Innovation accelerates business

Days like this make me realize how lucky I am to write about entrepreneurship, to seek out and share the big ideas that often start in small business.

I started thinking about this last week, when I was preparing for a “quick-fire” presentation at TechPoint’s 2012 Innovation Summit. (My sincere apologies to anyone who ignored my advice to use those 10 minutes for a bathroom break.) If not for the persistence and passion of folks willing to try something new, we might still be voting by poking a sharp stick through a paper ballot.

Sound farfetched? Tell that to Florida residents who just 12 years ago found themselves at the center of Political Firestorm Chad. I was one of them, and I still get headaches when I hear the word “recount.”

Think about how far we have come since then—and not just at the voting booth.

Perhaps the most vivid local business example is ExactTarget, which in 2000 was a bootstrapped startup testing the relatively new e-mail marketing waters. Today it is an interactive marketing giant with a market value of $1.5 billion.

And it’s far from alone. As J.K. Wall reported in IBJ this week, Indianapolis produced 66 Inc. 500 companies from 2001 to 2010—more per capita than all but five other large U.S. metro areas.

High growth doesn’t necessarily mean high tech, but most of Indianapolis’ Inc. 500 entries use technology to accelerate their business in some way. Our world is changing so fast it’s easy to forget what life was like before e-mail or cell phones or push-button ballots.

Events like the Innovation Summit or last month’s Startup Bowl provide a valuable reminder not only of the progress we’ve made, but also how much farther we can go.

I look forward to following the developments. How about you?

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