Tech Talk: Entrepreneurship and the World

While innovators and entrepreneurs often exhibit a required laser focus on their own initiatives, there is a whole wide world of activities taking place. Here are three observations from the Kauffman Foundation after the recent Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC).

When 171 nations gathered in Istanbul, Turkey, to discuss the future of entrepreneurship, it showed that entrepreneurship has moved beyond the fringes of economic development planning. Each country was represented by some officials in the highest levels of their respective governments, emphasizing the importance of the role entrepreneurs play in building stronger economies.

We need to remember that many countries aren’t so fortunate. While at GEC, we spoke with two entrepreneurs from Venezuela. They work aggressively to infuse entrepreneurship into their homeland, and they believe entrepreneurship can transform communities. However, they are facing innumerable obstacles with an economy in disarray and a government not supportive of entrepreneurship, currently making Venezuela one of the toughest countries in which to start a business. For these two entrepreneurs, at least, conditions are so challenging, they run their activities from exile.

We in the United States face countless barriers to take an idea and make it an economic reality. However, we should also be thankful that we have the support of our governments – federal, state, and local.

In the U.S., systemic barriers have left women too far behind in starting and growing enterprises. In 2018, women are still half as likely as men to own employer businesses. That’s unacceptable.

In addition to advancing the Kauffman Foundation’s strategies in reducing barriers for women entrepreneurs, we as an organization have been working on being more aware of our own unconscious bias. One thing that was troubling throughout GEC was how representatives from some countries talked about entrepreneurship. To some, they believe entrepreneurship was a male-only venture. It was even more obvious when those same individuals were on more diverse panel discussions and attempted to dominate the conversation by talking over women panelists. It’s something that we all need to be more alert to and speak up on.

Our nation needs to take note. Other countries are approaching the work of supporting entrepreneurship with a passion and zeal. We can no longer take for granted that the U.S. is on the cutting edge of innovation and change. Countries like Estonia, Congo and the Philippines all see entrepreneurship as a pathway to a better future for their communities and nations. They are working aggressively to support entrepreneurs through coordinated strategies that enhance education, training and eliminate barriers to access of capital and the start-up process.

We need to keep moving forward, and quickly, or others will outpace us. We can do it, but we can’t be complacent in our approach. We must act with intentional urgency.

Tech Talk: Who Deserves ‘Dynamic’ Award for 2018?

A good sign of Indiana’s growing innovation and entrepreneurship stature is that it continues to get more difficult to select the winner of the Indiana Chamber’s annual Dynamic Leader of the Year award.

For 29 years, the Chamber has recognized business, government and community excellence. In 2015, the Dynamic Leader honor was added to the mix. The official definition:

This award honors a leader who is working toward achieving goals outlined in the Indiana Vision 2025 economic development plan, particularly the Dynamic and Creative Culture driver that focuses on entrepreneurship and new business creation/expansion.

In other words, it’s business success and helping grow the local/regional/state tech and innovation ecosystem.

Here are the first three honorees and their BizVoice magazine stories:

Nominations for the 2018 honor are due no later than June 15. It’s a straightforward process. Details and the online form are available at www.indianachamber.com/annual-awards-dinner/.

The awards dinner, taking place November 13 at the Indiana Convention Center, will feature keynote speaker J.D. Vance. Look for more soon on the author, venture capitalist and Midwest evangelist for business and economic growth. It’s not too early to secure your table or tickets.

Indiana Humanities Offers ‘Shelfie’ Challenge

I was a little too excited when I saw the Shelfie Challenge from the Indiana Humanities Quantum Leap program. A reading contest where you win a $10 Amazon gift card at the end? Sign me up!

Alas, I skimmed right over the information that the program is only for Hoosier middle schoolers in grades 5-8. So, I can’t participate, but maybe you know a middle schooler who might be looking for some new reading material this summer.

The 10 books in this challenge are all about women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). A mix of fiction, non-fiction and graphic novel, but all about women and girls in science.

