True Life: Four Months as an Orr Fellow

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 by Tyler Geesaman

One of the most important questions Fellows are asked during recruitment is "what do you actually do as an Orr Fellow?"  We often respond with a simple, 30-second "elevator pitch" relating to the themes of the Fellowship.  This is great for career fairs, but it doesn't answer what we actually do with our lives.  This blog post will look at the last few months of my life, add some pictures for evidence, and shed light on what it takes to be an Orr Fellow.

Working In the Real World

I am fortunate to have Interactive Intelligence (ININ) as my host company for the next two years.  ININ is a leading developer of contact center software (think 1-800 customer service, but cooler) and employs more than 1,000 people.  During my first year, I am in a rotation program where I can become familiar with ININ while learning how I can help the company succeed.  I have spent the last four months working with the Product Management team, in their CaaS (Communication as a Service) department.  I won't go into details, but one of my projects involved internal and marketing research for a new product being developed.  I also help manage pricing lists and quoting tools that span six currencies.  I will soon be rotating to the IT department to take on a new role.

It is hard to generalize my day-to-day activities. Some days, I might meet with my executive sponsor, CFO Steve Head.  Steve has been an excellent mentor and has shared plenty of business knowledge with me.  We also share interests in car racing.  He has even volunteered to take me out on the track in his Porsche (don't let me drive, Steve!)  Other days, might be spent developing new features for our quoting tool.  Since joining ININ, I have met employees from Great Britain, Japan and Australia.  One thing is certain: the greatest aspect of my job is the culture in which I work.  The people of ININ are amazing and the company's "Work Hard, Play Hard" mentality is a perfect fit for the Fellowship.  Whether it's collaborating with my manager or de-stressing on our rock-climbing wall, I love what I am doing and I believe I am making a difference.

 

Working In the Fellowship World

I am going to be honest here: Fellowship obligations do not feel like work.  We have monthly Fellowship meetings where we reconnect and discuss our progress and goals of the Fellowship.  Each fellow also belongs to a committee.  Purdue grad Branden Burke and I manage our Twitter page.  I have learned an amazing amount about social media from working with Branden and had a blast in the process.  We also have monthly Business Leader Meetings (BLMs) where we meet with leaders in the Indy business world.  Some leaders thus far include Angie Hicks (of Angie's List - read Eric Franklin's article), Scott Jones (of ChaCha), and Governor Mitch Daniels.

Fellows do participate in many other activities outside of monthly meetings.  We partake in several philanthropies to help improve Indianapolis.  Additionally, Orr Fellowship provides an annual retreat for its new members.  The retreat is a fun weekend spent at the Edward Lowe Foundation in Cassopolis, Mich.  Recently, we had the opportunity to support Fellow and CMO of CoatChex, Ashton Chaffee, with the company's debut on ABC's Shark Tank.  Although Andy Simmons and I looked goofy with our CoatChex bow-ties, it was for a great, entrepreneurial cause.


 

Enjoying a Post-Grad World

Indianapolis has a lot to offer its residents, especially recent college graduates.  Broad Ripple is an obvious choice to go have a beverage with friends.  Downtown Indy and the Keystone Fashion Mall area have nice restaurants and great shopping.  There are plenty of exercise classes and community events to keep us engaged as well.  Many in the Fellowship enjoy concerts regularly at the Klipsch Music Center.  Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan were a few of the recent performers.  Although you won't exactly be living like Jason Aldean with a Fellow's salary, you will have plenty to live comfortably and have a good time in the process.  I've had no problems surviving.

There is plenty to do outside of Indianapolis as well.  Although raised a Boilermaker, I recently ventured to Bloomington to tailgate with Fellows.  The IU Fellows were great hosts and did not harass me too much because of my alma mater.  A group of us also visited Melissa Jackson's lake cottage in Pennsylvania.  We spent the weekend outside grilling, tubing and enjoying the weekend.  Even though I left with many bruises from tubing, the trip was definitely a success (below).

 

Make Your World a Better Place

In short, there are plenty of great opportunities in the Fellowship.  Within your host companies, you will gain executive mentorship while making a positive impact.  Working in the Fellowship, you will learn from the best Indy has to offer while helping to make the city a better place.  Socially, you will have plenty of chances to let loose while making new friends in the process.  What are you waiting for!? Sign up today.

Still not convinced?  Send any questions to Tyler.Geesaman@orrfellowship.org or find me on Facebook.

