#BizVoiceExtra: International School Impresses

I’d heard of the International School of Indiana long before I had the chance to visit for a story in the current edition of BizVoice®, but really didn’t have any idea of the school’s mission as it was founded in Indianapolis over 20 years ago.

Now I can’t stop relating to it.

As you can read here in the story in our March/April edition of BizVoice, the school was created in 1994 to offer an international education option for families of foreign executives and since that time has become known for offering one of the most rigorous curriculums for students in Indiana. The high school has a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate and last year’s class of graduating seniors (there were 42 of them) was offered $6 million in merit scholarships.

I toured both the lower school (ages three up through grades five) and upper school (grades six through 12) and walked through classrooms of pre-kindergarten children learning Mandarin, Spanish and French and was blown away by the poise and passion of high school students speaking about their experiences with the school.

Seeing today that the city of Indianapolis has received a final license from the World Trade Centers Association to establish a World Trade Center in the city makes me think of the International School. While the school was established nearly 25 years ago, the founding mission is still relevant in offering an international curriculum to students in Indiana (whether local students or those from other nations).

I was also reminded of the school when I recently visited a friend in San Francisco and met numerous people – from my friends’ housemates from Russia, to one of our Lyft drivers from Algiers – who were multilingual.

While I was accidentally interviewing (yes – it’s a hazard of my job) that Lyft driver from Algiers, I asked him what language is dominant there and was thinking the answer would be French. It was but, in addition, he listed two others I’d never heard of. English is his fourth language.

The students at the International School are also able to learn up to four languages, right here in central Indiana. It’s the only school in the Midwest with a trilingual option, in addition to English.

As Indiana continues to make a name for itself around the world, seeing the impact of the International School up close and personal was enlightening and – as I’ve mentioned – sticks with you.

Square Wants to Perk Up Morning Commute

cThe mobile payment company Square has reportedly developed technology to help coffee drinkers grab their morning java without that pesky detail of having to wait in line to pay for it. Simply place and pay for the order on the phone, then pick up the next morning.

Thankfully, the Chamber provides coffee for staff in our break room so I’ve saved hundreds of dollars since becoming a coffee drinker a year or two ago, but otherwise this would seem like a convenient solution.

Entrepreneur reports:

The key to this ease in ordering is “arrival prediction.” The feature uses first-to-market tech to alert baristas when a customer who has ordered a drink on the app approaches the coffee shop, allowing them to immediately start preparing the order. Customers then simply pick up their order and are automatically charged as the leave the shop.

Users can also save their coffee preferences and customizations, speeding up transactions on the app. Square has paired up with fellow San Francisco startup Blue Bottle Coffee to debut the new features.

Launched in May, Square Order allows people to pre-order items for pickup at eateries that use the Square payments processing system. The service is only active in San Francisco and New York.

Indy/San Francisco Flight Ready for Takeoff; Needs Support from Business Travelers

Hoosier business leaders and Indiana travelers will soon be privy to a non-stop flight from Indianapolis to San Francisco on January 8 (and a direct flight already exists en route to Los Angeles). United Flights 317 and 500 (named for Indianapolis’ area code and the Indy 500) will be incredibly convenient to those in many industries.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) recently wrote:

With over 4,900 seats already reserved, we’re off to a great start, but it’s important to keep that momentum going.  The best way is to simply buy tickets and show your support.

It’s an incredible holiday gift that will certainly bring new opportunities and investment to the Hoosier State, and yet another reason Indiana is a state that works for business.

Indiana Chamber board member Michael Wells, who also serves as president of REI Investments and on the Indianapolis Airport Authority Board, explains the benefits of the flight.

“This will be very helpful for the tech community, like SalesForce.com (which recently acquired Indy-based ExactTarget) and others,” he notes. “It also will allow (venture capital groups) to fly into Indy in the evening, conduct business during the next day and catch a good connection back to the West Coast, leaving around 5 p.m. and still arriving at a decent hour due to the time zone.”

Wells adds that the San Francisco flight will serve as a connection to Asia, and connections are set up for convenient transfers for passengers.

TAKE NOTE: However, it’s critical that Indiana travelers and the business community use the flight if it’s to be continued beyond the next year, and the local market will need to prove it can support it. A release from IEDC reports:

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) will provide United Airlines with a minimum revenue guarantee, consistent with industry standards and United’s business model, during the term of the one-year agreement. To accomplish this, the IEDC allocated $1.5 million in a reserve fund, which represents the state’s maximum financial exposure. No payments from the reserve fund will occur as long as the market’s support for the nonstop route equals or exceeds the minimum revenue guarantee.

Time for a New Dining Experience in Evansville

Summer is a great time to try a new restaurant and a new experience. You can do both by attending Evansville’s first Dishcrawl on Tuesday, July 9.

Join other food lovers to sample specialties and meet owners and chefs at four restaurants on Franklin Street. Participating restaurants are a secret. Hints, however, are being given via Twitter @DishcrawlEvansv.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m., ticketholders will meet at the first location (provided 48 hours in advance via email) to start their dining experience. After sampling cuisine at the initial restaurant, they will then travel by foot to enjoy the fare at the three remaining locations.