Here’s why it caught my eye initially: I have a 6-year-old little girl at home who is enthralled in the sciences and math! She’s always been a curious thinker and is a natural questioner of her surroundings, wanting to understand how things work and why.

Recently, we were flipping through the parks and recreation catalog for our hometown and while I encouraged her to look at the sporting options (I’m also always looking for ways to tire her out in the summer), she opted instead for the “All About Birds” STEM program. Of course!

And the other night there was a nature documentary on PBS about hummingbirds, so we had to stop and watch it, naturally.

This is a topic that really hits home for our family and even though I’m too old and she’s too young to participate in this particular challenge, I’m so happy to see a list of books on this topic – and you can bet we’re going to be adding these to our reading list anyway.

To enter the challenge, read at least five books from the list by the end of 2018. Take some notes about what you’re reading or how you feel about it and fill out an online survey and voila – that $10 Amazon gift card is yours!

Tech Talk: OPT May Be Partial Answer to Talent Needs

Those in the talent attraction business – and who isn’t these days – probably know about the H-1B visa program and the cap challenges that come with it. Less well known in general, but surging in popularity among foreign students, is the Optional Practice Training (OPT) program.

OPT allows foreign graduates to seek temporary work anywhere in the country that is directly related to their field of study. According to the State Science & Technology Institute, foreign STEM graduates participating in OPT grew by 400% from 2008 to 2016. In recent years, OPT approvals outpaced H-1B visas.

The leading regions retaining foreign students graduating from local colleges are New York (85%), Seattle (84%) and Honolulu (83%). The metro areas with the largest share of foreign graduates coming from other metros are San Jose (71%), Kansas City (69%) and Peoria, Illinois (66%).

An in-depth story from the Pew Research Center explains it all. Below are a few excerpts.

More than half (53%) of the foreign graduates approved for employment specialized in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data.

Foreign students obtaining authorization to remain and work in the U.S. after graduation come from all corners of the globe, but the majority of them hold citizenship in Asia. Students from India, China and South Korea made up 57% of all OPT participants between 2004 and 2016.

While both programs give foreign workers temporary employment authorization in the U.S., they are different in a number of ways. For instance, only foreign students on an F-1 visa with a higher education degree from a U.S. college or university are eligible for the OPT program, whereas any foreign worker with a degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher is permitted to apply for the H-1B visa.

Also, unlike the H-1B visa program, which imposes an annual cap of 65,000 visas to private companies sponsoring foreign workers, there is no cap on the number of approvals available under the OPT program; all F-1 visa holders are eligible to apply. Furthermore, foreign students do not require employer sponsorship to apply for OPT, while the H-1B visa program requires employers to directly sponsor the foreign workers they intend to hire.

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.

Tech Talk: Resources to Keep Your Business on Fast Track

Technology and innovation might be driving growth, but a successful organization can’t ignore several business necessities. The Indiana Chamber offers three valuable partner programs for members, the most recent announced this week and addressing the top challenge – workforce – for many companies no matter their industry.

We encourage Chamber members to take advantage of the following. If your company is not a member, reach out to Brett Hulse at (317) 264-6858 to learn more about all the Chamber benefits.

Achieve Your Degree: This program from Ivy Tech Community College makes the employee education and training process seamless. Chamber members receive a 5% discount on existing or future tuition assistance programs. Deferred payments and direct assistance from Ivy Tech on admission, financial aid, tutoring and more are part of the mix.


ChamberCare Solutions: Health care options in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to meet your needs, including a PEO offering (ChamberCare Business Resources) that allows you to offer competitive benefits with expert assistance from a partner that focuses on that mission each day. This allows you to concentrate on continued business growth.

Staples Business Advantage: It’s not just office supplies, but furniture, print capabilities, promotional products, facility needs and more. A group purchasing programs allows you to save as much as 30% on products you are already using or new items.

Check out other Chamber member benefits!

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.