The industries most often associated with America’s Heartland tend toward the traditional – manufacturing, agriculture, mining, energy production, for example – while the technical innovation has historically occurred on the East and West Coasts. However, this trend is changing with the new batch of tech startups setting up shop among inland cities from Denver to Pittsburgh.
Cities like Minneapolis and Indianapolis are increasingly being recognized as “hotbeds” for startups. Minneapolis, in particular, was ranked the “second best city for startups” by the M25 Group, and its health technology startups raised $420.3 million in 2016 — well above other Midwestern states, according to Medical Alley, a Minnesota trade association. As John Briggs at TechCrunch points out, “coastal VCs and accelerators are finally spreading inland,” contributing to a burgeoning ecosystem, in which tech companies are thriving.
BOCA’s Heartland Connection
BOCA has had the incredible opportunity to work with some of these Heartland tech pioneers. As their stars grow brighter, we wanted to call out some of the amazing work they have been doing.
Flexera is located in Itasca, Illinois about 25 miles outside of Chicago. Flexera “reimagines the way software is bought, sold, managed, and secured.” They assist enterprises in increasing application usage and the value they get from their software. Flexera’s technology has been deployed on more than 550 million desktops and embedded in over 20,000 applications. The tech community organization Built in Chicago recently ranked them as one of Chicago’s Top 100 Tech Companies.
Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Deluxe promotes a range of marketing services, from email campaigns to website design to logos, tailored to small businesses. They are in the second year of their Small Business Revolution — Main Street, campaign which features a nationwide contest for small towns seeking to reinvent their main street business. The campaign and sponsored show on Hulu, highlights how Deluxe helps these small businesses be more successful through marketing. In addition, Deluxe has created a “Small Business Resource Center,” which provides tips, advice and insight for small business owners on everything from developing logos to email marketing tips.
Located in Boulder, Colorado, JNBridge has been tackling Java-.NET interoperability issues for more than a decade. With an increasing number of today’s enterprises using a mixture of both Java and .NET technologies, interoperability between the two platforms has become an imperative. JNBridge’s solutions connect anything Java and anything .NET, simply and quickly. Most recently, JNBridge unveiled Java.VS, a first-of-its-kind extension for Visual Studio. Java.VS adds Java to the list of languages that can be developed using Visual Studio, and makes one of the top IDEs available to Java developers.
NovuHealth, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a leading digital engagement company that works with health plans to improve their members’ health. As NovuHealth’s CEO Tom Wicka recently wrote about in VentureBeat, what makes the state an excellent location for healthcare innovation is its legacy of health care, retail, and consumer-facing companies including UnitedHealth, Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Mayo Clinic, Target, 3M, General Mills and others. And Tom would know: NovuHealth has been recognized for its work helping health plans to better understand, connect with and motivate members.
The Digital Future of the Heartland
It’s very clear that the technological, healthcare and other innovations are not limited to the coasts but will continue to increase as people start and grow businesses in their hometowns. And the secret is out, more and more investors both coastal and across the midwest are looking to foster home-grown innovation by extending capital and attention beyond Silicon Valley. We’re so grateful to work with these companies as clients — and, we’re very excited to see the next crop of innovative companies that emerge from the Heartland.