Archive | Featured Indiana Startups

Featured Startup – Stikeleather Apparel Group

This article was orginally posted by our friends over at Startup Spectator.  Since they are so cool they let us post it here as well!

Indy has been a tech startup hotbed for years, encouraging entrepreneurs to innovate, monetize and proliferate. Eac

h month, there’s a new company (or idea that will soon become a company) sprouting up. But it isn’t very often that we hear about a new company working to bring some of that high-tech energy into a clothing line. Stikeleather Apparel Group endeavors to do just that: creatively merge tech-world gadgetry with designer threads.

 

Born and raised in Indy, Ian Stikeleather is a homegrown inventor. But, he’s not one to merely sit back and enjoy thinking up wild ideas – he implements them, integrating far-out dreams with practical, hands-on prototypes. A graduate of Ball State University (Entrepreneurship) and the Art Institute of Indianapolis (Fashion Design), Ian has put together a team that is on the cusp of launching their first clothing line. And, being an inventor by nature, he isn’t just putting out “a clothing line” – he’s building an entirely new way of interacting with the garments he (and his team) creates.

With their new clothing line, Affectation, each piece is able to transform into a variety of looks. Fancy a striped collar? No problem. Brass buttons instead of plain white ones? Okay. The cuffs, buttons, collars, lapels, and countless other details are detachable and interchangeable with no sewing whatsoever. Simple customization is the key to Affectation’s allure. Your outfit seriously has multiple personalities.

When asked how he came up with this detachable/interchangeable idea, Ian began sharing about a different invention of his: Human Habitat. Human Habitat is a line of clothing that allows wearers to control the garment’s temperature. In the summer, you can flip on the A/C with a wrist-mounted controller. Winter? Turn on the heat. One outfit, heated and cooled, ready for any weather. As Ian began tweaking the temperature-control unit (slimming it down, making it less noticeable), he needed a way to easily remove and replace the electronic heating and cooling modules (in order to clean the garments). Bored of zippers, velcro, buttons & the like, he began researching magnetics. Without giving away the secret to his provisional patents (one for each line) he has found ways to attach and interchange all sorts of interesting things to garments.

When asked what his goal was with Stikeleather Apparel Group, he said, “I want to start brands that own patents. I come up with a breakthrough idea or technology, and then begin building a brand around it. That’s why I called it Stikeleather Apparel Group, and not just Stikeleather Apparel.”

You can find Ian and Stikeleather Apparel Group at the Innovation Showcase on Thursday the 12th at Developertown. Ian is also a founding board member of Pattern, Indianapolis’ fashion community meetup group.

 

Posted in Featured Indiana StartupsComments Off on Featured Startup – Stikeleather Apparel Group

Featured Startup – MyJibe.com

Featured Startup – MyJibe.com

Today’s featured Indiana startup business is MyJibe.com – a personal finance planning tool that “enables you at any moment to know how much you can spend, when you can afford what you want and if you’re on track to reach your savings goals.”  I first learned about MyJibe back in February when they presented / launched at the Verge event that month.  I said it then and I’ll say it now – these are easy guys to root for and they have what appears to be a very unique and sensible approach to solving many of the basic, everyday money problems most people face. Read Mike’s interview below, then go sign up for the personal finance wizardry that is MyJibe.com.


How did you come up with concept for your business, and how/when did the business model for that concept become clear?MyJibe: Confidence. Purpose. Peace Of Mind. For You And Your Money.

The need for a better personal finance product came from personal pain.  I just wanted to know “what can I afford to spend?” and “am I on track toward savings goals?” and no product really gave me that.  The business model to support it came from experience in banking and technology.  There are 16,000 U.S. banks and credit unions, and, as consumers increasingly bank online, the competition is fierce and existing technology is behind the times. MyJibe offers modern technology and a way to create stronger, more profitable customer relationships.

What made you first believe that starting a business is right for you (i.e. as opposed to working for someone else)

It’s the same reason why I married my wife…I couldn’t not.  It was a problem that needed solving and we were uniquely positioned to solve it.

What challenges have you encountered?

Dilution.  There are an amazing number of large and small things that need to be done at the same time

What sacrifices have you made to start your business?

I quit the well-paying corporate job with great bennies to work 16 hour days and eat PB&J.  I think my wife made the biggest sacrifice though.

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

The support system.  Everyone genuinely wants to see others win and will go out of their ways to help make it happen.  Momentum around the startup scene is building.  It’s great to see organizations and investments like the Orr Fellowship bearing fruit and playing real contributing roles.

If you could give an entrepreneur looking to start a business one piece of advice…what would it be?

Be wary of the “build it and they will come” biz dev strategy.  As soon as possible, shorten the distance between your solution and the person who will pay you for it, preferably before you build the product.

Stat Sheet: MyJibe


  • Business Name: MyJibe
  • Website: MyJibe.com
  • Facebook Fan Page (if applicable):http://www.facebook.com/pages/MyJibe/105520616173325
  • Twitter Account (if applicable):@MyJibe
  • Your title at the business: Michael Langellier, CEO
  • When was the business founded: 2010
  • Business Description in 140 characters or less:  MyJibe is a web-based budgeting & personal finance platform helping banks & CU’s create more loyal & profitable customer relationships.

