Archive | Featured Indiana Startups

Featured Startup – Emailium

Featured Startup – Emailium

Today we profile a tech startup that personifies the thing that fascinates be about tech startups and their founders – Emailium.com.  I consider myself a relatively tech savvy person as far as non-developer types go – but the ideas and niches some of tech startup guys identify (and to an extent create) are just amazing.  I would have never guessed that a need existed for Emailium.com, but after talked to James, and seeing his answers below, it seems obvious there is a need for something like this.  Mark James down as another tech startup junkie that Indy is lucky to have.

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

Email marketing campaigns are hidden behind a subscription wall and stuck in the inbox. There’s no way to look at the history and no way to find campaigns except to search for campaigns you’ve subscribed to by date or sender. For most people, this isn’t a problem, but for email marketers, it’s a huge problem. Emailium is a big database of email marketing campaigns that solves this problem. Emailium allows email marketers to easily spy on the competition, fight designers’ block and analyze email marketing trends. For example, if you’re working on Christmas email design for your company or client, you can easily use Emailium to look at last year’s Christmas campaigns and find a lot of great design ideas.

Emailium is currently in a free beta period so anyone can sign up and give it a try. After we’ve completed a few additional features, we’ll start requiring a monthly subscription to use the service. I’d love any feedback on the service or functionality from IndianaStartup readers!

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

I’ve believed that I’m an entrepreneur before I could even spell entrepreneur. It’s just ingrained in my personality.

What challenges have you encountered?

I’ve been bootstrapping Emailium with only a small angel investment. It is definitely a financial sacrifice.

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

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.

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

Stop talking. Stop reading. Stop networking. Build something, today.

 

Stat Sheet:  Emailium,LLC


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Featured Startup – Just For You Senior Services

Featured Startup – Just For You Senior Services

Today we take a break from the tech startup scene – and profile a more traditional startup business – Just For You Senior Services, LLC.

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

Just for You is a licensed personal care agency by the State of Indiana Department of Health, Acute Care Division. We offer unique solutions to the aging population and their families by assisting with the various stages of aging and helping them cope with the difficulties and related stress. Our services consist of personal care, downsizing assistance, moving, housekeeping, home chores and repair, transportation / errands and much more. In addition to the services we offer a line of senior center products to enable seniors to remain independent in their own home.

We completed our market research and reviewed other segments but all the data pointed towards the elderly / senior market. With this data in hand we decided to develop a senior related business model. Since this type of business is regulated by the State of Indiana our start-up was a learning process concerning rules and regulations. We have started and own other businesses and knew what to expect in that regards but the senior market is somewhat different.

What challenges have you encountered?

Once we completed our research it was clear to us what market segment we should target. With the substantial growth of the senior population over the next several years and the lack of presence in the market it was a clear choice. In order to set ourselves apart we offer unique solutions to the most common issues facing the elderly and their families. We remain flexible and listen to our clients; offering what they require at an affordable price.

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

I spent several years in the automotive industry which was a great learning experience and sometime rather rewarding but always wanted more. During the last two years of my 21 year automotive career I often found myself thinking of other opportunities and what I would do if I didn’t work here. While still working in automotive I received my MBA which truly opened my eyes to the possibilities of venturing out on my own. I have owned a human resource consulting and outsourcing company for the past two years and cannot imagine every going back to the daily grind of manufacturing. With the addition of the senior service company and with its possibilities, I am extremely confident that I made the right decision.

What challenges have you encountered?

Like most small start-up companies we struggled with financing. In the beginning it is very important to watch every penny and make every penny count.

What sacrifices have you made to start your business?

With every dream or anything worthwhile, there is trade-offs. As the owner you must be willing to give up more than you thought you would. For example; the security of a steady income and benefits, normal work hours, deferring problems to someone else, departments and possibly family time. To be successful you must have thick skin, be a problem solver, be willing to take ownership for everything, possess the drive to work hard to succeed and a great support group.

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

Do your homework; you can never be too prepared. Have a great support group who is willing to be candid and honest. Stay positive at all costs, this is your business and you cannot build it if you do not believe in it. Always remember who the client is and treat them with respect and understanding. Lastly, have more capital than you think you will need.

