Tech Talk: Sapp Moving But Not Going Away

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.

Here are a few excerpts from our Dynamic Leader of the Year profile in BizVoice® magazine.

  • 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.

This Boilermaker Prefers Copperheads to Rattlesnakes

BrewerThis past year was quite the adventure for me. Last March, I left the Indiana Chamber after 14 years to tackle a new chapter in my life. I could blame the move on the brutal winter that year, but I think the time had arrived for me to explore and to feel like I tried something new. With the exception of a semester abroad in college, I had lived all 37 years in the good ol’ Hoosier state. I didn’t want to look back some day and say, “I should have tried” or “what if?” So, my wife and I packed up our two Subarus, then headed west to Tucson, Arizona with great enthusiasm and a terribly confused dog.

I’ve told many friends that this past year was arguably the year I learned the most about myself. I learned how to avoid multiple rattlesnakes on trails. I learned how to carry 100 ounces of water on a mountain bike ride. I learned how important it was to continue to see new places and grow my need for wanderlust. Most importantly, I had plenty of time to think after climbing to the top of four of the five mountain ranges surrounding Tucson, and it made me realize what was most valuable to me… my mom’s pecan pie. Well, her pecan pie made the most missed list, but being in the same area code with my Montgomery County family and all of my friends in Indianapolis was most important to me.

The direct flight from Indy to Phoenix was fairly easy, but life just wasn’t as fulfilling. I missed seeing my nephew’s first start at defensive end for Rose-Hulman’s football team. I missed seeing Purdue thump IU both times during the basketball season. I missed the community feel of my old, funky Broad Ripple neighborhood. I missed my favorite beer at Thr3e Wise Men. I certainly enjoyed the active outdoors lifestyle in mountainous southern Arizona, and I continued Chamber work with four state chambers, but it just didn’t feel right. After one year, we came running back, and the dog was even more perplexed.

My new role with the Chamber starts this week as the advertisement sales director for BizVoice magazine. I really enjoyed my time at the Chamber in membership and helping members, and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to work with the Indiana business community again.

That’s enough reflection for one day. Time to head to Crawfordsville for a piece of my mom’s pecan pie.

SmartFile Awards Innovation in Bake-Off Contest

Our communications VP Tom Schuman penned this blog back in February about SmartFile's technology bake-off contest. If you dig innovation — and would like to see more of it in Indiana — you'll be on board with this. The winners were announced last week, and congrats to IUPUI students Ani Chan and Manpreet Singh for their honors.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so simultaneously shocked and happy in my life,” said Chan. “Aside from being able to hold one of those ridiculously huge checks like a lottery winner, the best part of the competition was the validation that comes from building something from start to finish. Sometimes as a college student, it’s easy for your projects to go unnoticed, so it’s nice to receive feedback and interest from likeminded people and successful business leaders.”

Indiana college students were challenged to develop an open source application that interacts with the newly released SmartFile API over a period of 50 days. To help teams finish development, SmartFile hosted a 24-hour “Bake-Off-A-Thon” a week prior to submission to help finalize development. Registered students accepted the challenge to showcase their talents, but only nine qualified for the finals. Five of Indianapolis’ top business thinkers listened to five-minute pitches from the finalists before then scoring each “app” electronically in the following five categories: Innovation, Utility, Use of SmartFile Platform, Design and User Experience.

The top four teams re-pitched their applications to the Bake-Off party audience who then voted electronically before “Team Octodog” was crowned champion. Purdue University students, Eric Lovelace and Levi Miller, from  team "Winnovation” were awarded second place and received $5,000 for their mobile-app “SmartBox.”  Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students, Erik Sanders and AJ Piergiovanni, from team  "Dangling Pointers” were awarded third place and received $2,000 for their web-app “ReciCopy.”

John Hurley, SmartFile’s President and Co-Founder, said the judges were impressed with the caliber of work, which made choosing the winners difficult. “But Team Octodog amazed everyone with an impressive and functional application with the right combination of entrepreneurial spark, innovation, real-world viability and skillful development.”

SmartFile’s Bake-Off was not only created to inspire and facilitate engagement between this next generation of programmers, but also to help develop the ecosystem for SmartFile’s new “platform” initiative.  During the ceremony, Hurley announced that “the online file platform” from SmartFile would now be FREE for developers who sign up for a beta account. Offering unlimited transfer and 100GB of storage space allows SmartFile to cater to the underserved development community. An official announcement for the online file platform initiative will be made in the coming week.

For more information about the ‘2013 SmartFile Platform Bake-Off’, please visit More details about SmartFile’s development can be found at

Rose-Hulman Students to Unveil New EcoCAR Effort

Inside INdiana Business relays the story of one of Indiana’s fine educational institutions as its students work toward the ever-elusive game changer in the world of sustainable driving. Kudos to Rose-Hulman, and good luck in the competition:

Under development for two academic years, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students are set to unveil a prototype advanced technology vehicle that has been designed to achieve improved fuel economy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions for EcoCAR: The Next Challenge, a national engineering design competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors Corporation to encourage energy-conscious advanced transportation engineers.

