Tech Talk: Guidance, Insights From the ‘Rise’ Experts

Last week’s Rise of the Rest tour stop in Indianapolis was a powerful testament to the continued emergence of central Indiana’s tech and innovation prowess. Before sharing some of the panel insights and a few observations, a little dose of reality must be included.

This was the 31st stop in recent years for AOL co-founder Steve Case and his traveling team. That means a lot of other cities and regions are also upping their games. In other words, we must keep advancing. Plenty in the Midwest and beyond are also pulling out all the stops to attract innovators, entrepreneurs and the jobs that come with their ideas.

Union 525A daylong series of events included a fireside chat at The Union 525 (recall our BizVoice® story earlier this year on the then emerging venue). Case, author/investor J.D. Vance, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai and former U.S. chief technology officer Megan Smith shared these gems, among others:

  • Case referred to ExactTarget as the “type of breakout iconic success that puts cities on the map.” He added that Indianapolis should be proud of what has been accomplished “but the next five to 10 years is the time to really accelerate.”
  • Calling the internet the “great equalizer,” Pai contends: “To me, no issue for the FCC is greater than closing the digital divide.”
  • Giving the example of doctors serving in the surgeon general role, Smith reminds that it’s important to “make sure entrepreneurs are in the room when determining entrepreneurship policy.” (A dictionary entry on that might point to Indiana and the 2017 legislative session).
  • Vance, speaking of the “downstream effects of the start-up economy” and the need for additional talent: “How do we take that person who has been out of the labor force and bridge the gap – marshal the resources that are on the sidelines.”

Case wrote The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future. He notes the first wave was a decade-long effort (with 300 partners) in going from 3% of Americans online an average of one hour a week in 1985 to truly getting America online. The second wave was building out software services with a focus on apps, not partnerships.

“The third wave is integrating the internet in a much more pervasive way. It’s not about software but getting people and companies to integrate. Companies that think they can go it alone will fail. It’s the old proverb: If you want to go quickly, you can go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Asked about lessons they were taking away from their day in Indianapolis, several agreed on the strong culture and passion in the community. Vance added, “Entrepreneurs who had success are reinvesting in the ecosystem. It absolutely makes a difference. It’s not just the money, but the mentoring and the relationships.”

A student in the audience sought their advice for a young entrepreneur …:

Vance: “Don’t think you have to be the person with the idea. Being the fourth, fifth, 12th person in a high-growth company is a good thing.” (Stay tuned for a similar local sentiment in the coming weeks).

Pai: “Seek out people who fascinate you. People are happy to talk with you and share ideas.” (That is certainly the case in Indiana).

Case: “Pick a battle worth fighting. Don’t pick an easy problem. You only live once.” He recalls this comment from Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it happens.”

We’ve Got New BizVoice For You!

The September/October edition of BizVoice magazine is now live!

We’ve highlighted venture capital, banking/finance/investments and Indiana innovation. Our own Tom Schuman also followed Indiana Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-8th District) for a day in Washington D.C. Read his story and the rest of the new content in the online edition.

You can also subscribe to receive a hard copy every other month.

Lessons Learned From an ‘Almost’ Scam; Read More in September/October BizVoice

Have you ever been financially scammed?

I was, nearly. In my senior year of college, I got a phone call one night from a chipper-sounding gal that let me know I had won something (I don’t even remember now what the thing was!) and all I had to do was give my credit card information (I didn’t have a credit card, but did have a debit card. So, that’s much worse).

She made it sound like a sweet deal and was very persuasive. I obliged and handed out my numbers.

There was something in the pit of my stomach that didn’t feel right in the moment. As soon as I’d hung up the phone, I knew I’d made a huge mistake. I was at the local branch of my bank the first thing the next morning. As I stumbled through my explanation and through the tears of worry – and most of all embarrassment: how could I have fallen for it? – they assured me they had canceled my card and nothing illicit had happened.

I was lucky.

Lucky I listened to my gut and stopped it before anything could happen.
And lucky I was a college kid who didn’t have much money in her account anyway, had things turned out differently.

Not a grandmother who is scammed into giving away her life savings. Or a single parent in a desperate situation who is willing to put their hope into something – anything – that seems like a way out of a financial mess, only to have things get a lot worse.

And while banks and financial institutions have become more proactive about educating customers, improving their fraud policies and offering protection services and other means of fortification, there are still “bad actors” out there causing financial havoc.
As those “bad actors” have become more sophisticated over time, the ease of the internet has made all of us relax on our privacy and security. Who’s got a banking app on their phone? Is your password secure enough a thief couldn’t guess it? Are the answers to the security questions easy enough to figure out if someone were to do some research into your social media presence?

