. In addition, we connected business owners to other business owners or service providers that they need to start or grow their businesses. For example, we connected the three finalists in our business plan competition to people who could help them refine their business ideas. All three finalists felt that the people they talked with provided guidance and suggestions that greatly strengthened their business plans. We also had businesses pitch to our board members and if the board members had a connection they felt would benefit those businesses, they connected them.

Tell us about the Business Plan Competition the EAC hosts.

The competition is open to any new business or existing small business that wants to grow. The business owners develop a business plan to be submitted in the first round with the top plans selected as finalists. In the 2010 competition, there were 3 finalists. The finalists were connected to one or more business leaders who could help them revise and improve their plans. The revised business plans were resubmitted to be evaluated by a panel of 3 business professionals. The finalists also made a presentation to the panel as if they were asking for funding for their businesses. The plan that received the top score on the written plan and the pitch received a consulting services package to help them with their business. The services included legal from Baker & Daniels, accounting from Katz, Sapper, & Miller, business management from The Anker Consulting Group, marketing from Roundpeg, and IT from L5 Solutions.

The 2010 winner was Beth Johnson from Fish Face Photo.

Any EAC events or programs coming up that you would like share?

March 8: Networking event in Noblesville
April 19: Business Killers seminar led by WestPoint Financial Services

Watch the website for details on:

The second annual business plan competition.

A  fall program on the economic forecast.

In your opinion, what makes Indiana a great place to start a business?

In my opinion, Indiana has been focused on entrepreneurship especially in for the past 5 years or so. There are efforts in various industry sectors to develop business ideas, especially in the tech sector. There are also strong entrepreneurs living in Indiana that attract others. For example, Scott Jones, ChaCha, has been critical to the advancing tech efforts in Indiana. Indiana also has excellent resources in the universities–Indiana, Purdue, Ball State, and Butler to name just a few. These institutions have made valuable contributions to creating an entrepreneurial culture in Indiana.

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