Tech Talk: Making Their Mark Among the ‘Best’

We shared in late February the growing number of tech and innovation organizations being named among the Best Places to Work in Indiana. While 26 of the 125 winners for 2018 self-identified as being in the tech industry, a true sign of the times is the fact that many others are consultants or service providers in the tech/innovation areas.

At the awards celebration and unveiling of the rankings earlier this month, it was good to hear the names of so many familiar companies (Sharpen and Formstack each placed second in their respective size categories, to name just two; check out the full lists to see many more), as well as quite a few newcomers. The names are familiar due to their business growth and achievements; the Best Places honor signifies strong internal cultures that match and propel the external success.

You can check out the full coverage of all the companies in the current BizVoice® magazine. Some key stories we would suggest:

  • Social media: Discover how four Best Places companies effectively utilize online communications strategies
  • Welcome aboard: A key factor in building a strong workplace culture is doing everything possible to get new team members off to a fast start
  • Getting to Know: Bastian Solutions and Perficient
  • 2018 Newcomer: Kronos
  • Informative infographics: Program results on work-life balance, family-friendly benefits and survey benchmarks

In today’s battle for talent, Best Places to Work recognition can be a differentiator. Can you afford to stay on the sidelines any longer? Learn more about the 2019 program at www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

Working Toward Simplification, Starting With Notifications

Let me tell you a tale of woe.

One day, I left both of my cell phones (one for work, one personal) at home. FOR AN ENTIRE DAY.

It was terrible fine. Truly, what I thought was going to make my life harder ended up making my work day way more efficient. However, I didn’t realize how much more efficient it had been until the next day, when I had my phones next to me all day.

Ding, buzz, alert! Ding, buzz, alert! Ding, buzz, alert!

On and on and on, my phones vibrated or buzzed or alerted me to some breaking email or news or social media update. None of it important, nothing that required taking my attention from my task and getting me off track every five minutes. No wonder some days I feel like I’m spinning in a hamster wheel! And most of the time I don’t even swipe my phone open to further investigate or read those emails. But that simple act of breaking my attention span is enough to derail me.

Coincidentally, I’ve been reading a book about living a simplified life (think decluttering everything from your home to your obligations and putting the emphasis on the real necessities in life to capture more joy). And the night after my epiphany about my phones being a huge distraction, lo and behold, there was a chapter about digital distractions and some tips on how to handle it all.

Step one was turn off the notifications.

Turn off notifications? Can I live like that? A life without knowing when I received an email or someone liked my Facebook post? (Also, why have I never thought of that before?)

I turned off all the notifications on my phone (with the exception of text messages and phone calls – I have two kiddos in different schools, so I’m not going to take the chance of missing important school notifications.) But otherwise, I haven’t heard a ding or a buzz or a beep all morning and it has been glorious.

Another tip is one that takes a bit more work: decluttering your email. Maybe you have the same issue – do you get near daily emails about products or services you use? Yep, me too. It can be tedious to go through and unsubscribe to each email, but there are some ways around that. Unroll.me, for example, allows you to see all of your email subscriptions and easily unsubscribe.

Whether or not you recognize how much of a distraction our devices can cause, I hope this helps you take a pause and think about how your life is ruled by that tiny computer in your pocket or next to you on your desk. While I’m not suggesting leaving your phones at home all day, you might try a digital detox and see what you discover about it in your own life. (And if you do, let me know in the comments so I can try it too!)

 

Tech Talk: Compiling the Equity Crowdfunding Numbers

Many are familiar with crowdfunding, with a version of that – equity crowdfunding – formalized with the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Acts (Jobs Act). Equity crowdfunding is defined as the “process whereby an entrepreneur, start-up or established business raises funds over the internet by offering and selling securities in exchange for an investment (stock, debt, revenue-sharing agreements, etc.) in their company.”

