INX3, starting today in Indianapolis, puts the full force of Indiana’s thriving startup community on display. It also provides a chance to reflect on the many wonderful elements of this state’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and how Indiana has helped me and my team grow our company Go Electric into what we are today.
Building something from scratch is challenging, and having the proper support and guidance in the earliest stages is pivotal for success. Go Electric makes energy resiliency systems. Our profile is quite different from Indiana’s typical “tech startup,” but all the same we’ve been nurtured by a highly supportive environment. Our surroundings played no small part in growing the company from an idea into a thriving company that has added more than 20 high-skill, high-paying jobs to the state.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) served as an especially important foundation for Go Electric’s early growth. We benefited from the IEDC’s 21 Fund, a crucial injection of capital that helped us and many other Indiana tech startups complete product development and begin scaling up. But the support went well beyond funding. We participated in IEDC’s Small Business Investment Research (SBIR) workshops, and received feedback on our proposals, guidance that helped us to secure millions in SBIR awards. The IEDC continues to be an excellent source of mentorship for innovative companies throughout the state.
Indiana’s private entrepreneur-focused organizations were also behind us from the start. The Venture Club of Indiana’s networking events put Go Electric in front of investors for feedback and funding. TechPoint and Verge provided further networking opportunities and pitch events that are invaluable for connecting tech startups like ours with investors.
The local infrastructure in place in Anderson, where we are based, was also an indispensable factor as Go Electric got on its feet. Anderson is home to the Flagship Enterprise Center, one of several accelerators throughout the state devoted to cultivating innovative businesses. The FEC was the source of essential support — mentorship, grant funding, and most importantly, a roof over our heads that has served as the company’s headquarters since its founding in 2011. With team members spread out between Indianapolis and Muncie, Anderson and the FEC allowed us to gather in a central location during our bootstrapping period, allowing commercialization to progress much faster.
In Anderson we found other local parties ready to extend a helping hand. While still in the research and development phase, one generous engineering firm provided us with testing time at their facility. When we were building out our test cell, the Anderson mayor’s office and local utility stepped in to support the construction. With their assistance, we are able to conduct our research and development and product testing locally.
Although advanced energy is still a very young industry in Indiana, the opportunities afforded to companies in this space have already proliferated since Go Electric was founded. The Energy Systems Network was established in 2008 to help foster the growth of the energy sector in Indiana. Its creation sent a powerful signal to aspiring energy innovators: Indiana fully recognizes the value of and is committed to promoting the new energy economy. ESN is paving the way for collaboration, innovation adoption and building an energy ecosystem throughout the state.
For all these reasons we are grateful to the state that raised us. Indiana is an incredibly friendly place for tech entrepreneurship, and we can’t envision Go Electric becoming what it is today without the broad spectrum of in-state resources and opportunities.
Lisa Laughner is chief executive officer of Go Electric Inc.