Dynamic Duo: Edwin the Duck Creators Named 2016 Dynamic Leaders of the Year

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck … it’s likely a duck – as the idiom conveys. However, if it syncs with mobile apps, teaches life lessons and takes the Internet of Things to a whole new level, it might be better described as a groundbreaking, transformational gadget the likes of which the children’s toy industry has never seen.

That was the hope when Don Inmon and Matt MacBeth, two innovators with minds for engineering and a collective desire to navigate the turbulent skies of the tech spectrum, developed pi lab and its flagship product – Edwin the Duck.

Edwin is a rubber duck that includes a Bluetooth speaker, a thermometer that gauges bath water, a night light that works in tandem with apps and much more, allowing children to follow along with interactive stories, play games and enjoy sing-alongs.

Tens of thousands of units have been sold (via online and brick and mortar stores like Amazon, Apple Store, Best Buy, Target and Toys ‘R Us) and are already in the hands of children around the globe.

Read the full story in BizVoice.

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Indiana Chamber Presents Top Honors at 27th Annual Awards Dinner

Don Inmon and Matt Macbeth of pi Lab have taken flight with their creation, Edwin the Duck. The Carmel-based duo was named as the 2016 Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leaders of the Year at last night’s 27th Annual Awards Dinner.

An agriculture titan, a small-business-owning state representative, the two minds behind a groundbreaking children’s tech toy and a bustling entrepreneurial city were awarded the highest honors tonight at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s 27th Annual Awards Dinner.

The winners are:

  • Business Leader of the Year: Sonny Beck, of Beck’s Hybrids in Atlanta
  • Government Leader of the Year: State Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington)
  • Indiana Chamber Foundation’s Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leaders of the Year: pi lab “Edwin the Duck” creators Matt MacBeth and Don Inmon
  • Lifeline Data Centers Community of the Year: Fishers

“Each of the award winners is working to enhance not only their industries or regions, but the entire state of Indiana. They are working to make Indiana a better place to work and live,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “The lasting achievements made by our honorees will impact our state far beyond 2016.”

(Stay tuned on this blog for videos and BizVoice stories about each of the winners.)

The Indiana Chamber’s annual dinner featured Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George F. Will as keynote speaker to the crowd of nearly 1,500 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis.

The event was presented in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Lifeline Data Centers is the Community of the Year sponsor. Ivy Tech Community College served as the speaker sponsor, while the opening reception sponsor was Uzelac & Associates. The speaker reception sponsor was Hirons & Company Advertising + Public Relations.

The Indiana Chamber Foundation sponsored the Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year honor. Indiana Vision 2025 is the Indiana Chamber’s long-range economic development plan and the award emphasizes entrepreneurship and others facets of the plan’s Dynamic and Creative Culture driver.

The awards dinner followed the Indiana Chamber’s fall board of directors and annual membership meetings. Indiana Chamber Volunteers of the Year Stuart Buttrick (Faegre Baker Daniels, Indianapolis); Todd Miller (Myers Spring Company, Logansport); Mark Richards (Ice Miller, Indianapolis); were announced during a luncheon ceremony.

Ron Christian – executive vice president external affairs, and chief legal officer and corporate secretary at Vectren Corporation in Evansville – was formally elected the Indiana Chamber’s 2017 chair of the board of directors.

Business Leader of the Year: Sonny Beck, Beck’s Hybrids, Atlanta, IN
Stroll through the expansive Beck’s Hybrids operation in northern Hamilton County and one will find no shortage of inspirational messages. Speak to CEO Sonny Beck for any period of time and many of those same sayings seamlessly flow into the conversation.

In other words, the “words” are much more than terms or expressions that are placed on paper and forgotten. They are the driving force behind the largest family-owned seed company in the country – one that has
experienced tremendous growth over the past quarter century.

Beck: “I love the fields, the production side, but I’ve grown to love planning a lot. Your ability to analyze the whole problem and bring life experiences in – that can seem to not diminish. We’re growing fast enough that I keep giving jobs off to other people and my son now keeps giving jobs off to other people. But we keep thinking of new ideas we want to do. I’m always thinking about new projects.”

