13 Skills You Should Learn Before Starting Your Business

We all have business skills we wish we learned sooner. For some it’s sales, for others it’s office politics. For me it’s how to fix a damn paper jam. Regardless of your situation, one thing is clear: We all could stand to learn things sooner rather than later. Today, 13 Entrepreneurs answer the question:

What’s one skill you wish you learned earlier that would’ve helped you launch your business?

John Rood1. Basic Bookkeeping

Starting as a solopreneur, it was easy to keep books in a simple spreadsheet. However, I kept at that for a year longer than I should have. It’s worth investing a couple thousand upfront to get someone to set up your books and accounts the right way.
- John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation


Corey Blake2. Grace

I have always been agenda driven. As I get older, I find that I’m learning the skill of grace, which is about being present with people where they are, with no agenda. So rather than approaching sales from the standpoint of closing, grace allows me to approach sales from the standpoint of alignment. That saves massive headaches down the road, breeds confidence and adds value, which adds revenue.
- Corey Blake, Round Table Companies


Mark Krassner3. Leadership

When I first started out, I thought that leadership was about being nice and making people’s lives as easy as possible. While I do still think it’s paramount to be kind and compassionate, I’ve learned that leading means challenging people, and encouraging them to do something that’s outside of their comfort zone. This perspective shift has helped accelerate my business at high-octane speeds.
- Mark Krassner, Knee Walker Central


Martina Welke4. Adaptability

In retrospect, I think one of the things that slowed us down in the early days of our business was our attachment to our original vision and expectations of how it would evolve. Instead of learning from moments of resistance along the way, we tried to force our assumptions into reality. Now, I try to remain open to surprises and change course accordingly.
- Martina Welke, Zealyst


Ryan Flanker5. Focus

Avoid spreading yourself too thin and focus on one thing instead. At VerbalizeIt, we try to avoid the word “and,” as in, “we focus on this and this and this.” We made mistakes early on by trying to create a solution for every customer use case. Eventually we learned that doing so was not sustainable. It’s okay to say no and to focus on one’s core vision.
- Ryan Frankel, VerbalizeIt


dave-nevogt6. Reverse Thinking

Earlier in my career and when I first launched my business, I thought very much in terms of the “next step” without giving as much attention to the impact those decisions would have on my business down the road. Now, my decision making process involves reverse thinking. It works by taking the desired end result and building the required steps leading up to it.
- Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com


Brittany Hodak7. Graphic Design

I own a content creation company but have no design experience. When it’s difficult to express an idea or concept, I have to try to hack my thoughts together on paper or in PowerPoint. I wish I’d taken the time to learn InDesign in college.
- Brittany Hodak, ZinePak


Andrew Thomas8. Risk Assessment

The ability to accurately assess risk is a skill I have learned over time yet wish I had learned earlier. I can certainly point to opportunities that I did not pursue because I overestimated the risk. You can take a few more chances when you are young and I wish I had approached those opportunities from the “why not” perspective that I do now.
- Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Technologies, Inc.


Brennan White9. Sustained Networking

Early on in my career, I thought of networking as a discreet task that could be started and finished. I’ve come to learn that networking never ends and is simply an extension of relationship (and friendship) building, which is something I’ve always been great at. Once I took the label away and realized I already possessed the needed skills, my businesses have taken off in new, exciting ways.
- Brennan White, Watchtower


Liam Martin10. Employee Management

The skill I’m really trying to learn is how to become a good manager. I’ve discovered that employee management is a lot more difficult than I thought, and that to continue to scale I have to spend more time managing people than actually doing tasks. For entrepreneurs this can be difficult, and if I had worked under a good manager previously it probably would have helped me considerably now.
- Liam Martin, Staff.com


Janis Krums11. Coding

Finding quality developers inexpensively is really difficult. Had I known how to code, I could have not only built a prototype of our business model much faster, but also increased the rate at which we developed the actual platform. What at times has taken months to complete would have taken days — which would have allowed the company to quickly understand what worked and what didn’t.
- Janis Krums, OPPRTUNITY


Juha Liikala12. Delegation

Money is always tight in the startup phase. Don’t let that lure you into trying to do everything yourself. Focus on your strengths, utilize them and delegate other mission critical roles. You might have to hire a professional, but when compared to the fact that you might not launch at all because of your DIY approach? It’s just not worth it. Value your time and delegate.
- Juha Liikala, Stripped Bare Media


Ioannis Verdelis13. Marketing Savvy

I should have learned more about marketing and PR. It is now a strong part of our business, but we learned how to do this by making dozens of mistakes first.
- Ioannis Verdelis, Fleksy

From Powder Keg to Silicon Valley

As Indy prepares to pitch for Super Bowl 2018, it seems fitting to reflect on the Powder Keg Startup Bowl of 2012. Just 18 months ago Marc Kleinman and I took the stage at the inaugural PowderKeg to pitch Diagnotes, a health IT venture based in Indianapolis.

diagnotes at powder keg
Please vote here to support Diagnotes, an Indiana HIT venture!

