Heartland Ventures
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Heartland Ventures

Why I joined Heartland Ventures

I grew up in Batesville, Indiana. A community of 6,500 nestled halfway between Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

Towns like Batesville elicit incredible pride from the individuals living there.

Why is that?

To the naked eye, Batesville is like every other small town in “middle-America”. Subdivisions run up against cornfields. There are more basketball hoops than there are people. And you know that if you screw up in school — your parents will know before you get home.

However, there is something a bit different about Batesville, and it took me a while to understand exactly what that is.

It’s the connection between industry and community.

What do I mean?

Hillenbrand Industries

Batesville Casket Company

Hill-Rom

Batesville Tool and Die

Wood-Mizer

These world-class manufacturers make up the backbone of Batesville. I mean that quite literally, these firms provide support in the way they stand up the community. They provide funding to the local healthcare system, schools, and virtually every philanthropic endeavor in the town. Why is that?

A company is no more than a group of people, and in Batesville, those people care about Batesville.

I started my career at Innovatemap, a digital product agency in Indianapolis. This is where I fell in love with the tech industry. That team is full of A-caliber individuals who truly live to serve their clients. Every day, our team worked with and for startups that leaned on our expertise in product management, UI/UX Design, product marketing, and brand. We worked with 100+ startups throughout my time there and relished the opportunity to learn the difference between those who succeed and those that don’t.

I could have spent my entire career there. But as Mike Reynolds (CEO, Innovatemap) once told me, “there is a distinct difference between running from something and running to something.” That something for me is taking everything I love about the tech industry and combining it with everything I love about those small midwestern towns like Batesville. I didn’t know there was an opportunity to do that until I met with Max Brickman, the founder of Heartland Ventures.

When I met Max over two and a half years ago, I met a guy with a clear vision. That vision focused on bridging the gap between midwestern manufacturing, construction, and logistics firms and the technology developed on the coasts.

Max was sick of seeing the disconnect between the Midwest’s industrial companies that are the foundation of our nation’s economy and the coastal startups developing the next wave of technology for our economy.

I agreed with Max that the Batesville firms that do so much for that community — and all the firms like them in other small towns across the Heartland — must be a part of a nationwide conversation about what technology can do for us all in the future. In fact, it is only through conversations like those that value will trickle down to the individuals residing in those small towns.

Heartland Ventures has established a network of firms and individuals in the aforementioned industries. I like to think of this network as the “Heartland Community.” Community members provide the Heartland team with market intel regarding what common challenges these firms face. Heartland Ventures then invests in startups working to address those challenges and connects them with the firms that will benefit from becoming a customer. Some firms in our community are also investors in the fund, but many are not. What is most important is that our team can validate that the tech we are investing in will be a fit for the firms in our community. In other words, Heartland Ventures is able to represent the interest of our community members and be their voice in those conversations.

I’m excited to get to work. My time at Heartland will be focused on:

  1. Working with Heartland Community members operating in manufacturing, construction, and logistics to understand where emerging technology may provide value for their businesses.
  2. Providing support to our existing portfolio companies, who care as much about our mission as we do.
  3. Connecting with operators of industrial businesses across our region to provide them access to game-changing technology.

Bridging the gap between industrial firms in the Heartland and technology companies is an exciting challenge, and there isn’t a better group than Heartland Ventures to take on the endeavor.