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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

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The Flagship Enterprise Center – An Indiana Technology Incubator

The Flagship Enterprise Center – An Indiana Technology Incubator

One of the keys to making any state, city, or community a great place to start a business is the ability for entrepreneurs and startups to obtain support, both public and private, in the launch and growth of their business.  Support can come in a variety of forms, and on the of the best forms (if setup and executed properly), is the business incubator / accelerator model.  Indiana has a bunch of these – and we will be profiling all of them at some point.

The first of those is the Flagship Enterprise Center in Anderson.  Flagship is a technology based business incubator and growth stage business accelerator that was created through a partnership between Anderson University and the City of Anderson.  It is also the second largest business incubator in the state according to the IBJ.  Some of Flagship’s clients include AMATRA Technologies, Bright Automotive, and Comfort Motion Technologies (you can see more clients here)

I asked Adam Hoekesema, the client services manager for Flagship, if he could answer a few brief questions about Flagship (Adam will also be contributing to IndianaStartup.com as a guest blogger beginning next week):

What does the FEC do?

The FEC helps businesses launch and grow through a unique business incubation program.  Clients  benefit from the following FEC programs and services:
  • Executive Level Business Coaching
  • Business Planning and Strategy Assistance
  • Access to Capital through Microloans, Grants, and Equity Investments
  • Access to FEC conference rooms
  • Networking Opportunities
  • Training Seminars
Where is the FEC located?
The main FEC campus is located in Anderson, IN just off of Interstate 69 at Exit 22.  The main campus is comprised of 4 buildings including:
  • Flagship Enterprise Center – 40,000 Square Feet
  • Flagship Energy Systems Center – 70,000 Square Feet
  • Flagship Business Accelerator – 80,000 Square Feet
  • Flagship Lab Addition – 3,200 Square Feet
The FEC also manages the Anderson Business Incubator (ABI), which is located in the PNC Bank Building in downtown Anderson, IN.
How does a business become an FEC client?
There are 3 client programs available to businesses including:
  1. FEC Client – Clients are physically located  in an FEC building
  2. ABI Client – Clients are physically located at the Anderson Business Incubator
  3. Affiliate Client – Clients maintain their own office, but still have access to Flagship  programs and services including our client specific business incubation program.

To learn more about the Flagship Enterprise Center visit their website at www.flagshipenterprise.org or call DeWayne Landwehr at (765) 622-0100

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The Indiana Venture Capital Tax Credit

The Indiana Venture Capital Tax Credit

Are you raising private capital for your business.  If so, you may be able to offer an additional incentive to your investors – a hefty tax credit.  The Indiana Venture Capital Tax Credit is a statutory incentive for investors to make investments in early stage Indiana business startups.  Investors who provide qualified debt or equity capital to Indiana companies receive a credit against their Indiana income tax liability.

(In case you don’t know, a tax credit is a direct offset of the income tax you owe.  In this case, if your tax liability for a given year is $2,000, and you have a tax credit of $1,000, your tax liability is reduced to $1,000.  Ding!)

This is a great incentive to offer your investors – assuming they have Indiana income tax liability.  If someone has no Indiana tax liability, the Indiana Venture Capital Tax Credit will have little to know value to them.

In order to become a qualified Indiana businesses for purposes of the Venture Capital Tax Credit, Indiana businesses must go through a certification process by submitting an application to the the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.  Additionally, after a taxpayer makes the investment, the taxpayer must submit proof of investment to the IEDC from which the IEDC shall issue the taxpayer a letter indicating that the taxpayer is entitled to a tax credit.

The maximum amount of tax credits available to investors in a  qualified Indiana business equals the lesser of either (a) the total amount of qualified investment capital provided to the qualified Indiana business in the calendar year, multiplied by 20%; or (b) $500,000.

If you trying, or intend to try, to raise capital, make sure you explore this option.

If you have had experience using this tax credit, either as company raising capital or an investor, please share your thoughts in the comments!

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The Amazing Vibe of Verge f/k/a Hackers and Founders Indy

The Amazing Vibe of Verge f/k/a Hackers and Founders Indy

Last night I attended the Indy Hackers and Founders event – and it…was…awesome.  If you are into the Indiana tech scene, you need to attend this event (if you can get a ticket that is).  12 years ago, I spent 2 1/2 years as a dot-com founder/entrepreneur in Indy – and there was nothing even close to an event like this.  Casual, yet electric.  Organized, yet social – very social.  What started out as a small gathering of hackers and founders last year, has evolved into a 200+ person event, complete with a waiting list, that attracts investors and all kinds or people interested in tech startups.  It is exciting to see a community like this develop in Indy – and I hope it spreads throughout the state.  Matt Hunckler and his team deserve a ton of credit for putting this event together and showing so much passion for the Indy startup scene.

Besides the great conversation and networking before and after the event (and the plethora of frothy beverage and party subs), last nights event had 2 big highlights:

Hackers and Founders Indy is now Verge.