Here are some numbers regarding the progress since this portion of the Jobs Act went into effect in May 2016. For the first 100 equity crowdfunding campaigns:

  • Approximately 33% of companies were mobile app/internet services companies
  • Approximately 12% were consumer gadget companies
  • Approximately 60% were in business one year or less
  • A majority of companies was pre-revenue stage with a valuation of between $1.5 million and $4 million

A separate analysis of year one (May 2016 to May 2017) found:

  • Approximately 88% of filings were made by firms that were five years or younger
  • Approximately one-third of firms were six months or younger when they launched their crowdfunding campaign
  • Nearly 50% of firms were located in California, Florida or Texas
  • A total of 326 companies filed offerings during that span, including 17 businesses that conducted more than one crowdfunding campaign
  • The 326 companies employed a total of 1,574 employees (approximately five employees per firm)

Finally, a January 2018 summary from Crowdfunding Insider reports:

  • As of today, more than $100 million in capital commitments
  • 731 campaigns
  • 100,901 investors
  • Average is $992 per investment (up from $750 when the industry started)
  • Average raise is $360,691 (up from $250,000 when the industry started)
  • Total jobs supported is 3,608
  • It took 410 days for the industry to break $50 million and 209 days (50% less time) for the industry to raise the next $50 million

Tech Talk: Entrepreneurial Ages and the Latest Investment Numbers

What is the age of the average entrepreneur? A few very public examples on the extreme might skew public opinion, but the research shows experience is prized over youth – no offense, of course, to the young entrepreneurs making a difference every day.

Here’s a brief summary from the State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI):

Age is a predictor of entrepreneurial success – and not in the ways that many might expect – according to a new National Bureau of Economic Research article. While the venture capital community and the media sensationalize young entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, the authors of Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship – Pierre Azoulay, J. Daniel Kim, Benjamin Jones and Javier Miranda – find that older entrepreneurs have more success.

In their analysis of multiple administrative datasets, the authors discover that the average founder age of a technology start-up with more than one employee is nearly 42 years old, the average founder age of the highest growth technology start-ups is 45 years old and the average founder age of technology start-ups with successful exits is nearly 47 years old.

With similar findings across a variety of industries, geographies and other subcategories, the authors suggest that the coverage of the millennial tech-entrepreneur has been overblown. Moving forward, these conclusions may prompt changes in how the economic development community designs and implements programs supporting entrepreneurship.

SSTI also has a brief recap of the first-quarter venture capital report, in which Elevate Ventures earns a mention.

PitchBook and NVCA released the 2018 Q1 Venture Monitor this week, and the data show that 2017’s trends toward fewer, larger deals are only accelerating into the new year. First financings are over $5 million for the first time since Q3 of 2006, and the average angel and seed deals are at their largest sizes in at least a decade – largely due to investments under $1 million now accounting for just 39 percent of disclosed deals.

Publicly-supported investors are leading the way in 2018 investments, according to the report, with Innovation Works (13), Elevate Ventures (11) and TEDCO (4) noted for angel/seed investments and Ben Franklin Technology Partners (7) and Connecticut Innovations (6) on the list for most active early stage investors.

The report also indicates that while several notable IPOs have brought renewed attention to exits, the number of exits in 2018 is on pace to be slower than in 2017. Finally, the report’s data on funds closing in 2018 show that fundraising — particularly for funds over $50 million — is also occurring at a slower pace than in 2017.

What Do You Know About GDPR?

I recently attended a lecture by a former FBI special agent on the topic of cybersecurity. Sounds cool, right? (It was!)

I’ve been paying close attention to the topic that is now top of mind for many since last summer, when I wrote this story for BizVoice® on fraud and cybersecurity issues, including what businesses should be doing to help prevent potential cyberattacks.

While I sat in a small room with 20 or so people who seemed genuinely surprised by much of what the former agent was saying, not much of it came as news to me (and I’m not bragging – I just went through my shocked phase last year when researching my story). But one thing I’d never heard before was something known as GDPR, an acronym for General Data Protection Regulation.