Posted in Featured Indiana StartupsComments Off on Featured Startup – MyJibe.com

Featured Startup – PolicyStat, LLC

Featured Startup – PolicyStat, LLC

Today’s featured Indiana startup business is PolicyStat, LLC, a Mira award-winning software-as-a-service company which provides healthcare document management solution for hospitals, outpatient clinics, labs and integrated health systems.  It is led by a ridiculously strong management team, starting with President Steve Erlich, who gives some great insight in this interview.

Policy and Procedure Management SoftwareTell us about your startup…your words…whatever you want to say.

PolicyStat, LLC is the manifestation of most economic development leaders’ visions of how a high tech industry will be built and sustained in Indiana. It is a company founded and managed by a group of people who developed essential skills while building other successful high tech companies in the state (e.g. Software Artistry, Aprimo, Pan Testing, Exact Target, Interactive Intelligence, Angel Learning and Autobase); it is a company with capital that was reinvested from liquidity transactions at many of the same companies; it is a company that is in one of the hottest technology spaces today (healthcare IT), attacking the opportunity with current technology (cloud computing, open source technology, and offered software-as-a-service); and it is a company whose software engineering efforts are led by a 2007 graduate of Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. We are the prototypical Indiana early stage company with the credentials to serve as the poster child for many of the economic development efforts around the state.

How did you come up with concept for your business, and how/when did the business model for that concept become clear?

The founders of PolicyStat established the company to commercialize a product concept developed during a consulting engagement they performed for a hospital in northern Indiana. The original business plan was developed by one of the founders in a class at IUPUI. Its expressed intent was to transform the Intranet site developed in the earlier consulting engagement into a software-as-a-service offering designed to manage the lifecycle of important reference documentation (e.g. policies and procedures) for healthcare facilities.

What made you first believe that starting a business is right for you (i.e. as opposed to working for someone else)

My entire career has been spent in entrepreneurial software companies. Almost without exception, each move I’ve made in my career has been to a company that is smaller than the prior one when I joined it. I realized early on that the thing I am most passionate about is creating something and fostering its early growth. Startups are where the “rubber meets the road” in the free enterprise system, and they are a great place to be applying my talents.

What challenges have you encountered?

Every early stage company encounters its own challenges. Challenges can come from all angles – the marketplace, the economy, technology, employees, etc. Some of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered include: deciding how to shrink a company’s workforce when market conditions or business models change; getting stock option-holding employees to realize that an IPO is not an end, but rather a means to an end; and raising money during the months following the Lehman Brothers collapse.

What sacrifices have you made to start your business?

Cash is king in a start up. Continuously moving to smaller companies has meant that strict salary growth has had to receive less emphasis in my overall view of compensation. Almost without exception my cash compensation has decreased each time I have accepted a position at a new early stage company. I received no monetary compensation at PolicyStat for my first nine months here, and even after three and one half years my overall cash compensation is still less than what it was when I left my last company.

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

Mitch Daniels and his administration have done an exceptional job aligning the tax policy, incentives, and logistical support within Indiana to foster small company success. The State of Indiana’s efforts are further helped by a sense of community among the majority of Indiana’s high tech industry participants who all seem to realize that when one company wins we all win.

If you could give an entrepreneur looking to start a business one piece of advice…what would it be?

Great companies are bought not sold; so make it your priority to build a great company if you want to maximize your personal investments in it. When you set out to build a great company, make sure to do so for all of your stakeholders – customers first, employees second, community third – and the rewards will come for your shareholders. There is no guarantee of success when you set out to build a great company, and it takes infinite patience and a lot of faith to get there

 

Stat Sheet: PolicyStat,LLC


Policy and Procedure Management Software

  • Business Name: PolicyStat, LLC
  • Website: policystat.com
  • Facebook Fan Page (if applicable): http://www.facebook.com/pages/PolicyStat-LLC/123331444358877
  • Twitter Account (if applicable):@policystat
  • Your title at the business: Steven M. Ehrlich, President
  • When was the business founded: 2006
  • Business Description in 140 characters or less (or not): Located in Indianapolis, Indiana, PolicyStat is an award-winning policy management software company which provides an industry leading healthcare document management solution for hospitals, outpatient clinics, labs and integrated health systems. PolicyStat’s mission is to enhance healthcare through simple, powerful and reliable web-based solutions that help people manage and disseminate vital information.

Posted in Featured Indiana StartupsComments Off on Featured Startup – PolicyStat, LLC

Featured Startup – HauntedFlower.com

Featured Startup – HauntedFlower.com

Today’s featured Indiana startup business is HauntedFlower.com, a startup that sells (not flowers that are haunted) licensed t-shirts to nerds everywhere via the magic of the Internet.  What is cool about that you ask? The startup is run by two people (husband and wife), out of their home, using super efficient order fulfillment – which means they don’t keep their basement and garage stocked with t-shirts – and they project doing $2 million in sales this year.  Sounds pretty damned cool to me.

