Elevate Ventures planning a slightly slimmed-down Rally conference for 2024

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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb welcomes guests to Rally. (IBJ photo/Mickey Shuey)

Armed with newly compiled data from its inaugural Rally innovation conference, Elevate Ventures is planning a slightly trimmed-down program for next year’s event.

Rally, billed as a cross-sector innovation conference, took place Aug. 29-31 at the Indiana Convention Center, offering a pitch contest with up to $5 million in prize money plus more than 50 panels and breakout sessions, networking and social events, and keynote speeches from Peyton Manning, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, media personality Guy Raz and others.

The event was organized by Indianapolis-based Elevate, which this week released a report with details about who attended the event and what their experiences were like.

Based on that report’s findings, Rally will offer a more streamlined programming lineup for 2024, said Elevate Ventures CEO Christopher Day.

This year’s event was organized into six topic areas, which organizers called studios: entrepreneurship, software, health care, hard tech, sports tech, and agriculture and food. During time slots dedicated to breakout sessions, attendees could choose to attend one of six simultaneous sessions.

Next year, Day said, Rally probably will pare down its programming and offer fewer simultaneous programs. “That was some of the feedback that we got: ‘Give us options still, but not so many at the same time.’”

Likewise, Day said, the 2024 conference will last for two days rather than the two-and-a-half days of this year’s event. Next year’s event is set for Aug. 27-28.

According to the Rally report, the entrepreneurship and software studios were most popular with attendees, attracting a respective 34% and 24% of total attendance. Health care attracted 13%, and hard tech attracted 12%, with sports tech and agriculture and food each attracting 8%.

According to the final numbers, the event drew just over 3,110 attendees—including 2,113 individuals who registered for the conference itself, and another 1,000 or so people representing event partners including Indianapolis venture studio High Alpha, the 16 Tech innovation district and others. Partners hosted 15 different networking events and happy hours at various local venues, but many of them did not attend the conference itself.

The organizers’ explicit goal was to draw Rally attendees from both inside and outside of Indiana, and the report shows that this did happen. Attendees came from 39 states and 15 countries, including Canada. Canadian attendees represented five of the country’s 10 provinces.

When asked their motivation for attending the event, 47% said they hoped to find new business opportunities. Another 17% said they were seeking investors, while 2% said they were seeking investment targets. And 3% were seeking employment, while 1% said they were looking for new employees. Another 6% were attending to launch a new product or service. Another 23% of attendees said they came to Rally for some other reason.

When asked their plans for future events, 86% of respondents said they would attend again, and 87% would recommend the event to others.

The report also said that the 2023 event generated $1.8 million in direct economic impact in Indianapolis, including registration fees, accommodations, transportation, taxes and local spending by attendees.

Elevate has declined to disclose specifics about how much the 2023 conference cost, other than to note that events of a similar scale generally cost more than $2 million.

Major support for the 2023 conference came from the Indiana Economic Development Corp., which provided $1.75 million in Rally funding. (The IEDC originally committed to $1.5 million, but according to publicly available documents the contract was revised several weeks before the conference took place, and at that time the IEDC upped its funding from $1.5 million to $1.75 million.)

Erica Schweyer, the chief operating officer at Elevate Ventures, said this week she did not know when the IEDC will make a decision about funding Rally’s 2024 event.

Elevate Ventures which invests in Indiana startups, serves as the IEDC’s venture investing arm.

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