With the help of Indianapolis brand and experience design consultancy KA+A, the Hackers and Founders Indy guys have come up with a brand all their own.  It will be interesting to see how Verge takes shape and what changes are in store.

MyJibe.com Held a Launch Party.

The co-founders of MyJibe.com announced the impending launch their new personal finance tool, which “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.”  Co-founders Mike Langellier (founder) and Brandon Dewitt (hacker) spoke about their experiences over the past year, how they bravely left the big corporate world.  Mike somehow managed to do all this while having 2 small children at home (and he wisely thanked his wife in front of the 200+ in attendance).  These are easy guys to root for – so spread the word about MyJibe.com and give it a whirl.  We hope to have more about MyJibe.com on this site in the very near future.

Can’t wait for the next Hackers and Foun…..uhhhh….Verge Indy!

What did you think?

Posted in Indiana Startup News, Why Indiana?Comments (4)

We’ve relaunched (and we are giving away an iPad)!

We’ve relaunched (and we are giving away an iPad)!

Welcome to IndianaStartup.com!  Beginning today, we are re-launching this site with a renewed drive to get the word out about Indiana being a great place to start a business.

We plan on doing that in a few different ways.   We will be looking at startups in lots of industries – including biotech, manufacturing, retail, restaurants, media…you name it. We will be profiling cool startups and their founders…allowing you to benefit from the lessons they have learned.  We will have daily posts from all sorts of professionals providing valuable advice, guidance and tips to startups (marketing, legal, accounting, business planning, strategy, fund raising…and lots more). We will have some of Indiana’s most exciting startups chronicling their startup journeys…through good and bad.

Some of the guest bloggers you will see here include:

  • Harold Apple . Harold has been a huge part of the Indiana tech scene for awhile.  He is a successful entrepreneur, and is a valued mentor and advisor to many, many people (including me).  He currently is the President and CEO of the Indiana Health Information Exchange.   LinkedIn.  Twitter.
  • Chris Byers. Chris Byers is the CEO of Formstack.com, an Indianapolis based startup.  His experience includes co-founding and running an international non-profit while based in London, England & Krakow, Poland.  Linkedin. Twitter.
  • Kenan Farrell. Kenan is an Indiana attorney who focuses his law practice (KLF Legal) on Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law, representing businesses, non-profits, artists and entrepreneurs. LinkedIn.  Twitter.
  • Adam Hoeksemab. Adam Hoeksema is the Client Services Manager for the Flagship Enterprise Center in Anderson Indiana.  The Flagship Enterprise Center is a non-profit technology based business incubator and growth stage business accelerator. LinkedIn.  Twitter.
  • Carl Kinker.  Carl J. Kinker (CPA, MBA) is a partner with The Controllership Group, based in Fishers, Indiana. Carl has over 25 years of executive level experience in management and operations, serving as controller and CFO for high-growth, entrepreneurial companies.  LinkedIn.
  • Joshua Koch. Joshua Koch is Co-Founder and COO of The Tyros, an Indianapolis startup company that is chronicling its journey as a startup on IndianaStartup.com.  The Tyros is a web and mobile application strictly for Athletic Officials, Assigners and Coaches helping them organize, communicate and grow.  LinkedIn.  Twitter.

We will be adding new bloggers all the time (contact us if you are interested!).

And to kick things off, we will giving away an iPad in the very near future to one lucky person or business. Official contest rules will be forthcoming within the next few days – so check back soon.  But I can tell you that one requirement to win the iPad will be to follow @indianastartup – so be sure to become a follower.

2011 is going to be a great year for startups in Indiana!

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The “Young Entrepreneur Auction” Bill – An Interesting Idea

The “Young Entrepreneur Auction” Bill – An Interesting Idea

Indiana Representative Sue Ellsperman (R-Ferdinand) plans to file a bill during the first legislative session of 2011 that would create a “young entrepreneur auction.”  The gist of the bill is this:

  • The Indiana Economic Development Commission would host sessions in different communities. At each session, recent college graduates would each present a business plan to representatives of the community or the community’s economic development organization. The plan would include a list of what would be needed to get the business started — such as space, exposure and mentors.
  • Leaders would go back to their communities and decide if they are interested in any of the proposals. For each one they are interested in, they would develop a bid package to offer the entrepreneur. The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs would be available to help leaders create bid packages.
  • Each of the students, with the help of the state economic development commission, would review all proposals to see which would be the best for a proposed business.

For more see here.

I have not seen a copy of the bill yet, but conceptually this sounds like a great idea.  If communities around the state are able to widely participate, something like this might be successful in matching up young entrepreneurs with communities that have the facilities and talent to give them a chance at success.  Some critical considerations, at least in my mind, include:

  • Making sure there is wide participation around the state – lots of communities will need to get on board. Otherwise, what is the point?
  • If the only “community leaders” who participate wind up being real estate developers and brokers in Indy and Bloomington looking to fill empty office space at discounted rates, this will flop.
  • How is this paid for?  What will the incentives be?  Tax breaks?  Free space?  Grants?

I plan to keep an eye out for this bill and will post a follow up.

What are your thoughts?

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