In 1895, 525 Union Avenue in downtown Indianapolis was bustling with the energy and excitement of new possibilities: The new industrial training school, paid for by Indianapolis residents, was opening its doors for the first time. On June 14, 2017, 122 years later, the same building was bustling with a similar buzz of opportunity, but for a very different reason. The building that formerly housed Charles E. Emmerich Manual Training School and later the Harry E. Wood Vocational Training School is in the process of becoming “The Union 525,” an office building and hub of tech innovation where Launch Indy, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Purdue Polytechnic High School, and several tech firms are putting down roots. Despite the fact that the building is still over a month from completion, during the second week in June it was home to the Indianapolis tech conference inx3.
Several netlogx employees volunteered at the event, which was designed to bring together venture capital and investors with ready-to-grow companies and entrepreneurs. The event featured a combination of the Venture Club of Indiana’s Innovation Showcase and TechPoint’s Winner’s Circle Event, where early-stage companies could market and present their ideas to a wide variety of investors and late-stages companies. Throughout the week there were also plenty of other events such as lectures, an outdoor street party and concert, and a “Fail Fest” where hopeful innovators, entrepreneurs, and local tech moguls could mingle and share insight.
Elizabeth Szentes, Audrey Taylor, and Anne Pence Poynter helped with the Women and Hi Tech booth and the exhibition space while three interns, Brendan Bard, Trent Kabrich, and I, registered guests and helped them navigate the building. Luckily, we still had a bit of time to explore and see what inx3 is all about by watching concept pitches and touring the exhibitions and booths.
Brendan was most impressed with the way that the event hosts maintained flow and energy throughout the event despite the construction going on, and Trent was interested in the way that small start-ups can try to grow and develop relationships with larger corporations. Personally, I loved to see how people only a few years older than myself and the other interns were pursuing their dreams and had the confidence to try and turn their ideas into reality. An example that stands out is two college students and DJs who pitched a design that would allow one to play music from all of their Bluetooth speakers at one time. I felt as if I was getting a sneak peek into tomorrow’s innovations and technologies, as well as tomorrow’s leaders and innovators just getting their start.
While I admit to getting turned around a few times, the unfinished building itself embodied the hopeful feeling of the entire event: it was a work in progress, the first signs of functionality and aesthetics beginning to take form, and a promise of new opportunities to come. From the Purdue Polytechnic High School prospective students running around the halls to the successful executives giving lectures about lessons learned, inx3 was filled with the energy of possibility, connection, and innovation, and netlogx got to be right in the middle of it.
Scroll down to see interviews with Audrey, Brendan, Trent, and Ria: