Tech Talk: Planning Ahead for Big Events

There is no shortage of tech-related conferences and events throughout Indiana. To help you plan ahead, here is an update on three important ones upcoming this spring:

Although work is already taking place at the Indiana IoT Lab in Fishers, the official grand opening will be March 21. More than 50 companies are on board at the facility, where innovation and collaboration will meet to advance the connections between Indiana businesses and Internet of Things technology.

The AT&T IoT Civic Hackathon will return April 20-21 at the Indiana IoT Lab and Launch Fishers. The focus of the third annual Hackathon will be improving first responder technology and public safety. Among the many guest speakers: former Boston Police Department commissioner Ed Davis and Indiana congresswoman Susan Brooks.

The Indiana Chamber’s inaugural Cyber Security Conference is set for May 1 at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center. Protecting company information from ever-increasing sophisticated attacks is vital for all organizations. Best practices in cyber security and data privacy will be featured. Registration is open and sponsorship opportunities remain.

Save the Date

Airbnb’s Top Indiana Cities Revealed

In late 2017, Indianapolis was identified as a top trending American city for Airbnb. The company also announced that Indiana hosts welcomed approximately 175,000 arrivals in the past year – earning more than $20.7 million.

The 175,000 guest arrivals to Indiana via Airbnb represents 108% year-over-year growth. This comes as “Hoosiers increasingly embrace the home sharing platform as an opportunity to earn supplemental income and make ends meet.” There are now just under 3,600 Indiana hosts who share their homes via Airbnb, 37% of whom simply share an extra, unused room (i.e. empty nester).

The top Airbnb markets in Indiana in 2017:

  1. Indianapolis: 73,000 guest arrivals; $8.42 million in host income
  2. South Bend: 20,000; $2.89 million
  3. Bloomington: 16,800; $1.87 million
  4. Michigan City: 5,700; $867,300
  5. Fort Wayne: 4,250; $437,900
  6. West Lafayette: 3,050; $311,350
  7. Lafayette: 3,050; $383,500
  8. Nashville: 1,950; $207,700
  9. Fishers: 1,800; $200,600
  10. Evansville: 1,670; $163,700

Master Strategy: Fishers Named 2016 Community of the Year

“Fishers could have stayed nothing more than what it was when I moved there in 1995: a nice place to live with lovely vinyl apartments. But it’s not that (today). And that’s not an accident; it got there with a strong plan,” declares John McDonald, CEO of Fishers-based CloudOne.

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 for instilling that, with the backing of 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 locale.

That speaks to how dominant a player Fishers has become in the last several years 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)…

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

Bluebridge Holding Launch Party with Verge This Thursday

https_proxyHave plans Thursday? If not, you should hear one of Indiana’s leading young entrepreneurs, Santiago Jaramillo of Bluebridge, describe his experiences thus far in starting a business, and unveil his company’s new digs and new app technology in Fishers. (Get your tickets online.)

During this Verge event, Jaramillo will discuss raising capital in Indianapolis and give entrepreneurs advice on scaling their business to the first $1 million in revenue. Topics will include fundraising, scaling sales and marketing, and hiring.

Here’s a message with details from our friends at Verge:

We’re really excited to team up with Bluebridge for the month of July and celebrate the birth of the new Verge app. We’d love for you to share your feedback on the app experience for its test launch. We’ll be adding features in the months ahead.
Here’s the launch agenda:

– 5:30 pm – Doors open to public (Pizza & beer provided)
– 6:15 pm – Welcome announcement
– 6:30 pm – Pitches
Mobile App Studio – Santiago Jaramillo, Bluebridge
Verge App – Matt Hunckler, Verge
Future of Tech in Fishers – John Wechsler, Launch Fishers and Scott Fadness, Mayor of Fishers
– 7:00 pm – Fireside chat with Santiago Jaramillo, CEO of Bluebridge
– 8:30 pm – Doors close

As you know, tickets move fast, and we’re only releasing 300 spots for this special event. Reserve your spot today!

If you’d like more background, we’ve also covered Jaramillo and Bluebridge in BizVoice.

Celebrate Craft Beer and History at Conner Prairie; Early Bird Tickets Now Available!

May 30 will mark the third annual installment of Conner Prairie’s popular History on Tap craft beer event.