Verge put together a great event, with the Startup Bowl just one of many awesome activities that gained national attention. We joined 10 other finalists in a competition fitting the location, Lucas Oil Stadium.

It was an honor to share the stage with up and coming entrepreneurs like Max Yoder of Lesson.ly and Santiago Jaramillo of BlueBridge Digital, ventures that have themselves gone on to accomplish great things. While billed as a competition, from a great MC in Pete the Planner to an outstanding judge panel the event truly reflected the passion and cooperative spirit that embodies the Indiana venture community. Of course, it was even more special to me personally given that my daughter Lindsey, a new addition to the local venture scene after graduating from Rose-Hulman in 2012, helped organize (and write about) the event.

Diagnotes Pitches at Powder Keg

The Startup Bowl marked a key transition for Diagnotes. For over two years technical founder Bharath Bynagari had led development of the core technology in conjunction with partner Community Health Network to sow the seeds of what is now Diagnotes. Following a successful pilot project, we were able to lure Dave Wortman, serial entrepreneur and longtime IT visionary, to lead Diagnotes startup team as CEO in the transition from a cool project to a high-potential venture.

We engaged DeveloperTown as a partner to develop a kick-ass interface and a scalable technology platform.  Marc joined the team, and we enjoyed a series of wins in 2012 including the Hoosier Healthcare Innovation Challenge and Biocrossroads venture competition. All the accolades culminated in raising over $1.5 million in funding in 2013, allowing Diagnotes to build a team and begin to scale. In 2014, Diagnotes has a core group of paying customers with hundreds of doctors using the system.

Today, Diagnotes is a finalist in a global venture competition called Launch: Silicon Valley World Cup Tech Challenge being held on May 20 at Microsoft’s campus in Mountain View, CAWe are neck-in- neck with an Israeli venture in the HealthTech category as well as several other strong contenders. 

Please follow this link to vote: http://www.launchsiliconvalley.org/healthTech. You can vote on every device you own, so don’t be shy!

This competition in and of itself won’t create further success for Diagnotes—but just as  being a finalist in the Startup Bowl, it could be another key milestone in a journey bringing national recognition, jobs, and investor returns to the Indiana venture scene. You can view some of the original pitch in an Indianapolis Business Journal article here.

Thanks for your help and support! And please plan to join the next pitch fest at the Innovation Showcase in July (see www.theinnovationshowcase.com).

Processes and productivity hacks for entrepreneurs

The following answers are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

What is your top “hack” for making more impact on your business faster?

Liam Martin1. Taking Shorter Meetings
I’m constantly surprised by employees who are allowed to set up several-hour-long meetings. Next time you’re in a meeting, ask yourself how much money is going down the tube every minute the team sits there. Instead, we switched everything to email and project management software and have online meetings that anyone can jump in or out of at any time.
- Liam Martin, Staff.com


Tim Jahn2. Maintaining Accountability

What is your best productivity or process hack? What’s the most “out there” tactic you’ve tried?

Far too often, your team will have a meeting that produces next-step action items. But then nobody actually executes on those action items, and you’re back at square one. Ensure everyone is accountable for those action items, and keep the progress written down somewhere with a tool such as Trello or a Google Doc spreadsheet.
- Tim Jahn, matchist


Ryan Buckley3. Attending Retreats

Retreats sound counterintuitive, but there’s no substitute for getting your team on the same page. This usually requires food and a change of scenery. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to think creatively and get inspired. It’s true what they say: your environment fosters habit.
- Ryan Buckley, Scripted, Inc.


