Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Kokomo, IN

Kokomo, IN

Kokomo, IN earned the nickname “City of Firsts” after several innovations were made in the automotive manufacturing industry.

Kokomo, IN, is the county seat of Howard County and the state’s 13th-most populous city. Despite its diminutive size, however, the city has a positive economic history. Kokomo earned the nickname “City of Firsts” after several innovations in the automotive manufacturing industry were made in the area. Though the city was hurt by the recession in 2007 and 2008, it has begun to bounce back as an entrepreneurial destination.

Kokomo ranked 462nd overall in WalletHub’s 2019 rankings of the best small cities to start a business, with rankings of 147th in the “Access to Resources” category and 137th in the “Business Costs” rank. Additionally, it tied for 108th place on a list done by ChamberOfCommerce.org ranking the best small cities for business in 2019. Finally, the Kokomo metropolitan area appeared at 32nd place in a ranking done by Verizon of the most innovative metro areas in the United States.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Kokomo’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

As the name suggests, this meetup group allows entrepreneurs and business professionals in the Lafayette area to network and meet one another.

Located down the road a bit in Carmel, The Startup Ladies is a meetup group that hosts events with the goal of supporting women entering the world of entrepreneurship.

Based in Lafayette, the T-6.6 meetup group hosts regular events aimed at supporting area entrepreneurs, investors, software developers and more.

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance regularly hosts and organizes a wide variety of events to help support local businesses and entrepreneurs.

Gauntlet Capital, a local business development organization, hosts regular networking events known as OpAmp – An Entrepreneur Gathering.

The Hoosier Heartland branch of the Indiana Small Business Development Center hosts monthly Small Biz Jump Start workshops in Kokomo to help area entrepreneurs get off the ground.

 

Startup Competitions:

In 2019, the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance hosted The Drive. The Drive is a pitch competition with a total of $10,000 in cash prizes up for grabs.

Indiana Wesleyan University in nearby Marion hosts an annual competition in which students deliver a one-minute pitch for the chance to win $1,000.

The Innovation Showcase is an annual, statewide pitch competition that hosts preliminary rounds in cities throughout Indiana.

Down the road in West Lafayette, Purdue University hosts a pair of entrepreneurship competitions for students.

 

Co-working Spaces:

Located in downtown Kokomo, The HuB is a co-working space that places a specific emphasis on providing space for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Just down the road in Marion, The Refinery is a co-working space that offers a variety of membership plans. Also, there are discounts available for students.

A 3,000-square foot space opened by the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance, the Shared Drive was the county’s first coworking space.

 

Makerspaces:

Though the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library doesn’t have a full makerspace, it does offer 3D printing at a rate of $1 per hour.

Located in Lafayette, MatchBOX is a large makerspace that offers its members 24/7 access to its manufacturing space as well as some office space and conference rooms.

Named for the Brass Era automobile manufacturing company Haynes-Apperson, the SHAK Makerspace provides a variety of tools and hosts regular classes and workshops.

 

Incubators:

With offices in both West Lafeyette and Kokomo, the Hoosier Heartland branch of the Indiana Small Business Development Center runs a number of programs to support local businesses.

Since 2004, the 98,000 square-foot Inventrek Technology Park provides startups and small businesses with a number of resources to help them grow.

Kokomo CEO is an educational program that aims to teach its students lessons on entrepreneurship to help them grow startups.

Located down the road in the Lafayette area, the Purdue Foundry is an incubator that runs programs and organizes resources to support startups.

 

Accelerators:

Purdue University’s Institute for Plant Sciences runs the Ag-Celerator, a fund and program that works to support startups in the agricultural and Agtech industries.

Gauntlet Capital is an organization that provides financing and structured mentorship programs to startups in and around Kokomo.

gBETA, the seven-week accelerator program organized by gener8tor, runs a few programs throughout the state of Indiana.

One of many worldwide programs by Techstars, the Sports Accelerator works with early-stage sports technology companies and is located in Indiana.

 

Colleges/Universities:

The University’s branch in Kokomo offers a certificate program in Contemporary Entrepreneurship through its School of Sciences.

Students at Indiana Wesleyan University, located down the road in Marion, can choose to major in Entrepreneurship.

Ivy Tech Community College offers an 18-hour certificate program and a 31-hour technical certificate in entrepreneurship.

Down the road in West Lafayette, Purdue University offers a number of resources to its students. This includes both inside and outside of the classroom.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

With offices in Indianapolis and Cincinnati, Allos Ventures invests in promising, high-growth technology startups throughout the Midwest.

Elevate Ventures is a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage companies. They are focused on the state of Indiana and work to help them develop beyond funding.

The Indiana Angel Network invests in companies with proprietary technology and a unique selling proposition.

The Venture Club of Indiana is an organization that is dedicated to supporting startups in the state through investment.

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance offers a newsletter covering local small businesses and development.

The Indianapolis Business Journal offers newsletters and covers business news throughout the central Indiana region.

This organization which covers business news throughout the entire state. They offer a variety of newsletters with different focuses.

The Kokomo Tribune doesn’t offer any newsletters focusing specifically on business. However, its general newsletter includes the biggest business headlines.

 

Are you familiar with the entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Kokomo not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Indianapolis, IN, Lafayette, IN, South Bend, IN


Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at Funding$age where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.