Cummins, Viral Launch, Encamp and Geico were among the big winners at TechPoint’s 20th Mira Awards held Saturday night at the JW Marriott downtown.
Cummins took the prize for Large Enterprise of the Year, beating out finalists KAR Auction Services and Sallie Mae.
“With more than 1,500 tech-skilled employees reporting to [Chief Information Officer] Sherry Aaholm, Cummins represents one of the largest global tech operations headquartered within the state,” the Mira judges commented.
The Mira Awards judges were particularly impressed by Cummins’ focus and dedication to developing and implementing data-enabled services through the Digital Accelerator team that have led to numerous new products including the Cummins self-healing engine.
“Outside of the company’s obvious successful financial performance, it’s Cummins’ commitment to community improvement and diversity and inclusion at all of its global locations that leaves a lasting impression,” the judges said of Cummins.
Viral Launch, a marketing tech firm that helps clients launch products and grow sales on Amazon, got the nod for Scale-Up of the Year; and Encamp, a company that touts itself as “Turbo Tax for environmental compliance,” was awarded New Tech Startup of the Year. Viral Launch beat out a deep field of 12 other finalists in its category, and Encamp topped nine other finalists.
Geico, meanwhile, took home the Exceptional Employer Award.
“What began in Indianapolis as a service center for the nation’s second-largest auto insurance company with 250 associates, Geico is now 1,400 employees strong,” the judges noted. “The Geico Centre of Excellence, established in late July last year, currently employs more than 200 technologists, a number that is on track to be tripled in the next few years. Geico has invested $4 million into training its Indianapolis employees, and the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is as laudable on paper as it is in practice, resulting in outcomes like women making up 42 percent of the company’s local leadership.”
The Mira Awards—Indiana’s largest and longest running technology awards program—this year celebrated 14 award winners and honorees chosen from 109 nominees. Fifty-two independent, volunteer judges spent more than 850 total hours evaluating applications, interviewing nominees, and selecting this year’s winners, according to event organizers. Judges included company founders, CEOs and presidents, chief technology officers, chief information officers and other subject matter experts.
“For 20 years, the Mira Awards stage has been the platform across which Indiana’s biggest tech successes and most promising up-and-comers have walked. Over that time, our tech community has become a primary driver of job and company growth, entrepreneurial activity, and venture capital investment, and central Indiana has become one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the country,” Mike Langellier, CEO of TechPoint, said in a statement. “Now we build upon that strength as we enter into an era where nearly every other company and industry in our economy depends on tech enablement for future prosperity.”
Only a handful of the 2019 nominees existed as companies 20 years ago, and 82 percent were founded in the past 10 years, Langellier added.
“Similar to the rapid adoption of the iPhone starting a decade ago and streaming services today, tech businesses in Indiana have grown from a few pioneers to a fast growing, vibrant industry that is a key driver of job growth and a critical part of the state’s economic success story,” Langellier said.
The top individual award—the Trailblazer Award—went to Gov. Eric Holcomb.
The judges said: “Governor Holcomb understands the critical role the tech sector plays in the state’s economy and has taken bold action to help it thrive. Trailblazers are among the state’s most inspiring and influential players. They are innovative risk-takers whose achievements and bold leadership are catalysts for tech growth and success. Governor Holcomb has championed the following laws and initiatives that are important to the tech industry: $250 Million Next Level Indiana Fund, Open Data Bill, SaaS Sales Tax Clarification, Cybersecurity Initiatives, bringing computer science education to K-12, and pushing towards a clear and comprehensive bias crimes law.”
Here’s the full list of winners (along with abbreviated judge commentary):
Rising Entrepreneur Award: Casey Gauss, Co-founder and CEO, Viral Launch
“As a 21-year-old college student with a disruptive idea, Casey Gauss took a bold risk to drop out of school, teach himself to code and build out his own model for driving sales and ranking on Amazon. Today, Viral Launch is one of central Indiana’s fastest growing companies, having helped its customers launch more than 80,000 products and driving $7 billion in Amazon sales.”
