In preschool. I really liked being able to cut my own bananas and get my own water. As I recall, I was also a big fan of Ninja Turtles coloring books.
When you graduated from high school, what did you think you wanted to be as an adult?
To run my own architecture firm. The internship I had between high school and college changed my mind about that and I found my way to working more with the Web.
Was there an event in the last 20 years that had a great impact on your aspirations and/or career path?
In high school, I had a chance to go to Europe with a student ambassador group. My parents didn’t have enough money to send me and I didn’t have enough saved up from my paper route, so I had to get creative. I combined my interest in computers with my passion for music and started my first company, Vinyl to Digital.
Have you been mentored by (or had any significant interactions with) previous Forty Under 40 honorees?
Oh, my gosh, there are so many. They include Kristian Andersen, Tim Kopp, Karen Corsaro, Christopher Day, John Qualls, Eric Tobias, Scott Hill, Jim Jay.
Where/what do you want to be 20 years from now?
I hope I’ll have a couple more successful exits from companies under my belt. I’ll still be striving to build things that inspire others and work the creative side of my brain.
A decade before he founded Verge—a network of 1,300 entrepreneurs, software developers and business investors in the Indianapolis area—Matthew Hunckler showed his entrepreneurial spirit. In high school, he started a business to digitize vinyl albums on CD and raised enough money to spend a month in Europe with a student ambassador group.
As the records played, he taught himself Web design and, while at Indiana University, started a business called SureSite Design that he sold before graduation.
Hunckler’s next step was an Orr Fellowship that brought him to Bluelock, the cloud computing company. But even before arriving there, he continued to fuel his interest in entrepreneurship. He and two college buddies decided to round up friends once a month to talk about entrepreneurial opportunities.
Fewer than a dozen attended that first meeting at the Columbia Club. But the group grew and evolved into Verge, with Hunckler running the show. Verge invited seasoned entrepreneurs to talk to the group, and Hunckler used social media to spread the message and continue the conversation. Participation typically is free, though a paid event last year, which attracted about 1,000 people and representatives of 50 startup companies, raised nearly $5,000 for United Way, Hunckler said.
Hunckler moved from Bluelock to Slingshot SEO but resigned last year to concentrate on Verge, which makes money through sponsorships. His goal over the next several months is to find the right team to grow the organization. Hunckler thinks Verge has more opportunities to expand, especially in the area of education that helps startups market themselves.
“If anything has more leverage than entrepreneurship itself, it’s fueling entrepreneurship as more entrepreneurs happen in Indianapolis and Indiana in general,” he said. “You don’t have to work for somebody else. You can still create value as an entrepreneur.”•