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Neal G. Moore
IU School of Informatics

Last modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2008

IU informatics students learn the ropes from the state's top IT entrepreneurs

Jan. 15, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS -- Imagine sharing your idea for the "Next Big Thing" in information technology with the founders of First Internet Bank, Interactive Intelligence and ExactTarget and with other executives who are responsible for some of Indiana's most successful technology firms.

This is exactly what happens each week with students enrolled in "Entrepreneurship in Informatics," an Indiana University School of Informatics class taught by Mark Hill, managing partner of the venture capital firm Collina Ventures LLC. The course is delivered via video-conferencing technology.

"The objective of this class is for students to gain a first-hand understanding of what it takes to start a business," Hill said. "We explore the personal skill set and attitude that are necessary to increase the probability of success."

Hill, who is one of Indiana's most influential technology leaders and successful venture capitalists, has lined up an impressive list of guest lecturers, including David Becker, First Indiana Bank; Scott Dorsey, ExactTarget; David Pfenninger, Performance Assessment Network; Don Aquilano, Gazelle Ventures; Chris Baggott, Compendium Blogware; Jon Digregory, Cantaloupe; Bob McLaughlin, Aprimo; and John Gibbs, Interactive Intelligence. Also sharing his experiences is Brandon Powell, who is currently in start-up phase of a business.

"I agreed to teach this course because I believe strongly that we need more young Hoosiers who are prepared to launch and grow successful businesses in Indiana," said Hill. "These guest lecturers have all been through the fire, so to speak, and they want to keep fledgling entrepreneurs from getting burned."

Enrollment in the class was limited to 30 students (20 in Indianapolis and 10 in Bloomington) to allow ample opportunity for interaction with the lecturers. The lecturers discuss the origin of the ideas for the focus of their businesses, how a management team was assembled, and how each firm was financed. And, there's no sugar coating the experience.

"They are exploring the mistakes that were made, the big breaks that happened and current hurdles they are facing," said Hill. Underscoring how challenging entrepreneurship can be is the title of one of three textbooks selected by Hill: Inside the Tornado by Geoffrey Moore.

"This is a great example of the local tech community supporting the long-term health of Indiana's technology sector by joining with the School of Informatics to share these success stories," said Hill. "And, it's worth noting that IU Informatics graduates are overwhelmingly successful with regard to technology job offers and high average starting salaries."

"Education about entrepreneurship and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship in our students and faculty is an important priority for the School of Informatics," said Bobby Schnabel, dean of the IU School of Informatics. "We are very grateful to Mark Hill, one of the leading IT entrepreneurs in Indiana and a person who has done so much to build the IT community in the state, for offering to organize and teach this course, and we are pleased with the excellent enrollment by our students."

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Neal G. Moore, 317-278-9208 or

About the Indiana University School of Informatics

The Indiana University School of Informatics offers a unique, interdisciplinary curriculum that focuses on developing specialized skills and knowledge of information technology with particular application to a specific field of study or practice. The School offers a variety of undergraduate degrees and specialized master's and doctoral degrees in bioinformatics, chemical informatics, health informatics, human-computer interaction, laboratory informatics, and media arts and science. Each degree is an interdisciplinary endeavor that combines course work and field experiences from a traditional subject area or discipline with intensive study of information and technology. Founded in 2000, it is the nation's first school of informatics with nearly 1,600 students enrolled in informatics degree programs at Indiana University campuses in Indianapolis, Bloomington and South Bend. For more information visit,, and