With the 2012 Super Bowl played in Indianapolis, the modest capital city got a huge reputation boost. “Super Bowl 2012 Erases Indianapolis Image as Naptown,” the Huffington Post proclaimed.
The Indianapolis startup scene may deserve a reputation boost as well. Nearly 200 miles southeast of Chicago, the local tech community has been growing for years, and these entrepreneurs aren’t napping. Here are five damn good reasons to live and work in Indianapolis.
Fledgling companies don’t have to go it alone in Indianapolis. They can cowork at SpeakEasy and Launch Fishers, or research other options on Indy CoZ. IndyHackers features jobs and events for programmers, and entrepreneurs can discuss ideas at the Lean Startup Circle meetup. Funding is available from the Venture Club of Indianapolis, which has monthly luncheons and events; Elevate Ventures, which also offers advisory services; and venture capital firm Gravity Ventures. Verge covers these happenings and more, with news, interviews, and monthly meetups. And the Powder Keg conference and pitch competition comes to Indianapolis once a year.
The twelfth largest city in the United States, with a population of around 830,000, Indianapolis makes a feasible test market for startups that target local users. For example, Snappening helps event organizers find venues and event planners in their area. They’re starting with central Indiana, although they plan to expand to other regions from there.
“I personally selected Indianapolis because of the familiarity I had with the market to test our product, and the fact that Indy is a good sampling of the larger US data set when it comes to consumer-facing market testing,” says Crystal Grave, Snappening president and CEO.
As in other cities with younger startup scenes, entrepreneurs in Indianapolis may find it easier to get meetings, find mentors, and generally be noticed than they would in more crowded startup ecosystems. “Central Indiana is great because it is such an open community. There are countless opportunities to talk with some of the most successful people in our industry,” says Bryan Naas, cofounder of trensy. And he should know a thing or two about community, as trensy is helping organizations like charities and schools get their communities more engaged.
The Indianapolis 500, one of the most famous racing events in the world, attracts hundreds of thousands of people to Indianapolis every year. For startups, that’s hundreds of thousands of potential users with specific needs, like food, lodging, and information.
Snappening, for example, helped event organizers find venues for their Indy 500 parties, events, and private dinners. They also created a custom guide to the available venues for the event.
Money Isn’t Easy
This may not be a truly damn good reason to start up in Indianapolis, but it can be – depending on your attitude.
“I think the biggest thing lacking for startups here is ‘easy money’ from locals,” says Matthew Anderson, founder of Adproval. “But, I honestly think this may be a good thing. I’ve heard the stories of people raising millions of dollars over a few beers and a rough idea sketched on a napkin. I don’t think that’s very cool. You definitely have to work for and prove yourself to raise money here. So, I think it’s good in the respect that it is good to earn what you have.”