TechPoint honors ‘Best of Tech’ Mira Award winners during 23rd annual gala
INDIANAPOLIS (April 23, 2022) — TechPoint, the nonprofit, industry-led growth accelerator for Indiana’s tech ecosystem, today honored 125 nominees and 16 award winners during the organization’s annual Mira Awards gala, with presenting sponsor Salesforce.
Winners come from Fishers, Indianapolis, Nappanee, New Albany, Noblesville and West Lafayette, and are recognized by their peers in the Indiana tech ecosystem to be:
- Reinventing industries through virtual-first and hybrid approaches;
- Turning everyday business processes into marketing opportunities and profit centers;
- Shifting progress-resistant traditional marketplaces into advanced digital spaces;
- Bringing new thinking to healthcare delivery and administration that is literally saving lives;
- Helping expand diversity throughout the Indiana tech ecosystem;
- Transforming lives by encouraging and helping people into tech careers; and
- Inspiring others by their actions and examples.
“Community matters, not only in challenging times, but also in times of celebration and hope,” said Mike Langellier, president and CEO of TechPoint. “Now is one of those times, and the Mira Awards gala is our tech community’s rallying point to come together, share stories of success and look to the future with hope and determination.”
Recognizing Indiana’s need to dramatically increase the supply of tech talent in a globally tight market, TechPoint created a new award category this year to laud leadership and excellence in workforce development. The Talent Impact Award went to Eleven Fifty Academy, which is headquartered in Indianapolis with a campus in Fishers, Ind.
“The Mira Awards gala is the biggest tech event of its kind in the state. It’s also a perennial barometer of Indiana’s tech industry growth, strength and dynamism,” said Langellier. “The robustness of this year’s class of nominees bodes well for our tech community’s future.”
The 2022 TechPoint Mira Award winners:
- RxLightning Specialty Enrollment Platform for Tech Product of the Year: New Albany, Ind.-based startup company RxLightning is completely disrupting the fast-growing specialty medications market with its end-to-end platform that connects prescribers, specialty pharmacies, manufacturers, hubs, payers and foundations all in one place. The process, which was previously 100% paper-based, is now completely digital and far more efficient, cutting wait times from an average of two weeks or more to just two or three days. Also, by generating partnership and licensing revenue from pharma, pharmacies, payers and health tech players, the platform can be offered to physician practices at no cost. Those practices experience a significant cost savings with RxLightning, given the decrease in time required for each specialty enrollment. Since the product launched, retention among prescribers has been strong, a testament to the benefits realized by practices. Among those who RxLightning supports, the most important is patients – they get critical, life-altering therapies faster, with less emotional toll.
- The Mira Awards Judges said RxLightning is literally helping physicians and specialty pharmacies save lives by eliminating barriers and inaccuracies and getting life-altering medications into the hands of the patients who need them.
- LiftBridge CXO for Service Partner of the Year: The Fishers woman-owned company fills a critically important gap for early-stage tech companies that can be long on innovation, product and markets but short on financial acuity. LiftBridge CXO created a customizable package of services derived from a comprehensive financial roadmap that all businesses need to succeed. Veteran LiftBridge CXO’s professionals embed in their clients’ business, work on an “as-needed ‘ basis, and become a seamless part of the executive team. Just six months after launching in 2021, LiftBridge CXO grew revenues more than 500%, helping 40 Indiana tech companies achieve success while also bringing greater diversity to boardroom and leadership meetings.
- The Mira Awards Judges determined LiftBridge CXO’s effectiveness with its clients, the majority of which are located in Central Indiana, is likely to have a lasting impact on the success of Indiana tech ecosystem startups and scale-ups well past the critical five-year survival mark.”
- Neurava for Innovation of the Year: The West Lafayette startup co-founders and Purdue University grad students Jay Shah and Vivek Ganesh developed a wearable device for refractory epilepsy patients who are at high risk for a deadly complication of the disease that affects one-third of Americans. The device monitors key biomarkers and sends a wireless signal to a caregiver when it detects abnormalities typically linked to the complication. An estimated 3.5 million people in the U.S. and more than 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy.
- The Mira Awards Judges said the groundbreaking, non-invasive device is an elegant solution that addresses serious risks to patients that many physicians don’t even talk about because there hasn’t been a solution, until now.