Government Leader of the Year: State Rep. Dan Leonard (R-Huntington)
Old habits die hard. And that’s a good thing – for Hoosier businesses and their employees – when linked to Dan Leonard’s propensity to serve others.

Leonard owns South Side Furniture of Huntington, a business he purchased from his father in 1978. Elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 2002, he serves Huntington County, and portions of Wells and Allen counties.

His leadership, determination and common sense approach on unemployment compensation (UI) legislation and other business issues has benefited Indiana companies throughout the state. The savings from UI bills total billions of dollars.

Leonard: “I’m just finishing up 14 years and it’s been a real learning experience. Sometimes you come out on the good end, and sometimes you come out on the bad end. You have to learn how to work with people. That’s a big advantage for me because I’m in retail and I work with people on a regular basis – different people with different views and different thoughts.”

Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leaders of the Year: Matt MacBeth and Don Inmon, pi lab, Carmel
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck … it’s likely a duck – as the idiom conveys.

However, if it syncs with mobile apps, teaches life lessons and takes the Internet of Things to a whole new level, it might be better described as revolutionary in the children’s toy industry.

That was the hope when Matt MacBeth and Don Inmon developed pi lab and its flagship product – Edwin the Duck.

MacBeth: “In Old English, Edwin means ‘faithful friend.’ We wanted a personality, a name and a product that would go through life with you. Edwin shares life from the same angle as you. He’s an aspirational character.”

Inmon: “I had a light bulb moment in Hong Kong. I saw a rubber duck that had a speaker in it that was for sale. It was very poorly done. But it hit me: What if we took something that was nostalgic and put modern day technology in it?”

Community of the Year: Fishers
No matter who you talk to – business leaders, local officials or longtime residents – they all cite adopting the vision in recent years to become a “smart, vibrant, entrepreneurial city” as the turning point for Fishers. They credit Mayor Scott Fadness and the city council.

What’s followed is quite the transformation. Major economic announcements are the new norm, not the exception. Innovation is now synonymous with the fast-growing city.

That speaks to how dominant a player Fishers has become in business attraction and expansion. It boasts an impressive entrepreneurial spirit thanks to Launch Fishers, the largest collaborative co-working space in the state (if not the Midwest). Collaboration and embracing change have been crucial.

Mayor Fadness: “They (residents) recognize for the most part that change is inevitable and if you can articulate to them why that change makes sense, they’re apt to go along with that. That positions us well to move our community forward.”

2016 Annual Dinner corporate sponsors: AT&T; French Lick Resort; Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino; NIPSCO; Ogletree Deakins; OneAmerica Financial Partners, Inc.; Tilson; Wellness Council of Indiana; and Zimmer Biomet.
Contributing sponsors: Allison Transmission; City Securities Corporation; Community Health Network; FedEx; Fineline Printing Group; Hunt Construction Group, An AECOM Company; Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick; Indiana Soybean Alliance/Indiana Corn Marketing Council; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; KERAMIDA Inc.; Keystone Realty Group; Markey’s Rental & Staging; Pacers Sports & Entertainment; Roche Diagnostics Corporation; Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.; The Kroger Co.; Vectren; WFYI Productions; and WGU Indiana.

RECENT INDIANA CHAMBER ANNUAL AWARD WINNERS:

Business Leader of the Year
Mike Packnett, Parkview Health, Fort Wayne – 2015
Mike Kubacki, Lake City Bank, Warsaw – 2014
Steve Ferguson, Cook Group, Inc., Bloomington – 2013
Scott Dorsey, ExactTarget, Indianapolis – 2012
Jean Wojtowicz, Cambridge Capital Management Corp., Indianapolis – 2011
Mike Wells, REI Real Estate Services, Indianapolis – 2010

Government Leader of the Year
State Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek) – 2015
Congresswoman Susan Brooks – 2014
Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar – 2013
Sen. Carlin Yoder and Rep. Jerry Torr – 2012
Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long – 2011
Tony Bennett, state superintendent of public instruction – 2010

Community of the Year
Carmel – 2015
Bloomington – 2014
Bedford – 2013
Indianapolis – 2012
Kokomo – 2011
Terre Haute – 2010

Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year
Dustin Sapp, TinderBox, Indianapolis – 2015

TECH THURSDAY: The Internet of Things Offers Strong Economic Opportunity for Indiana

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In late September, I had the opportunity to attend the second annual Internet of Things (IoT) conference at the Launch Fishers co-working facility. It was an energetic afternoon with substantial knowledge and information exchange about the future – and it suggests vast economic potential for Indiana.

