INDIANAPOLIS - A sports software company has secured a $1.1 million round of funding and its chief executive officer says Indianapolis continues to be the right place to grow. Upper Hand Inc. founder Kevin MacCauley, an Indiana University graduate who grew up in Evansville, says the company's sports business sales, marketing and intelligence technology will continue to tap into a $15 billion a year market that is only getting larger. The additional capital will help Upper Hand bolster its sales staff, which has grown from one team member a year ago to nine currently and could increase to nearly 20 by year's end.

The sports software industry, MacCauley tells Inside INdiana Business, has transformed in recent years. "Five years ago, I would've said it would be very difficult, because you couldn't Google 'sports software' and find anything," he said. "Our industry has changed drastically over the course of those years -- particularly the last 12-18 months." He points to high-profile events like the initial public offering of Mindbody Inc. in 2015, NBC's acquisition of Minneapolis-based SportsEngine last year and the $1.2 billion acquisition earlier this month of ACTIVE Network by Global Payments Inc. (NYSE: GPN) as a sign that his industry has made it. "You're starting to see the activity create an interest and awareness that sports is a real industry, and not just an industry, it's a massive space," MacCauley says.

MacCauley moved the business previously known as bookacoach to Indy from Washington D.C. in 2014 where it received an initial $250,000 seed funding round from a group led by Elevate Ventures. Last year, the Indianapolis-based venture capital firm and entrepreneurial development advocate also joined former Finish Line executives to pump $1 million into Upper Hand. Combined with the most recent infusion from Elevate Ventures and former Finish Line Inc. leaders like Don Courtney, who previously served as the sports apparel retailer's e-commerce president, Upper Hand has secured some $2.4 million in outside investment in three years. Courtney has been added to the Upper Hand board as part of a realignment.