Andrew Schrage4. Avoiding Multitasking

Unless you’re knocking out two relatively mundane tasks at the same time, you’re better off concentrating on projects individually, completing them without any interruptions whatsoever and then moving on to the next item. Multitasking is overrated, and it can easily lead to you becoming less productive.
- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance


Matt Murphy5. Using a Freelance Team

Establish a “follow the sun” model by using freelancers. If your business is operating from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., you’re only utilizing a third of the day. Overseas freelancers are available to continue projects as you sleep, which moves things along two to three times faster.
- Matt Murphy, Global Citizens Travel


Alexandra Levit 26. Using Sophisticated Apps

In particular, If This Then That connects up to Google Apps and allows them to talk to each other without your intervention. Basically, you create your own recipes so that if a particular trigger is present, an action is generated. One example of a recipe: “If I am endorsed on LinkedIn, publish a tweet on Twitter.” It’s the Holy Grail of automation.
- Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work


Cody McKibben7. Creating More Systems

If you want to really scale and grow, your primary job is never to continue doing the work. Your job is to continue building processes. Spend your time learning about systems, turning business processes into clear step-by-step procedures and creating thorough standard operating documents. Then, find reliable people to whom you can delegate those processes. Work on your business, not in it.
- Cody McKibben, Digital Nomad Academy


Derek Flanzraich8. Investing in Faster Internet

It’s stunning how often faster Internet is overlooked, but we basically invest as much as people will allow us to on our Internet speed. We’re on it all the time, so nothing relieves stress and improves efficiency like blazing fast Internet.
- Derek Flanzraich, Greatist


Robert-J.-Moore9. Displaying Performance Data

We have wall-mounted TV screens that display up-to-the-minute company performance data. This keeps everyone on the same page about what’s important and motivates everyone to make as big an impact as possible.
- Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics

10 Startup Trends We Can Really Live Without (Seriously)

The following answers are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

What’s one so-called startup “trend” you can’t wait to see GO AWAY ASAP, and why? (Be specific about the what and why, please.)

Tim Jahn1. Made-Up Titles
I can’t wait to see terms like “growth hacker” go away because they don’t make any sense. A “growth hacker” is simply a data/analytics person, a role that has been around for years and years. Startup folks love to make up new titles for decades-old roles every few years.
- Tim Jahn, matchist



Ryan Buckley2. Lobster Font

I’ll admit that when we changed our logo to the lobster font over a year ago, I loved it. We hired a designer on 99designs for a new logo. The whole team loved it. We trashed the fancy logos.

Now, I see lobster font everywhere, both in print and online. It seems like every new startup is putting its logo in lobster. It’s practically a startup meme. In fact, we made a website
(http://f***yeahlobster.tumblr.com/) — replace the ***– to track the deployment of lobster font around the Internet and Bay Area!

- Ryan Buckley, Scripted, Inc.

Derek Shanahan3. Launch Parties

Launch parties make you a joke in my book. I’m not talking about launch events, like conferences or even self-hosted events to attract your target market to your company as part of a launch strategy. I’m talking about parties that celebrate a company launching its product. Seriously? You couldn’t find something smarter to do than burn up a cash bar? I never root against entrepreneurs but, if I started, these are the ones I’d pick first.
- Derek Shanahan, Playerize


Aaron Schwartz4. Unremarkable “Pivots”

A startup “pivot,” popularized by Eric Ries and the Lean Startup model, has many meanings. Most frequently, a “pivot” is a change in your business model, a strategic move that a company makes after lots of experimentation and customer feedback.

Many companies seem to use the term as a badge of honor: “Yes, we have tested and listened to customers! We’re a lean startup!” Too often, however, the company has only made a small shift in a small part of the business. Changing an email template is not a pivot. Nor is rearranging a customer service flow. Change your business, then own your pivot!

- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

kelsey Meyer5. Mastermind Groups

I am a proponent of entrepreneurs sharing ideas and bouncing ideas off each other. I’m not a fan of mastermind groups that charge a $20,000 entry fee and appear to be more about ego than real idea-sharing. I’ve seen a trend lately of entrepreneurs talking about what mastermind groups they are in before they discuss which companies they work on. I don’t think that’s a positive trend.
- Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.


Kim Kaupe6. Overwhelming Apps

“So, do you have an app?” is always one of the top three questions off the bat at any “entrepreneurial” or “startup” networking event. The minute it becomes apparent that I have nothing to do with apps (and that I happen to be tech illiterate!), it’s as if I told the Mean Girls to add me to the Burn Book. The last time I checked, the $10 million consumers spent on ‘ZinePaks in 2012 outweighed the 10,000 people who downloaded your app in the last year. Don’t be so quick to discount something that doesn’t come from the App Store.
- Kim Kaupe, ‘ZinePak



Kit Hickey7. The Belief that the Amount of Money Raised is Equal to How Successful You Are