For those who don’t know what IoT is, Wikipedia defines it as “the internetworking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings and other items – embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.”

The IoT event started with a lunch and welcome by Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness who explained to guests – including legislators invited by the Indiana Chamber – the vision of how Indiana can be a global leader in the IoT field. Lunch was followed by a series of “TED talks” by Indiana industry leaders from manufacturing, agriculture, energy and logistics who shared how the connectivity of devices can improve how Indiana grows, makes and moves things.

Executives from Tom Farms, Delta Faucet, Cummins and other companies all talked about what the future looks like in their business, embellished by IoT technology.

John McDonald, president of CloudOne and chairman of the Chamber’s Tech Policy Committee, said IoT technology has “practical economic uses, ranging from farmers measuring soil samples in real time to logistics companies tracking their fleets and checking for mechanical or efficiency issues.” The Chamber believes IoT has the potential to bolster Indiana’s economic strengths in manufacturing, agriculture, life sciences and logistics.

The Chamber supports programs that advance the ability of Indiana companies to leverage technologies and skills that improve innovation in product development and facilitate manufacturing and production advancements, in order to offer superior products and services to the emerging IoT economy. This is especially true when these companies leverage other Indiana companies as the source for those technologies, skills and innovation.

Through the Indiana Technology and Innovation Council, managed by the Chamber, we will work to encourage the use of all available mechanisms, including tax policy, economic incentives, support for collaboration between Indiana companies and promotion of these efforts on national and international levels.

We believe Indiana has the potential be a national and potentially global leader in helping companies elevate their products for IoT. The impact affects both Hoosier companies that supply Internet of Things technologies and skills, such as data analytics, sensors, networks, software, technology consulting and cloud services, as well as those that consume them to make superior products and services for global markets.

Tech Thursday: Parker’s Pointers

EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2014 favorite.

Kent Parker’s story is not unique. He grew up in Indiana (a sixth-generation Hoosier in Gibson County), attended school here (the University of Evansville with a 1983 degree in mechanical engineering) and began his working life (three years with United Technologies Corporation) in Indianapolis. Parker returned (with a home in New Harmony and numerous business and civic involvements) years later after a highly successful career that included key roles at Caribou Coffee in Minneapolis and Ariba (a software and information technology firm) in Sunnyvale, California.

The entrepreneur and investor admits, “I never once considered after I left Indiana in 1985 that I would come back here to try and make a living. It just never crossed my mind.” But Parker is back now.

BizVoice: You mentioned that people are the most important factor for growing successful businesses. Does Indiana have enough people – entrepreneurs, members of the workforce?

Kent Parker: “I think there are. Entrepreneurism is locally driven. It requires an entrepreneurial community; within that community, there are layers of people and their roles. When we started Caribou Coffee, the managers and employees we hired – not classic entrepreneurs, but people with skills who were interested in this new kind of activity, new kind of company and the excitement around that.

“What makes an entrepreneurial venture successful is the ability to attract the people who are motivated to have the kind of career experience that truly is much different than working in a larger company or long-established company. You need this entire ecosystem.”

Read the full story online.

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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Screening Data Center Providers: Discerning a Provider that Won’t Let You Down

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For companies looking to quickly expand their data center capabilities without building out their own facilities, outsourcing is increasingly a favored, no-brainer option. While outsourcing options abound, pinpointing the one that best fulfills your company’s needs and long-term goals without wasting resources requires careful consideration of numerous factors.

Choosing a data center provider based purely on budget and short-term wins would be a costly mistake you’re guaranteed to regret when the apparent savings bite back in technology misfires, unreliable performance and extended downtime. Save yourself the headache and dollars by screening potential providers with the following criteria—key attributes of a data center that won’t let you down.