Too Busy for Boredom

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 by Breana Buchler

As I walked to my desk at Angie’s List this morning, I asked about everyone’s weekend. Several of my young coworkers replied “boring”.  As I downed my 3rd cup of coffee and burned through my emails, I reflected on how my friends in the fellowship had spent their weekends. Many had gathered at the Broad Ripple Kilroys on Friday night to support fellow Ashton Chaffee and watch Coat Chex make its debut on "Shark Tank!" On Saturday, fellows filed through our apartment in preparation for the final concert of our MegaTicket summer. Some spent Sunday at work, some continued triathalon or marathon training, some went to church, likely everyone caught at least a snipit of NFL Sunday.  Everyone did something. There is simply no time for boredom during the fellowship.

I left Angie’s List this evening and headed straight to the Speakeasy to participate in the Informatics course with board member Mark Hill. When I arrived, our Fellow Development committee was well into an enthusiastic meeting, planning out career/personal development activities for the year. 

David Becker, serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and DePauw University alumni  joined us for the evening.  Mr. Becker is most currently running First Internet Bank, RICs  Software and  DyKnow, as well as investing in several entreprenuerail companies in Indianapolis. He joked that every time he gets “bored”, he buys a new company. David’s advice to us is to dive into the industry and learn the business before starting your own. If you think you want to start a restaurant, wait tables for a few months. As I looked around the room, I took note of each individual’s responsibilities within the fellowship. While I work in operations for Angie’s List, I get experience in finance through the fellowship. Many involved in recruitment work in technical position from 8-5, yet get Human Resources experiences through the fellowship, and all Fellows are exposed to the nonprofit sector through networking and service opportunities.

David later emphasized babysitting as the true test of an entrepreneur.  He explained that running a high-growth start-up is just like babysitting: you think you are walking into a house of low-maintenance, well behaved, children, and in a matter of minutes the baby is crying, the older brothers are wrestling on the carpet, and the neighbor’s dog has made it inside and is shredding the couch cushions. David’s solution to this dilemma is to hire the right people.  He has never written a line of code in his life, yet he is dominating the tech sector in Indianapolis. He recognized his skill for marketing and sales early on in life and hired the best coders, customer service and organizational employees he could find. As I scanned the room, I quickly recognized the variety in my surroundings. Some fellows are very analytical, some very creative, some technical, some humanitarian. It is astounding how well the skillsets in this group complement one another.  David prides himself on the number of his former employees that have since started their own businesses.

I recognized that I was amidst a golden opportunity at this very moment. The fellowship offers the opportunity to explore a distinguished post-grad job 40 hours a week, helps develop professional skills through Fellowship responsibilities, and grants unlimited access to an extremely high energy peer network.

Tomorrow, I will attend our monthly meeting; Wednesday I may grab a bike ride and a beer with Katie Hayes and Molly Sender; Thursday I will finalize the details of an event I am planning for work; and the weekend will arrive before I have had time to take a breath, let alone time for boredom.

Indianapolis Startup Scene

Saturday, January 8, 2011 by Kate Carrico
A recent article by the Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ) highlighted multiple events and happenings in the Indianapolis area that point to the ever-growing entrepreneurial community here.

The article discusses Hackers and Founders, a monthly meetup that brings entrepreneurial-minded people together to hear three business pitches for high growth start-ups. Organized by Matt Hunckler, a current Orr Fellow, the monthly gatherings now reach around 200 people! From experienced entrepreneurs like Chris Baggott to young people such as current Orr Fellows and everyone in between, these meetups offer a chance to network, bounce ideas off one another, and learn about running a start up company -- all while enjoying food and drinks! If you're interested in starting a career in entrepreneurship or have an interest in the startup scene, this event is not one to miss.

The article also gave a shout out to the Orr Fellowship for its ability to bring young entrepreneurs to Indianapolis to work entry-level jobs in startup companies. This year, we've grown the Fellowship once again by taking nearly 30 new Fellows working for around 20 companies. By bringing some of the best and brightest recent grads to the Indianapolis area, the Fellowship is doing its part to keep fueling the entrepreneurial fire.

We're excited to see what 2011 has in store for each of us, the Fellowship as a whole, and the Indianapolis entrepreneurial community!