As an entrepreneur at business school, the first question my classmates always ask is “how much have you raised!?” as if success is tied to funding amount. \I hope people quickly realize that raising a lot of money doesn’t equal success, rather, that success should be judged by an amazing product, market demand, a strong brand and a great team.
- Kit Hickey, Ministry of Supply



Andrew Schrage8. BYOD Policies

The trend of establishing a BYOD (bring your own device) policy at a business should probably just go away. It’s debatable whether it makes employees more productive, and it can cause plenty of security issues. You also run the risk of overloading your IT department, as well as alienating older staff members who may not want to buy a mobile device just to comply with the policy.
- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance


Thursday-Bram9. Exit-Oriented Planning

Plenty of startups are founded with the goal of a short-term exit. I’m not necessarily against looking for exit opportunities for a new company, but if that’s your only plan — starting a new company, just to sell it off within a few months or a year — you’re doing it wrong. Even assuming that you can be sure you’re building something that another company will want to purchase, the attitude that you’re not in it for the long haul can make it hard to create a quality company worth selling.
- Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting



10. Mashup Descriptions

I’d love to see people stop describing their startups in terms of other companies. I cringe when I hear things like “It’s Yelp meets LinkedIn, with a twist of Airbnb running cloud-based apps on AWS.” Find a simple way to describe what you do, nicely and elegantly. Latching on to successful companies is not a recipe for success, and it’s more likely to confuse people.
- Anderson Schoenrock, ScanDigital

9 Ideas for Finding Great Startup Mentors and Connections (No Matter Where You Are)

The following answers are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

What’s your best little-known advice for finding/meeting awesome people to help your startup outside the major tech hubs?

Tim Jahn1. Get Out
Go to local industry events in your area, no matter how small they might appear to be. Search sites like Eventbrite and Meetup to see what relevant events are happening near you. Get out and meet people in person!
- Tim Jahn, matchist



kelsey Meyer2. Attend Conferences

A few of my team members attend about one conference a month. Some of the best ones we’ve gone to for networking are the Everywhere Else Startup Conference and Underground. These are great ways to meet potential partners, customers, advisors, etc., outside of your geographic region.
- Kelsey Meyer, Digital Talent Agents



Aaron Schwartz3. Leverage Startup America

Register for Startup America. This is a two-year-old organization backed by the White House, Kauffman, Case Foundation and many large companies. There are regional leadership groups in most states that are helping to connect the local entrepreneurial scene. Each region hosts events, and the leadership is comprised of volunteers — normally entrepreneurs — who simply want to help.
- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

4. Ask for Intros

Martina WelkeWhen I travel, I usually email a few key contacts in each city before I arrive, asking them who else I should meet while I’m in town. The key when making this request is to understand your own needs so your contacts can introduce you to the right people. It’s a great way to lay the foundation for serendipity!
- Martina Welke, Zealyst



5. Look at a Map of Your Industry

Emerson Spartz

LUMA Partners makes industry maps that show you the different companies in your industry and what they do. This is a valuable tool for researching all the partners and v

endors who could elevate your business to the next level. Cold call or email the most relevant companies — you don’t need to be in the same city to create value for each other.- Emerson Spartz, Spartz


6. Start With Incubators and Accelerators

Technology and startup crowds cluster around innovation hubs, so in most smaller cities, this activity is centered around incubators, accelerators and

startup co-working spaces.

Derek ShanahanThis is usually ground zero for founders, vendors, investors and mentors, and this is often where you’ll find the local startup community’s heartbeat. Go there and introduce yourself to everyone!

Derek Shanahan, Playerize



Thursday-Bram7. Introduce Yourself

I make notes on interesting people I want to meet — people who have written great blog posts, been on TV, etc. — and I make a point of contacting three people off my list every day. It may be a simple introduction, or there may be something I have in mind for the process. Either way, you can’t wait around for other people to network for you.
- Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting


doreen-bloch8. Use Clarity

Clarity is a really neat site started by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. The goal is to make it easy for early-stage founders to find and speak with experts across the startup ecosystem. Whether you’re seeking a mentor, an advisor, an investor or something else, Clarity may be the one-stop site you need, especially if you live outside a major tech hotbed.
- Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.


Brittany Hodak9. Surf Like a Stalker

Think like an Internet stalker … except less creepy. My co-founder and I regularly play the “six degrees of separation” game with our LinkedIn and Facebook connections. When we find someone who looks interesting, we ask for an introduction (or, if we’ve veered REALLY far from the original connection, we make a cold call). The Internet is a beautiful thing — use it to your social advantage.
- Brittany Hodak, ‘ZinePak

Awesome startup communities create ‘Startup Triangle’ in SW Indiana.

