This is the fourth in a series of blogs featuring the Indianapolis venture community, written by Evening MBA student Katie Wilson, MBA’20.
And now we’ve reached the end. What an experience it has been! When I started getting involved in the venture community back in the fall of 2018, I had very few expectations and didn’t fully understand what I would gain from this journey. The expectations I did have were a few networking goals here and a little learning there, but I had no concrete expectations. I had no idea I would meet the people that I did, learn about these amazing businesses right here at home and gain a knowledge, understanding and true appreciation for entrepreneurship. That’s exactly what happened.
Before this course, my only experience in the venture community had been through small business owners. A couple different family members, including my dad, are small business owners who have done well but have remained relatively small. From my point of view, their jobs included all the upsides of having your own business — like being your own boss and making your own hours — and very few downsides. I knew that not everyone’s entrepreneurial experience was exactly like what I’d seen, but I thought they may have similar elements.
Through the months spent exploring the venture community, I have had the opportunity to meet a plethora of entrepreneurs and some serial entrepreneurs, and I’ve truly been blown away by the diversity in the businesses, mindsets and experiences of each person.
At a Startup Ladies event (@iamstartupladies), I met an amazing individual who’d been with their very first startup for ten years, and this person was looking for growth opportunities. At a Powderkeg pitch night (@powderkegco), I met individuals in their second, third or even fourth venture who were on the lookout for the next project or group they could be a part of. Other events I attended with the Economic Club (@economicclubin) and Venture Club (@ventureclubindy) brought more and more insight into the experiences of different entrepreneurs.
Some were extremely successful in their experiences; others had totally failed but were eager for more. The common thread among everyone though – each person was completely open, honest and enthusiastic about his or her experiences and had a true desire to build a better community here in Indiana by helping anyone they could.
I’ve spent a lot of time these last few months wondering if this area of business, this space for innovation and uncertainty, is a space I’d ever see myself working in. Through months of consideration and talking and meeting with individuals, I still don’t know if it’s for me. I definitely see places where I think I could fit in, and I definitely see areas where I would struggle. This opportunity has allowed me to really explore, learn and have some time for self-reflection as to where I think I could fit into the venture world. I’m so grateful for the people along the way who have helped me learn more about the community and the opportunities available within the startup space in Indianapolis.
A couple classmates have asked me if I would recommend this course in the future. While I definitely would recommend it to other MBA students, I would also recommend getting involved for anyone who even has the slightest interest in the venture community. Go to an event, meet a new person, ask questions and show up again the next time. You may find that the next opportunity or problem to solve is out there just waiting for you to find it — or for it to find you.
Thank you to anyone who has read this series over the past few months, and a huge thank you to professor Todd Saxton and the Kelley School of Business for allowing me this opportunity. It is truly one I won’t easily forget.