What are banking institutions doing to fight fraud? And how can customers – businesses and individuals – help shield their interests from falling into the hands of scammers?

We’re diving into the topic of fighting financial fraud in the September-October edition of BizVoice®. I’ll be speaking with Andy Shank, professional fraud investigator for Elements Financial, who spent 13 years as an investigator with the Indiana State Police and worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in that time.

We’ll look at what financial institutions are doing to guard their customers’ interests and ward against fraud, and Hoosier experts will offer tips on how you can protect your company and your personal financial interests.

See you in September!

Tech Talk: Sapp Moving But Not Going Away

By now, many of you have seen the stories and video (Inside INdiana Business interview) about Dustin Sapp. The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology grad and Indiana tech leader for more than 15 years is moving to Colorado (for health reasons) but has also taken on a new role with Indianapolis-based Formstack.

Sapp was honored as the first Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year when the Chamber instituted the award in 2015. It was based on his business creation efforts – NoInk Communications, Vontoo and TinderBox (now Octiv) – and his contributions in giving back and helping grow the tech community.

Here are a few excerpts from our Dynamic Leader of the Year profile in BizVoice® magazine.

  • On founding a business: “Starting a company is a lot harder than people make it out to be. You can go to an event and it’s all about the energy and the excitement, but they don’t talk about the difficulty. Especially when you first begin – you’re the boss and the employee and the one making the coffee and the custodian and the accountant. It’s often a very lonely job.”
  • On priorities and why work should not be No. 1: “When it comes to burnout, a pattern we see is that it’s most often those who are the most career-driven. They pour everything they have into career, and it’s all that exists for them. So a requirement that I have for people is that they have something that’s more important than this business in their lives. For me, it’s straightforward: it’s my God and it’s my family.”
  • On the tech scene in central Indiana: “Indianapolis has always had the right attitude about the ‘rising tide,’ but now as you list the successes, you have a second level of talent investing back into the ecosystem, starting and joining other companies in earlier stages. We’re seeing a magical moment. Now our biggest gap is in getting a number of $20-$30 million companies, not just one or two. We need that middle tier, not just big successes and early stage start-ups.”

Profound words 18 months ago – and today. Dustin, thanks for everything you have done thus far and will continue to do for your team and our state. We wish you nothing but the best.

Nominations close June 16 for the 2017 Dynamic Leader of the Year award. The winner is selected based on success within their own organization, as well as their efforts to grow the state’s technology and innovation communities. Contact Jesse Brothers at jbrothers@indianachamber.com for more information.

BizVoice Earns SPJ Honors

Congrats to our communications team /BizVoice writers who earned three honors at the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists Awards Friday – a second place and two third place finishes:

BizVoice Tech, Innovation Series Moves Forward; Reid Health Joins as Lead Series Advertiser

The Innovation Connector is a full-service business resource incubator focused on emerging tech and innovative companies in East Central Indiana. In January 2017, the group launched the Coding Connector for area students to promote discovery of coding and programming.

Part 2 of the yearlong BizVoice magazine series on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship is in the books. We encourage you to check out the March-April entries, with the focus on Outstanding Talent, the lead driver in the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan.

For the remainder of 2017, we’re proud to have Reid Health on board as the lead series advertiser. Among the upcoming features: meeting the space needs of scale-up organizations, communities investing in their quality of place, financing options for entrepreneurs and more.

The March-April highlights include:

  • Powerful ‘Force’: The second of a six-part series on Recovery Force examines how both team members and advisors were added to the mix to fill critical roles. Also, learn how the co-founders blend their strengths in moving the organization forward.
  • X-Factor: Internship Program Showcases Jobs, City: The Xtern program takes recruitment beyond the job, showcasing Indianapolis and central Indiana to talented young people. The initiative continues to grow and succeed.
  • Vital Connections: Mentoring Snapshot Comes Into Focus: Entrepreneurial leaders in Muncie and Terre Haute discuss mentoring efforts and keys to helping others achieve their business dreams.
  • Quick Hits: A commercialization academy at the University of Southern Indiana, Trine University Hall of Fame and I-Light upgrades.

Access the full interactive version of BizVoice®. If you wish to receive the magazine in print, subscribe online.

Hoosier Farm Families Earn Bicentennial Honor from State

It’s not every day someone presents a sheepskin deed signed by a past President of the United States. Linda (Saltzman) McCall sent this image to me of her family’s farm deed, signed by James Monroe. She said she’s pleasantly surprised by the shape it’s in considering it hung in the family’s home, enduring myriad temperature fluctuations through the years.

Saltzman and her family were one of four that received Hoosier Homestead Bicentennial Awards from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture last summer – an honor reserved for those whose families have had a farm in the state for at least 200 years.

Read the article about the honorees in the latest edition of BizVoice.