Earlier this week, Detroit-based Purpose Jobs, which bills itself as the Midwest’s largest startup community, unveiled its list of Top Indianapolis Startups to Watch in 2022. The 17 Circle City companies that made the list were selected based on a number of factors, including their success in attracting investment, increasing their workforce and launching innovative products.
Scanning the list, it’s clear that Indiana University and its startup investment arm, IU Ventures, are making major contributions to the success of what Purpose Jobs describes as “one of the fastest growing startup communities in the Midwest and beyond.”
Case in point: IU alumni have founded or co-founded 11 of the 17 companies on the list, and two of the recognized startups are “portfolio companies” of IU Ventures, which leads IU’s investment in and support of early-stage startup companies with strong ties to the university.
The IU Ventures portfolio companies on the list are:
- Encamp, an environmental compliance software company co-founded in 2017 by IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences alumni Luke Jacobs, the company’s CEO, and Daniel Smedema, Encamp’s senior software engineer. IU Ventures was a founding investor in Encamp, which recently announced the completion of a $12 million Series B fundraising round, one of the biggest rounds raised in Indiana this year.
- Sharpen, a developer of cloud-based customer service software co-founded in 2011 by Cameron Weeks and IUPUI alumnus Bracken Fields, who developed the real-time communications technology that serves as the foundation of Sharpen’s platform. Since 2019, the company has raised a remarkable $41 million in growth capital over three fundraising rounds from a collection of local sources, including the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, which is managed by IU Ventures and supports companies based on IU intellectual property. Sharpen has also been named to Inc. 5000’s annual list of America’s fastest-growing private companies in 2020 and 2021.
Additionally, the founders of two other companies on the Purpose Jobs list—Zylo and Near the Box—are members of the IU Angel Network, a resource community within IU Ventures that facilitates connections between startup companies and prospective investors from IU’s global community of alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends.
Zylo, a leading SaaS optimization platform, was co-founded by company CEO Eric Christopher, a 2001 graduate of the IU Kelley School of Business. (Read a 2018 post by Christopher.) Adi Gandra, who earned a degree in computer science and economics from IU Bloomington’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2011, is the co-founder and CEO of Near the Box, which provides digitally engineered solutions to challenges facing businesses of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 500 firms.
The Top Indianapolis Startups to Watch in 2022 are listed below. Those with IU alumni founders are in CAPS.
- GREENLIGHT GURU
- NEAR THE BOX