The startup scene has really taken off in southwest Indiana over the last several months. Terre Haute, Evansville and Bloomington seem to form a ‘startup triangle’ for the region.


For starters, there has been no lack of Startup Weekend events. The first Crane event launched on October 5th, 2012. Bloomington on November 9th, 2012. Terre Haute‘s first ever event on February 8th, and right on it’s heels Startup Weekend Evansville 2.0 kicked off on February 22nd. Not to be left out, a little outside the triangle Louisville, Kentucky fired off an event the following weekend!


As we prepared for Startup Weekend Terre Haute, Demi Wetzel was kind enough to Skype in and give our ‘How To Prep meetup a great Q & A session. Demi hails from Evansville and after attending her first Startup Weekend, she found her calling. Demi now works for Startup Weekend HQ in Seattle Washington!


As I watched the Sunday night pitches in Evansville this year, Andrew Moad and his team walked away with 1st place honors. Andrews startup is a physical product called Fence Chips. Andrew had joined my team at Startup Weekend Crane in 2012 and was a huge help pushing through those 54 hours.


Another very active team in the Indiana startup scene is Matt Burris and Jessica Falkenthal. I had the pleasure of meeting both at Startup Weekend Bloomington back in May 2012. Jessica graciously agreed to lead my team at that event. Both are at every Bloomtech and Verge Bloomington meetup I’ve ever attended! Plus they have been the facilitators at Startup Weekend events in Bloomington, Crane, Terre Haute and Evansville. Wow!

Bloomtech meetup

Of course I can’t leave out Bloomington’s own Nick Tippman. Nick has helped organize Startup Weekend events and was recently invited to speak at Evansville’s event in February. Nick is no stranger to the startup life and is now CEO of a relatively new – and very cool startup based out of Memphis, TN called Nibletz - ‘The voice of startups everywhere else’.


Another tie to both Bloomington and Evansville is Andrew Heil. Andrew mentored at the first Startup Weekend I attended held in Bloomington and organized Evansville’s events. These days he works his 9-5 in Evansville then jets off to Bloomington each evening to work on his new startup – Tourize. I talked to Andrew recently about this cool new app. Here is what he said:

Tourize (www.tourize.com) is a new way to travel. We are creating a mobile platform to consume tours from professional guides. We believe that often times knowledge is missing as each tourist experiences a new attraction or is planning a new trip. I will be able to take you on a demo soon..

Currently, we are working through RunUp Labs. Runup labs is a travel startup accelerator which is a 10 week program and helping 7 companies launch. It’s been great. My team and I have been working around the clock and of course learning a whole lot.

The interesting part of the story: As you may know it is March Madness season and I decided that it was time to incorporate the signup process with the time of the year to peek interest in our travel startup… This was no longer a sign up form, but a bracket of people interested in travel fighting for the number 1 seed.

This turned into a road to the early access of tourize and not just a launch rock page. This is a big dance tournament where each person that signs up is given information and a link to share. The more each link is shared – the more you score and the more you win.

When I set out to launch this, I thought if “Hipster” could get 10k signups with just a launch page and mailbox app could make a que of 600k signups, certainly I could make madness in march happen!

And it’s starting to – we launched on Sunday 3/24 and have already passed 1,000 page views rather quickly in the first 5 hours. We’ve continued to that rate and are at 2,500 page views in the first 36 hours. After reaching out to people who have signed up, people are interested in the hype of a new way to travel and of course, being part of the tournament!

We can’t wait to see where the next 6 days goes and all the way down to the final four early adopters of Tourize!

The link is www.tourize.com - please sign up and play! “

You can find Andrew at most Evansville Tech on Tap meetups each month.

Tech on Tap Meetup

One of southern Indiana’s startup scene champions is Drew Peyronnin. Drew hosts the Tech on Tap meetups in Evansville and has become a Startup Weekend regular like most of us! Tech on Tap is a great networking event and has grown by leaps and bounds over the last year. Drew has been involved in many of the ‘startup triangle’ events and was the keynote speaker at our Terre Haute event. A huge applause is standard fair after his insightful talks.


It’s amazing how the Indiana startup communities are tied together and support each other. Maybe that’s Hoosier hospitality showing itself.


Over the last few weeks Bryan Jackson and I have been discussing the next step in the evolution of the Wabash Valley startup, tech and innovation community.  We both want to see the startup and tech community grow to foster a living, breathing culture that benefits everyone. Bryan started the Tech Haute meetups with similar goals as Terre Haute Tech and has hosted great seminars on popular social media tools and how to use them in business.