- Darrian Mikell, CEO and Co-founder, Qualifi for Rising Entrepreneur Award: A Noblesville resident, Mikell is the co-founder and CEO of Qualifi, a SaaS platform that powers the fastest phone interview experience in the world and helps recruiting teams hire great candidates faster than ever. Before earning success with Qualifi, Mikell flipped watches on eBay, launched a T-shirt business with a friend, sold a variety of products on Amazon, and was laid off from a company he co-founded after growing it to 70 employees and earning millions in revenue. Next, Mikell co-founded Qualifi with his brother, Devyn Mikell (COO), DeSean Prentice (VP of Engineering) and Keenan Jaenicke (VP of Product) in March 2019, but didn’t draw a salary for six months. Outside funding proved elusive for the disruptive new concept but in 2021, Qualifi signed key customers and secured solid funding and now employs more than 40 people.
- The Mira Awards Judges were impressed with Mikell’s hard-won success and the velocity of growth Qualifi has generated, securing $3.3 million from venture capital firms, notable funds and angels. They admired his intentional focus on building a diverse workforce and recognize Qualifi as one of the most diverse tech employers in Indianapolis, built from the ground up.
- Jake Simons, Wa-Nee Community Schools for Tech Education Award: Six years ago, Jake Simons started a robotics team of 10 fifth grade students at Woodview Elementary, a rural Amish community in Nappanee, Ind. Two years later, his program beat out 6,000 teams from 40 different countries to be crowned World Champions. Since then, his focus has been on growing the robotics initiative in his community and around the globe. Now, as Director of Robotics for Wa-Nee Community Schools, he oversees 15 teams with more than100 students.
- The Mira Awards Judges noted the significance of the Woodview Eaglebots’ win at the World Championship. The field began with 6,000 teams. Four hundred advanced to the world stage and 12 advanced to the finals. Of those 12, nine were from China, one was from Hong Kong and two were from Nappanee, Ind.. He mentors dozens of coaches, runs summer camps, hosts competitions, organizes leagues, and leads clinics. He also helped develop a free, 22-week curriculum that is used worldwide by beginner coaches. His personal efforts had an impact on 2,450 students and 463 coaches in 2021 alone.
- Sixty8 Capital for Investor of the Year: The massive majority of venture capital investment in the U.S. and Indiana has historically gone to White and male-led companies, which means companies led by Black, Latinx, Middle Eastern, Asian, Native American, Women, LGBTQIA+, and disabled founders often are underfunded and undercapitalized. General Partner Kelli Jones co-founded Sixty8 Capital to change things. The Indianapolis-based venture firm made history in 2021 as the first Black, woman-led fund in Indiana focused on investing in diverse founders. Sixty8 Capital is also training underrepresented people and undercapitalized entrepreneurs about scale-ups and investing, with a focus beyond the B2B SaaS specialty to reach sectors where Black and Latinx founders overperform.
- The Mira Awards Judges think Sixty8 Capital is poised to make an oversized impact in Indiana and the Midwest and Southeast—the firm’s target regions To date, Sixty8 Capital has made eight investments in six Black-led companies, one non-POC woman-led company and one LatinX-led company. Of these eight investments, three are based in Indiana, and four others have already hired talent and have begun doing business in Indiana, having a direct impact on job creation and population growth.
- Akilah W. Darden, Founder and President, The Darden Group for Community Impact Award (Individual): The Indianapolis business leader has accomplished on the construction jobsite what few, if any, others have: 100% diverse participation. What’s more, she did it for Cook Medical’s new 38th Street and Sheridan Ave. manufacturing facility (a forward-thinking, community-based project in its own right) in a tight labor market by meeting people ”where they are” on Instagram, creating an animated video to promote her project and offering onsite interviews with diverse construction professionals to allow the community to “see what they could be” in construction. She also created an e-course to help construction professionals with construction core competencies go from technical hands-on construction professionals to managerial professionals teaching operational and administrative strategies.
- The Mira Awards Judges were impressed by how Darden artfully leveraged technology to disrupt the industry and augment opportunities for under-represented groups, her passion for projecting success, leading by example and bringing others along with her on the journey to success. They were inspired by Akilah’s ability to not just see the need for inclusion in the building trades, but to set out to solve the problem using tech-enabled resources that eliminated barriers and instilled a growth mindset that she, herself, modeled for the community.
