Monthly Archives

May 2021

Startup Offering Software for Writing Projects Secures Funding

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Elevate Ventures

May 25, 2021

 Slice, a startup offering cloud-based software for writers and writing teams, today announced a $20,000 investment from Elevate Ventures through Elevate’s Community Ideation Fund.

Slice was founded in 2019 by CEO Joe Bellavance. While starting a freelance writing service, Bellavance searched for software tools to help him serve clients. Realizing the tools he needed did not exist, Bellavance decided to build them himself.

Whether you write for work, school, or fun, Slice makes writing projects easy by streamlining your workflow.

Slice’s software can be used to manage multiple types of writing projects including reports, proposals, class essays, blog posts, scholarly articles, and novels. Within the platform, users can work individually or with a team to collect content, notes, and other files in one place. Users can collaborate in real-time by editing and managing workflow.

“Slice seeks to transform the way we author, edit, source and organize original content,” said Dan Meek, Elevate Ventures entrepreneur-in-residence serving Elevate Northeast Indiana, a partnership focused on startups in northeast Indiana. “This investment will assist the company with early adoption and technology enhancements.”

Bellavance said the funding from Elevate will allow Slice to improve the user experience, gain additional customers, and share the software with more people.

“Over two billion people rely on a workflow that’s forty years old. Both of those numbers are staggering, and we have an opportunity to help a lot of people,” Bellavance said. “Funding is life to a startup, and we’re very grateful for Elevate’s investment that will enable us to grow.”

Elevate’s Community Ideation Fund is made possible through its partnership with Elevate Northeast Indiana. The Community Ideation Fund is available through the state’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, which is overseen by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and promotes economic growth and innovation-driven public-private partnerships in Indiana.

ELEVATE PERSPECTIVE: Searching for Entrepreneurial Best Practices in Midsized Cities

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| Elevate Ventures

May 13, 2021

In 2020 I set out to find if any midsized U.S. cities had discovered the “secret sauce” of building successful, innovation-driven startups and entrepreneurial communities.

The first step was to find metrics to identify which cities have truly achieved outsized results. Nowadays, every city has its own flavor of coworking/incubator/accelerator, so it was necessary to cut through the marketing to find cities that were actually producing more venture-backed startups.

My first thought was to look at the total venture dollars raise averaged over a three-year period (2017-2019). While total dollars raised appeared to be a good indicator of success, the metric was extremely vulnerable to outliers. A single $100 million raise could push a city to the top of the list. Subsequently, I shifted my focus toward measuring the total number of venture-backed deals over the same three-year period, which was less affected by individual deals.

As anticipated, the top metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) were also some of the most populated (San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, etc.), and a quick correlation calculation validated that population was indeed correlated with venture dollars invested. However, venture dollars per person/population were much less correlated, meaning that while larger cities had more venture investment because they had more people, the larger population did not appear to produce significantly outsized results due to any sort of population or talent multiplier effect.

Eric Steele, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Southwest Indiana

I defined “midsized” cities as those with an MSA of less than 500,000 (the smallest MSA was 56,000) AND those within a combined statistical area (CSA) of less than 1 million. Trenton, N.J., for example, has an MSA of 367,000 but it is also in the New York City CSA of over 22.5 million, so it was not included. Additionally, for comparison purposes, I eliminated cities with a designated tier one or tier two research university. While I did not dig into the exact statistical significance of this, it was clear that these research universities provided an advantage, as every one of the top 10 mid-sized cities had one of these institutions. So, for the purpose of finding best practices that could be replicated in my home market of Evansville, Ind., I eliminated these cities.

Below are the top five midsized cities:

  • Bend, Ore. MSA, 9.3 deals
  • San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif. MSA, 9.0 deals
  • Asheville, N.C. MSA, 8.7 deals
  • Anchorage, Alaska MSA, 7.7 deals
  • Evansville, Ind.-Ky. MSA, 4.3 deals

While Bend, Ore., and San Luis Obispo, Calif., were clear leaders, the difference between No. 6 (four deals/year) and No. 16 (three deals/year) was only one deal per year. Therefore, an exceptionally good or bad year could significantly affect the rankings.

Additionally, in several cities the presence of angel and venture investment did not necessarily reflect a strong, innovation-driven economy. For example, the majority of deals completed in Asheville, N.C., were centered around angel groups investing in restaurants and tourism, while Anchorage, Alaska, was heavy in natural resource harvesting (oil, timber, etc.).