The event is the brainchild of the Conner Prairie Horizon Council — the museum’s young professionals council, which I’m proud to say I’m involved with.

Last year’s event drew 700 people, and we expect even more this year. Furthermore, the 2014 edition will feature craft brewing demonstrations, historical beer tastings, food, music from the Bleeding Keys and Reid and Tim. Guests can also venture out and mingle with the citizens of Prairietown after hours (and those should be lively conversations considering the enjoyable cast of characters that roam Conner Prairie’s grounds each week).

One-fourth (that’s 20 out of 80) of Indiana’s brewing companies will be represented at the event. (Yes, you read that right.) Returning brewery partners include Upland, Flat12, Sun King, Thr3e Wise Men, Barley Island, Union Brewing, Bier Brewery, Triton, Three Pints, New Day and Fountain Square. And a host of new partners will be represented as well: Cartel Brewing, Scarlet Lane, Indiana City Brewing, Bloomington Brewing Co., Brugge, Outliers, Daredevil, Books & Brew, and Broad Ripple Brewpub — and others!

I’ll go ahead and make a personal promise as well: If you come, you’re going to have a good time. Feedback from 2012-13 was overwhelmingly positive — and we’ve incorporated constructive suggestions into making this year’s event even better.

Also, be sure to get your tickets now to take advantage of early bird pricing. History on Tap is for adults 21 years old and up — and tickets for designated drivers are heavily discounted. See you there!

Holiday Cheers: Conner Prairie Introduces Dec. 12 Event for Adults

Get into the holiday spirit at Conner Prairie’s brand-new, adults-only event, “Holiday Cheers,” presented by the Conner Prairie Horizon Council, the organization’s young professionals group.

Holiday Cheers offers an elegant evening of hors d’oeuvres, wine and craft beer. After enjoying food and drinks, guests will be invited to take an evening candlelit stroll through 1836 Prairietown to experience how various holidays were celebrated in the past.

Savor food from Bistro 226, wines from Douglas Hills, craft beer from Sun King and outside, a sampling of sausage from Smoking Goose, all while networking and enjoying the company of other guests.

Holiday Cheers runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12. The outdoor candlelit experience is open from 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Visitors can sample beer from Union Brewing Company, participate in sausage-making demonstrations from 1836, live it up during the party at the Campbell home, and discover the different cultures and traditions of holiday cheer in the 19th century.

Back inside, guests can explore Conner Prairie’s Create.Connect exhibit that features hands-on, interactive fun for all ages centered on electricity, motion and energy. Guests will also enjoy strolling through Gingerbread Village as they marvel at the gingerbread creations from professionals and novices alike.

To memorialize the experience, a free photo booth – complete with props and festive costumes – will bring friends, old and new, together in laughter.

Canned Food Drive
Bring a canned good or non-perishable food item to be entered into a raffle contest to win a two tickets to Conner Prairie’s Hearthside Suppers. Hearthside Suppers offers guests the unique opportunity to help make and enjoy a multiple-course 19th-century meal. The prize is worth more than $120. All proceeds from the canned food drive will benefit Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank, Inc.

How to Participate
Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased online. Tickets will also be available at the door but space is limited, so purchase your tickets in advance. For more information, call (317) 776-6006, email horizon@connerprairie.org, visit connerprairie.org, like Conner Prairie and the Horizon Council on Facebook or follow on Twitter @ConnerPrairie with hashtag #HolidayCheersCP.

Beer Lovers: Conner Prairie’s History on Tap Back for Another Year

Conner Prairie’s Horizon Council (the interactive history park's young professionals group, of which I am a proud member) will host its second annual History on Tap craft beer event on Friday, May 31. Comments from attendees last year were extremely positive, and we're able to grow the event this year, as well. However, tickets will be capped at 500, so you'll want to buy early — and take advantage of the early bird pricing.

