There is a surprising amount of capital available here in Bloomington and southern Indiana—if you know where to look for it, and if your startup shows traction and great product-market fit. From angel investors to the IU Philanthropic Ventures Fund to VisionTech Partners and VisionTech Angels to the SBDC’s INTAP program to Elevate’s Nexus program to The Mill’s Flywheel Fund and Velocities funds, the capital is out there.
The Mill helps startups understand what it takes to access capital:
- What kinds of funding and financing are out there?
- Should you seek angel investment or a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, or both?
- When is it time to go for Series A funding, and how do you do that?
- What matters most to investors?
- What does a successful pitch look like?
- What will investors expect for their money?
The Mill’s partnerships and programs connect entrepreneurs to more than money: we connect startups to the crucial mentoring and expertise needed to successfully scale an idea or business. And our startups are creating models of success for others to follow. In 2019 alone, one of our member companies, FormAssembly, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Another, Cloudseal, after winning an SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grant from the National Science Foundation, sold to Facebook.
Great things happen for Mill members!
“In the other cities that I’ve lived—Austin, The Bay, and Seattle—there’s a lot more companies that you can invest in than there are people willing to write checks. Here I’ve found it’s the exact opposite. So if a 10 is a perfect slam-dunk investment, I run into a lot of sixes and sevens. And my job is to close that delta between seven and 10. I meet the entrepreneur wherever they are, whether they need help with their pitch deck, the pitch itself, hooking them up with resources or my network, whatever the case may be.”—Cy Megnin
One of The Mill’s most powerful assets for startups is our Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR), Cy Megnin. Cy comes to us through Velocities, our partnership with venture capital firm Elevate Ventures, the City of Bloomington, and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. Cy is a full-time mentor to entrepreneurs across the region served by Velocities, with an office here at The Mill in Bloomington. He helps them build their companies, figure out marketing, how to sell, how to interact with customers, and more.
Crossroads is The Mill’s annual pitch competition, held in October. We launched it as a regional event in 2017. Since then, it’s grown to a state-wide pitch competition with applicants and finalists from literally all four corners of Indiana and every city in between: South Bend, Evansville, Terre Haute, Anderson, Indianapolis, Fishers, West Lafayette, Columbus, and Bloomington, of course.
To find startups, we coordinate with investors like VisionTech and IU Philanthropic Ventures and with the 50+ coworking spaces throughout the state who are members of the Indiana Coworking Passport, among other outreach. Crossroads is free to attend and open to the public. Join us on pitch day—you will be amazed at the incredible ideas and passion bubbling up in our entrepreneurial ecosystem!
Interested in supporting Indiana’s startup ecosystem? Help make Crossroads 2020 a success with a sponsorship! Learn more about our sponsorship levels, and get your company in front of our audience.
Crossroads 2020 is slated for October 8, and the deadline for applications is September 25. We hope to see you there!
Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund based in Bloomington, Indiana. From life sciences and medical devices with an emphasis on software and technology, Flywheel invests in early-stage and high-potential startups.
Flywheel takes a unique approach to increasing local access to startup capital, by growing a regional network of experienced investors. Rotating cohorts of investors support rotating cohorts of startups . Each investor cohort contributes a set amount to the fund, meets several times a year to listen to pitches, then votes; each winning pitch receives $25,000 in investment funding—and ongoing mentoring to ensure success.
The result? More startups, and more investors—a flywheel of entrepreneurial energy.
The Mill is proud to partner with Elevate Ventures and the cities of Bloomington and Columbus to create Velocities, a partnership that that provides a wealth of resources to entrepreneurs and early-stage companies along the innovation corridor between Bloomington and Columbus. We know that building a strong regional entrepreneurial support system lays the foundation for lasting success.
The Velocities partnership is helping drive innovation in three main ways. First, the Entrepreneur-in-Residence educates entrepreneurs on how to build and grow their companies and acts as a bridge between Columbus and Bloomington, making connections and sparking opportunities.
Second, Velocities increases access to capital via its ideation and early stage funds. Finally, Velocities capitalizes on and feeds the tremendous potential for cross pollination and collaboration between Bloomington and Columbus. These two dynamic cities, and their anchor employers, draw talent to our region and offer incredible resources. By working together, we reap compounding returns on our efforts to build a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.