GDPR was passed in the European Union (EU) and takes effect in late May. It expands the rights of individuals under the regulation with regard to data privacy and places new burdens on companies or businesses that handle private data. And you might be thinking, “I’m in Indiana, not the EU.” And that’s true, this regulation primarily impacts users in the EU. But it also impacts any businesses or organizations that operate in the EU.

Indianapolis-based DemandJump recently posted a blog focusing on GDPR and how it impacts companies here in the United States, with links and a video to help others learn more about the potential impact:

From an internet user standpoint, this policy only affects those people located within the jurisdiction of the EU. However, companies that do business in the EU – regardless of where they are located – must also abide by the same rules, which has left many in the global technology industry reeling to meet these strict privacy standards by the May 25th deadline.

The GDPR is one of the first major legislative acts of its kind, but it certainly won’t be the last. The question is not whether the United States and others will pass a similar bill, but when.

At DemandJump, we have always believed in and respected the privacy of internet users, and we hold ourselves accountable for individuals’ rights to privacy and security. We also understand there is some sensitivity around data right now, and, well … we love data.

The truth is, data can be an amazing asset when used and handled responsibly, helping to automate, expand, speed up, and generally improve the world we live in. But those improvements should not come at the risk of individuals’ privacy.

Luckily for everyone, they don’t need to.

What is Data Privacy?

Check out this video from our very own Brad Wilson, Director of Engineering and Data Protection Officer at DemandJump about data privacy and GDPR.

In the context of GDPR – and the broader discussion about data privacy – the main goal is to put control over personal data back into the hands of individuals. This means that if any individual does not want to be recognized or known by a data consumer, they have the ability to instruct any system to “forget me”. This would trigger a string of technical actions which would anonymize their information, making it very difficult for any person, business or technology system to identify that person individually.

Fundamentally, this movement is not so much about restricting the usage of personal data as it is about giving control back to individuals. It’s about companies being open and transparent about what personal data they have on individuals, and about the way they handle that data.

For 10+ years there has been a lot of fuzziness and disparate regulation around data privacy and transparency. The EU is saying “no more”, and it’s highly likely that other regulatory bodies will follow suit.

Cybersecurity and data privacy experts will come together for the Indiana Chamber’s inaugural Cybersecurity Conference (in partnership with the Indiana attorney general’s office) on May 1-2. There’s still time to register for the two-day conference held in downtown Indianapolis, with focuses on responding to litigation following a data breach, vendor management, lessons from the defense industry and much more.

Chamber Adds Cybersecurity Conference

People are most familiar with the Indiana Chamber as an advocacy organization. After all, that has been a primary concentration for 96 years.

But business information – in the form of employee training and regulatory compliance publications – has been an important and growing part of the mission for more than a quarter of a century. Many of those offerings have focused on human resources and safety topics, with a more recent emphasis on skill development.

A new addition in 2018 is a partnership with the Indiana attorney general for the inaugural Cybersecurity Conference (May 1-2 at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center). It’s a good sign that the topic is a timely one when the conference expands to a full two days before it even kicks off.

Cybersecurity needs in today’s business world are robust; potential solutions are complex. Business, government and legal viewpoints and conversations will take place.

Among the key topics:

  • Governor Holcomb’s Executive Council on Cybersecurity
  • Cyber threats: The No.1 risk to small businesses
  • Fighting the security battle
  • Responding to litigation and enforcement actions following a data breach
  • The dark web
  • Best practices you can implement now
  • Cyber insurance
  • Legal consideration in the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • How will General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) be enforced?
  • Ransomware: Wire transfer fraud and phishing are hitting Indiana businesses

Check out additional information, the full agenda and sponsorship opportunities. Register to attend here. Our thanks to presenting sponsor Ice Miller and additional sponsors: University of Southern Indiana Romain College of Business, WGU Indiana, Qumulus Solutions, Matrix Integration and Purdue University.