After discussing the benefits and future possibilities we have decided to join forces and merge both groups, combining memberships.  This will foster even more great connections in our startup community. Bryan has been working on the new Tech Haute site as the next step in this exciting merger.  We are planning some awesome things for our members and the Terre Haute startup scene.


It’s been very exciting to see the startup culture grow and to be a part of it. There are many others not mentioned here that make this community thrive, but that’s for another day. If your not involved in your startup community and events, now is the time! The connections, learning and business opportunities that happen at each event are hard to put a price on. So join a startup meetup and get plugged in to this amazing southwest Indiana startup triangle!





Ramping Up Your Indiana-based Startup This Year? This Could Be Your Golden Ticket.

UPDATE: Deadline extended to 2:30 PM, Fri. January 4

They’ve given away hundreds of airline tickets to entrepreneurs. They’ve granted millions of dollars worth of software. And they’re looking for a handful of founders who want ramp up their business in 2013.

Come on, you know who I’m talking about…

Startup Golden TicketStartup America has been known to leverage their partnerships with companies like American Airlines, Intuit, Microsoft, and the New York Stock Exchange to pull in massive favors for growing companies. Just take a glance at their board, which includes a LinkedIn co-founder, Netflix CEO, the CEO at FedEx, and Magic Johnson (as in the former-NBA-superstar Magic Johnson).  These “Wonkas” of the business world are connected and have offered to plug up to 10 fast-growing Indiana companies into their network and resources to ramp up that business in 2013.

Looking for that next national brand to sign on to your product as a customer? Or in need of some high-powered promotion to spread your brand success story?

Startup America is going to help through it’s local Startup Indiana chapter. But you have to take the first step, and it’s down to the wire.

Here’s how to apply…

This golden-ticket opportunity for companies with proven traction and momentum. Startup America will assist you by pouring gas on the fire. This is what we’re looking for our Startup Indiana ramp-up company:

That’s it. But you MUST apply by noon on Friday, January 4 if you want a chance to win this golden ticket. I know that’s a quick turnaround time, but that hasn’t stopped you in the past from taking advantage of big opportunities, has it?

Don’t put this off.  Even if you don’t win the golden ticket, our team at Startup Indiana will help you out in any way we can.



How Dave Knox and the Brandery Launched 25+ Companies in 3 Years

San Francisco, Boulder, New York City. These are the kinds of cities you expect to hear in a lineup of top cities with startup activity. But there’s something in the water in an old industrial Midwest city.

Dave Knox The BranderyDave Knox called Cincinnati his home for years and worked with one of the largest companies, Procter & Gamble, for nearly a decade. The marketing skills he gained during his work for a Fortune 50 company set him up to co-found The Brandery, a startup accelerator focused on businesses where branding and strategic marketing are some of their most differentiating value propositions.

Knox will join a founder-fueled lineup of keynotes for this October’s Powder Keg conference, and The Brandery’s Demo Day is this week. With so much going on, we figured it would be the perfect opportunity to get to know Dave Knox a bit better. Here’s the interview:

Dave Knox and The Brandery Accelerate Entrepreneurship in the Midwest

Themes in this video:

  • Serendipity is a good thing.
  • Figure out what you want to learn and find the best place in the world to go learn it.
  • Know your audience and find innovative ways to reach them.
  • Find your “Bowling Pin Strategy.”
  • Embrace tenacity and a proactive drive.
  • Support the community and pay it forward.

Watch the interview with Dave Knox to learn these entrepreneurial lessons and startup strategies from The Brandery. You can also find more lessons in entrepreneurship and startup marketing by following Dave on twitter and his personal blog, Hard Knox Life.

BOOM. The Terre Haute Startup Scene Explodes!

There’s momentum in Indy. All the great startup things happening in Indianapolis like Verge Indy, DeveloperTown and The Speak Easy, plus all of the Startup Weekends and monthly startup meetups, are motivating. But, how is this affecting Indiana as a whole? Well, I can start by speaking to the budding startup scene around Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley.

And, I say it’s exploding!

Terre Haute Tech and Bizprops

Some of the Terre Haute Tech crew at the July event talking with Tony Monteleone of Bizprops.

