TechPoint’s 20th annual Mira Awards honor ‘The Best of Tech in Indiana’
INDIANAPOLIS (April 13, 2019)— TechPoint, the nonprofit, industry-led growth accelerator for Indiana’s tech ecosystem, honored the successes and innovation of Indiana people, companies, places, and products at the JW Marriott Indianapolis during the 20th annual Mira Awards gala presented by Angie’s List, Infosys, and Salesforce. With a sold-out crowd of 1,400 attendees, this was the largest Mira Awards in the program’s 20-year history.
The Mira Awards – Indiana’s largest and longest running technology awards program – this year celebrates 14 award winners and honorees chosen from 109 nominees. Fifty-two independent, volunteer judges spent more than 850 total hours evaluating applications, interviewing nominees, and selecting this year’s winners. Judges included company founders, CEOs and presidents, CTOs, CIOs, and other subject matter experts.
“For 20 years, the Mira Awards stage has been the platform across which Indiana’s biggest tech successes and most promising up-and-comers have walked. Over that time, our tech community has become a primary driver of job and company growth, entrepreneurial activity, and venture capital investment, and Central Indiana has become one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the country. Now we build upon that strength as we enter into an era where nearly every other company and industry in our economy depends on tech enablement for future prosperity. The Mira Awards audience is a physical embodiment of tech industry growth and also the digital transformation happening all around us,” said Mike Langellier, president and CEO of TechPoint.
Only a handful of the 2019 nominees existed as companies 20 years ago, and 82 percent were founded in just the past 10 years. Similar to the rapid adoption of the iPhone starting a decade ago and streaming services today, tech businesses in Indiana have grown from a few pioneers to a fast growing, vibrant industry that is a key driver of job growth and a critical part of the state’s economic success story.
Full List of the 2019 TechPoint Mira Award winners and honorees:
(Descriptions of the winners and why they were chosen are below.)
- Rising Entrepreneur Award: Casey Gauss, Co-founder and CEO of Viral Launch
- Investor of the Year: Allos Ventures – Don Aquilano, Managing Director
- Tech Educator of the Year: Ariel Crawley, Ivy Works Director, Ivy Tech Community College
- TechPoint Foundation for Youth Bridge Builder Award: Stephen J. Dutton, Partner, Barnes & Thornburg
- Trailblazer Award: Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb
- Rising Tech City Award: City of Fishers
- Community Champion of the Year: Katie Birge, Executive Director, Launch Indy at Union 525
- New Tech Product of the Year: SIMBA Chain
- Tech Service of the Year: Raytheon
- Innovation of the Year: Innovative Neurological Devices
- Exceptional Employer Award: GEICO
- Large Enterprise of the Year: Cummins
- New Tech Startup of the Year: Encamp
- Scale-up of the Year: VIral Launch
Rising Entrepreneur Award (Casey Gauss, Co-founder and CEO of Viral Launch) – As a 21-year-old college student with a disruptive idea, Casey Gauss took a bold risk to drop out of school, teach himself to code and build out his own model for driving sales and ranking on Amazon. Today, Viral Launch is one of Central Indiana’s fastest growing companies, having helped its customers launch more than 80,000 products and driving $7 billion in Amazon sales. READ MORE
Tech Educator of the Year (Ariel Crawley, Ivy Works Director, Ivy Tech Community College) – As director of Ivy Works at Ivy Tech Community College, Ariel Crawley has demonstrated an uncanny ability to provide students the support they need to first earn a degree or workforce credentials and then to build a career in one of Indiana’s fastest growing fields. The impact Ariel is having on the tech community is core to some of the biggest challenges that women face when they are changing or advancing in their careers. If the tools or connections she needs to help students aren’t available — or don’t exist — she creates them, and she does whatever it takes to open doors for students to walk through. READ MORE
Investor of the Year (Allos Ventures – Don Aquilano, Managing Director) – Since making its first investment in an Indiana startup in 2010, Allos Ventures now has $100 million under management and in capital to deploy in early-stage Indiana tech startups. CB Insights recently named them the most active VC in Indiana for the third consecutive year, and they have been instrumental in the growth and success of Indiana’s tech ecosystem, helping numerous entrepreneurs navigate their fundraising and resulting in several of the state’s largest VC deals in recent memory. READ MORE
TechPoint Foundation for Youth Bridge Builder Award (Stephen J. Dutton, Partner, Barnes & Thornburg) – The Bridge Builder Award recognizes visionary leaders who has helped Indiana’s underserved, K-12 student populations gain access to experiential learning opportunities that increase STEM knowledge and inspire STEM career exploration. Steve Dutton has spent nearly two decades working to help form and shape the organizations that became TechPoint and TechPoint Foundation for Youth, serving a combined 27 years as a board member for both organizations. His role in setting the groundwork for the governance and structure of the organization has been a crucial component in allowing the Foundation to invest millions of philanthropic investments into our state and impact hundreds of thousands of students. READ MORE
Trailblazer Award (Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb) – Governor Holcomb understands the critical role the tech sector plays in the state’s economy and has taken bold action to help it thrive. Trailblazers are among the state’s most inspiring and influential players. They are innovative risk-takers whose achievements and bold leadership are catalysts for tech growth and success. Governor Holcomb has championed the following laws and initiatives that are important to the tech industry: $250 Million Next Level Indiana Fund, Open Data Bill, SaaS Sales Tax Clarification, Cybersecurity Initiatives, bringing computer science education to K-12, and pushing towards a clear and comprehensive bias crimes law. READ MORE