 

Stat Sheet:  Just for You – Senior Services, LLC



  • Website:  www.justforyouss.com
  • The People: Chris Kane, President/CEO
  • When was the business founded: 2010\

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Featured Startup – LifeShare Technologies

Featured Startup – LifeShare Technologies

Today we profile another Indiana tech startup – LifeShare Technologies.   These guys have a novel and gutsy concept – take the communications tools of choice for today’s youth (email, sms, social media) – and get them in front of and used by aging members of the population via the television.  If you think about how prevalent those forms of communication have become – it only makes sense to try facilitate their use by older segments of the population.  I can already envision getting a text from my grandmother (delivered from her TV to my iPhone) asking me to bring her over some cat food.  Thanks LifeShare!  It is worth noting that LifeShare just this week inked a deal with the City of Shelbyville, complete with some hefty incentives, to become the first tenant at the Intelliplex business incubator.  Congrats Lifeshare!

 

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

As family members age, it can become more difficult to stay in touch with them. Our lives are moving at an ever-increasing pace, and our methods of communication are constantly evolving. LifeShare technologies aims to encourage and simplify communication by allowing us to use those methods with which we’re most familiar – email, SMS, social networking, etc – while enabling the aging population to receive those message using a medium with which they are comfortable – the television. Our service aggregates these forms of communication, as well as other content such as news articles, and presents them to subscribers in a simple to use television-based interface.

What challenges have you encountered?

We are venturing into a market we have not worked in previously, which presents a challenge. Understanding your market is key, because the product you eventually sell rarely matches the concept you initially come up with – it has to evolve to meet the needs of the consumer. If you don’t have a full grasp on what your market needs, that evolution becomes difficult. We’ve learned so much already about both aging care and family communications, and that process is going to continue. Being as agile as possible with your product’s features and focus is key.

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

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.

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

Be flexible. As I mentioned, you never know what you’ll encounter or how the needs of your market will change. Unless you’re ready to adapt to what you see, you won’t make it very far.

 

Stat Sheet:  LifeShare Technologies,LLC



  • Website:  www.lifesharetech.com
  • The People: Andrew Morin, Josh Esslinger, Co-founders
  • When was the business founded: 2010
  • Twitter: @lifesharetech
  • Business Description in 140 Characters or less:  The goal of LifeShare Technologies is to keep the aging population connected with family and friends through technology.

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Featured Startup – eFamily.com

Featured Startup – eFamily.com

Today we profile another Indy tech startup – eFamily.com.  David Hosei, a serial entrepreneur and eFamily.com’s CEO answers some questions below.  Founded in 2010, eFamily.com is quietly building up quite a following.  They have an interesting take on creating “private” social networks, as well as the struggle lots of dot-coms have – free vs. pay services.

 

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

eFamily is a passion project that will change the world. It may be in a ‘small’ way, but its goal is to connect families in a private and secure place online to share content and connect.

We currently have over 7200 families that have signed up for the service and have over 227,000 profiles associated with the family sites. A profile can be defined as a member of the family tree. We’ve had over 100,000 stories, photos, videos, and comments posted to the site. We have a freemium model, which means that we offer both free and premium services. 99% (literally) are on the free model. We need to do a better job of converting users to premium services. For the free users, we provide advertisers a platform to message to our family focused demographic. We are actively pursuing brands that want to reach this market.

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

eFamily as a concept was conceived on my wife and I’s honeymoon. We were just getting ready to sell a .com that I was involved with since college and wanted to do something else in the Internet space. We were excited to be starting a family together and had family members across America. MySpace was the dominant player in the market for social interaction, but had a terrible privacy and connecting environment for families. So, we saw an opportunity and started building.

We attempted to build our idea two times in one way or another and failed both times. We finally merged with a company called Famiva.com to get us the technology suite that we originally dreamed of on our honeymoon.

We’ve known pretty much the whole time that the business model was a freemium service. At my previous .com (3GUPLOAD.COM), we had a freemium service and it worked really well for several years.

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

I had an opportunity to work for $5.15 an hour at McDonald’s as a 15 year old. I took the application and thought to myself this wasn’t for me. At about the same time, I was offered an opportunity to cut my neighbor’s lawn for $15. It took me 45 minutes to cut the grass – effectively making me $20 an hour. I did some calculations, while I was cutting (I always loved thinking about other things when I cut grass). I figured if I could cut 30 times a year and had 50 clients averaging $15, I’d make over $20,000 a season (which was a ton of money at the time for a 15 year old part-time worker). And so my entrepreneur career began. I ended up making over $40,000 in gross revenue during my years in high school and had several friends working for me. I loved and enjoyed it very much.

To your point about working for someone else, I don’t mind working for other people. In fact, during high school I was a bus boy for my grandmother’s country club on Friday and Saturday nights. I have had several bosses over the years and enjoy learning different styles, what not to do, and the stability of income.

What challenges have you encountered?

Getting traction in the marketplace has been a major challenge. Although we have 7200 families signed up, we need 100x that to make our model work effectively. Now, the question is do we change our model or are we missing the ‘killer application’. Working through whether we change our model has been a challenge. Figuring out what or if a ‘killer application’ exists in this space has been a challenge.

What sacrifices have you made to start you business?

I have made a lot of financial sacrifices to start this particular business.

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

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.

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

Find a great business partner that complements your skill set, has the time to dedicate to the business, and is passionate about the business.

Stat Sheet:  eFamily.com


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Featured Startup- Snappening.com

Featured Startup- Snappening.com

Today profile another Indy tech startup – Snappening.com.  Set to launch in the spring, Snappening.com will provide an comprehensive tool for for planning your own events.  What strikes me about Snappening in the profile below is how Crystal, Snappening.com’s founder and president, went to great lengths to research the site’s target market – something I think a lot of entreprenurs omit during the startup phase.  After you read the profile, make sure you sign up on Snappening.com – which also registers you for a chance to win a free iPad!  (details of our very own iPad giveaway will be announced soon).

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

Snappening.com is about creating conversations and community surrounding the event experience. We do that via a comprehensive website that is capable of starting the process for anyone who is planning an event – be that a birthday party, corporate meeting, wedding function or non-profit gala. We designed the site with consumers in mind, so that it not only helped people with the process of planning, but also focused on helping planners and venues meet more consumers who were expressed interested in their services and facilities along the way. Through extensive market research, we isolated the set of experiences that mattered most to our users – easy functionality, comprehensive listings, easy comparison tools, quick methods to contact providers and dedicated research materials to help provide advice for a variety of event types. Snappening will house theses tools for quick, efficient and cost-effective event planning. Perfect events can now be a reality for anyone at anytime.

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

Planning events and parties has become as straightforward to me as whipping up chocolate chip cookie batter is to Martha Stewart. I have always enjoyed organizing and hosting events – whether it was for work or for my family and friends. So it is easy to see that the concept for Snappening came out of my own work in and around event planning.

A few years ago a dear friend of mine was in the process of planning her wedding reception, and I offered her my help. I was able to navigate this process with a little effort, but that was mainly because I knew what I was doing and was familiar with the venues here in Indianapolis. I soon realized how daunting a task this could be for someone who wasn’t familiar with the industry or the local venues.

I spent some time researching venues online as my friend would have, and I soon realized that finding a comprehensive list of venues in Indianapolis was like searching for Bigfoot. Not to mention that surveying the venues and collecting proposals would take a newbie more hours (if not days) than the average time-pressed individual has to spend. I knew there had to be a better, faster and easier way for people (and venues) to connect the dots. (Not to mention the fact that professional planners were perhaps being left out of the equation altogether when their services could be an asset to some consumers who are either unfamiliar with or unsure about whether or not a planner may be right for them.)

And that’s how I came up with the idea for Snappening, a site that takes the burden off our shoulders so we can focus on what’s most important – making lasting memories with friends, family, colleagues and partners.

My business model became clear to me after my first round of research. I was left with a handful of options, none of which appeared to be designed with consumers and their needs in mind. That bugged me. It didn’t make sense that while the consumer was the one deciding on where to spend their money, it wasn’t easy for them to make this decision and navigate the 1,000+ choices this city has to offer.

Before we set out to build the site, we conducted a series of targeted focus groups and observational studies to ensure we did in fact understand what a wide variety of users wanted. We think we’ve accomplished that.

I enlisted a series of experts along the way to ensure we had a strong team who could focus on the most important elements of any good business. With the support of Beltrame Leffler Advertising for visuals, creative and advertising direction, Dittoe PR for all forms of media outreach, Cirrus ABS for technical design, functionality and SEO planning and Milestone Advisors for financial and strategic direction, I successfully identified the best ways to turn this business idea into a reality that will succeed, have a return on investment and provide an invaluable service for our community.

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

Starting your own business can be a very intimidating idea, but ultimately, I have always realized my desire to be my own boss. I consider myself to be a self-starter and I have never walked away from a challenge.

Throughout my entire life I have approached everything with an entrepreneurial spirit. Whether I was working for an employer or spearheading a committee, I have always looked for ways to carve out my specific role and prove myself to be a valuable asset to my team.

I have always wanted to do something that would be of value to a large number of people. And I thoroughly enjoy making things easier for people. I’m keen on unraveling a problem and getting down to the root of the issues at hand. What do we need to solve? Who’s involved? What’s crucial? How do we fit in? How do we add value?

Additionally, I have always been interested in the social connections we make with others, and events. I think it’s been in my blood since about age eight when I set about organizing my own “surprise” birthday party. (The only people who were surprised were my parents!)

What challenges have you encountered?

In the beginning, you sometimes find yourself trying to do it all. I promptly learned that this mentality can burn an entrepreneur out very quickly and turn something you love deeply into something you find overwhelming.

I avoided this path by making investments in engaging professionals in a variety of disciplines very early on in our process, long before we were talking about brining a service to market. By surrounding myself with very smart, strategic and resourceful people, I have added to the overall strength of the business. I note these partners on my website and continue to promote the value they have added to Snappening.com. This has turned out to be a very wise investment that I would recommend to any entrepreneur starting their own business. You can produce far better results more rapidly with the collective brain trust of your team.

What sacrifices have you made to start you business?

Like most entrepreneurs, starting your business means carving out hours of your life that were once consumed by other things and dedicating them to your new-found endeavor. Finding a balance between work and other parts of your life (love, friends, family, etc.) is a difficult task – one that I work diligently to maintain and stabilize. I am fortunate that my internal meter for knowing “when to walk away” for the night is strong and steadfast. I use this often and it serves me well.

I’d be remiss without noting that in addition to building a business that helps the community, it is equally important to me that I follow a community leadership philosophy based on volunteer work and financial contributions. While Snappening.com consumes much of my attention, I continue to find time to participate in outside organizations that are important to our community and serve the foundation on which it is built.

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

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.

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

Take your brilliant idea and outline it on paper. This sounds like a simple task, but don’t underestimate its power. You will be amazed at how your idea will transform itself into a real possibility.

After you have jotted down your outline, dig into the details. See if you can answer the hard questions about market force, pricing, competition, sourcing, etc. These answers will turn this possibility into a reality.

The next step is to do your homework. Don’t assume that what you believe to be true always is. Ask around, survey the competition and get additional input from a trusted circle of advisors.

Push yourself. Force yourself to think about what you need to do in order to go from where you are today to where you want the business to take you. Can you make the leap in your mind? If so, keep plugging along. Use each week to become a little more serious about making it a reality.

The last (and best) bit of advice is to always believe in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will either.

Stat Sheet:  Snappening.com


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Featured Startup – PrettyIndy.com

Featured Startup – PrettyIndy.com

From time to time we will be profiling some of the exciting startups and emerging businesses in Indiana.  Today we profile PrettyIndy.com – a blog-style online guide for women to all things beauty and style in Indy.  Founded in 2010 by two women with an “obsession” for cosmetics and beauty supplies, the site has gained quite a following and a ton of local buzz.  Of course my wife will be reading this post, which means she will now be reading PrettyIndy.com all the time, which also means our household beauty and style budget is going to skyrocket (and I am in big trouble once my daughters get wind of it).  Co-founder Tiffany Schutt shares some insight about Pretty Indy below.  Be sure to take a look at the site, follow them on Twitter, and like them on Facebook.

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

Pretty Indy was born from a smaller blog that was started early in 2009. After staying consistent with that blog, it got the attention of a couple out of town PR firms who were hosting events in Indy. I was asked to participate in those events as a “local beauty expert,” and it dawned on me that this little blog might really be something to pursue. At that point, I partnered up with Kelly Karrmann, who designed our logo as well as our site. Her knowledge of marketing and PR coupled with my blogging experience has made for a great partnership, and Pretty Indy has grown faster than either one of us could have imagined!

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

Pretty Indy has definitely been a work in progress. Because growth has been so fast, we are constantly re-visiting our strategies and ideas. The concept itself grew from my first blog gaining some attention, but the actual business model for that concept became clear when we saw the response from women on our Facebook page. We really saw that there was some sort of void in our market for this platform, and really decided that while our content can translate on a national level, it was of utmost importance to focus on local businesses and happenings.

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

Both Kelly and I have full-time jobs at this time, but strongly feel that owning our own business is right for us. The biggest perks of owning our own business come in the form of control over the way the business is run and flexibility in how we use our time. In addition, if you decide to start your own business, the likelihood is that you are doing something that is immensely interesting to you – even with the frustrations and challenges you are still motivated to work toward and meet your goals.

What challenges have you encountered?

I think because both of us do have full-time jobs, it is challenging to spend the time we would like to be spending on our business. Balance is always a challenge when you own your own business because you really can be working all the time – it’s hard to turn that off when you are home. I also think that you have to be so very self-disciplined to run your own business – let’s face it, there are many things that just aren’t fun to do but have to be done. When you own your own business, you really have no choice but to do those things! It can be a challenge to remain motivated at times for sure.

What sacrifices have you made to start you business?

Is time becoming a theme or what? I think that is probably the biggest sacrifice. Financially, we are lucky because there just is not a lot of overhead with a blog. Because a large portion of how successful we are comes in the form of traffic to our site, a lot (and I mean A LOT) of time is spent researching, promoting, writing, running Facebook and Twitter, and participating and running local events. On top of the other things going on in our lives, this can take a whole lot of time that might not necessarily be there to begin with. Passion, motivation, and drive are the things that make that sacrifice worthwhile.

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

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.

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

Go for it! Too often we are held back by over-analyzing (paralysis by over-analysis anyone?) and fear to take that leap of faith. Surround yourself with people who are supportive and honest, and DON’T QUIT. Had I just stopped writing my little blog posts (that I’m pretty sure only 5 people were reading), there would be no Pretty Indy. Period. Stay consistent and just go for it. You never know what could happen.

Stat Sheet – PrettyIndy.com:

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Featured Startup – My Car Doc

Featured Startup – My Car Doc

From time to time we will be profiling some of the exciting startups and emerging businesses in Indiana.  Today we profile MyCarDoc – not really a startup (its been around since 2004) – but still a very innovative business in its own way.  MyCarDoc ditched the conventional auto mechanic experience – and comes to you and your car.  Sometimes innovation doesn’t entail developing the latest and greatest technology – just figuring out a better way to make customers happy.

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

The Beatles were right. Money can’t buy you love. But it CAN buy you time. That’s what MyCarDoc.com does for you, we give you your life back. Who wants to spend hours wasted in a dealership waiting room? Who loves drinking stale coffee in that dirty lube-in-a-box? And who loves the high pressure sales that most mechanics try to put you through? That’s NOT what we do. We come right to your home or office to take care of your car; on-site. Your car never leaves the parking lot, you don’t leave the office. That’s right, we come right to you. We’re not just a mechanic service, we’re customer service.