Tell us about your startup…your words…whatever you want to say.

I like to remind myself that in 2007 I stated that nobody would ever want to buy a t-shirt online. It is a great reminder to be open minded and flexible, and the try things that don’t always aline with common sense. I still eat those words today, and enjoy every minute of it. We currently sell about 200 tees per day to customers all over the US. I am very excited about facing the new challenges of international markets and continuing to take market-share from other major online players. Haunted Flower was started in the “two-bedroom” of a tiny two bedroom apartment with about $300, and that is the only investment and/or seed money received to this day. We hope to have revenues of $2 million in 2011, and we see business continuing to grow exponentially in the future as online shopping becomes even more popular than it is today.

How did you come up with concept for your business, and how/when did the business model for that concept become clear?

The concept came when I was still working as a store manager for a national chain with shops in malls across the country. I was something of a turn-around expert and I was moved around a lot to stores that needed a shot in the arm. This meant my wife had to look for new work and start at the bottom of the ladder at least once a year, we moved about every nine months back then. I had the idea to start an eBay business buying things on clearance sales and reselling them out of our home.

The actual business model we use today only became clear in the last 12 months. The concept and mission was always simple, to get products our customers want into their hands. Building the product pipeline
around that involved a lot of trial and error. We used to ship everything out of our garage, at one point we bought a house that was more like a warehouse than a home, it had five bedrooms. We used four for storage and one for sleeping. When processing thousands to t-shirt products became unrealistic we took a turn towards automation.

Today the vendors actually package and ship our merchandise to a fulfillment center that packs and ships orders to customers. As owners we rarely even see the product. Customer service, inventory management including ordering and returs, web design, product design and general store management are all outsourced now. By the end of last year we completed a framework for the product pipeline that will remain completely scalable for as long as we can increase sales.

What made you first believe that starting a business is right for you (i.e. as opposed to working for someone else)?

Great question, I am not sure what the answer is. Unlike most employees turned entrepreneurs I was very happy at my job. I loved what I did in retail management, and I liked my supervisors and the corporate structure for the most part. I think that is why I took a very corporate management approach to my own company, and other business owners I know have commented that they believe it really contributed to the success of my business. There is something to be said for the discipline and accountability you have to learn as an employee. For example, I work out of the home. I could spend all day in my pajamas. Yet I have developed a bit of a dress code that I call the “Tight Pants Theory”. When I get up in the morning I get dressed as though I was still going to work for a company with a dress code. I don’t put on a suit and tie, but I wear respectable, clean khakis and a clean, comfortable shirt. I put on shoes that are similar to what I used to wear in my store before I enter my office. I enforce this dress code until I have completed the most crucial tasks of the day which usually takes about 3 or 4 hours, then I allow myself to change into shorts, sweatpants, pajamas, whatever. The motivation is that the dress code is a little less comfortable and forces me to treat my time seriously. I found quickly if I stay in sweat pants all day I am not half as productive..

What challenges have you encountered?

Most of them were internal to be honest. The hardest thing is still to operate in the grey area, making decisions and taking action when you don’t know for sure if you will be right. Every time I commit to a major purchase of inventory there is a chance customers just wont like it, or that they wont want to pay what I charge. I think you have to be an optimist without fooling yourself, and that can be a hard line to walk. Externally there are few challenges that can compare, we live in a world where information and opportunity abound if you have the courage to pursue it.

What sacrifices have you made to start your business?

To be honest, I found that the sacrifices to work for someone else were far greater. When I finally left my retail management job in Dec 2008 (which coincided with stock market crash and the economic crisis, scary times) I was amazed. I went from working 44 – 60 hours per week in someone else’s store in 2008 to working 3 -4 hour days in my house on my own business with financial rewards triple those of my previous job. I think it comes from what I did before I started my company. I put myself heart and soul into building my employer’s brand and balance sheet, and I worked myself to death doing it. I swear I still act like a 40 year old twenty-something. With that kind of work ethic and self discipline I found starting and running a company much simpler.

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

The people here. The last two places I lived were Ohio and Michigan, near Detroit. The economic pain the country has gone through has hit those places and the people who live there very hard. It is difficult to be optimistic and forward-thinking in those areas, and it is hard to find people who can motivate and inspire you. Indiana and Hamilton County specifically do not seem as effected, and you can find bright, successful people here to help inspire and motivate you to succeed. Environment is important, even working from home doesn’t protect you if all you hear when you step outside is negative negative negative. That is one reason I don’t watch the news or read the newspaper, I just talk to people and the people here in Indiana have a great work ethic, great values and great overall perspective. It is a fantastic atmosphere to be a part of as an entrepreneur.

If you could give an entrepreneur looking to start a business one piece of advice…what would it be?

Sell your product. There will be plenty of time to make business cards, register for sales tax, design a logo, website, so on. Just start selling your product or service on eBay, craigslist, Facebook, door to door, whatever channel suits your idea, get those first twenty sales/clients/whatever before you even think about something else. If you can’t sell the product, all those other things will be a waste of time anyway, and the sooner you find out if your product will sell the sooner you can move forward confident you have made the right decision in becoming an entrepreneur.