Community Champion of the Year (Katie Birge, Executive Director, Launch Indy at Union 525) – As executive director of Launch Indy at The Union 525, Katie Birge originated the coworking space and incubator to be a catalyst for economic development and a center of gravity for entrepreneurs, remote workers and venture firms. Katie’s tendency to “go rogue” caught the Mira Awards judges’ attention. Many of her community programs and efforts are extracurricular to her official duties, supported with virtually zero resources outside of her own ingenuity, creativity and sweat equity. She is quietly meeting the daily needs of those in the tech community — especially underrepresented and underserved populations. READ MORE
Rising Tech City Award (City of Fishers) – Known as the home of Launch Fishers and the Indiana IoT Lab, the City of Fishers began its journey to this year’s first-ever Rising Tech City Award more than a decade ago when business and city leaders devised a plan to transform what was then a bedroom community into an innovation hub. The city’s 10-year plan not only worked for Fishers, but is an excellent example for other communities and regions. The judges were impressed that the city, while proud of what has been built, continues to look to the future and allot significant time and resources to facing challenges and taking advantage of opportunities to benefit its residents. READ MORE
New Tech Product of the Year (Simba Chain) – Like the WordPress of blockchain, South Bend startup SIMBA Chain significantly reduces the time companies would normally spend on developing, prototyping, and implementing blockchain technologies. Originally formed to build a secure and unhackable messaging and transaction solution for the U.S. military, SIMBA Chain is a completely new category of product that solves an increasingly important global security problem while literally reducing something incredibly complex down to just four simplified steps. READ MORE
Tech Service of the Year (Raytheon) – The next generation of products must be better, lighter, and stronger while using less raw materials. Raytheon Indianapolis has made significant investments to meet this challenge, resulting in Topography Optimization design and printing services, which enables the Indiana-based team to deliver complex mechanical structures and other cutting-edge solutions efficiently and at scale, delivering previously unconsidered optimized designs. READ MORE
Innovation of the Year (Innovative Neurological Devices) – What if you couldn’t, or didn’t want to take a pill to treat a debilitating condition? Innovative Neurological Devices has created Cervella, an FDA-cleared medical device for non-drug treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Cervella works by sending micro pulses of electric current through the brain via conductive electrodes that are seamlessly incorporated into the ear cushions of noise-cancelling stereo headphones. Cervella is controlled via a smartphone app that allows patients to receive treatment while working, studying or playing. READ MORE
Exceptional Employer Award (GEICO) – What began in Indianapolis as a service centre for the nation’s second-largest auto insurance company with 250 associates, GEICO is now 1400 employees strong. The GEICO Centre of Excellence, established in late July last year, currently employs more than 200 technologists, a number that is on track to be tripled in the next few years. GEICO has invested $4 million into training its Indianapolis employees, and the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is as laudable on paper as it is in practice, resulting in outcomes like women making up 42% of the company’s local leadership. READ MORE
Large Enterprise of the Year (Cummins) – With more than 1,500 tech-skilled employees reporting to CIO Sherry Aaholm, Cummins represents one of the largest global tech operations headquartered within the state. The Mira Awards judges were particularly impressed by Cummins’ focus and dedication to developing and implementing data-enabled services through the Digital Accelerator team that have led to numerous new products including the Cummins self-healing engine. Outside of the company’s obvious successful financial performance, it’s Cummins’ commitment to community improvement and diversity and inclusion at all of its global locations that leaves a lasting impression. READ MORE
New Tech Startup of the Year (Encamp) – Encamp, which was part of the second Indy gBeta accelerator cohort, is an environmental software company that helps small to enterprise companies save time, minimize risk, and protect human and environmental health. The judges were impressed with Encamp’s smart and scalable solution combining the best aspects of SaaS data management systems and environmental business logic. Though launching in the third quarter of 2018, Encamp already has more than 130 customers including Fortune 1000 companies. The startup’s product also has a broad appeal with customers in agriculture, retail, logistics, and manufacturing industries. READ MORE
Scale-up of the Year (Viral Launch) – Viral Launch has demonstrated unprecedented growth and an exponential scaling of its business by growing revenue by triple digits and doubling its workforce from 30 to 66 employees in 2018. As of today, the platform has helped more than 8,000 brands launch over 80,000 products using the company’s SaaS platform that automates selling on Amazon. The fast-growing tech company plans to hire 250 employees by the end of 2021. The judges were impressed by how Viral Launch has strategically hired and steered software and product development toward the company it wants to be, which is expected to be $100M at the end of 2019. READ MORE
TechPoint is the nonprofit, industry-led growth accelerator 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. TechPoint is an economic development initiative sponsored by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) to advance the mission of our region’s continued prosperity and growth. For more information, please visit www.techpoint.org.
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