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

A friend was running a similar business, but he lacked marketing skills and vision for a clear, defined path. He was also trying to run three different businesses and not able to pay proper attention to any of them to make them sucessful. He decided to close the doors down on one. So I used my last $60 in my account to get myself started. However, I’ve recently changed my business model and it’s been like starting a whole new business.

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

I had a friend that was running his own business; made it look easy. I thought, “Hey, if he can do it, I can make it work, right?” lol But honestly, now that I see the difference being a business owner has made in me, the direction it’s given me. Most importantly, how my kids react to me being a business owner instead of punching a clock. It’s been nice seeing them proud of me. I try every day to make sure I don’t let them down.

What challenges have you encountered?

I never knew how difficult it would be to force myself to learn new habits, tracking everything, working in the details instead of working in the bigger picture. Tracking every invoice, inventory, where/how I spend my time in order to be more efficient and effective. These are all habits and practices that I didn’t anticipate.

What sacrifices have you made to start you business?

I work a lot more hours than I used to, missing out on time w/my family and my kids. It took a long time for my dad to stop saying I needed to give this up and “get a real job”. That’s tough on a person, especially someone who was raised like me that if a man isn’t a good provider, then he’s nothing.

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

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.

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

Find good, strategic relationships; business owners that are looking for the same customers for different reasons. Join forces to help one another. A warm referral from a friend is worth more than 50 pieces of advertising and will lead to repeat business if you treat those customers right each and every time.

Stat Sheet – My Car Doc:

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Featured Startup – Guardian Tracking, LLC

Featured Startup – Guardian Tracking, LLC

From time to time we will be profiling some of the exciting startups and emerging businesses in Indiana.  Today we profile Guardian Tracking – an Anderson based provider of performance documentation software.  They have been around for a few years, and have quietly become an Indiana high tech success story.

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

The simple truth is we were a couple of cops with an idea and wanted to start a business.  Between Leon and I, we had over 60 years experience in law enforcement.  We had always recognized managing employee performance as one of the most critical task of an agency.  The problem was our agency, like most, did not have a good process for managing performance.  I’m referring to the routine documentation which reflect employee performance.  This data serves as the foundation for a variety of processes which take place in every law enforcement agency.  These processes include evaluations, promotions, early intervention, identifying training needs, employee awards, and discipline.

Guardian Tracking was our answer to this problem.  Guardian Tracking is flexible and easy to use.  It allows departments to change incident types to match those used by their agency and will adapt to the chain of command of any department. Retrieving the data in a simple, usable format is one of the highlights of Guardian Tracking.  Its ease of use and minimal training requirements enables our clients to have the software ready to use in a very short time.

Our initial marketing strategy focused on law enforcement agencies involved in accreditation.  But, we underestimated the universal appeal of the software.  Almost immediately, we began receiving inquires from fire departments, 911 communications centers, and HR directors; all wanting to know if Guardian Tracking was applicable beyond law enforcement.  We assured them the software was adaptable to any organization.  The results are we have now branched out to every type of organization involved in public safety.  We have entire cities using the software.  We even have a prosecutor’s office and hospital as clients.  If you have clients…you can use Guardian Tracking!

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

Leon and I have been friends for over thirty years.  We joined the Anderson (IN) Police Department in the late 1970s.  We worked together in patrol, became detectives, and retired at the rank of lieutenant.
Our business was born out of frustration.  The most critical task for any organization is managing employee performance.  Documentation is fundamental to this process.  Our agency, like most, simply did not have a good system for managing the information.

Leon came up with the concept for a piece of software in late 2006.  His first thought was to contact a software company with the idea, but he was politely rejected.  Leon then approached a software developer who agreed to write the software.  Leon then approached me with the idea and the company was born.

We spent most of 2007 developing Guardian Tracking and launched the software in December of that year.  The Carmel Police Department immediately became our first client. By the spring of 2008, it had become obvious that we could not continue to work at the police department and market a business in our off duty time.  We both retired to work full time on Guardian Tracking. Our initial approach was to market directly to law enforcement agencies involved in the accreditation process since those agencies tend to be more progressive.  We have since branched out to other organizations involved in public safety, such as; fire and 911 communications.  We have entire cities using the software as well as private sector organizations.  Our belief is if you have employees, then you can use Guardian Tracking.

