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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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).”
Dustin Sapp is now CEO of TinderBox. But he cut his entrepreneurial teeth while at Rose-Hulman, and built executive experience while at Vontoo. He’s now a leader in Central Indiana’s start-up scene, a mentor and devoted family man. See why he earned the Indiana Chamber’s first ever Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year Award.
Indiana's strong business climate and favorable cost of living is making the Hoosier state a popular place for startup businesses. As this blog and BizVoice feature about DeveloperTown convey, Silicon Valley doesn't have much on the budding ideas and energy emanating from the heartland — especially in Central Indiana. Tuesday, five Indiana entrepreneurs are meeting with White House staff in Washington, D.C. about how to make Indiana's startup climate even better. Below is an excerpt from a press release, as well as background on Indiana's representatives as written by Kevin Hitchen of Localstake.
Startup leaders from across the country will convene in Washington, D.C. on February 5th to meet with administration officials to discuss the importance of fostering vibrant startup communities throughout the U.S. These Startup America Region Champions will also unveil their regions’ plans to push their startup ecosystems to the next level. Representatives from the Small Business Administration, Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Commerce will take part in the meeting.
Participating regions include: Startup Arizona, Startup Colorado, Startup DC, Startup Indiana, Startup Iowa, Startup Maryland, Startup North Carolina, Startup Nebraska, Startup Tennessee, Startup Texas and Startup Virginia. This meeting will be preceded by the Kauffman Foundation’s State of Entrepreneurship luncheon and followed by a reception hosted by Startup DC at the brand new D.C. startup hub 1776.
Indiana's representation includes:
Michael Coffey, who raised $2.5 in 60 days in 2010 and started a niche marketing company, moved from Napa Valley to Indianapolis because he is so impressed with Indiana's startup scene. In 2012, he became partner at DeveloperTown.
Kevin Hitchen is one of the founders of Localstake, a new investment marketplace that allows individuals to invest in local private businesses. Localstake recently registered as a broker-dealer with the SEC and FINRA, so it can offer private business investing before the JOBS Act is implemented.
Matt Hunckler is the founder of Verge, a 2,000-member platform for software entrepreneurs in the Midwest. He leads startup efforts at Social Reactor, a premium social engagement platform based in Carmel.
Michael Langellier is the new CEO of TechPoint, Indiana’s technology growth initiative. He cofounded MyJibe, which he sold to MoneyDesktop in November 2011.
Dustin Sapp is president and co-founder of TinderBox, the third company he has helped start in Indianapolis. He has been recognized locally and regionally for efforts in entrepreneurship.