Tech Educator of the Year: Ariel Crawley, Ivy Works Director, Ivy Tech Community College
“As director of Ivy Works at Ivy Tech Community College, Ariel Crawley has demonstrated an uncanny ability to provide students the support they need to first earn a degree or workforce credentials and then to build a career in one of Indiana’s fastest growing fields. The impact Ariel is having on the tech community is core to some of the biggest challenges that women face when they are changing or advancing in their careers. If the tools or connections she needs to help students aren’t available—or don’t exist—she creates them, and she does whatever it takes to open doors for students to walk through.”
Investor of the Year: Allos Ventures, Don Aquilano, managing director
“Since making its first investment in an Indiana startup in 2010, Allos Ventures now has $100 million under management and in capital to deploy in early-stage Indiana tech startups. CB Insights recently named them the most active VC in Indiana for the third consecutive year.”
TechPoint Foundation for Youth Bridge Builder Award: Stephen J. Dutton, partner, Barnes & Thornburg
“The Bridge Builder Award recognizes visionary leaders who have helped Indiana’s underserved, K-12 student populations gain access to experiential learning opportunities that increase STEM knowledge and inspire STEM career exploration. Steve Dutton has spent nearly two decades working to help form and shape the organizations that became TechPoint and TechPoint Foundation for Youth, serving a combined 27 years as a board member for both organizations.
Trailblazer Award: Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb
Community Champion of the Year: Katie Birge, Executive Director, Launch Indy at Union 525
“As executive director of Launch Indy at The Union 525, Katie Birge originated the coworking space and incubator to be a catalyst for economic development and a center of gravity for entrepreneurs, remote workers and venture firms. Katie’s tendency to “go rogue” caught the Mira Awards judges’ attention. Many of her community programs and efforts are extracurricular to her official duties, supported with virtually zero resources outside of her own ingenuity, creativity and sweat equity.”
Rising Tech City Award: City of Fishers
“Known as the home of Launch Fishers and the Indiana IoT Lab, the City of Fishers began its journey to this year’s first-ever Rising Tech City Award more than a decade ago when business and city leaders devised a plan to transform what was then a bedroom community into an innovation hub.”
New Tech Product of the Year: Simba Chain
“Like the Wordpress of blockchain, South Bend startup SIMBA Chain significantly reduces the time companies would normally spend on developing, prototyping, and implementing blockchain technologies. SIMBA Chain is a completely new category of product that solves an increasingly important global security problem while literally reducing something incredibly complex down to just four simplified steps.”
Tech Service of the Year: Raytheon
“The next generation of products must be better, lighter, and stronger while using less raw materials. Raytheon Indianapolis has made significant investments to meet this challenge, resulting in Topography Optimization design and printing services, which enables the Indiana-based team to deliver complex mechanical structures and other cutting edge solutions efficiently and at scale, delivering previously unconsidered optimized designs”
Innovation of the Year: Innovative Neurological Devices
“What if you couldn’t, or didn’t want to take a pill to treat a debilitating condition? Innovative Neurological Devices has created Cervella, an FDA-cleared medical device for non-drug treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and depression.”
Exceptional Employer Award: Geico
Large Enterprise of the Year: Cummins
New Tech Startup of the Year: Encamp
“Encamp, which was part of the second Indy gBeta accelerator cohort, is an environmental software company that helps small to enterprise companies save time, minimize risk, and protect human and environmental health. The judges were impressed with Encamp’s smart and scalable solution combining the best aspects of SaaS data management systems and environmental business logic. Though launching in the third quarter of 2018, Encamp already has more than 130 customers including Fortune 1000 companies. The startup’s product also has a broad appeal with customers in agriculture, retail, logistics, and manufacturing industries.”
Scale-up of the Year: Viral Launch
“Viral Launch has demonstrated unprecedented growth and an exponential scaling of its business by growing revenue by triple digits and doubling its workforce from 30 to 66 employees in 2018. As of today, the platform has helped more than 8,000 brands launch over 80,000 products using the company’s SaaS platform that automates selling on Amazon. The fast-growing tech company plans to hire 250 employees by the end of 2021. The judges were impressed by how Viral Launch has strategically hired and steered software and product development toward the company it wants to be, which is expected to be $100M at the end of 2019.”•