Indianapolis Living

Thursday, October 14, 2010 by Kate Carrico
If your friends are anything like mine were senior year of college, a bunch of them are talking about getting out of Indiana after school is over and heading to a big city like Chicago. You could even be one of those people that thinks Indiana is only made up of corn and basketball and can't wait to leave after graduation...

But don't discount Indiana that fast! As the commercials for Indiana Beach say, there's more than corn in Indiana! Indianapolis is home to one phenomenal football team, a huge number of conferences and sporting events, multiple cultural districts, museums, art galleries, and a symphony orchestra. There is always something going on around town and it's a breeze to get involved. Also, there are many great neighborhoods to live in, the commute times are short, and the city is easy to navigate!

If you're interested in high growth start-ups or technology jobs, Indianapolis could also be for you! There is a great small business community as well as a phenomenal network of high tech start-ups throughout the city.

The Orr Entrepreneurial Fellowship is a two-year commitment for new college grads that takes advantage of the business culture in Indianapolis and looks to keep it booming by bringing incredible young talent to promising companies. From industry leaders such as ExactTarget to up and coming companies such as BlueLock, the Orr Fellowship partners with the outstanding business community to provide a phenomenal experience for both host companies and Orr Fellows. 

If you're a college senior looking for jobs, check out the Orr Fellowship today!

Maximize The Alpha

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 by Trey Buck

 
In the financial world, the term "alpha" is meant to signify a measure of performance that is adjusted for risk.  But how do we measure risk in the real world?  Are some entry-level jobs in start-ups more or less risky than others?  How can we know when we've found a winner, that coveted "diamond in the ruff"?


Some may say that it is nearly impossible to assess the risks of any new venture considering the volatility of markets, the unpredictable nature of competition, and the influence of shear luck and ingenuity.  While some of that may be true, there are certainly places that have been historically more successful than others: the Silicon Valley specifically.  But for the last decade or more, the Valley has seen stiff competition, with distinguished post-grad jobs popping up across the nation (and the world). 

I would argue that Indiana is one of the places most suited for companies hiring new grads to establish their roots: our cost of living is significantly lower than other states; our central location within the US places almost any major city within a day's drive; and Indiana has managed to keep its state and local government budgets contained while others have moved even closer to bankruptcy.

And these advantages have not gone unnoticed by the entrepreneurial community:  Start-Up Indiana is focused on developing high-growth start-ups in the region; Indianapolis now has its own start-up newsletter, Startup Digest, a free service helping entrepreneurs find events that might peak their interests; and the Orr Fellowship which is aimed at finding and growing tomorrows business leaders through placement in entry-level positions in entrepreneurial companies.  All of these initiatives are great examples of organizations driving jobs and opportunity within Indiana and sewing the seeds of growth and fortune.

        

So when thinking about how to evaluate job opportunities, remember to find those places that minimize the risk of failure and maximize the chances of success.  Look to the local community and their support for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.  Ask questions.  Seek  guidance.  And most importantly, do all you can to maximize the alpha in your life and career.

The Question Every College Senior Asks

Monday, August 16, 2010 by Corey Kime
About this time last year, I was winding down my summer job and gearing up for my last year of college at Indiana Wesleyan University.  Like most college seniors, one thought came up over and over again in mind:

What am I going to do after I graduate???

Fast-forward twelve months and not only have I settled down in a new job, but I have been exposed to opportunities that I never thought I would be this early out of college.  I was able to get this job through the Orr Fellowship, an organization dedicated to the development and retention of Indiana students and natives.  The fellowship seeks to match college graduates with high-growth companies in Indiana.  I was fortunate enough to be hired on at Compendium, one of many entrepreneurial companies in the Indianapolis area.

Since the start of my job two months ago I have been exposed to many different areas within Compendium that a normal entry-level job may not provide.  The accessibility to executives within your company and the hands on experience that I've gotten in just two months has been both exciting and a great opportunity to learn.  

Not only do you get a great job with one of the fast growing Indianapolis companies when you are in the fellowship, but you get to go through the fellowship with several other recent graduates just like you.  I have developed good friendships with several people in the fellowship and it has given me an instant network of recent grads in an area where I would not have had that big of a network without it.

So if you are about to head back to school for your senior year like I was twelve months ago right now wondering how you are going to find a job and what you are going to be doing, be sure to consider the Orr Fellowship.  The opportunity to work at high growth start-ups along with the instant network of friends your age is a tough combination to beat.