Dishcrawl started in San Jose, but has grown to host events across the nation in cities such as San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., and more. Its mission is to show food lovers the best dishes in local restaurants.

There are a limited number of tickets (regular price $45, with Chamber members and blog readers eligible for a 15% discount by using the code chamberfranklin for the Evansville event). Purchase online.  

Questions about the event can be directed to the Evansville Dishcrawl Ambassador Michael Armanno via email at [email protected].

Tricky Social Media Rules on Whistleblowing

The California Chamber's HR Watchdog Blog delivers this complicated tale, explaining a potential victim can even be fired for improperly using social media to document undesirable behavior.

A tech company, SendGrid, recently fired a female employee, Adria Richards, who used Twitter to complain about sexual jokes made by male employees from a different company.

During a conference in San Francisco, Richards tweeted that it was “Not cool” that the men were making inappropriate sexual jokes. She used her phone to take a picture of the men sitting behind her and then used Twitter to post the picture.

One of the men in the photo was terminated by his employer, San-Francisco based PlayHaven.

But Richards also found herself in the middle of a social media storm and was ultimately fired by her employer. SendGrid CEO Jim Franklin blogged that Richards was not fired because she reported offensive conduct, but because of how she reported it – using Twitter to post photographs and “publicly shaming” the offenders.

Franklin also went on to say that Richard’s actions caused division amongst the developer community that Richards serves as part of her job and that she can no longer be effective.

But this is what often happens when an employee complains of inappropriate conduct: A complaint is made, which may create division at work and with customers; people may take sides. Regardless of such division and the ultimate outcome of any investigation, the employee is supposed to be protected from retaliation for complaining of harassment or discrimination.

This situation poses difficult questions: Can an employee complain in any manner he/she sees fit? Airing information across social media platforms and posting pictures of co-workers, customers or collaborators?

The law provides strong protections for those who complain about harassment or discrimination. As demonstrated by recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board, the law also protects employees who engage in concerted activity with other employees to improve their working conditions — which may include employees complaining to each other over social media.

Why Won’t This Traffic Move?

Trying to get out of town to begin a weekend away? Making a few extra stops to take care of some errands to prepare for Saturday and Sunday at home? Either way, it’s not just perception that those Friday afternoon commutes are a little more difficult than normal.

A new study examines, by metro area, just how tougher it is to get where you want to go after work on Friday compared to the rest of the week. A few of the details from Governing, as reported by traffic research firm Inrix.

The Los Angeles metro area, notorious for its backups, recorded the longest Friday afternoon delays of the 100 areas measured. Average Friday commutes for the region were 44 percent longer than without any congestion, compared to about 34 percent more during peak hours Monday through Thursday. That’s enough to add about 13 minutes to a trip taking 30 minutes without traffic.

Similarly, San Francisco motorists sat in traffic an average of 35 percent longer on Friday afternoons, extending a 30-minute trip by more than 10 minutes.

Morning commutes aren’t as bad because motorists usually head straight to work without making stops on the way.

Areas with many workers living far outside a city can experience significant congestion when all flee the office early. The study cited Bridgeport, Conn., which recorded the nation’s fifth-longest Friday afternoon delays, as an example.

The Washington, D.C., area’s Friday morning commutes are less congested than any other weekday, likely explained by the large number of federal employees who work from home that day. But with many traveling for the weekend, the area’s Friday afternoon commute still ranks among the nation’s worst.

For some cities, the added delay on Fridays may be more noticeable than others. Portland, Ore., had the largest percentage difference in delays of any area measured by Inrix, with a 30-minute trip taking 3 minutes, 13 seconds longer on Fridays than average times recorded for Monday through Thursday rush-hour traffic.

Social Media Hot Spots for Job Seekers

The largest city in the United States has the highest volume of social media jobs. No surprise that New York is atop both lists (based on 2010 population figures and a recent report from OnwardSearch, an Internet marketing staffing company that used job postings as its basis for comparison).

Size isn’t always a determing factor when one views the rest of the list. The top 10 social media hot spots for jobs included the following (with their 2010 population ranks in parentheses):

  • 2. San Jose (10th in population)
  • 3. San Francisco (13th)
  • 5. Boston (23rd)
  • 6. Washington, D.C. (25th)
  • 7. Baltimore (22nd)
  • 9. Seattle (24th)

Rounding out the social media top 10: Los Angeles, 4; Chicago, 8; and Philadelphia, 10. Each are among the top five in population.

Go the opposite route and the largest cities not showing up on the social media top 20 are San Antonio (7th in population), Jacksonville (11th) and Indianapolis (12th). Making the biggest jumps (low population, top 20 in jobs) are Atlanta, Minneapolis and Miami.

What does all this prove? Not sure. There may have been a disconnect between city population totals and metro area job postings. Nevertheless, social media is here to stay (and the jobs are widespread).