Let me explain. After attending several startup meetups in Bloomington and Indianapolis, over the last year I found a living, breathing tech startup culture right here in Indiana – it’s a bit of a hidden secret that’s on the cusp of being nationally recognized. In May of 2012, I attended my first Startup Weekend in Bloomington. It’s an unforgettable experience of startup mania played out over 54 straight hours of full throttle, non-stop action. Soon after recovering I realized what I had to do – bring that startup adrenaline rush back to the Wabash Valley! A few days later, I called an old college buddy and fellow geek, George Bowles, to explain how the startup scene is exploding. After just a few minutes of geek talk, we had our new tech startup meetup formed – Terre Haute Tech. The next day, we had our first member, Bryan Jackson, sign up. The following day, Bryan calls me saying he just signed up on Terre Haute Tech and has wanted to do the same thing for a long time! Awesome. After just three months, membership continues to grow each week.

So who else is in the local startup scene?

I talked with Paul Cardwell, President of Anedix Technologies, a Terre Haute software development company, about the local startup scene.

“I see a number of companies starting projects. From the mobile space, I am seeing it spike up, such as: Medical Apps, Legal Apps, Game Apps, News Mobile Websites, Internal Company Apps. In short, mobile is becoming more and more prevalent (phone and tablet),” Cardwell said. “I see tech people leaving, but some staying. The problem is, there isn’t an incubator offering in Terre Haute that handles non-student lead ventures (that I know of). It would be a good thing to see one spring up to help and/or fund local start-ups.”

Paul explained that they are developing mobile apps (and cloud/network enabled) using Corona SDK for Android and iPhone. http://www.coronalabs.com/

He enjoys building mobile apps and has been working on a cloud music player with animations.

Lance Gahimer has been working with local tech companies for several years and recently started a LinkedIn group for local IT folks to meet, greet and collaborate each month called Wabash Valley IT & Technology Council. Lance hosted the group’s first event in July and had a great turnout.  Many of the IT folks are also startup minded.

And there’s more. Our friend Bryan Jackson is taking an educational approach and has started a new meetup group called Tech Haute and has held a seminar on how to create a killer facebook fan page for your business. The group’s next meetup is about how to add Twitter to your social media arsenal.

Finally, a startup for startups is in the works in Terre Haute. The yet-to-be-named micro-incubator/co-working space will cater to tech startups by offering a great space to work and hang out with other like minded individuals, secretarial services, fast internet access, an in-house developer and evening mentor sessions with professionals of various business disciplines. It’s first startup is already in the works, a doctor-oriented medical application. I’ll be working with a local business owner to bring this space to fruition and, at the same time, ramp up the medical app.

While participating in Startup Weekend Bloomington this spring, I met several startup enthusiasts from around Indiana. Team EV Racing, one of the six teams chosen to compete, was a group of students from Rose Hulman. They had a great startup idea for an electric race car team that competes against gasoline and diesel vehicles. They even had a professional race driver interested in driving!

David Fisher, a Rose Hulman professor and member of Terre Haute Tech has been on a year long ‘tech sabbatical’ at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA. Sounds great, huh? Just to add some more pizazz, he also spent the three previous summers at Apple helping develop an Apple-Nike interface to be built into certain Nike running shoes. He brings those iOS, Android and Silicon Valley experiences back to Terre Haute to share with the next generation of Rose students.

Mitchell Landiss from Rose Hulman Ventures attended the July Terre Haute Tech event. He gave a great introduction on how his organization can help local startups, not only with product development at the 35,000 square-foot facility, but also with funding by offering venture capital through the Rose Hulman Ventures Success Fund.

“Rose-Hulman Ventures successfully collaborates with companies of all sizes – start-ups, growth-stage, and global corporations. Our client base operates locally, regionally, and at the national and global levels. The majority of our clients are located across Indiana. However, we also work with companies outside Indiana that bring a unique learning experience for our students,” Landiss said.

With all of the Regional Colleges and Universities the potential for tech startup talent is huge!

Ball State University
DePauw University
Indiana State University
Ivy Tech State College
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Harrison Business College
Vincennes University
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

When you combine startup talent with local tech meetups, co-working spaces, micro-incubators, angel investors and VC funding, there’s no where to go but up!

So get up, meetup and make your startup happen!

5 Ways to Leverage University Resources for Your Startup

Can you imagine Silicon Valley without Stanford? Boston without MIT? Great technology ecosystems are built around great universities. The reason is simple; universities are a hotbed of talent, ideas and resources, just waiting to be tapped into. So, how can your startup make the most out of your local university?

Our startup, FoundOPS, reaped countless benefits from being located in West Lafayette – home of Purdue University. Our business was born in a dorm room and we still reside in the Purdue Research Park. What’s more, is that our team is now composed of six former students. Throughout the experience, I learned to navigate my way around the collegiate ivory tower.


But first, a word of caution:

Universities, especially large public ones, can be a virtual snake pit of bureaucracy — the antithesis of entrepreneurship. Working within the system or going through the ‘proper channels’ is a sure fire way to slow your growth. Be the one of those savvy founders or hackers and seize opportunities take advantage of the resources, while avoiding bottlenecks. Here are some ways to do just that:

1.  Mentors/Advisors

Universities are the stomping ground for industry leaders and experts. They provide tremendous value, through their advice, their rolodexes, and the legitimacy they can bestow upon your venture.

Don’t believe me? Some of the most successful tech companies feature members of academia on their board of directors including Google and Facebook.

I regularly speak with at least five former professors, who consistently provide me with great advice and introductions. If you are an alumnus, it’s easy to maintain your relationships with your former professors by sending an occasional email or grabbing a cup of coffee once every couple of months.

Even if you didn’t go through the typical college experience, most professors are accessible and willing to help if approached correctly – with clear, genuine intentions. With a quick search, you can find schedules of office hours or email addresses. Professors will often jump at the opportunity to meet with intelligent and passionate professionals posing interesting, challenging questions (a refreshing change of pace from overachieving students looking for homework help).

2.  Recruiting a Team

Indisputably, the most important aspect of any startup is the talent. University students are the ideal startup employees. They have technical skills and are comfortable working 20+ hour days for next to nothing. Most don’t have mortgages or families of their own to worry about, so they can be compensated with pizza, beer and equity. Best of all, while most companies can’t get to students until summer or graduation, you can cherry pick the best and brightest before they get on Google or Amazon’s radar.

So how do you grab the best? Again, you’ll want to steer clear of bureaucracy. Job fairs are expensive and will put you on the same battlefield with bigger and better resourced companies who will stomp your booth to pieces. Instead, go right to the source and ask professors to recommend students. Not only will you receive pre-vetted candidates, but your employment offer will come packaged with legitimacy.

3.  Creativity

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain one once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso.

I don’t know what it is about the “real world,” but it can put a major damper on creativity. Aggressive doses of visual and performing arts can help. Fortunately, universities offer both, for little if any cost to the public. At FoundOPS, we take full advantage with regularly scheduled creative outings. Combine that with the deliberate infusion of young talent, unscarred by the pragmatism of non-startup jobs, you’ll foster your company’s collective creativity.

4.  A User Base Full of Early Adopters

The average student, often internet savvy and equipped with a smartphone loaded with apps, falls decisively on the left side of the innovation diffusion curve. Besides the obvious age bias, Universities offer a diverse cross section of the population. And while you might have difficulty convincing students to fork over their beer money for your app, you can certainly let them help with adoption and feedback.

It’s hard to forget how quickly the adoption of Facebook spread. Students have a huge viral coefficient and a high-value product can spread like wildfire through a University and beyond.

5.  A Community

There is something magical about a healthy technology ecosystem. I’m not going to say that investors, super-connectors, and late-stage CEOs aren’t important; but, to me, the true beauty of a tech community comes from the entrepreneurs.

Whether at a round table, coffee shop, or even while sharing a beer at a startup event, a community provides more than just flow of ideas. It gives us inspiration. It’s the “I can chase my dreams, too” mentality. While the previous four reasons explain why startups can be found near universities, the sense of community compounds these results and explains why they stay.

BONUS: Don’t Forget to Give Back.

Even for those with a strong moral compass, this isn’t always obvious. You’re getting a bunch of cool stuff, and, in exchange, the universities benefit from access to growing startup founders. You’ve got that ‘real world’ experience that grey-haired professors and their students are clamoring for.

Offer up your time as a guest lecturer, a student adviser, or as a testing ground for student projects. Even if you don’t feel morally compelled to help out, you can take these opportunities to develop relationships with students and professors that can help you in the future.

Universities are forces to be reckoned with. They are valuable, but often overlooked, resources to us entrepreneurs. And we can use all the extra help we can get. Do you have any stories of startups taking advantage of a collegiate ecosystem? Have you tapped into this network before? Share your thoughts – I’d love to hear your story.


This post was written by Oren Shatken who cofounded FoundOPS as an undergraduate at Purdue University. He is a board member of Lafayettech and helps organize Verge events in West Lafayette. Get in touch with Oren on Twitter (@OrenShatken) or by email (oshatken@foundops.com).