San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Chicago. These are a few cities that come to mind when talking about technology communities. But what about Indianapolis? How does the circle city stack up in the tech space? A new Tech Census from Powderkeg examines the state of the technology economy in Indianapolis and the insights surrounding it’s growth. We had the opportunity to read the Tech Census and pull out a few data points we found particularly interesting and discuss what we can do to help encourage more growth.
Indianapolis Tech Community
We can all agree that Indianapolis is not Silicon Valley. But for many reasons, that’s one of its key benefits. According to PowderKeg, running a 500-person company in California is on average 72% more expensive than Indianapolis. Additionally, median rent is 50% higher in Chicago than in Indy, and 250% higher in San Francisco. For business owners and workers alike, it makes financial sense to work and grow professionally in Indianapolis as opposed to other larger tech cities because of factors like cost of living. You might be asking yourself, well how does that translate on a national level, will we ever be like San Francisco or the Bay?
“To some degree a lot of people look at our community and want us to be something
we’re never going to be. We’re not going to be Silicon Valley. Every community has to be different, because they have to play to their strengths. The west coast skews heavily toward B2C. The east coast is financial services where speed and transaction time matters. To me, here in the Midwest we sometimes measure ourselves to the standards of the coasts. We shouldn’t. Instead, we should play to our strengths.
We have one of the highest concentrations of Fortune 500s. Our strength is our ready access to those “unsexy” businesses and available executives, talent, and advisors who have deep experience in those industries. If you look at many of our past tech successes, they are the software & technologies that enable other businesses to succeed. We should build on that.” – Mike Kelly, Managing Partner, DeveloperTown
The 2018 Tech Census reports 66% of respondents said they believe the Indiana tech space will see stable linear growth over the next 5 years. This growth opens the doors for more companies to join the Indianapolis Tech Community, and to continue expanding, but our concern is the talent pool to fill those positions.
“The Indy tech community is poised to explode. My greatest concern is that we’re going to trip over the skills gap. There’s a gap between education and the specific skills training our tech employers need.” John Qualls, President, Eleven Fifty
During a period of growth, the skilled labor force has to not only improve but steadily increase. To address this skills gap, we see the growth capabilities outside of graduates from schools like Purdue or Rose-Hulman. There is a true talent pool around us, waiting for someone to inspire and train them. Our goal is to give them the keys to unlock a new career. By empowering people to consider their next professional move to one in tech, we can help fill those gaps and also, in turn, close the gap in diversity among tech professionals.
A healthy workforce is a diverse workforce, and presently diversity is one of Indy’s weak points. Diversity and equality (23% of respondents) and Quality Education on (22% of respondents) were the two most prevalent social issues identified as priorities by census participants. The survey also revealed that the top social issue respondents would like to see impacted in a positive way is diversity and equality in the next 5 years. At the brink of such a time of growth, these insights shed light on the gaps in our community and where to focus our efforts looking toward the future.
“Indianapolis is a hotbed for innovative education ideas being implemented both during and outside of the school day. The city is leading the nation in opportunities for students to participate in STEM programming and boasts a cross-sector commitment to increasing computer science education in our schools by 2020. Unfortunately, the biggest challenges for technology education mirrors that of our workforce today: we must do a better job encouraging students that are typically demographically and economically underrepresented in technology to opt-in.”
– Laura Dodds, Executive Director, Techpoint Foundation for Youth
How We Can Contribute
Excellent coders come from all walks of life. Giving people the tools and education to learn the skills needed to start a career in tech means more talent, and more diverse talent in our communities. Inclusion in our programs helps people who may have never considered the career path earlier in life. Women and minorities are among the lowest represented in tech, and as we work to help underrepresented individuals opt-in from an earlier age, we can also help those ready to make the switch later in life with transition programs.
A big thank you to PowderKeg for their contribution in understanding the state of the Indianapolis tech community. This blog only scratches the surface of the wealth of information from the Tech Census. If you want like to read the entire report, head over to PowderKeg for more information!