Going for Gold: Chamber Staffer Reflects on Running Experiences

On Saturday, November 5, I’ll toe the line at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon for the second time, and compete in my 10th marathon overall.  Early on, we all have ambitions and set goals to accomplish in our lives. However, I assure you running 10 marathons wasn’t one of mine. So, how did my fondness of running 26.2 miles come about?  Going back to the spring of 2007, I was training to run my third Indianapolis Mini-Marathon. 

My wife, Andrea, and close friend, Jerod, encouraged me to attempt the “big one” – the marathon distance.  At the time, I was happy with running Indianapolis and some other Midwest half marathons. Yet, the allure of accomplishing the marathon and pushing myself to limits never previously reached was too good to resist.  So, in December of that year, I ran my first full marathon, and no better place than Las Vegas. 

Having been to Las Vegas a number of times before 2007 (OK, and a few times since then), the adrenaline of running on the famed Strip was very enticing. Thus, when I began my 26.2-mile journey, I had to make sure my energy levels weren’t spent after exiting the Strip as approximately 20 miles still remained. I was happy to finish the race in under four hours (3:56), telling myself repeatedly during those last five to six miles, “Hey, Brett, just a little further and you never have to do another marathon.” 

Well, those thoughts lasted only a short while, as I was hooked and already focused on my second one. In the nearly four years that have passed, destination-type races have been my focus: Las Vegas (two times); Chicago (four times); San Francisco (once) and even a couple local races with last year’s Indianapolis Monumental and this spring’s inaugural Carmel Marathon. Furthermore, I’ve seen the results of increased training and experience with the marathon distance, as a personal best was set this spring – 3 hours, 19 minutes, 24 seconds. My eyes are focused on other destination races, especially New York City and hopefully soon landing a qualifying spot in Boston.

For the vast majority of us, running any race will never be about finishing first or picking up the prize money.  Running marathons to me has always been about competition. That is, competition first and foremost with yourself, then the course and, finally, with other runners. No matter what goals you have, seeing progress is very rewarding. I’ve always thought of running and business as having many parallels. Set goals, pick the right strategy, discipline yourself and don’t cut corners and you will come out ahead. Most importantly, at the end of a hard day in the office or on the running course, you’ll come out a winner.

The November 5 Indianapolis Monumental event will include a marathon, half marathon and 5K. An estimated 12,000 participants are expected to take part.

Study Ventures Into Capital World

The Silicon Valley and Route 128 have long been identified as the homes of venture capital. For the unitiated, that’s the San Francisco and Boston areas. Throw New York in the mix and the three regions are home to nearly half of all VC firms and a like number of VC-backed companies.

The State Science & Technology Institute reviews some recent research that says what appears to be bad news (it is in some respects) for other parts of the country has some silver linings for investors.

Venture firms exhibit a strong local bias, according to the study. A firm is almost six times more likely to invest in a local firm, controlling for other factors. The authors note, however, that out-of-region investments have a higher success rate than in-region investments. One explanation is that firms have a higher barrier to investing out of their home region and tend to restrict their investments to low-risk and higher-yield opportunities.

Despite the greater likelihood of success in out-of-region investments, firms based in venture capital centers outperform firms in other locales. These regions have a greater number of opportunities, pools of talented employees and benefit from knowledge spillovers. The authors suggest that this concentration may be a rational allocation of resources and make sense for investors.

The researchers advise that anything a region can do to increase the number of successful venture-backed investments in a region can greatly increase the likelihood of future deals. Once a region has experienced a few successes, they are much more likely to become the home of branch offices, which in turn are prone to invest locally. Also, once a firm has invested in an out-of-region area, they are much more likely to invest in that region in the future.

Indiana has certainly seen increased outside investment and realized some success stories. More of each will lead to … more of each.
 

Research: Distance Impacts Structure of VC Funding

What do we know about venture capital — other than there isn’t quite as much in play today as in recent years?

In a recently compiled list of the most active VC firms in 2008, 40 were located in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Another 18 of the firms doing the most business were in Massachusetts. That distribution is nothing new.

Whether that fact makes it more difficult for Indiana and other Midwest companies to obtain funding is an age-old question. Some say it is a distinct disadvantage for Hoosiers, while others contend good ideas will find the money no matter the location.

Research from Xuan Tian, an assistant professor of finance at IU’s Kelley School of Business, finds that if companies do receive funds, the overall level is not impacted by distance. The structure of the financing, however, is subject to variances based on proximity.

The State Science & Technology Institute summarizes it this way:

Companies located farther from their venture investors receive more frequent rounds of financing with lower cash amounts per round. According to the study, this difference is attributable to the higher cost of monitoring companies that are farther away.

Investee companies that are located near their investors are able to meet with them regularly, minimizing the risk to the investor and the cost of gathering information.

Tian argues that monitoring and the staging of funding rounds are substitutes for each other. With the low-cost monitoring that is possible with nearby firms, venture firms can afford the larger risks associated with large, infrequent cash infusions. The cost of monitoring more distant companies means that venture firms are less willing to take those risks. More frequent funding rounds give investors the option of dropping a company that is not meeting its goals, with fewer losses.