By: Todd Saxton, associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship
I thought it worth sharing a quick update as I head into the third month of my stint as President of the Venture Club of Indiana. Thanks to a great board, a solid foundation from prior leadership, and an excellent set of partners, the year is off to a very strong start!
January kicked off the New Year with a great session by DeveloperTown on the power of ideas. The Mikes (Cloran and Kelly) walked the audience through a process of generating, vetting, and moving ideas forward in a very fun and interactive session. It was a good reminder that while the founding team is critical, having a solid idea we are passionate about and can communicate clearly is the essential foundation of a viable venture.
February brought a really strong panel on life science growth funding. Entrepreneurs including Steve Johns of Confluence Pharmaceutical, Joe Muldoon of FAST BioMedical, and Derek Small of Assembly Biosciences shared their perspectives as successful life science founders who have raised more than $200 million collectively for their life-changing ventures. Our investor panelists included Curt Rossman of AlpInvest, Ned Schwartz of DRIVE Capital, and Brian Stemme of BioCrossroads. Their role supporting founding teams in many sectors has and will continue to be the source of fuel that drives successful innovation in Indiana and beyond. All were particularly optimistic on the prospects for Indiana in life science and other venture arenas, generating billion dollar plus ideas and exits, and more importantly, new ideas that solve big problems in the future. The partnership (as opposed to an adversarial relationship) between investor and entrepreneur in a successful venture funding marriage was a noteworthy theme. We held a great brainstorming session after to discuss ways to improve the funding climate here for growth ventures … more to come on that (#edgeofseats)!
The upcoming March meeting should be just as exciting. Dr. Peter Schubert of the Lugar Center at IUPUI has helped put together a stellar (pun intended) session on space ventures — a new if not the final frontier for entrepreneurs and innovators, and very possibly the source of the first trillionaires. A particular focus is on dual-use technologies — innovations that have some application here on earth, but 10X (100X? 1,000X?) the potential value when applied in places that have less gravity and oxygen (and I don’t mean my classes). Think getting minerals from deep rock here today and mining unobtanium from asteroids in the future. The venture panel includes a strong Hoosier showing and exciting ideas for future exploration.
It has been a busy, productive, and rewarding start to the year — thanks to all who have made it so. Please join us for lunch on March 5 for the space ventures session. And may you live long and prosper!