Verge Bloomington at the Root Cellar, March 14

I attended my first Verge Bloomington event last night at the Root Cellar in downtown Bloomington. It was exciting to be in a room with a bunch of motivated and interested startup enthusiasts! Verge Bloomington has been meeting monthly since October, and every meeting involves two five minute pitches from local startups followed by a longer-form “fireside chat”—sort of an informal keynote. At this month’s meeting, I spoke about Treaty for five minutes, followed by Tony Schy from Jeffersonville accelerator Velocity, and a very informative fireside chat with Bloomington attorney D. Mike Allen.

Though we got off to a little bit of a slow start due to some technical difficulties (it turns out setting up a projector and screen in a low-ceilinged basement bar is a bit challenging), I was off and running with my five minutes of Treaty around 6:15. I’m happy to say I have something of a “standard pitch” for Treaty, and thanks to my experience presenting it for the TechPoint MIRA Awards, I’ve figured out how to stretch it to about 20 minutes or shrink it to five. Still, it was nice to go first, get some good questions, and then sit back and listen to the other presenters!

Tony Schy from Velocity was a last minute addition to the program when the second schedule startup had a last-minute conflict. Velocity is an accelerator based in Jeffersonville, Indiana, just north of Louisville. Velocity is supported by the Global Accelerator Network and a couple private foundations, and Tony told the Verge crowd that they are looking for applicants for their summer accelerator program. Velocity’s goals are a little different from many accelerators; they’re actually not looking to do web or mobile businesses, but are more focused on social and non-profit ideas.

Mike Allen’s fireside chat was a good listen for anyone in the early stages of a startup or even thinking about getting into a startup. As a Bloomington attorney and entrepreneur in his own right, Mike had lots of really good advice on navigating the legal landscape as founders. He had two important takeaways, the first of which was that as soon as you and your friends decide to take your awesome idea and run with it, form an entity to hold the intellectual property and lay out expectations and responsibilities. I’ve personally seen a friend’s business and friendship impacted by not doing this, so I’m so glad Mike stressed it so much! The second big takeaway, which may be a bit more surprising, is that Mike suggested hiring an accountant almost as soon as the ink is dry on those entity documents. Because each founder’s tax situation may be completely different, it is difficult to do taxes correctly for everyone unless one of the founders is actually a trained accountant. Though we’re past the stage of getting started and have all our ducks in a row, it was good to hear Mike’s advice going out to the Verge crowd, many of whom are in those early stages.

I’m so glad Verge Bloomington is going strong just six months into its life! Events like these are great for bringing together like-minded entrepreneurs, many of whom work from home or do their startup on the side of a full-time job and don’t get many chances to mingle with other startup people. I’m looking forward to attending future events and making connections with all these other great Southern Indiana entrepreneurs.

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