1. Certifications
Data centers are generally evaluated by the Uptime Institute and classified based on the performance of their infrastructure, uptime and other factors that determine reliability. With each Tier level, I through IV, the data center’s infrastructure costs and operational complexities increase, according to Uptime. Also, Tier IV centers are required to demonstrate a higher level of uptime. Uptime Institute recommends that companies analyze their business applications and needs when making a decision on data center providers.

2. Compliance
It’s critical that a data center provider keeps you in compliance with regulations specific to your industry. Many companies face audits, including SSAE 16, NFPA, TIA-942, HIPAA, FISMA, FDA, PCI/DSS and Sarbanes-Oxley. It is imperative that the data center provider you choose possesses expertise with regard to these audits.

3. Data Center Location
One of the most critical factors of a reliable data center provider is location. Access it to determine the history of natural disasters in the area, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. Other factors that can influence the data center’s resilience and ability to bounce back from crisis scenarios include proximity to other businesses and first responders, like police officers and firefighters.

4. Facility
The data center building should feature state-of-the-art equipment, cooling and updated infrastructure, including structural reinforcements. It also should be well guarded by security officials.

5. Redundant Power/Cooling
A quality data center includes quality generators, uninterruptible power supplies, power delivery, utilities and cooling infrastructure systems. When screening providers, ask specific questions about Service Level Agreements (especially about uptime); electrical and cooling; redundancy power architecture; backup systems; monitoring; and transformers.

Since 2001, Lifeline Data Centers has earned a reputation as a leader in data center compliance, uptime, and innovation—including a notable recognition as one of the 20 most promising data center providers in 2016 by CIOReview, citing Lifeline’s 99.999% uptime, multi-layered security systems, highly compliant processes, and “superior and compliant” workspace. The company is also currently undergoing the arduous task of becoming FedRAMP-authorized—the highest level of clearance to house government and military data.

Find out if Lifeline is the provider you’ve been searching for. Visit lifelinedatacenters.com. Also read the Chamber’s recent BizVoice magazine feature on the company.

Want to learn why EMP shielding, FedRAMP certification, and Rated-4 data centers matter to your business? Download Lifeline’s infographic series on EMP, FedRAMP, and Rated-4! Read online.

TECH THURSDAY: Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year

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EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2015 favorite.

I sit down with Dustin Sapp at the TinderBox office overlooking Monument Circle in Indianapolis. The morning sun streams into the lobby, illuminating the walls as some of the company’s nearly 60 staffers mill about.

Sapp is a busy man. In fact, we rescheduled our initial meeting because the “low-key” day he’d sat aside quickly became less so. This is the reality of a tech CEO.

Donning jeans and sipping a morning coffee, he appears quite comfortable and very at home in his surroundings – at least not overwhelmed by the pressures of being a head honcho. And discussing his career path and his affinity for his family reveals a man who’s quite content, yet hungry to keep moving his company forward. The excitement of starting a venture and the dedication to making it thrive are part of his wiring.

“Every minute you spend in this kind of environment matters,” Sapp reveals. “The sense of empowerment that comes with that – and the feeling of despair when things aren’t going well. It’s rare that you can experience all of those emotions (in a professional position).”

Read the full story online.

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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Indiana Technology and Innovation Council Moving Forward

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The Indiana Chamber announced the creation of the Technology and Innovation Council earlier this summer. The goal of the group is to leverage the Chamber’s statewide presence and ability to convene leaders and partners so we can enhance the growth of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology in Indiana with forward-thinking public policies and relevant programming.

Below is an update on the main aspects of the program:

Tech Policy Committee
This committee is in the process of working with leaders of various technology and innovation entities to develop the Chamber’s technology and innovation policy agenda. While many of the policies are updating current policies, such as venture capital incentives, new subject areas are being carefully considered. The committee chairman is John McDonald with CloudOne and vice chairman is Bill Soards with AT&T.

