(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana’s tech ecosystem ended 2019 with one of the best years in the history of the state, with total 2019 venture capital (VC) and other types of funding investments, increasing 260 percent over 2018, according to TechPoint, Indiana’s non-profit tech growth accelerator, which tracked the economic information via publicly available announcements.
In 2019, 62 Indiana tech companies publicly announced VC investments, grant funding, M&A deals, private equity and debt financing for total investments of more than $358 million. According to the data, 2019’s fourth quarter included 12 VC raises and three grants for more than $151 million (at least two shared investments did not include dollar amounts raised). The fourth-quarter total was higher than all four quarters of investment combined in 2018.
Additionally, TechPoint tracked 33 mergers and acquisitions within the tech sector in 2019. Five Indiana tech companies were involved in mergers and acquisitions in the fourth quarter of 2019.
“Last year’s VC activity is a reflection of the smart investments that have been made here in prior years and serves as a harbinger of things to come,” said Mike Langellier, TechPoint president and CEO. “It’s great to have so many innovative and inspirational members of the tech community – from all levels and across so many industries and services – working together to grow a community that will attract, retain and grow top talent.”
Indiana-based investors were very active in the fourth quarter with 10 Hoosier firms taking part in investments. In addition, a number of state-based angel investors made investments in Indiana tech companies. Elevate Ventures and High Alpha each made three investments in companies while other notable firms like Allos Ventures, Meridian Street Capital, Charmides Capital, VisionTech Partners and the Indiana University Philanthropic Venture Fund also made investments. The biggest deal of the fourth quarter and the year was made by Community Investment Management of San Francisco with its $100 million investment in Indianapolis-based Kenzie Academy.
Specifics on Indiana’s Q4 Activities:
- The fourth quarter started off strong with Edify Lab’s $10 million raise, led predominantly by Bay Area firms but also including firms from Los Angeles, Chicago and London. Edify is a business communications platform startup led by Cameron Weeks and Bracken Fields, both formerly of Sharpen. The new company lists both Carmel, Ind. and Santa Monica, Calif. as office locations.
- Orchard Software of Carmel, Ind. was acquired by Francisco Partners, a San Francisco-based private equity firm. The nearly 30-year-old company is a leading developer of medical laboratory information systems for the clinical laboratory industry. Details of the acquisition were not publicly disclosed.
- Civic Champs of Bloomington, Ind. had an exciting 2019 that included participation in TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Battlefield in San Francisco. The company also announced a $312,000 friends and family raise to further develop their mobile-first platform for volunteer management.
- Realync is a B2B SaaS web/mobile platform that enables live virtual tours and open houses, and DIY pre-recorded videos of properties. The company anreplacenounced a raise in October. While the amount was not disclosed, investors included Meridian Street Capital of Indianapolis, Charmides Capital of Carmel, Ind. and newcomer Capital Midwest Fund of Milwaukee, Wis.
- Emplify of Fishers, Ind. announced their $15 million growth round led by Edison Partners of Princeton, N.J. It’s the second time Edison has led an investment in Emplify as they were originally introduced at TechPoint’s VC Speed Dating event (then called Winners’ Circle) in 2017. Emplify is an employee engagement solution that blends mobile-first technology, behavioral psychology, and data science—delivered with human expertise.
- Blue Wave AI Labs of West Lafayette, Ind. received a $6.9 million grant from the US Department of Energy. The Purdue Research Park company uses innovative and groundbreaking AI-based techniques to identify, analyze, and solve problems within the energy, aerospace and defense industries.
- Indianapolis-based Elate, makers of a software platform simplifying how companies drive business outcomes by unifying internal technologies and disparate data, was publicly launched in October following the completion of their $530,000 pre-seed round led by M25 of Chicago.
- Curvo Labs, Inc. of Evansville, Ind., a supply chain technology company helping hospitals make improvements in the cost to deliver care, announced the completion of their $2 million Series A raise in October. The raise was led by Snake Run Capital of Nashville, Tenn., with additional participation from Elevate Ventures of Indianapolis.