PS If I could give two pieces of advice, the second piece would be a reading list:

  • Rich Dad Poor Dad
  • The 4 Hour Work Week
  • Ready, Fire Aim

 

Stat Sheet: Haunted Flower, LLC

 

  • Business Name: Haunted Flower, LLC
  • Website: www.hauntedflower.com
  • Facebook Fan Page (if applicable): facebook.com/hauntedflower (10000+ fans!)
  • Twitter Account (if applicable):@haunted_flower
  • Your title at the business: Daniel Wagner, Founder
  • When was the business founded: 2007
  • Business Description in 140 characters or less: Haunted Flower specializes in officially licensed novelty apparel, especially t-shirts for men and women, teen through adult.  We carry high quality professionally printed tees that make fantastic gifts.

Posted in Featured Indiana StartupsComments Off on Featured Startup – HauntedFlower.com

Featured Startup – Dialawg, LLC

Featured Startup – Dialawg, LLC

Today’s featured Indiana startup business is Dialawg, LLC, a startup that provides a service that is near and dear to my nerdy attorney heart.  Attorneys have all sorts of ethical obligations to keep client communications confidential / top secret.  Some communications and documents are obviously more sensitive than others.  Email is by far the dominant way for attorneys (and anyone for that matter) to distribute information – but it is not always the most secure way to do it.  That is where Dialawg comes in – it provides a secure online platform for attorneys to share sensitive information with clients and other people – and keep in line with ethical requirements.  I just met these guys recently, and plan on giving it a whirl in my practice.

Tell us about your startup…your words…whatever you want to say.

Dialawg allows important conversations to be had online in a private, trackable, and organized manner.  We are a two-person, Indiana-based startup with a wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary.  Our clients simply “start a Dialawg” and then post messages, files, and form submissions as they like. Participants can be added at any point and receive access to everything in the Dialawg.  Features like real-time chat, simple conference calls, and IMAP integration make keeping people connected easy, and at the end of the day, a PDF audit report can be downloaded to verify activity within the conversation.

How did you come up with concept for your business, and how/when did the business model for that concept become clear?

My co-founder, Jeff, has been an attorney for about seven years.  After a few years of practice, he noticed the disturbingly commonplace use of unencrypted email to distribute highly sensitive information to clients, and he approached me with the idea of building an end-to-end encrypted system for transmitting messages and files.  We began by targeting the legal community with a simple solution, and soon realized that we had an opportunity to revolutionize the digital conversation for everyone.

What made you first believe that starting a business is right for you (i.e. as opposed to working for someone else)

I’ve been a creator since I was a kid: one of my first inventions was a reusable band-aid (which wasn’t such a big hit with adult audiences), and the clubs I started with my friends collected taxes and had loan services. I always knew that I’d have to run my own business to be truly satisfied, and every professional move I’ve made since has been another step in that direction. For me, having my own business is just about finding equilibrium.

What challenges have you encountered?

The biggest challenge for us has been getting the word out. As a small, largely self-funded operation, we haven’t had the luxury of hiring a lot of staff or making expensive marketing moves. We have to balance sales, marketing, and basic business activities with building a fantastic product. We were in operation for over two years before our system led us to the realization that context was the missing ingredient and that our customers should be starting “Dialawgs” with each other. Although staying so busy with the day-to-day operations has sometimes prevented us from being able to spend a lot of resources on reaching a wider audience, our hard work is now apparent in our solid, stable platform.

What sacrifices have you made to start your business?

Since we don’t have rich uncles or piles of gold in our garages, we’ve had to simplify our lifestyles and sometimes take on additional work when necessary. Before Dialawg, I had been working on another startup for almost three years. The long nights of coding are over (there’s only so long you can physically keep that up), but I’ve been hitting things extremely hard for over five years now. I’ve learned a lot about patience, humility, and the importance of a life-work balance.

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

The low cost of living and high quality of available services in Indiana has been a big benefit to our company–running an operation as ambitious as Dialawg on such limited inputs may not have been as possible in the Valley.

If you could give an entrepreneur looking to start a business one piece of advice…what would it be?

Patience and honesty are critical. Starting a business is relatively easy, but sticking it out and refining your work into something truly remarkable always seems to take longer than you might expect. Without being honest with yourself you can’t build a great product, and without being honest with your customers, you can’t expect reliable revenue.

 

Stat Sheet: Dialawg

 

  • Business Name: Dialawg, LLC
  • Website: www.dialawg.com
  • Facebook Fan Page (if applicable): http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dialawg/39955629978
  • Twitter Account (if applicable):@dialawg
  • Your title at the business: Colin Mathews, Co-Founder and Chief Technologist
  • When was the business founded: Winter ’08-’09
  • Business Description in 140 characters or less: Dialawg allows you to have a private conversation, accessible from anywhere, where parties may easily exchange messages, share files and collaborate on documents

Posted in Featured Indiana StartupsComments (1)

Featured Startup – WeeBehave.com

Featured Startup – WeeBehave.com

Today’s featured Indiana startup business is Wee | Behave, which is developing web based behavior and chore charts for kids and students. Personally I am pumped about this one because 1) I am just starting to use charts with my 4 year old daughter and 2) she loves playing with (breaking) my iPad. Seems if we can start charting via the web, I can whip the iPad out anywhere and update that chart with her – not just at home in the playroom. I spoke with Travis Ryan(@weebehave), sole founder and developer for WeeBehave about this new startup – check it out below. Also be sure to check out Travis with Brandon Corbin on the 8ify.com podcast (8ify.com = awesome).

