Network perks include free co-working space and steep discounts
INDIANAPOLIS – Starting a new business, service or product is a daunting task, but inventors, innovators and founders have long been described as courageous, audacious and brave. Less often acknowledged and rarely addressed are other attributes these trailblazers share: loneliness, brutal stress and even fear.
In Indiana, that lack of attention on the psychological price of entrepreneurship stops today with the launch of the Indiana Founders Network, an organization supported by but led by members.
“No Indiana organization focused on the tech sector has coached more startups than TechPoint’s leadership and venture support teams,” said TechPoint President and CEO Ting Gootee. “And as we discussed how best to execute on new strategies designed to further strengthen Indiana’s digital innovation economy, we realized we couldn’t fully do that if we don’t address the long-ignored reality that founders need more personal support. We also realized there’s no organization better positioned to do this than TechPoint.”
Part of the stress founders experience results from the fact that they are forging new ground and don’t want to get beat by a competitor, so they are hesitant to ask for help. They’re also incredibly busy trying to raise capital, deal with legal and regulatory issues as they work to get their product to market.
Gootee described the Network as a critical need based on thousands of conversations with founders had by her and by the TechPoint team in their current and former positions.
Prior to joining TechPoint, Gootee helped found Elevate Ventures and spent 11 years there in leadership, driving its growth into one of the most prolific investors in the nation. Chelsea Linder, TechPoint’s vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship, spent seven years in leadership roles at gener8tor, where she worked directly with more than 200 founders and coached thousands more across the country. Dennis Trinkle, senior vice president, talent, strategy, and partnership, is the author and editor of 18 books and more than 75 articles on entrepreneurship, technology, leadership, teaching and learning and co-developer of an award-wining videogame on the entrepreneurial process—Fireworks: The Entrepreneurship Experience. Roger Shuman, director of venture engagement, has spent nearly seven years at TechPoint supporting startups and scaleups and connecting them to capital. Together, this is one of the most experienced teams working with founders in Indiana.
Linder said a key element of the Network is that it will be led by its members.
“TechPoint will be the convenor, but we’re just buying the snacks and bringing entrepreneurs to the table,” Linder said. “The members will tell us what they need and want, and we’ll bring in the experts in those areas. Some meetings will be ideal for everyone; others might address a specific need of only a certain segment. Our hope is that the group will forge relationships and create their own individual safety nets in addition to the one we’re developing.”
The Network is open to founders who can support each other, access information and resources necessary to move their businesses forward and build relationships with people facing similar challenges. Targeted sectors include advanced manufacturing and logistics, agbiosciences, life sciences and healthcare, and technology. In addition to peer support, the long-term vision is to also open doors for Indiana founders to TechPoint’s membership, partners and corporate networks, including the Indiana CIO Network.
TechPoint will organize regular gatherings where founders can build peer relationships and share their personal experiences and insights with the group. Members can network across sectors, giving founders a non-competitive and safe environment to build relationships and learn from each other.
Participants will enjoy access to a free, 10-day co-working pass at the 16 Tech Innovation District, the Network’s exclusive coworking space provider for Central Indiana. 16 Tech members will have free access to the network. Additional perks include up to 90 percent off the cost of Hub Spot software and other discounts.
“One of the unspoken truths of innovation-driven entrepreneurship is the public pressure to say that everything is going great. Belief is the pre-condition for making a vision reality, yet this leads to tremendous stress and pressure felt by founders,” said Emily Krueger, president and CEO of 16 Tech Community Corporation, the non-profit responsible for the 16 Tech Innovation District in downtown Indianapolis. “Places like 16 Tech and programs like the Indiana Founders Network are designed to provide support to navigate the resource challenges and personal stress of entrepreneurship.”
The Network is open to startup founders, those with an idea but who haven’t yet moved forward with it and those who want to become a co-founder. It is not a space for investors or vendors. It offers connections to other entrepreneurs, access to members-only events, small peer group conversations and meetups, visibility through a membership directory, discounts to other ecosystem events and services, eligibility to be considered to pitch at TechPoint Pitch Nights and access to education, coaching and mentors via the TechPoint Venture Support platform.
In addition to business activities, TechPoint will appoint a Founders Network Leadership Council from among Network members to ensure the organization is driven by founders first. Membership in the council will be a two-year commitment and by application only. Sponsorship opportunities will be available for non-founders. The network’s founding sponsors are Ice Miller and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. TechPoint members can join the network at no cost. Others can join for $105 per year. Learn more about the Network here.
TechPoint, is the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership’s industry-led growth initiative for Indiana’s digital innovation economy and overall tech ecosystem. The team is focused on working with public, private and industry partners to expand tech talent pipeline, enhance resource connectivity for enterprise organizations and startups alike, and elevate the industry by activating the community and amplifying stories of success. For more information, please visit www.techpoint.org.