(Written by LocalSource Contributor Adi Ramakrishna)
Five years ago, the mere mention of Indianapolis to anybody outside the Midwest would have conjured up images of buildings surrounded by cornfields, citizens heavily influenced by traditional values, and a culture slow to adapt to change. But in the words of Bob Dylan, “the times, they are a-changin’.”
This city has done a marvelous job hosting numerous Big Ten tournaments, countless national conventions, and even an obscure football event known as the Super Bowl. The city has given itself a facelift. The magnificent J.W. Marriott now augments our skyline, the Weir Cook terminal has brought logic and convenience to air travel, and our relentless construction efforts have produced a roadway that makes the day to day commute far less painful than most major cities. However, progress doesn’t come from a flashy skyline or expedient city streets.
True progression is measured by the action of the everyday citizen. A burgeoning venture community San Francisco is known as a venture capitalist paradise, and for good reason. Up to a third of the venture capital investment in the United States comes from the southern part of the Bay area. Startups spring from the ground in every city block. Free thinking isn’t just tolerated; it’s encouraged and backed by significant financial capital. A barista at the local coffee shop is also working on a green initiative that will change the cosmetic industry. That group of entry level mail-room employees who just ordered a round of drinks? They’re reinventing the way software will be utilized by pharmaceutical corporations. Ambition and creativity is a part of the culture.
However, when everybody is pitching an idea, you have to yell to be heard. With crowds of entrepreneurs lining up at their doors, investors can be very selective about the concepts they decide to fund. Entrepreneurs find themselves truly grasping at straws to phrase ideas that have been presented dozens of times to prospective investors. So, what does all that have to do with Indianapolis? Indianapolis is the ideal frontier for venture. This city is perfectly situated in the heart of the Midwest, cost of living is exceptionally affordable, and most importantly, the culture is in the midst of a significant paradigm shift.
I just had an opportunity to attend an event known as Verge Pitch night in South Broad Ripple. This is an event full of creative minds and ambitious hearts. The event was organized by a group of individuals who are very committed to providing an environment where enterprising entrepreneurs, dedicated developers, and intrigued investors can network and grow their nascent ideas into profitable businesses. The evening consisted of conversing with very engaging people, viewing a couple of fascinating start up presentations, and listening to an extremely inspiring “fireplace conversation” with David DeRam, an entrepreneur with a great deal of knowledge and experience in starting a new company (he’s founded six companies). It was extremely liberating to speak to the eager and encouraging attendees who were in different phases of creating or investing in an original business idea.The best part of the night was discovering the numerous groups and events similar to Verge. TechPoint, an organization that hopes to accelerate Indiana’s tech sector, is another group that has done a remarkable job of creating a haven for innovation within Indianapolis. All in all, it was a remarkable day of discovery for this author. Indianapolis is positioned to be far more than an anonymous Midwest City, and organizations such as Verge and TechPoint are doing a fantastic job of igniting the entrepreneurial spirit in the city.