Tell us about your startup…your words…whatever you want to say.

Many parents and schools use behavior and chore charts with their kids and students. Charts are also heavily used in homeschooling and special education. We are trying to make this more accessible and controlled. Practically no statistics or trends can be made from paper or magnetic charts. User interface and design is one of the foremost important things we concentrate on perfecting.

How did you come up with concept for your business, and how/when did the business model for that concept become clear?

The idea for WeeBehave started in March of 2010 when I wanted to find a way of doing behavior and chore charts on the web rather than waste paper. I quickly gathered more information about how charts are used in schools and also special education and it became abundantly clear that there was a real need for innovation. The business model has become much more clear recently due to so many teachers signing up for my service. While the service is free at the moment, I will be putting out more features both social and data driven that will be offered as the premium pay services of the freemium model.

What made you first believe that starting a business is right for you (i.e. as opposed to working for someone else)

I’ve always tried my hand in many projects since I can remember but this is the first one that seems to have really stuck with me and with my market. I can see this one sticking around for quite some time. 🙂

What challenges have you encountered?

The typical ups and downs of starting a business, starting and running it yourself, as well as having minimal time and resources to dedicate to it. It really takes perseverance to continue to expand under those conditions.

What sacrifices have you made to start your business?

I’ve funded this all out of pocket so far and I’m a man of little savings. A person has to be pretty creative and scrappy to be doing it this way.

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

I can’t say that I have much of an opinion on it, but I’ve been born and raised here, so I’d say it’s more about raising my children in this environment, more than running a business. You can’t have one without the other. If family life is good, that is one less thing to worry about when you’re running your business.

If you could give an entrepreneur looking to start a business one piece of advice…what would it be?

It might seem like a typical cliche, but the only way to get started, is to actually get started. I still feel the inherent forces that try to keep a person from pushing through, but it takes a real driven entrepreneur to ignore that and go for the glory (or failure) and not have regrets. I’ve failed or given up at many projects over the years, but I’ve had alot of fun doing them and surely have learned ALOT in the process..

Stat Sheet: WeeBehave

  • Business Name: WeeBehave
  • Website: http://weebehave.com
  • Facebook Fan Page: http://facebook.com/weebehave
  • Twitter Account (if applicable): @weebehave
  • Your title at the business: Founder
  • When was the business founded: March 2010
  • Business Description in 140 characters or less: We provide online behavior and chore charts to Parents and Teachers.

Posted in Featured Indiana StartupsComments (1)

Featured Startup – liloQui Digital Publishing

Featured Startup – liloQui Digital Publishing

Today’s featured Indiana startup business is liloQui Digital Publishing, which is developing a social publishing and reading platform for authors.  Started by an author who is tired of the traditional publishing game, liloQui hopes to help authors get their literary works published (to the cloud) and to open up conversations among readers.  Pretty cool idea.  I spoke with Ryan Brock (@ryanbrock), Founder and Publishing Director, about this new publishing platform  – check it out below.

Tell us about your startup…your words…whatever you want to say.

If all the world’s a stage, then authors and readers alike have lost their spotlight to an ensemble cast of agents, publicists, booksellers and businessmen. In today’s literary world, talent and passion often take a backseat to business and the bottom line while many talented independent writers go unpublished. At liloQui Digital Publishing, our vision is simple: give these authors a chance to step away from the rest of the cast by publishing them in the most immersive, viral, accessible way we can. With liloQui, there are no downloads, no new software and no expensive eReaders involved. Stored on the cloud, our works are vibrantly designed and effortlessly sharable. We make reading truly social, promoting conversation right within the world of the story and helping independent writers connect directly to their audiences.

How did you come up with concept for your business, and how/when did the business model for that concept become clear?

The whole idea behind liloQui began with a discussion between an author and a web designer. My partner, Josh Littlejohn, came to me with an idea to help me develop my own web presence as a writer by coming up with a really unique interactive website to showcase my work. The more and more we talked and researched and brainstormed, the more we began to understand just how much missed opportunity there was for authors to take full advantage of the power of the web. We realized that I wouldn’t be the only author interested in seeing what could really be done with a new approach to literature online. With that in mind, we began building a business model around digital publishing that makes use of HTML5 design standards, viral marketing and social reading.