Tech Talk: A great IDEA in South Bend Region

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg participated recently in the granddaddy of idea-sharing events – South by Southwest, now more popularly known as SXSW, in Austin, Texas. Later this month, people will come to the South Bend-Elkhart region for a similar-themed showcase in IDEA Week 2018.

The IDEA Center at the University of Notre Dame is the lead organizer with a wide variety of partners. Between April 20-29, more than 30 activities (programs and entertainment) will take place. Innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization are the primary themes.

A few of the highlights:

  • National presenters such as Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, Shark Tank’s Daymond John and Tony Award winner Patti LuPone
  • Venture competition, TEDx program and start-up showcase
  • Entertainment in the form of concerts (The Chainsmokers), comedians (Gabriel Iglesias) and more

Various Notre Dame venues, as well as sites throughout the region, will serve as hosts. That is important as regional cooperation has been taken to a new level in recent years.

The mission of IDEA Week 2018 is twofold: Celebrate ongoing/developing successes (Notre Dame, technology park developments, recreational vehicle industry prowess to list just a few) and provide knowledge and inspiration for entrepreneurs, students and others in the community to build the next big thing.

Rich Carlton of Data Realty touched on the momentum in the region during this recent EchoChamber podcast. We’ve shared more than a few business success stories from the area in BizVoice® magazine: sidebar on Ignition Park here and focus on Goshen as 2017 Community of the Year to name two.

Kudos to all involved in developing this first-time event. Telling our story, in northern Indiana and throughout the state, is critical.

Breaking Down the Women in Tech Numbers

Increasing diversity in technology remains an ongoing goal. A global 2018 Women in Tech Index provides some interesting numbers and perspective:

The study focuses on 41 countries in the European Union and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). It compares the proportion of female employees, gender wage gap and opportunities for women in the IT field, among other criteria.  

“McKinsey found that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.  As tech recruitment specialists, we are often confronted with the gender imbalances of the industry,” says Emma Tracey, co-founder at Honeypot (a leading technology career platform). “With the proportion of female tech workers remaining under 30% across the board, we hope that this study will enrich the conversation concerning equality in this industry and inspire more women to seek out opportunities in tech.”

  • Portugal, the United States and Latvia offer the best opportunities for women in tech, with an industry gender pay gap around 6-7% less than the overall average wage gap in each country.
  • The United States offers the highest wages to women working in tech, at $86,608 per annum, followed by Ireland ($60,558) and Switzerland ($59,029).
  • At 30%, Bulgaria has the highest percentage of women working in tech, followed by Australia with 28% and Romania at 26%. The U.S. is at 24.6%.
  • Lithuania has the highest percentage of overall female workforce, at 51.17%, one of only two (alongside Latvia at 50.25%) countries in the index that have a higher percentage of women than men in their workforce. Turkey has the smallest percentage of female workforce, at 31.55%.
  • Latvia has the highest percentage of women legislators, senior officials and managers at 44.4%, while South Korea has the least with 10.7%.
  • Sweden has the highest percentage of women in parliament positions, at 44.5%, while Japan has the least, at 9.9%.
  • Finland has the highest percentage of women in ministerial positions at 62.5%. Notably, France is the only country with 50% of its ministerial cabinet made up of women. Hungary and the Slovak Republic both have zero women in ministerial positions.
  • Luxembourg has the highest overall wage for women, at $59,191 per annum. Bulgaria has the lowest, at $12,278.
  • The United States has the most women working in the tech industry, at just under 1.5 million. Malta has the least, with 800 women working in tech.
  • The United States offers the highest wage both overall in tech and for women in tech, at $98,265 and $86,608 respectively. Mexico offers the lowest wages in tech, both overall and for women, at $19,492 and $15,456 respectively.

Social Connection at What Cost?

