A good sign of Indiana’s growing innovation and entrepreneurship stature is that it continues to get more difficult to select the winner of the Indiana Chamber’s annual Dynamic Leader of the Year award.
For 29 years, the Chamber has recognized business, government and community excellence. In 2015, the Dynamic Leader honor was added to the mix. The official definition:
This award honors a leader who is working toward achieving goals outlined in the Indiana Vision 2025 economic development plan, particularly the Dynamic and Creative Culture driver that focuses on entrepreneurship and new business creation/expansion.
In other words, it’s business success and helping grow the local/regional/state tech and innovation ecosystem.
Here are the first three honorees and their BizVoice magazine stories:
The awards dinner, taking place November 13 at the Indiana Convention Center, will feature keynote speaker J.D. Vance. Look for more soon on the author, venture capitalist and Midwest evangelist for business and economic growth. It’s not too early to secure your table or tickets.
By now, many of you have seen the stories and video (Inside INdiana Business interview) about Dustin Sapp. The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology grad and Indiana tech leader for more than 15 years is moving to Colorado (for health reasons) but has also taken on a new role with Indianapolis-based Formstack.
Sapp was honored as the first Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year when the Chamber instituted the award in 2015. It was based on his business creation efforts – NoInk Communications, Vontoo and TinderBox (now Octiv) – and his contributions in giving back and helping grow the tech community.
On founding a business: “Starting a company is a lot harder than people make it out to be. You can go to an event and it’s all about the energy and the excitement, but they don’t talk about the difficulty. Especially when you first begin – you’re the boss and the employee and the one making the coffee and the custodian and the accountant. It’s often a very lonely job.”
On priorities and why work should not be No. 1: “When it comes to burnout, a pattern we see is that it’s most often those who are the most career-driven. They pour everything they have into career, and it’s all that exists for them. So a requirement that I have for people is that they have something that’s more important than this business in their lives. For me, it’s straightforward: it’s my God and it’s my family.”
On the tech scene in central Indiana: “Indianapolis has always had the right attitude about the ‘rising tide,’ but now as you list the successes, you have a second level of talent investing back into the ecosystem, starting and joining other companies in earlier stages. We’re seeing a magical moment. Now our biggest gap is in getting a number of $20-$30 million companies, not just one or two. We need that middle tier, not just big successes and early stage start-ups.”
Profound words 18 months ago – and today. Dustin, thanks for everything you have done thus far and will continue to do for your team and our state. We wish you nothing but the best.
Nominations close June 16 for the 2017 Dynamic Leader of the Year award. The winner is selected based on success within their own organization, as well as their efforts to grow the state’s technology and innovation communities. Contact Jesse Brothers at [email protected] for more information.