Greater Lafayette & Purdue Startup Community - Stu's Assessment

by Stuart Gutwein

Spring break was great this year.  Hanging out with the family, baseball, fishing, the beach, kayaking and a bunch of reading.  One great book I read was Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City by Brad Feld of Foundry Group.

In Startup Communities, Brad Feld sets forth the Boulder Thesis as the framework for the sustainability of their start up community consisting of 4 key components: 

  1.       Entrepreneurs must lead the startup community.
  2.       The leaders must have a long-term commitment.
  3.       The startup community must be inclusive of anyone who wants to participate in it.
  4.       The startup community must have continual activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack. 

Greater Lafayette, much like Boulder, is a thriving entrepreneurial community that I've been excited to be a part of as a lawyer, business person and investor.  As I read Mr. Feld's book I was encouraged at the successes I've seen here, the immense opportunities that lie ahead, and the inertia I see building. 

 We have so many Entrepreneurial Leaders here in our community.  As Mr. Feld suggests as a requirement for success, our leaders are inclusive and our community has porous boundaries.  Some of these people are - Paroon Chadha of Passageways; Johnny Park of Spensa; Steve Mogensen and Jessica Huber of SpeechVive; Daryl Starr of 360 Yield Center, formerly Advanced Ag Solutions; Prahasith Veluvolu of Mimir; Mikel Berger of Delmar; Matt Jonkman of Emerging Threats; and Sherine Abdelmawla of Akanocure Pharmaceuticals.  I apologize if I didn't list you.  There are just too many to list.  

We also have a ton of Great Feeders into the ecosystem:

  • Government - The Greater Lafayette governments (Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County) have consistently demonstrated support for local entrepreneurs.  For example, the local governments have put their money where their mouth is (together with many companies in the area) to help fund the redevelopment of facilitates for two coworking spaces: MatchBOX Co-Working Studio and The Anvil - a student-run co-working space at Purdue University that serves the unique needs of passionate students, acting as the center of creative culture in West Lafayette
  • Purdue University.  As Mr. Feld suggests the key benefits of such a great university are students, professors, research labs, entrepreneurship programs, and technology transfer offices;

o   Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

o   Purdue Foundry

  • Investors - Capital is probably the least visible part of the Greater Lafayette Startup Community.  While it does exist and I personally know independent investors who have invested in deals, the investor groups tend to act independently and are not as connected as the remaining groups.  I do see the access to capital and the connectedness trending in the right direction.  There are groups available, such as:

o   VisionTech Partners

o   Elevate Ventures

o   Purdue Foundry Funding sources

  • Mentors  - Purdue Foundry - The Entrepreneurial Leaders listed above, and many of the entrepreneurs in residence at the Purdue Foundry
  • Service Providers

o  Just over the course of the last 24 months, we've helped nearly 75 startups with formation, capital raising, intellectual property protection and licensing, other general counsel matters and with merger and acquisition transactions,

o  To find out more about our startup formation packages check out

  • Activities and Events  - Just to name a few of this community's entrepreneurial-spirited events:

o   The Spirited Entrepreneur hosted by the Purdue Foundry,

o   Verge events,

o   Startup Weekends,

o   The Boiler,

o   Lemonade Day,

o   Forge Innovation Series,

o   Greater Lafayettech Meetup, and

o   Gutwein Law's office hours at the co-working spaces


If you are interested in learning more about the startup world here are a few other great resources. 


Additionally, the Kauffman Foundation published a paper by Dane Stangler and Jordan Bell-Masterson called Measuring an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. 

As Steve Case said in the foreword to Startup Communities - "If you want to know how to usher in a new wave of job creation, innovation, and growth into your city, I recommend reading this book." 

If either I or anyone else from Gutwein Law can do anything to help you in your entrepreneurial endeavors, whether it be help you get connected, point you to resources, or make an introduction, please contact me.