As a final step, I reached out to companies in Bend and San Luis Obispo to hear what resources they identified or have used to help them along the way. Ultimately, I reached out to 13 companies, each of which had raised over $2 million. To my dismay, there were no resources or organizations providing that secret sauce (at least none identified by the startups I spoke with), only a combination of standard entrepreneurial services such as coworking, networking and educational content.

Ultimately, I was unable to identify any specific program(s) that altered the course of these cities. However, there are numerous possibilities not included in this analysis (culture, talent, etc.) that may have played a role in the success of these communities.

While I love to see that Evansville is ranked fifth, I am hard-pressed to claim that it has found the secret sauce. Perhaps the  sauce is not a singular program but multiple incubators, accelerators and support organizations addressing problems collectively and helping entrepreneurs from all angles. Or perhaps it is a cultural and/or talent movement built over years upon past successes?

Whatever it is, it gives me encouragement to know we are moving in the right direction.

Disclaimer: Please note that I do not claim to be a statistician. My conclusions, while interesting for directional inferences and discussions, most likely have implicit biases based on Evansville being my anchor and comparative city. Also, the conclusions are only as good as the data I was able to attain and that which was provided to Pitchbook. While I attempted to utilize the most complete data, even in my home MSA I noticed several deals that were not included or incorrectly categorized in the Pitchbook database.

Entrepreneurship Initiative Announces New Board Members

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April 30, 2021

Elevate Northeast Indiana, a recently renewed partnership between Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership that promotes entrepreneurship, has added new members to the board who bring experience in startup commercialization and business development.

​​“Northeast Indiana is fortunate to have a partner like Elevate Ventures to bring new opportunities to startups through mentoring, investments and partnerships,” said Charlotte Gabet, director of Parkview Health’s Innovation program and Advanced Simulation Lab. “Between my experience in the startup world and my time at the Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation, I plan to bring those skills and that knowledge to bear on behalf of startups in northeast Indiana.”

Tony Armstrong, one of eight new Elevate Northeast Indiana board members

The three-year partnership includes new funders and a refocus on the core mission of assisting, mentoring and funding high-growth, high-potential northeast Indiana companies.

The new board members include:

  • Tony Armstrong, president and CEO of Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. d/b/a IU Ventures. Armstrong, an Indiana native, has cultivated economic growth in Indiana.
  • Jason Blume, executive director of Innovation One at Trine University. Blume is a northeast Indiana native and has an extensive knowledge of lean manufacturing principles, product development, problem solving, quality systems and customer service.
  • Sarah Earls, chief financial officer of Ruoff Home Mortgage. Earls has over 10 years of experience in the financial institutions industry and is active in the Fort Wayne community.
  • Charlotte Gabet, director of Parkview Health’s Innovation program and Advanced Simulation Lab. Gabet has a background in developing teams and supporting startup growth.
  • Brandon Noll, director of business development for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. Noll has a strong background in sales and business development and is passionate about northeast Indiana and the region’s rural communities.
  • Eric Ottinger, executive vice president and chief commercial banking officer of Lake City Bank. Ottinger graduated in 1992 from Ball State University, where he majored in Entrepreneurship, and from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in 1999 with an MBA.
  • Lisa Peckham, director of soft project management at Medical Informatics Engineering. Peckham has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare and discovering innovative ways to use technology to create business value.
  • Rick Poinsatte, vice president of business development and treasurer at Steel Dynamics. Poinsatte holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Notre Dame and has worked in domestic and international finance.

To find the complete list of board members, visit Elevate Northeast Indiana.

“I’m really excited to be joining the board at a pivotal time in the growth of northeast Indiana,” said Armstrong. “I am anxious to help get Indiana University more closely connected to this work. We can make northeast Indiana an attractive destination for entrepreneurs leaving the coasts with Elevate’s programs.”

A five-member executive committee of the board will be formed to vet Community Ideation Fund opportunities.

Throughout the next three years the board will designate up to $500,000 to entrepreneurship initiatives throughout northeast Indiana, including the Eleven Fifty Academy partnership. An event will be held in May to explore the initiative further.

Entrepreneurs looking for assistance in northeast Indiana can visit the Elevate Northeast Indiana website.