What made you first believe that starting a business is right for you (i.e. as opposed to working for someone else)

For me, it’s all about passion. I think I can speak for myself and my other partners when I say that we decided to found liloQui because needed a place to really let our passion for what we do burn and grow. As an independent author, I recognized an opportunity to do something amazing for others who, like me, have struggled to get their work out there, to find an audience, to get published. I can’t say that I grew up aspiring to be a small business owner someday. I can, however, speak to my love of stories and the people who write them. Someone once wrote that your vocation should be where your greatest passion and the world’s greatest need meet. In my world, there is a great need for what we do at liloQui, and that’s why I started this business.

What challenges have you encountered?

Starting a business isn’t for the faint of heart, especially a publishing company. The entire publishing industry is in transition as everyone is trying to figure out how to enter the digital space. For us, the biggest challenge has been really working to keep our vision unique and relevant while learning how to communicate that vision. There are so many buzzwords flying around when it comes to digital publishing that it’s crucial for companies like ours to stick to our guns and be as true to our original vision as we can.

What sacrifices have you made to start your business?

Our team has been working tirelessly to build a brand, market our vision and develop a good product. When you run your own company, it’s downright impossible to keep your weekly workload down to 40 hours. All of us at liloQui have sacrificed huge portions of our social lives (not to mention many hours of good sleep) in the interest of making our vision come to life. But when you are as passionate as we are, these sacrifices are more like good opportunities. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

There is just a ton of great stuff going on here for startups and people who run them. All around the state there seems to be this buzzing culture surrounding small businesses, from annual events to monthly networking meet-ups to all sorts of groups and organizations dedicated to supporting and connecting small business owners to each other and potential supporters and clients. We have high hopes for all the connections we’ve been building in the state and I think everyone is just excited to witness and encourage the growth of new companies in Indiana.

If you could give an entrepreneur looking to start a business one piece of advice…what would it be?

This might seem a bit contradictory, but my advice is twofold: Stay focused and remain open. At liloQui, we have a very specific passion driving what we do, and it’s very easy to get sidetracked by any number of distractions. Don’t try to be all things to all people, just be yourself and do what you do best. Don’t sacrifice the vision that makes you unique and you’ll go far. At the same time, however, don’t ignore all the sources of inspiration and support that surround you. Share your vision freely and listen to anyone who wants to talk. Not everyone will have profound insight, but you never know who can push you, challenge you and support you.

 

Stat Sheet:  liloQui Digital Publishing

Posted in Featured Indiana StartupsComments Off on Featured Startup – liloQui Digital Publishing

Featured Startup – PocketTales.com

Featured Startup – PocketTales.com

Today’s featured Indiana startup business is PocketTales.com – and it is one that hits pretty close to home for me.  PocketTales is a tool that essentially adds a social game layer to books that kids read – which is a cool/fancy way of saying motivating/tricking them in to reading more.  I have two young girls, and I can attest to 2 things: 1) Anything that will motivate them to read more is awesome, and 2) Anything that involves a digital display is something my kids will use (my iPad was confiscated by my 4 year old 2 weeks after I bought it and I haven’t seen it since).  I am eagerly waiting for PocketTales to open its doors (for my kids, not for me)!  For the profile, I talked to Yaw Aning, the co-founder and CEO of PocketTales. He gives some great insight below, particularly with his advice about finding the right co-founder.   I have seen lots of good ideas and businesses go up in smoke because co-founders turned out to be incompatible for whatever reason.  You can also hear more about Yaw and PocketTales.com on the most recent 8ify.com podcast (by local technology rockstar Brandon Corbin).  Also be sure to check out the slideshare presentation by PocketTales.com at the 2010 SXSW at the bottom of the page.

Tell us about your startup…your words…whatever you want to say.

Reading is one of the most critical skills a child must develop. It lays the foundation for obtaining an education. When you ask any teacher or parent what the biggest challenge is when helping kids acquire reading skills, most will likely say its motivating them to read books in the first place. Pocket Tales has created a game layer on top of the books kids are reading to motivate them read and engage with any and every book they read. To play, kids create a profile. They add friends to their social network and compete with them to win points, and unlock prizes and virtual goods by answering trivia questions that leverage content from their favorite books. Passing these challenges also unlock other activities for kids to complete and earn points.

How did you come up with concept for your business, and how/when did the business model for that concept become clear?

We started our business by focusing first on a market we really enjoyed. We thought education, children’s publishing and digital reading were going to radically transform (we started the company before game-changing devices like the Amazon Kindle were even announced) and we were right on that hunch. Before we built anything, we talked with a lot of people (teachers, educators, publishers, parents, kids, investors, etc) and worked on a few different ideas before we landed on the concept for what Pocket Tales is today. It was a lot more about testing and iterating on ideas and seeing what the market responded to. Our business model still isn’t clear, but we’re taking the same approach to finding it as we did with the idea: testing a few concepts and seeing what the market responds to.

What made you first believe that starting a business is right for you (i.e. as opposed to working for someone else)

I’ve always loved taking ideas and concepts and watching them transform into tangible things. When starting a business, I found I had the opportunity to take part in the entire process of taking an idea and making it a reality. Very few jobs let you do that to the extent entrepreneurship does.

What challenges have you encountered?