History on Tap 2013 will include:

  • Beer samples from 11 Hoosier breweries
  • A panel discussion: "Brewer Innovation: A Taste of the Past, Present & Future"
  • Craft brewing demonstration by Tuxedo Park Brewers, featuring a "Replicale"
  • An evening adventure through 1836 Prairietown
  • Food available at an additional cost for general admission tickets, included for VIP tickets
  • Discounted rate for the 1859 Balloon Voyage (weather permitting)

“We are proud to partner with Conner Prairie and award-winning, local breweries to present this signature event,” explains Robby Slaughter, Horizon Council president. “History on Tap is designed to provide an interactive experience that celebrates the rich heritage of craft beer making in Indiana and to engage a new demographic of visitors by giving them a taste of what Conner Prairie has to offer.”

Order your tickets now!

Enlist Now to Protect the Union at Conner Prairie!

By now, I would hope most Hoosiers have been to Conner Prairie in Fishers (an Indiana Chamber member and Indiana’s only Smithsonian affiliate) at least once. I remember when — as a fifth grader taking field trips there — my primary delight in visiting was focused on the rock candy in the gift shop. Now, as an adult, I’m happy to say that getting in touch with history is my main motivation — although I still partake in the sweeter rations found on the premises.

But beginning tomorrow, the award-winning interactive history park will turn a page in its long history, as the public is introduced to its latest (and permanent) exhibit: 1863 Civil War Journey. I’m proud to say I serve on a young professionals council for Conner Prairie, and was privy to a sneak peek of the $4.3 million project last week. To say I was impressed would be understating things.

I’ll spare you a lengthy prologue, but the exhibit tells the story of Morgan’s Raid of 1863, in which southern Indiana was invaded by the "rogue" general John Hunt Morgan and his 2,500 cavalrymen in their effort to capture the state for the Confederacy. In researching Civil War sites in the region, I actually discovered that, while we may view Morgan as a villain, Lexington, Kentucky features tours of his home, as well as a monument in his honor. And that in a city just a few hours drive from central Indiana — such a telling commentary on how perspectives in the Civil War could vary so greatly between such short distances.   

The exhibit combines live acting with visuals, videos and a remarkably interactive experience, and you simply must see it. The park’s staff has been hard at work on the promotional trail, invading Indy’s city market and gaining mentions both regionally and nationally. Ideally, the journey is for adults and children 10 years and up, and if you have a little one, they’ve also built a new playground in the area. If you’re a history buff or just a casual fan, you will get a great deal out of this. Hope to see you there — and wear yer fightin’ boots.

New Conner Prairie Exhibit Brings Indiana Civil War History to Life

Conner Prairie (Fishers), an Indiana Chamber member and an organization I’m proud to be affiliated with via its Horizon Council, just announced a new exhibit and massive undertaking launching in June. Though Indiana is not often thought of as a site for Civil War battles, anyone whose traveled to Corydon knows Hoosiers of the day were privy to one major scare courtesy of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan. Now, visitors can be part of an interactive experience telling the story of this event. The Indy Star reports:

A $4.3 million Civil War exhibit, unveiled Wednesday, is the museum’s newest way to present history.

The "1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana," opening June 4, will integrate technology with Conner Prairie’s first-person interpretation in an outdoor setting to create a new kind of guest experience focused on personal stories during the Civil War in Indiana. Conner Prairie’s largest exhibit, at 8,800 square feet, it will use projected images, video, theatrical sound, staging, hands-on experiences and live action to bring the drama of Civil War Indiana to life.

"It’s going to be an experience like none other in the country, and maybe even in the world," said Ellen Rosenthal, Conner Prairie’s president and chief executive officer.
The museum, on 850 acres at 13400 Allisonville Road, offers programs designed to engage and connect people of all ages and backgrounds with one another and the past.

The new exhibit will tell the story of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry raid through Dupont during July 1863. The characters in the exhibit are based on real people who lived in Indiana during the Civil War when Morgan’s Raiders invaded.

"It’s the most important Civil War event ever to occur on Indiana soil," Rosenthal said.

The exhibit posed three challenges: to re-create Morgan’s raid with 2,500 cavalry over and over again daily, to make visitors feel part of the experience and to make the experience engaging for the entire family, not just for military history buffs.

Dan Freas, the museum’s vice president of guest experiences, said "Civil War Journey" doesn’t rely on an increase in staff.

"That’s where technology comes into play," he said. The exhibit incorporates theatrical wizardry that includes interactive video, special effects, lighting, sound and costumed interpreters "to provide that sense of excitement."