A special unveiling ceremony and information session is set for Friday, May 7, from 2:30-3:15 p.m. on the patio of the Hulman Union. The public is invited to come and examine the vehicle and talk with team members about the project.

Students have spent countless hours developing a hybrid-electric sport utility vehicle that features a 1.3-liter Fiat diesel engine using B-20 diesel fuel, a four speed automatic GM transmission, two TM4 electric motors arranged in a parallel pre-post transmission architecture and an innovative, high-performance battery system provided by Indiana advanced lithium-ion battery maker EnerDel Inc.

Rose-Hulman’s vehicle will be shipped on Saturday, May 8, to participate in the EcoCAR’s Year II Competition Finals being conducted May 17-27 at the GM Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz., and at locations throughout San Diego, Calif. The vehicle will be judged in more than a dozen technical events, and must meet California Air Resources Board (CARB) zero emission vehicle (ZEV) regulations.

Rose-Hulman is the only Indiana college or university among 16 North American teams selected to participate in EcoCAR, a three-year competition that demonstrates leading-edge advanced transportation technologies.

"EcoCAR is real-world engineering. This experience gives Rose-Hulman students the opportunity for hands-on learning and valuable skills preparing them for careers as the next generation of engineers to develop clean vehicle solutions," said Rose-Hulman Team Co-Faculty Advisor Zac Chambers, associate professor of mechanical engineering. The team’s other advisor is Marc Herniter, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Bradley: Indiana State’s Partnerships Solve Problems, Enhance Health Care in Indiana

Indiana State University President Daniel J. Bradley explains ISU’s contribution in the context of statewide education.

  • Building on the Columbus and Richmond story of higher levels of collaboration featured in the current BizVoice, tell us how your institution fits in a statewide system of higher education with differentiated and complementary missions. 

Indiana State prides itself in the fact that our graduates not only have a solid well-rounded education but that they also have the skills needed to excel in the workplace. One of those skills is the ability to collaborate as part of a team. This is becoming increasingly more important in today’s society as a way to maximize the strengths of colleagues and partner organizations while working toward a shared vision, avoiding unnecessary duplication and solving complex problems.

In some areas the result is a new emphasis on intra- and inter-professional education. For example, Indiana State University has joined with the Indiana University School of Medicine, Union Hospital and its Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health, Ivy Tech Community College of the Wabash Valley, the Terre Haute Economic Development Corporation and the City of Terre Haute to form the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative (RHIC).

RHIC is designed to help address Indiana’s critical shortage of health care professionals, especially in rural areas. Through RHIC, future doctors, nurses, physical therapists, physician assistants, and other health care workers have opportunities to work together while being trained, thus better simulating the work environment they will experience after completing their degree programs. In addition to the synergy this arrangement will provide, resources for equipment, labs and instruction can be maximized.

The Collaborative extends beyond education to encompass economic development with the goal of attracting a range of health care companies and start-ups that will benefit from business incubator services available from Indiana State, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and Ivy Tech.

RHIC will also address neighborhood development through the revitalization of a blighted area located between the campuses of Indiana State and Union Hospital. Housing development is planned to attract students, medical residents and retirees to a revitalized part of the Terre Haute community.

Achieving the vision of this innovative concept would not be possible without the active collaboration of the RHIC partners. RHIC illustrates how the whole can truly be greater than the sum of its parts.

This concept of intra- and inter-professional education is transferable to many other disciplines and is likely to become a catalyst for education reform.

Walk This Way (in Terre Haute, That Is)

I wish I enjoyed exercising. But, the last time I went to the gym, I saw my life flash before my eyes while trying to lift weights. And, I’m not exactly the most coordinated athlete. But, I do like walking outdoors (what better way to get fit than while exploring nature?), which is why I’m intrigued by an initiative involving trails and greenways in Terre Haute.

Many projects currently taking place downtown were inspired by the National Road Heritage Trail, which will ultimately stretch 150 miles from the Indiana/Illinois border to the edge of Ohio. Locally, it encompasses the east end of Vigo County to the Wabash River and extends through downtown Terre Haute.

“The genesis of that trail system is right here in Terre Haute,” declares Pat Martin, chief planner for the City of Terre Haute Department of Engineering. “The vision for the trail was to establish an east-west backbone for the trail and greenway system and revitalize neighborhoods and redevelop adjacent land parcels.”

Since 2002, 23 miles of trails and greenways have been developed in the city. The system will be lengthened this year and eventually span approximately 55 miles.

Economic development projects spurred by the trail include:

  • Heritage Trail Apartments – a $40 million luxury apartment complex with 296 units located on the city’s east side within walking distance of Indiana State University and the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
  • Multi-million dollar extension of Locust Street
  • Neighborhood and park connectivity and redevelopment 
  • Increase in the value of adjacent brownfield properties

“Perhaps the biggest change of all is in the change in lifestyle for the community,” Martin observes. “This has brought about a greater interest in active lifestyles, not only with the National Heritage Trail, but with the entire trail and greenway system."

Learn about additional downtown revitalization projects, as well as other important initiatives taking place in Terre Haute, in the current issue of BizVoice®.