I think JLM said it best on “The Herd Instinct”: “Entrepreneurship exists in the tiny space between madness and genius; and, its journey requires a few cross border violations across both madness and genius to get to the final destination.” When you work on a startup, you ride a very fine line between being in complete control and going insane, and its emotionally taxing. Managing those emotions while maintaining a clear head and resolved focus has been the biggest challenge thus far.

What sacrifices have you made to start your business?

In getting Pocket Tales off the ground, I’ve devoted all of the resources I have at my disposal. Starting this business has definitely put strain on my finances, personal relationships, my emotional state, and personal time. You have to live and breathe your product everyday, but I believe passionately in what Pocket Tales stands for so its made it easier to put all of those things on the line for the opportunity that it will succeed and have large social impact as well.

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

Access. The seasoned and successful entrepreneurs in Indiana are devoted to helping develop our community, and they’ve made themselves extremely accessible. It’s great knowing that I can send an email to someone like Mark Hill, Kristian Anderson or Brad Wisler and get coffee on their schedules days later. They support budding entrepreneurs and that makes it leaps and bounds easier to build a business with such a supportive community.

If you could give an entrepreneur looking to start a business one piece of advice…what would it be?

Find a cofounder. Find one that complements, not supplements, your skills. There’s no way you have all of the skills necessary to make a business a success. And choose carefully, you will spend some serious time with this person. You’ll experience a lot of fantastic and terrible things with each other as you build your product, and you’ll definitely see the spectrum of their true colors in these settings. I like to think of finding a cofounder and starting a company as being the same as getting married and giving birth to a child. Besides helping you build your product, they are your support group, the one who helps vet your crazy ideas, and someone who can pick up the slack when you’ve hit a wall. And trust me, you’ll hit a lot of walls. More than anything though, they keep you sane when everything around you feels insane

 

Stat Sheet:  PocketTales.com


 


Posted in Featured Indiana StartupsComments Off on Featured Startup – PocketTales.com

What Makes Indiana a Great Place to Start a Business – Part I

What Makes Indiana a Great Place to Start a Business – Part I

Our mission here at IndianaStartup.com is to not only help entrepreneurs and startups by providing useful information from all of our guest bloggers – we want to get the word out about why Indiana is a great place to start a business (see tag line at top of screen).  One of the questions I have been asking each of our featured startups is “In your opinion, what makes Indiana a great place to start a business?”  Lots of people around this state have opinions on this topic – but really – who knows better than the people that are in the trenches.  I have included a summary post below of all the responses we have received to date.  Have something to add?  Leave a comment!

“In your opinion, what makes Indiana a great place to start a business.”

The people in Indiana—especially central Indiana—are wonderful. They are intelligent, hard-working, and proud of their state. They want to turn central Indiana into a hot spot of entrepreneurial activity, and they’re passionate about that goal. These people are the reason why the entrepreneurial community here is growing so rapidly. Another thing that makes Indiana a great place to start a business is the limited amount of government interference. Bigger governments in other areas can make starting and growing a business more difficult than it has to be.    – Matthew Barloh, Sales and Marketing Manager, Giggil.com

Indiana’s startup culture is beginning to gain national recognition. We have a history of creating some great online marketing and software companies. There is a lot of talent, and because the startup scene is still relatively small, the competition for that talent is not as great as it is in other areas.  – James Paden, Founder, Emailium.com

Indiana has a very active tech community. We’ve seen it with groups like the newly rechristened “Verge” and with Indianapolis Startup Weekends. Additionally, there are communities in Indiana that are interested in bringing in new businesses and are willing to help. We’ve been fortunate enough to partner with the city of Shelbyville, who wants to bring more tech jobs to their area and have funds budgeted for economic development. Communities like Shelbyville are becoming more proactive in bringing in jobs and it makes this a great place to start a business. – Andrew Morin, Cofounder, LifeShare Technologies

I love Indiana. I have started several companies here (from lawn care to .com’s to a real estate company) and enjoy the people, low cost of doing business, and opportunities. – David Hosei, Founder, eFamily.com

Indiana is a wonderful state, full of interesting people and strong demographics. As a marketer, Indianapolis serves the purpose of “concept” testing very well and is ideal for an endeavor such as launching your own online business. More specifically, the city of Indianapolis, has provided a great opportunity for profitability and growth for Snappening.com for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being its pending spotlight associated with the 2012 Super Bowl. While investment has slowed or stopped elsewhere in the country, the Indianapolis region continues to flourish to meet the demands of its industries. The ten-county region surrounding Indianapolis is literally “raising the game” with its high-profile event preparations. The most noteworthy of these preparations being the multi-billion dollar investments in new event facilities such as the Indiana Convention Center’s expansion (moving Indy from the 32nd to 16th largest meeting facility option in the nation) and the construction of the new JW Marriott.  Indianapolis has nowhere to go but up in our nation’s meeting and event industry profile, and we certainly want to be part of a collective effort to make this process the best it can be. Being a Hoosier native myself, I couldn’t think of any other place I’d rather start that right here at home. – Crystal Grave, Founder, Snappening.com

