INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The chief executive officer of TechPoint says 2020 had its ups and downs for the state’s tech sector. While digital transformation helped many Hoosier tech firms thrive during the pandemic, Mike Langellier says others have been disrupted. “I think it really just depends on what end of these trends you are and which industries your customers are in,” said Langellier.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Langellier said the rush for digital transformation as more employees switched to remote work affected tech companies differently.
“If you take the large tech employer in our region, Salesforce for example, it gave them opportunity to step into remote work in unique ways – even in the virus testing and tracing and tracking – in ways they hadn’t even envisioned before,” said Langellier. “We’ve seen digital transformation of major industries. Take the events industry, for example, that just got upended overnight and sports along with it; there are a variety of companies that have leaned into those problems.”
Langellier cites new startups such as Filo and Mandolin, which launched this year with the goal of helping companies in the events industry move to virtual formats. With that, he says, comes the need for more cybersecurity efforts and one Hoosier company, Pondurance, received a major funding infusion this year as well.
Langellier says another interesting point that came from 2020 in the tech sector was a disillusionment with the traditional tech hubs in the United States.
“Some of the places that have historically been synonymous with tech like the Bay Area (and) Seattle, they experienced real challenges with being as overcrowded and concentrated as those cities are and then with the advent of accepted remote work, it caused people to say, ‘Hey, I don’t have to live like this anymore. I can locate elsewhere,’ and we saw people doing that in droves.”
He says there are dozens of companies that are currently evaluating Indianapolis for possible expansion or relocation as a result.
Among the highlights of the tech industry in Indiana is what Langellier calls a surge in startup activity. Indianapolis-based High Alpha venture studio launched 10 companies this year. Additionally, a new venture studio, NEXT Studios, began operation in Indy and Langellier says it will become the first B Corp venture studio in the nation.
Several scale-up tech companies also secured major funding in 2020. Carmel-based Realync Corp. secured $22 million earlier this month, while Lessonly in Indianapolis closed on a $15 million Series C round. Fishers-based Vibenomics raised a total of more than $12 million in two Series A funding rounds this year as well.
Langellier says while venture capital investment halted at the beginning of the pandemic, investment picked back up in the latter half of the year, making for a relatively flat 2020 for VC.
“We certainly saw, in the onset of the pandemic, venture capital firms absolutely did pull back. There was a lot of uncertainty and in times of uncertainty, investors often times pull back to assess and also to determine what degree of impact is this pandemic going to have on our existing portfolio of companies? We are ending on an upswing and a higher Q4 so we anticipate that we’ll end the year with more than $130 million in publicly-disclosed tech investments.”
Langellier says he expects the existing trends in tech to continue through the first half of 2021. But he says companies will work to find their best fit in a post-pandemic, hybrid office/remote work environment.