After the committee does its work over the next month, the tech policy agenda for the 2017 legislative session will be affirmed by the Chamber board this November. It will be publically announced at our Technology and Innovation Policy Luncheon on Thursday, December 15.

We hope to augment Indiana’s strong business climate with a renewed focus to better meet the needs of innovators, entrepreneurs and technology-oriented enterprises.

Programs and Trends Committee
Work is underway by this committee to think through what additional programming and information can help accelerate the growth of Indiana’s innovation and technology companies. Indiana has many excellent programs going on around the state and we hope to better connect the dots through the work of this committee. The chairman is John Wechsler of Launch Fishers and vice chair is Kristin Marcuccilli of STAR Financial Bank.

Already, the Chamber has enhanced its technology and innovation communication efforts through its BizVoice magazine and with Chamber members and customers through frequent email communications. It has created the web site, Indiana Chamber Tech, to provide relevant and useful information. Other activities being planned include a technology/innovation road show, a series of peer-to-peer lunch events and an innovation summit. The goal is to help better inform stakeholders around the state with useful programming and information relative to our future economy.

A Worthy Read
One of the most interesting white papers on business I have read recently includes this excellent paper from the Kauffman Foundation titled, A Tale of Two Entrepreneurs. It talks about two different types of businesses (we need both) and some important differences in fostering economic growth. I hope you take a few minutes to read it.

Please contact me directly to learn more about the Tech Council or sign up now.

TECH THURSDAY: Overflowing With Potential

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EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2014 favorite.

For many beer connoisseurs, wasting a frothy beverage is an offense worthy of hefty reprimand. But for bar owners, not getting the last drop to customers is a hit to the bottom line as draft beer generates their highest profit margin.

SteadyServ, based in Carmel, has developed iKeg™ technology, which features a sensor and a mobile app to tell those behind the bar exactly how much beer is left in their kegs. It also communicates when the beer was delivered and tapped, as well as its age. Previous order information, consumption trends and local weather forecasts also help managers monitor beer inventory and sales potential.

The SteadyServ office features an innovative backroom complete with a walk-in cooler, half filled with kegs at the time of this interview.

SteadyServ CEO Steve Hershberger attempts to illustrate the guessing game employees must play when determining keg capacity. He asks the BizVoice® team – a reporter and a photographer – to lift a keg and then estimate how full it is. This reporter confidently guesses 60%. And our photographer? “25%,” he ventures.

Mission accomplished. “A bar’s largest margin is draft beer – typically by a factor of two,” Hershberger quantifies. “So you’re guessing about what you spend the most money on and what delivers you the most product every single week.”

Read the full story online.

Learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Our first meeting was in August, and was well-attended. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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TECH THURSDAY: Words of Advice from Business Founders

36886821EDITOR’S NOTE: BizVoice® has featured technology/innovation stories throughout its 18-year history. Look for these flashbacks each Thursday. Here is a 2013 favorite.

Lee Lewellen has concentrated on economic and business growth throughout a 30-year Central Indiana business career. Recently, that focus honed in on entrepreneurs – how they have grown their businesses and what they have learned along the way.

In a series of one-hour iFounders’ interviews, Lewellen tapped into the mindsets of 26 Indiana business leaders. They range from “veterans” such as Bill Mays (Mays Chemical) and Jeff Smulyan (Emmis Communications) to “newcomers” throughout the state, including Ryan Hou of LHP Software (Columbus) and Pete Bitar of XADS (Anderson).

“I was just incredibly humbled that these people who are very successful would spend an hour of their time talking about this,” Lewellen states. It was also a reminder of “how much really cool stuff is taking place in the state of Indiana, both in terms of the innovation and some of the connections these folks have all over the word in selling Indiana products, services and technologies. We kind of take it for granted.”

Lewellen points to Greenville-based Techshot, long known for its work with NASA and more recent diversification into different areas. “It’s out in the middle of nowhere doing some really incredible stuff. They’re there because Mark Deuser wanted to be close to where he grew up. You get a different geographic view of where people are doing these great things. It’s all about networks and mentoring.”

Read the full story online.

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Our first meeting was in August, and was well-attended. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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