We now have clients in 28 states and Canada.

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

We always believed we were making the right choice, but after our first major demonstration, it became crystal clear.  Early in 2008, Leon and I travelled to Chattanooga, TN to demonstrate Guardian Tracking in front of about 40 police agencies involved in the accreditation process.  Their reaction to the software was amazing.  We knew we had made the right decision and that we had created something special.

What challenges have you encountered?

Getting in front of the right person and getting them to take a look at our product.  Once someone sees Guardian Tracking, the software tends to sell itself.

What sacrifices have you made to start your business?

We used our own money to start the business, but the initial investment was rather small.  We also retired and both miss the law enforcement profession as well as the camaraderie we shared.  But, we find a great deal of satisfaction in knowing we are giving back to a profession we love. Perhaps the greatest sacrifice was made by our wives.  They had faith in us and we were willing to support our decision to retire from jobs with stable incomes to start a new business with an untried product.

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

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.

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

Believe in yourself.  All it takes to be successful is finding a product that people can use. Through our past frustration, we were able to come up with a product which helps agencies manage their most vital asset…their employees.  Starting a business takes courage.  Believe in yourself and your product…then go for it.


Stat Sheet – Guardian Tracking, LLC


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Featured Startup – TheTyros.com

Featured Startup – TheTyros.com

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

The Tyros sets a new standard for how athletic officials, assigners and coaches organize and schedule their careers. It provides a streamlined and simplified approach, which focuses on fundamentally easing the stress of those involved in the industry.

The Tyros is the only complete web and mobile application that allows athletic officials, assigners and coaches to streamline their business, while networking, all in one place. Assigners and athletic officials can share information and communicate like never before. This is a completely new and revolutionary way to accomplish every task, from planning an entire season schedule to obtaining a paycheck. The officiating and assigning industries will never be the same.

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

In 2008 driving home from a job that I knew was not going to last forever and I was literally hit with it. In 2001 I moved from the player and coaching side of sports to the Officiating side. I experienced first hand how unorganized and behind the times the officiating industry was. Not to mention, every tool for sports is for the players or the teams. There was nothing then and still never has been anything to help officials do their job more efficiently.

The business model became clear in July of 2010 when I assembled the “core 4” of The Tyros. After meeting others that shared my passion of sports and an Entrepreneur mindset, is when the magic began. In June of 2010 we wrote the Prospectus and begin researching the interest levels of the users.

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

We all have pretty large yet diverse personalities and the thought of working for ourselves is something that has been quite intriguing for as long as we can remember. We want to create jobs and opportunities for other people. It’s in the fabric of our makeup.

What challenges have you encountered?

Prior to July 2010, my largest challenge was finding the right team members. Finding talented individuals that believed in my idea was easy. However, finding individuals that had the ability to work for free until revenue or investments was very challenging. Post July 2010, we’ve been blessed throughout the process so far. The only challenges we’ve really experienced are where to look for funding & trying to stay patient to not rush such a delicate process.

What sacrifices have you made to start you business?

The answer you’re going to get across the board from our team is time with family. Almost all of us have small children so we get to work when our families go to sleep.

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

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.

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

Success isn’t given it is earned. If you aren’t willing to take a risk then don’t dream. We’re not guaranteed anything in this life and if you are genuinely excited about your idea/product then that will eventually become addicting to others.

Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.

Stat Sheet – The Tyros, Inc


  • Website: www.thetyros.com
  • Facebook Fan Page: http: //www.facebook.com/thetyros
  • Twitter Account: www.twitter.com/thetyros
  • About.me Page: www.about.me/tmont
  • The People: Tony Monteleone (President & CEO), Joshua Koch (Chief Operating Officer, Matthew Koch (Chief Financial Officer), Kyle Armstrong (Chief Marketing Officer), Michael Verdone (Mastermind of User Experience), Joseph Pugh (Mastermind of Programming)
  • When was the business founded: Incorporation was finalized on November 25th, 2010
  • Business Description in 140 characters or less: The Tyros is the only complete web and mobile application strictly for Athletic Officials, Assigners and Coaches.