If I have learned anything in this process, it is that Indiana is just wide open for so many opportunities. There are many businesses that are absolutely booming in bigger cities that have not come to Indy, and I have also found that people are just so supportive of local business. Indy has a lot of great resources and a population that wants to see our city on the cutting edge. Tiffany Schutt, Cofounder, PrettyIndy.com

I’ve never seen anywhere as open to networking as Indiana and specifically Indianapolis. Also, once you’ve found a great networking group that meets the necessary requirements (same target audience, sales cycles, etc) they actually begin to work FOR you and with you to help you grow your business faster than you’d ever be able to alone. John Cannon, Founder, MyCarDoc

Indiana…like any place in the United States is a great place to start a business. That’s what I love about this country. We don’t live in a caste system. There are no limits to what you can do if you are willing to work for it. The United States is fertile ground for entrepreneurs. – Mike Reed, Cofounder, Guardian Tracking

Indiana is a great place to start a business for the simple fact of the incredible amount of support and network opportunities available to entrepreneurs throughout the state. I firmly believe that once a startup begins networking they will find that we have a small town “everyone knows everyone” environment. – Josh Koch, Cofounder, TheTyros.com

Posted in Featured Indiana Startups, Why Indiana?Comments Off on What Makes Indiana a Great Place to Start a Business – Part I

Featured Startup – Giggil.com

Featured Startup – Giggil.com

Today’s featured startup is Giggil.com, a startup with a simple yet brilliant business model – they take your used stuff and sell it online for you (right now just books, CDs, DVDs and video games – but I am guessing they won’t stop there).  Despite how prevalent selling used goods online has become, there are lots of people and organizations out there that either don’t have the time, the inclination, or the know-how to sell their stuff online.  Others just are no good at (me for one).  Plus there is more to selling books online than posting an ad on craigslist – at least if you want to be successful doing it.  The price needs to be right, the proper online marketplace needs to be identified, the books needs to be properly described…etc.  Giggil does this and more – streamlining the whole process.  Giggil is yet another example of innovative central Indiana entrepreneurs identifying a niche (a HUGE niche, right in plain site, that everyone else seems to have missed), and figuring out a way to commercialize it. I can’t wait to see where they take it next.

Tell us about your startup…your words…whatever you want to say.

Selling used goods online is broken. It is complex and convoluted, and it has left many people feeling confused and discouraged. Giggil decided we were going to do more than just simplify the process, we were going to improve it. In May 2009, Giggil took our first strides towards improvement by creating an easy, environmentally conscious alternative to selling online. Right now, Giggil is an online consignment shop for books, CDs, DVDs, and video games. We help individuals and organizations make more money with almost no effort by marketing and selling their books and media online for them

How did you come up with concept for your business, and how/when did the business model for that concept become clear?

The founders of Giggil wanted a business that could be profitable, and ultimately become national or global in scope. The founders also wanted to start small and without a lot of fundraising. Most importantly, the founders wanted a business that could change the world in a positive way. The trick was finding a big idea on which the business could grow once it had become cash flow positive. To determine which business met all those requirements, the founders debated hundreds of ideas, and the idea for Giggil came out on top

What made you first believe that starting a business is right for you (i.e. as opposed to working for someone else)

Giggil’s CEO likes to joke that brain damage in his childhood made him want to start businesses, but really I think it’s his ability to recognize opportunities for change in the world, and develop businesses that take advantage of those opportunities. When someone has the ability to recognize opportunities like that, the decision to start and grow a business probably comes naturally.

What challenges have you encountered?

We wanted to begin by selling all types of used goods online, but we had to sacrifice that desire in order to perfect our model and build a foundation for rapid future growth. So, we decided to start by selling just books and media. We’re glad we decided to start that way, but we’re excited to ultimately move into all types of used goods.

We’ve also had to sacrifice time and energy. Building a business is thrilling, especially for a great company like Giggil, but it requires a lot of dedication. Most of us work 60-80 hours a week, if not more than that, just to grow the business as quickly as possible.

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

The people in Indiana—especially central Indiana—are wonderful. They are intelligent, hard-working, and proud of their state. They want to turn central Indiana into a hot spot of entrepreneurial activity, and they’re passionate about that goal. These people are the reason why the entrepreneurial community here is growing so rapidly. Another thing that makes Indiana a great place to start a business is the limited amount of government interference. Bigger governments in other areas can make starting and growing a business more difficult than it has to be.

If you could give an entrepreneur looking to start a business one piece of advice…what would it be?

Value each and every customer very deeply. Your customers will be the lifeblood of your business; without them, your business will wither and die. So, it’s not enough to simply act like you care about your customers; you must really care about them and their success, because when they succeed, you will too. At the same time, monitor your customer acquisition costs and try to keep them as low as possible.

 

Stat Sheet:  Giggil.com

 

Posted in Featured Indiana StartupsComments Off on Featured Startup – Giggil.com

Powderkeg Conference
The Speakeasy - a place for Indianapolis-based entrepreneurs, startups, and the folks who support them to work, play, and collaborate
Launch Fishers

  • Latest
  • Popular
  • Comments
  • Tags
  • Subscribe
IndianaStartup.com on LinkedIN.com