Friday Dinner Rush People

Monday, December 21, 2009 by Nate Bullock
In celebration of the holiday season, @allythill scheduled lunch for the Fellows at a restaurant in downtown Indianapolis. @hunckler and I showed up late, but we probably both wish we hadn't shown up at all. It was a bad dining experience.

12 minutes to get a drink
30 minutes before the food order was taken
50 minutes before the food was served
75 minutes before bills were delivered

On the bright side, I had some time to chat with @YawA about @PocketTales launching their new web app and how he's making the jump from his distinguished post-grad job to an entrepreneurship career. Takes a lot of moxy.

My mind already operates at warp speed. Things jump in my head before I finish a thought. Mitchell Davis and I would be too much to handle. On this particular day of bad service at a restaurant which also had bad food, my mind was racing to find a connection between high growth start-ups (like @PocketTales) and this waiter who seemed to be wasting everyone's time.

Aha moment!

Restaurants give the slow shift to the slow wait staff. Monday is typically the slowest day of the week and lunch is the slowest serving of the day. Since we went on the slowest day during the slowest meal, the odds were against the @orrfellowship having a good service experience. More to the point, while good work is rewarded with accolade, bad work is rewarded with defrocking.

High-growth Indianapolis companies do not like having to defrock their employees due to poor performance. Some of the best places to work in Indiana see applicants present a positive version of themselves during the interview process, but entrepreneurship careers quickly peel away any misperceptions that may have existed after that good interview took place.

The bad news for some on the job market is that many of these startups cannot afford to pay for the 'Monday lunch shift' person. @orrfellowship host companies need good work from talented people NOW; they need the 'Friday dinner shift' person, because every day is like the Friday dinner rush for companies hiring new grads.

Be the 'Friday dinner rush' person today.

Why havent you started a business yet?

Thursday, December 10, 2009 by Trey Buck

I get asked this same question, or some variation of it, a LOT.  So many people are interested in the Orr Fellowship and the post-grads' careers that come through the program that this question is almost a staple of any new conversation struck.  Similar questions include:

What do you want to do after you finish?
What kind of venture are you interested in?  Technology jobs in Indianapolis?  Business jobs in Indianapolis?
What's the next step in your entrepreneurial career? 
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

And the list goes on... and my answer is always the same: I need to wait and see.  This sort of answer frustrates most listeners, as it probably should.  Even worse, it frustrates me because I WANT to run a high growth start-up, full of all the excitement and wonder these sort of organizations are known for.  And Im young.  Now is the time to make mistakes, right?  Without having to worry about not being able to recover from a bust, with plenty of time to recover my life and my career right?

Yes.  But no.  A May, 2008 study by the Kauffman Foundation found tKauffman Foundationhat twice as many tech saavy entrepreneurs start businesses in their 50's as they do in their 20's, with an average age of start-up founders being 39.  Not 20, not 25, not even 30.  39.  To me, this says that experience is a great teacher, but more important is the kind of experience; being a former CEO of three failed start-ups at 30 might be great experience to lean on, but it probably isnt as effective as working within and learning how start-ups and small businesses should be run to build successful organizations.  There is a proverb that goes something like "yesterday's tracks are tomorrows guides", and this is a perfect example of that; so, the first part of my answer to "why havent you started a business yet?" is: Why make the same mistakes you can learn from watching others?

There is a second part of my answer, that is more complicated but Ill do my best: circumstance.  Start-ups, especially technology start-ups, need the rApple Pieight circumstances to survive and grow.  The team, the idea, the implementation, the market, everything needs to be well understood and in place before Ill want to touch money.  Many a good idea have failed because they were missing a piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle, and all the hard work, long nights, and missed sleep was wasted.  The thing is, we usually never hear about these companies, the ones that fail.  Thats part of what makes entrepreneurship so attractive: we really only hear about the successes, and so it seems (to the untrainted eye) that starting and owning a business is easy as apple pie.

For me, I will choose my opportunities wisely.  And only when I am ready will I become that ever-so-coveted title of  "entrepreneur." That could be tomorrow, or it could be never.  The numbers (and my own brain) are telling me it will probably be a while.  But then again, who knows?