- Indy Women in Tech (IWiT) for Community Impact Award (Group/Organization): IWiT is a non-profit organization created to address the gender gap in the tech workforce. Since 2017, in addition to popular programs that encourage girls to stick with science and math studies, the organization has provided scholarships, mentorship, professional development and wraparound services that have enabled more than 300 women to step successfully into tech careers where many of them have financial freedom for the first time. On average, the women participating in IWiT pathways see a 68% increase in their personal income and 89% graduate on time and with zero debt.
- The Mira Awards Judges congratulated IWiT for bucking a national trend of six out of 10 community college students dropping out of training programs without earning a degree despite their students also dealing with family responsibilities and financial hardships. They were particularly impressed that IWiT ramped up its programs and invested more resources into assisting women with changing careers and entering the tech workforce throughout the pandemic, when women were being set back more than ever before and many assistance programs were suspended or unable to continue.
- myCOI for Exceptional Employer Award: Indianapolis-based myCOI’s advanced software solution automates and centralizes compliance for companies that can have thousands of separate certificates of insurance. Failing to be in compliance puts those companies at risk for millions of dollars.
- The Mira Awards Judges were impressed by how myCOI created a positive and productive employee community in the new remote and hybrid work environment, by really listening to employees, supporting their growth, and empowering them to be their personal and professional best. Based on their Emplify employee engagement data, myCOI’s workplace culture has continued to thrive and improve quarter-over-quarter, which is reflected in a very low turnover rate and most of their open jobs being filled through promotions and employee referrals. The judges really liked myCOI’s Leadership in Training program in partnership with ADVISA, and the company’s thoughtful focus on diversity and inclusion.
- Eleven Fifty Academy for Talent Impact Award: Indianapolis-based Eleven Fifty Academy was created to change the economic trajectory of low-income, less educated or underemployed adults and their families by increasing post-secondary educational attainment and employability. With community and employer partners, Eleven Fifty is building a tech workforce pipeline at scale. Its graduates have filled more than 800 tech jobs since the start of the pandemic, earn average starting salaries of $54,000 and 97% of them remain in the Indiana tech ecosystem.
- The Mira Awards Judges think the Academy’s results speak impressively for themselves, but the Academy leaders don’t stop there. President and Founder Scott Jones created, championed and shepherded the nation’s first Progressive Income Share Agreement for tech workforce training, which the Indiana General Assembly funded to the tune of $75 million. Eleven Fifty also worked with partners on the “Advancing Tech” initiative resulting in grant funding focused on building tech talent from non-traditional sources. Lilly Endowment Inc. provided $5 million to support students living in the lowest income zip code in the state.
- RxLightning for Startup of the Year: With RxLightning, healthcare providers can quickly and easily complete the enrollment process for every specialty drug in every therapeutic area, reducing paperwork, streamlining communication and accelerating speed to therapy for patients.
- The Mira Awards Judges were “blown away” by RxLightning’s speed to market and growth trajectory with a product that has revolutionized a complex healthcare niche with a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use solution that is currently being used by 75,000 partners and generating revenue in excess of seven figures for the small business. The company’s value proposition is appealing across every aspect of the ecosystem, and customer retention has been strong, a testament to the benefits realized by practices. The company raised $3 million in 2021, grew its team significantly and began generating revenue. RxLightning is positioned to undergo a Series A funding raise, which will enable quick scale helping even more patients get access to their specialty medications faster than before.
- Market Wagon for Scale-up of the Year (Indiana Headquartered): Nick Carter, an Indianapolis farmer and tech entrepreneur, launched the online farmers’ market in 2016 to save family farms across the country. It is a place to shop for local fresh products and a platform to discover local farms and connect with farmers, chefs and artisans to learn about the food they produce. More than 2,500 local farmers and artisans use Market Wagon to deliver products to the doorsteps of 45,000+ local customers in more than 33 markets across 20 states. Built to scale quickly, Market Wagon surged from just six markets to 33 during the first 18-months of the pandemic. In 2021, Market Wagon grew from 36 to 76 workers to meet demand. Over the next three years, Market Wagon anticipates doubling its employment base and expanding to up to 20 more new markets, before embarking on a massive revenue increase and nationwide expansion through 2025.
- The Mira Awards Judges think Market Wagon’s business model is ironically disruptive in a world where humans are farther and farther removed from what they eat, often thousands of miles and as far away as the other side of the planet. Market Wagon provides food producers with a transparent and reliable local supply chain that bypasses the Big Ag, corporate grocery stores, and the issues impacting them still today.