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Featured Start-Up – TrackPack Coolers LLC

Featured Start-Up – TrackPack Coolers LLC

Trackpack_ltrhd-atrThose of you who have ever been to the Indy 500 – or any big motorsports event – know that transporting a cooler from your car, to a tailgate, to your seat, and then back, can be a major pain.  Andrew Shelton, the founder of TrackPack Coolers, LLC, identified this need and figured why not make a cooler that takes the form of a backpack…and why not also make it so the backpack cooler dispenses drinks without having to take the backpack off.  Brilliant!  Thus, the TrackPack Cooler was born.

TrackPack Coolers, LLC manufactures a proprietary insulated backpack cooler called The TrackPack that is capable of dispensing beverage cans without the need for putting a cooler down, opening it, and rummaging through ice to find the cans. Founded in March 2006, TrackPack Coolers LLC has been retailing since January 2007. In its first year of operations TrackPack sold more than 8500 coolers through less than 100 retail locations.
I actually own a TrackPack Cooler – and let me tell you – the thing is awesome.  The TrackPack® Cooler is a UNIQUE, proprietary backpack cooler – capable of dispensing 20 beverage cans. Each pack comes with 3 reusable freezer gel-packs (so there’s no leaking), a proprietary dispensing frame, and a water-proof liner (so the frame can be removed and the pack can be filled with just about anything…including ice). Inside each TrackPack® an internal plastic frame holds beverage cans stacked on their sides in four vertical columns – a lot like a soda machine. To keep everything cool, the frame holds 3 REMOVABLE & REUSABLE GEL-PACKS so your drinks will stay cold all day –WITHOUT ICE!!! When you’re wearing the patented TrackPack®, dispensing ports on either side of the bag can be opened to reveal the ice-cold beverages inside. It’s so easy! Just load it up and throw it on for a tailgate, party or event, all you’ll have to do is reach back and grab a cold one.

TrackPack Coolers, LLC manufactures a proprietary insulated backpack cooler called The TrackPack that is capable of dispensing beverage cans without the need for putting a cooler down, opening it, and rummaging through ice to find the cans. Founded in March 2006, TrackPack Coolers LLC has been retailing since January 2007. In its first year of operations TrackPack sold more than 8500 coolers through less than 100 retail locations.

Gray with CansI actually own a TrackPack Cooler – and let me tell you – the thing is awesome.  The TrackPack Cooler is a UNIQUE, proprietary backpack cooler – capable of dispensing 20 beverage cans. Each pack comes with 3 reusable freezer gel-packs (so there’s no leaking), a proprietary dispensing frame, and a water-proof liner (so the frame can be removed and the pack can be filled with just about anything…including ice). Inside each TrackPack an internal plastic frame holds beverage cans stacked on their sides in four vertical columns – a lot like a soda machine. To keep everything cool, the frame holds 3 REMOVABLE & REUSABLE GEL-PACKS so your drinks will stay cold all day –WITHOUT ICE!!! When you’re wearing the TrackPack, dispensing ports on either side of the bag can be opened to reveal the ice-cold beverages inside. It’s so easy! Just load it up and throw it on for a tailgate, party or event, all you’ll have to do is reach back and grab a cold one.

Maybe even more impressive than the actual product, is the way Andrew has built and runs his company…all…by…himself.  TrackPack is essentially a virtual business – design, manufacturing, and logistics are all outsourced.  The TrackPack founder handles most big event sales himself using an RV wrapped with TrackPack images and logos, as well as handling retail placement.  It is an impressive accomplishment to say the least.  The company has plans to expand its product line and begin increasing its workforce (to more than one), so it will be fun watching TrackPack transform from the model one-man virtual business to a big time player in the retail cooler market.

To learn more about TrackPack Coolers, LLC – or better yet – to buy a TrackPack – check out http://www.trackpackcoolers.com/.

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