It’s been fun, guys.

Digging our heads into the sand and enjoying our social media. Happily sharing gifs, memes, videos, photos with one another, connecting with friends (or frenemies) from high school and posting political opinions that will change exactly no one’s mind.

On some level, we probably all knew that Facebook was tracking our every “like” and “share” online. And yet, the reality of that fact has come crashing down on us over the past few weeks as privacy scandals at Facebook are making headlines.

Understandably, there’s a #DeleteFacebook campaign ongoing. And yet, I haven’t deleted my Facebook account, with no plans to do so. What about you?

While I’m not planning to leave Facebook, I have identified recently with a scene from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” where privacy-conscious Ron Swanson is alerted that web site cookies exist and that Google Maps has a photo of his house:

(He’s throwing his computer in the dumpster, FYI.)

But that’s not a solution. Maybe for some it is, but not for me and probably many others working in today’s world, who need to utilize and understand technology and social connection.

However, we can – and should – all do a better job of understanding just what we’re agreeing to when downloading new apps and sharing on social media. Instead of an “ignorance is bliss” outlook, take a thorough look through your privacy settings and advertising settings and be very specific about what information you want to share with each platform or app.

If you are interested in downloading the full archive of what data Facebook contains about you, this article from Inc. includes an easy five-step process:

How to Get Your Data

In typical Facebook fashion, it’s easy to get this data, but only if you know exactly where to look. That’s what I’m here for.

  1. Click this link. You’re looking for facebook.com/settings. If for some strange reason that doesn’t work, on desktop, you want to click the little upside-down triangle in the upper right-hand corner, then drop down and click “Settings.”
  2. Click where it says “Download Archive.” You will likely have to reenter your password. Facebook will need about 10 or 15 minutes to compile your data and will send you a link via email to get your information.
  3. Check your email spam folder; the message Facebook sent me wasn’t readily visible in my inbox. The subject should read “Your Facebook download is ready.” Click the link in your email and you’ll be sent back to Facebook again–and probably have to enter your password once more. (This is a good thing; there’s a lot of personal information in the files they’re sending you.)
  4. Click the “Download Archive” button on this second screen, and you’ll download a .zip file that should be called: “facebook-YOURUSERNAME.zip.” Extract the files by clicking on the .zip file in most cases, and you’ll wind up with a series of folders. There should be a file called simply “index.html.”
  5. Click on that, and the archive should open in your browser.

I’m going to download my Facebook data – mainly to see what it contains and how accurate some of it is. I joined Facebook when I was a sophomore in college, back in 2005. So, I’ll have 13 years of data to comb through and I’m assuming it’s going to be as embarrassing as when I read back through my diary from junior high.

Indiana Chamber Comments on SaaS Tax Clarity Bill Signed Into Law Today

Bill Waltz, Indiana Chamber of Commerce vice president of taxation and public finance, comments on Senate Bill 257 being signed into law, providing clarity on the tax exempt status for software-as-a-service (SaaS) transactions:

“Since last summer, the Indiana Chamber has been leading the charge to see this clarification become law, with language originating in our tech policy committee. Our advocacy team and several members of the committee met with all the interested parties to build momentum and consensus. We put a lot of work into the effort because the stakes were high. The state’s significant momentum as an attractive place for innovative and entrepreneurial companies was in jeopardy without a sensible solution.

“And this policy is important not just for tech companies, but for those who do business with them. The new law is straightforward on what transactions are exempt. Having clarity around that will help grow Indiana’s software development economy, as well as prevent onerous taxation of other necessary business expenses throughout the business community.

“We thank Governor Holcomb for his leadership and legislators for listening to our members and taking this important step forward to further demonstrate Indiana’s technology commitment. The state is now in a very favorable position to reap very real economic benefits and attract more and more of the software-as-a-service industry.”

Sen. Travis Holdman, author of SB 257 (left) and the Chamber’s Bill Waltz