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August 26th, 2020

Year One of Velocities

By Rachel Smith, Communications Specialist

The Dimension Mill, photo courtesy of Velocities

At Elevate Ventures, we are committed to lifting communities throughout Indiana toward entrepreneurship and innovation. Part of that commitment includes helping entrepreneurial organizations grow key partnerships, which builds a network of like-minded leaders and individuals dedicated to successful communities.

In December 2018, we unveiled a partnership with The Dimension Mill and the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce. Formally named Velocities, the collaboration aimed to accelerate innovation by developing an entrepreneurship-minded culture and infrastructure throughout south-central Indiana. The region encompasses Bartholomew and Monroe counties.

The partnership was officially launched in July 2019, and now that a year has passed, we’re looking back to highlight some of the top achievements and milestones:

  • July 2019: The Velocities partnership is officially announced, and Cy Megnin is announced as Elevate Ventures Entrepreneur-in-Residence. A Bloomington native, Megnin joined the Elevate team after spending 15 years in Austin, Seattle and the Bay Area. He has experience leading numerous companies including CloudCoreo (sold to VMware), PrepFlash and OCPS.
  • September 2019: Managed by Elevate Ventures, the first Community Ideation Fund in the Velocities region is awarded to Civic Champs. The Bloomington-based startup helps nonprofits streamline the volunteer process through a mobile platform.
  • October 2019: Geared toward successful women in business, both Bloomington and Columbus create groups centered on collaboration, mentorship and support.
  • October 2019: The first Elevate Nexus Regional Pitch Competitions takes place, with 67 finalists competing for pre-seed and seed investments. Three of the 15 startups receiving investments are from the Velocities region: Blueprint Stats and Semiring Inc. are awarded pre-seed funds, while Civic Champs wins a seed award.
  • November 2019: Civic Labs hosts members of the Velocities partnership to facilitate an asset map exercise. Leaders and key stakeholders in the region are identified to ensure goals and expectations will be met long-term.
  • December 2019: Columbus and Elevate Ventures convene a network of high-net worth individuals focused on investing in startups across the Velocities region. The funding comes with no strings attached and is meant to bridge the gap in funding for early-stage startups.
  • February 2020: Two companies from the Velocities region, The Learning Alliance and Sintact Medical Systems, are chosen to receive seed funding. Learning Alliance and Sintact were among 16 of the 58 companies participating in the second Elevate Nexus Regional Pitch Competitions to receive funding.
  • June 2020: Three companies in the region receive Community Ideation Funds: Blueprint Stats, Sintact Medical Systems and Stagetime.
  • June 2020: Kylie Abrams is named Startup Ecosystem Manager for Velocities. Abrams previously worked with the city of Bloomington and collaborated with The Dimension Mill as a community development intern at the Herald-Times.
  • July 2020: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook accounts are created for Velocities.
  • July 2020: The Dimension Mill launches the Flywheel Fund to invest $25,000 in five early-stage startups annually.

Since the launch of the partnership, we have planned and executed 12 events with 232 attendees across the region. Although the COVID-19 pandemic paused our in-person events, entrepreneurs are still connecting through virtual webinars and happy hours. Such perseverance is crucial to the success of an entrepreneurial ecosystem and we look forward to more growth.

“We have seen remarkable participation and engagement from our region. The support we’ve received has made it possible to do more than we thought possible within the first year of this partnership. Despite having to host events, meetings and introductions virtually, connections are being made and stakeholders of all backgrounds are getting involved. Moving forward, we hope to keep the momentum we have going and continue to grow and diversify our ecosystem and our startups. Creating a diverse and skilled network is essential to supporting our startups and developing a sustainable entrepreneurial culture in our region. These plans include creating a Women In Business group, collaborating with the Urban Manufacturing Alliance to reach out to entrepreneurs with rural and manufacturing backgrounds, and continuing to engage with engineers, designers, inventors and top out of state and international talent who can provide knowledge and expertise to our entrepreneurs and startups. The success of the past year has been rewarding and encouraging. We are looking forward to another resilient year!”

– Kylie Abrams, Ecosystem Manager for Velocities


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