- Costello of Indianapolis, a real-time sales playbook platform that helps sales professionals consistently have great conversations with buyers, announced their acquisition by their partner, SalesLoft of Atlanta, Ga.. Financial details of the acquisition were not shared but the company plans to continue to grow in Indianapolis under the SalesLoft name. Costello was one of two companies acquired by scale-up martech companies based in Atlanta, Ga. (see Sigstr below).
- Kenzie Academy, a campus-based and online coding school founded in Indianapolis, announced a $100 million raise to be used for tuition financing as the academy continues to grow. This debt financing round was led by Community Investment Management (CIM), an institutional impact investment fund based in San Francisco, Calif.
- A team of serial entrepreneurs and physical security industry veterans launched Qumulex in 2018 to create a cloud and IoT-based video surveillance and access control platform. In November 2019, the Fishers, Ind. team announced their $250,000 investment from the Indiana University Philanthropic Venture Fund (IUPhV) as part of their Seed II round.
- It was a big year for Indianapolis-based SupplyKick. In September, CEO Josh Owens announced he was officially running for Governor of the State in Indiana. That news was followed with the company’s plans to move to Elevator Hill, the former campus location of Angie’s List in Indianapolis. Just a few days later the team announced a “seven-figure investment” of an undisclosed amount led by Decathlon Partners of Palo Alto, Calif. and Park City, Utah.
- Parker Technology, an Indianapolis software product and services company that provides customer service solutions for parking facilities, announced a $2 million seed round led by Elevate Ventures.
- Vibenomics of Fishers, Ind., a provider of place-based audio experience solutions and the industry’s first audio out-of-home (OOH) programmatic advertising marketplace, announced the closing of a $5 million Seed Plus round from High Alpha, Elevate Ventures and the Ricker family, previous owners of Ricker’s convenience store chain.
- Indianapolis-based Selfless.ly announced a pre-seed round led by Indiana Spine Ventures in November. The company’s software platform allows businesses to log, track, and maintain charitable involvement for the purpose of providing important metrics for marketing, recruitment, and retention initiatives. The amount of the raise was undisclosed.
- Boardable, makers of a cloud-based platform used to improve the experience of serving on a board of directors, announced a $3 million Seed Fund raise in November. This was the second capital raise announced by the Indianapolis-based company in 2019. The round was led by High Alpha Capital, with participation from VisionTech Partners and Collina Ventures.
- GRYFN, a Purdue University-affiliated agbioscience startup in West Lafayette, Ind. that utilizes drone data collection to help meet the growing global demand for bioenergy, is partnering with the university on a $4.5 million grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a division of the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Imaginestics LLC, a software company headquartered in the Purdue Research Park inWest Lafayette, Ind., has received a $1.5 million SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) Phase II grant through the U.S. Air Force. Imaginestics is the creator of VizSeek, a visual search engine used to find products, parts, and drawings using a photo or even a hand-sketch.
The month and the year ended with two high-profile acquisitions of Indiana-based scale-up tech companies.
- Mimir, an Indianapolis-based edtech company launched via the Y Combinator accelerator of Silicon Valley in the summer of 2015, was acquired by HackerRank of Palo Alto, Calif. HackerRank is a technology hiring platform used by tech recruiters and hiring managers to objectively evaluate talent at every stage of the recruiting process. HackerRank was a Y Combinator launched company from 2011.
- In the same week, it was announced that Sigstr, a High Alpha Venture Studios company, would be acquired by Terminus of Atlanta, Ga. Terminus is an account-based marketing (ABM) platform company for B2B marketers. Days before this announcement, Tim Kopp was named the new CEO at Terminus. Kopp was an early investor in the company via his own personal investment and his work for Hyde Park Venture Partners, a Chicago-based VC firm with an office in Indianapolis. Hyde Park also invested in Sigstr’s Series A round in 2017. Kopp worked with Bryan Wade, CEO of Sigstr, during their days at ExactTarget/Salesforce. The acquisition marks significant exits for Indiana-based companies, investors and venture capital firms.