Creating a Shared Experience

Monday, November 23, 2009 by Nate Bullock
This American Life is a radio program out of WBEZ in Chicago that attempts to display what it is like to live an ‘American life’, complete with its dullness as well as its luster. Reporting is not done in the way we see on television or hear on more traditional radio. Rather, the producers attempt to place us into the culture of the topic area; the sounds bites are not ‘bites’ at all. They are actual, full, complete stories that connect the listener to a new set of experiences. This American Life attempts to make the events that mold our being (whatever that means), which makes understanding the experience more transparent. The radio program, at it's core, is about manufacturing an experience.

For example, attempting to paint the picture of Rome to my friends and family when I returned from a tour of Europe was excruciating. My pictures of Trevi’s Fountain did not nearly do it justice. My explanations of the white cliffs of Dover were juvenile. The only way in which my friends could understand the awesomeness of my trip would have been for them to experience it for themselves. In the absence of a shared “experience,” the narrative loses a little bit of sincerity.

The Orr Fellowship strives to create entrepreneurship careers that do more than simply provide post-graduate networking, entre-level jobs in startups, and an Indianapolis job opportunity; The Orr Fellowship strives to create a shared experience among Orr Fellows. Distinguished post-grad jobs are often about putting in time quietly on the sidelines while you wait your turn to play in the game.

This business fellowship is different. Jumping into fast growing Indianapolis companies is not something that most entry-level jobs in Indiana afford a fresh graduate. But entreprenurial companies need driven graduates to help contribute immediately. These companies look to Orr Fellows to help fulfill that need, providing a shared entreprenurial experience in the process.

Click here to find out how you can be included in this experience!

Cucumber Flavored Soda Pop

Monday, November 16, 2009 by Nate Bullock
This video surfaced last week from Chow.com, a food and recipe site. I found myself at work watching John, the proprietor of Galcos Soda Pop Stop based in Los Angeles, walk me through his store and serendipitously bring me into his world of 'bubbly water'. Aside from his addictive personality, one can't help but be fascinated by the sheer volume of knowledge the man possesses about everything from rose petal flavored soda to his worldwide business development pipeline. It's always refreshing to hear and see someone who genuinely loves what they're doing.

When I watched the video, I couldn't help but think of entry-level jobs in Indiana. Entry Level Careers are often sought by people who want to make a lot of money, manage a team of employees, and take the elevator straight to the corner office. Most fast paced jobs offer entrepreneurially minded young people the chance to win many of those responsibilities. However, high-growth company jobs, and many other entry-level jobs in Indianapolis are about one thing: passion for doing good work. Companies hiring new grads need talent, but more importantly they need passionate talent. One sure-fire result of being passionate about your career is knowing your business inside and out. Jobs at a small company require that everyone contribute, and companies hiring new grads will open their doors to people who are willing to enter a business career in Indianapolis with a fervor for knowledge, hard work, and dedication.

The shipping is expensive, but I'm looking forward to my cucumber soda shipping in from California this week. Case-in-point right there...John was so passionate in his video that I actually ordered a case of cucumber soda. Imagine the possibilities if you began your business job in Indianapolis with that kind of passion...


Social'ing the Maltese Falcon

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 by Nate Bullock
Burberry might be one of the only clothing brands that was born out of a trench coat. The plaid patterns and distinctly British feel to the line of clothes, accessories, and bath items draws clear inspiration from Humphrey Bogart's famous Weasel and Stoat in films like “The Maltese Falcon” and “Casablanca.” Today’s New York Times, in an interview with Burberry’s 49-year-old President Angela Ahrendts, explains how despite their background in more traditional items, Burberry is attempting to “adapt the trench coat to the age of the Internet.” The article goes on to share Burberry’s plans for a social networking site called artofthetrench.com, which is specifically designed to market to younger consumers.

Should I repeat that? Humphrey Bogart is going social. The start of a beautiful friendship, indeed.

Is a business career in Indianapolis chic? Are local business jobs ‘smoking cigarettes in a fedora’ when they should be ‘drinking green tea and listening to their iPod’? Burberry is remaking themselves into a 21st Century company, pulling a classic brand into the Internet Age, and there are numerous jobs in Indiana attempting to do the same. Technology jobs in Indianapolis are beginning to reap the rewards from years of companies like Compendium Blogware, ExactTarget, Angie’s List and Canteloupe.tv carving out a niche for the region in internet search marketing and IT infrastructure. Indianapolis area jobs are thriving with jobs for recent grads helping organizations remake themselves into a 21st century organization. Click here too see a list of some of the Orr Fellowship’s Host Companies.