Underrated entrepreneurs

February 5, 2010
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Indianapolis has a host of entrepreneurs who are household names in local business circles if not the larger city. Dave Becker, Don Brown, Albert Chen, Scott Dorsey, Bill Godfrey and Scott Jones in technology. Richard DiMarchi and Jim Pearson in health care. Jim Bremner and Al Kite in real estate, Bob Laikin and Bill Mays in distribution. Martha Hoover in restaurants. You get the idea.

But behind the scenes, myriad entrepreneurs are running interesting companies, making money and creating good jobs.

Ask anyone to tick off a list of unsung entrepreneurs in the Indianapolis area, and you’ll get lots of different names. Mark Long, a consultant and former head of the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp., the university’s tech transfer organization, is quick to rattle off his own list.  They are, in no particular order:

Jim Strickland, the former owner of DynoMed and current president of Fast Diagnostics, which is developing a device to detect kidney injuries. Strickland is good at sales, raising money and quietly doing “his own thing,” Long says. “He toils away in obscurity, but he gets the job done.”

John Gibbs made a bundle at Interactive Intelligence, and now he’s launching another software company, Qtrac Software, which focuses on electronic medical records. “John just kind of does his thing and doesn’t get out in the public a lot,” Long says.

Mark Kosiarek runs a semi-conductor company in Fishers called Vai Technology. “Nobody knows the guy,” Long says. But Kosiarek has cracked a beachhead in a big industry and is doing pretty well at it, thank you.

Those are Long’s picks. What are yours? Who are the most underrated local entrepreneurs?


  • TRS
    We use software called The Registration System (TRS) for online event registration and management. It was created in Indianapolis and I think the company is still run from here, even though I know they have customers all over. I heard the Super Bowl uses them.

    TRS is brilliant software. So easy to use. I don't know why itâ??s not on this list.
  • They're obscure for a reason . . .
    Norm, I'd love to rattle off 10-20 entrpreneurs that have either had great success so far or who should be seeing it soon, but those people often don't want the spotlight. They are focused on their business and are good at avoiding distraction. Based on comments from clients of mine, every time their name or company is mentioned in the IBJ or Indy Star, they receive over 500 unsolicited resumes and 30-50 sales calls per week for the next few weeks.

    Basically, talent and relative obscurity are the reason these underrated (or unknown) entrepreneurs are so successful.
  • Entrepreneurs
    How do you not have Chris Baggott in your first paragraph?
    • Cook
      Another big name missing from your list is Bill Cook. If you look up entrepreneur in the dictionary, I think you would find his picture. What would B-town be without the Cook businesses.
    • Another tech play...
      I'll throw another interesting player in the entrepreneurial game -- Jeff Ready, currently of Scale Computing. One of the newbies that left Indiana to find money for the first company. Has formed and sold several successful companies. He's back now and has an information technology storage company that is growing. A quality product line with interesting technology, good price points, and a target market that has been underserved in the past.
    • obscurity == success?

      Is this because resources are drained by processing those who have contacted them?
    • Lets be real folks.
      Publicity is a double edged sword.

      It can alert competitors to your success, but it can also help you raise capital, find strategic partners and clients, and hire top quality talent.

      Thanks IBJ
    • Chris Baggot
      Put me down as another vote for Chris Baggot.
    • is naming them good?
      [[ Who are the most underrated local entrepreneurs? ]]

      wouldn't naming them shine light on them?

      It's like the days of yore when usenet and email (specifically lists) were the primary methods of communication. It was good sport to post something like, "lurkers suck!" and a post would pop up, "no I/we don't!" (oops)

      To hijack the original story:

      Seriously, all of this topic is enjoyable to discuss (the anonymity doesn't hurt).

      I've watched online technology and related businesses come & go, some were whitepaper predictions for people. Occasionally, they were right, but I couldn't do anything about them.

      It's been frustrating at times to plan for time to push forward, only to find out someone started months _after_, grab a little funding, and leapfrog with 10-12 people. I realize that's the way it works...

      This time, I'm reasonably comfortable believing I have the right thing at the right time. The tech might be a bit tough.

      The dogs will listen (sometimes it takes a few Gummi bears) but not provide feedback.

      I've pondered making a snowman, knowing he can't leave.



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