Innovation Showcase: A Signature Event For Kelley, Venture Scene


On July 10, investors, entrepreneurs, and others in the venture community will convene at the Dallara Indycar Factory in Speedway to pitch, learn, and network. Initially started in 2009 by the Venture Club of Indiana, The Innovation Showcase has grown in scope and reach. Now, it’s jointly organized by the Venture Club, VisionTech Angel Partners, and Verge. More than 80 founders seeking funding will pitch to early-stage investors. A record number of over 120 ventures applied — not all survived the first cut. The select ventures will pitch for a prize package of over $120,000, including a $50,000 cash investment — also a record. Close to 1,000 people are expected to attend the event.

This year, I have had the pleasure of being on the organizing committee as IU and the Kelley School are heavily involved in the event. IU is a Platinum sponsor of the Showcase, demonstrating financial commitment to the venture community. The Kelley School has partnered with VisionTech to create a morning educational session for investors, as well as entrepreneurs on trends in angel investing, funding milestones and venture success factors, and surviving and thriving through the venture funding continuum. Kelley faculty will be featured, including Kim Saxton (marketing), Gerry Hays (finance), and myself (strategy/entrepreneurship). Other panelists represent angel and venture capital groups from Chicago, Cincinnati, Nashville, and San Diego.

This year will also feature a Kelley Direct experimental class. Usually dominated by online interaction with periodic resident weeks in Bloomington, select students with a passion for venturing will come from around the country to engage in the Showcase as well as some pre- and post-Showcase events to learn about new venture business models and venture ecosystems. We hope to build on this year’s pilot to extend the opportunity to our Evening MBA and Business of Medicine MBA program for physicians in the future. Our top-rated programs are always looking for innovative ways to offer new learning opportunities for our students.

A signature part of the Showcase is the pitch session in the afternoon. The 80 entrepreneurs will put it all on the line in a one-minute fast pitch session — think piranha fest instead of shark tank! These entrepreneurs will then visit with potential investors for more in-depth interaction at the expo later in the afternoon. From these pitches and the expo interaction, a group of judges will select the winner of the BIG check and service package.

From the above, you can see that this is more than an “Indiana” or even Midwestern event. We have national representation, a significant prize package to accelerate one fortunate venture, and connections with investors for countless others. Entrepreneurs and investors alike will learn more about success trajectories that should help create jobs, solve customer problems, and yield significant financial returns. It is not too late to register — see the site, and students get a nice discount. I hope to see you there!