- Wunderkind for Scale-up of the Year (>$100M, Acquired or Headquartered Out-of-State with Indiana Operations): Wunderkind is a leading performance marketing engine that delivers one-to-one emails and texts for the world’s largest brands. With offices in London, New York City and Indianapolis, the company has helped retailers drive $2.8 billion dollars annually in directly attributable revenue. Wunderkind has a 130 person-strong Indianapolis office, and is actively hiring for over 140 open positions.
- The Mira Awards Judges were impressed by Wunderkind’s stable position at the top of the personalization space for the past three years serving a majority of the largest brands in the world. The explosion in online shopping provides the company ample opportunity to be the market-leading omnichannel performance marketing engine. Wunderkind has raised more than $44 million from prominent VCs, and the company itself grew by 46% last year and is expected to grow by double digits again this year too.
- IU Health for Large Enterprise of the Year: Headquartered in Indianapolis, IU Health is Indiana’s largest and most comprehensive healthcare system with 16 hospitals and 36,000 employees. Healthcare workers were heroes of the pandemic. IU Health demonstrated that it wasn’t just doctors and nurses that responded heroically. So did the IT and cybersecurity teams that enable those frontline healthcare interactions. In a matter of weeks virtual care interactions went from less than 100 per month to thousands, totaling 400,000 over the length of the COVID-19 crisis. IU Health’s Informatics and Information Systems division provides the complex technology infrastructure that underpins patient care and the digital experience at IU Health.
- The Mira Awards Judges were impressed with how the IU Health team rapidly adapted to the needs of the crisis as well as launched several new technology initiatives such as the Google Healthcare Data Engine, the “I Can Help App”, Virtual Nurses, and the Medical Device Security Lab at 16 Tech. Their innovations will serve patients long into the future, both when they are healthy and when they are sick.
Previously announced TechPoint Mira Awards were presented as well to:
- Informatics Diversity-Enhanced Workforce (iDEW) for TechPoint Foundation for Youth Bridge Builder Award: The Bridge Builder Award recognizes visionary leaders who offer underserved student populations in Indiana experiential learning opportunities that encourage science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. Based in Indianapolis and launched in 2015, iDEW is a partnership between academia, Indiana corporations and organizations and is led by high school teachers, with training and support provided by IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI faculty, staff, and near-peer mentors that open opportunities for underrepresented minorities.
- “Working in eight Indianapolis high schools and with education and industry partners, iDEW has taught tech skills and provided career opportunities to more than 2,500 girls and students of color, groups that are underrepresented in the state and national tech sector. Nearly 80 percent of those students are college bound, pursuing STEM degrees,” said Foundation President and CEO George Giltner.
- Bill Oesterle for TechPoint Trailblazer Award: The Trailblazer Award recognizes visionaries whose contributions have had lasting and significant impact on the state and its technology ecosystem. Oesterle, born in West Lafayette but an Indianapolis business leader, co-founded Angie’s List; is a pioneer in the effort to attract and retain the best talent in Indiana; and is an outspoken champion for human rights and equity. He has invested millions of dollars to revitalize neglected areas of Indianapolis, including the former Angie’s List campus, which is now known as Elevator Hill, and the 38th Street Corridor in Midtown.
- Among those commenting about Oesterle being this year’s recipient was former Governor Mitch Daniels and current Purdue University President: “Bill Oesterle has been one of the most important and impactful Indiana business leaders in the modern era, but he’s so much more than that. He has been one of our state’s most constructive and influential citizens. He once worked for me, but for many years, I have felt like I’ve worked for him; his ideas and insights have shaped my own, and I owe him a bigger debt than I can ever repay.”
The Mira Awards are the state’s largest and longest running technology awards program recognizing the “Best of Tech” in Indiana. Fifty-two independent, volunteer judges spent more than 850 total hours evaluating applications, interviewing nominees, and selecting this year’s winners. Judges included an impressive roster of company founders, CEOs and presidents, CTOs, CIOs, engineers and other industry professionals.
TechPoint is the nonprofit, industry-led growth initiative for Indiana’s technology companies and overall tech ecosystem. The team is focused on attracting talent, accelerating scale-up companies, activating the community and amplifying stories of success. For more information, please visit www.techpoint.org.
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