10 May “Iconic” IU founder Scott Dorsey returning home for IU Ventures’ annual summit
Scott Dorsey has cemented a place in the pantheon of pioneering entrepreneurs and innovators who have helped Indianapolis burnish its reputation as one of the nation’s leading startup hubs, rivaling frequently talked-about tech centers like Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston and Austin, Texas.
In late 2000, the Indiana University alum co-founded Indianapolis-based ExactTarget and helped develop it into the world’s leading digital marketing software company. In 2013, he guided ExactTarget through a multi-billion-dollar acquisition by Salesforce, and he subsequently was appointed the CEO of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud with responsibility for the organization’s 3,000 global employees.
Just two years later, Dorsey and several longtime business partners launched High Alpha, a leading venture studio with expertise in conceiving, developing and scaling breakout enterprise technology companies. He has been a managing partner at High Alpha, which is headquartered in Indianapolis’ Bottleworks District, since 2015. Over the last eight years, the studio has launched more than 35 software companies, made more than 75 venture investments around the world, and raised more than $250 million to fuel the innovation economy.
Now Dorsey is lending his expertise and insights to another mission: helping his alma mater build a pervasive entrepreneurial culture throughout the university that contributes to the advancement of high-potential startup companies and innovations and heightened IU engagement with industry and investors.
To this end, he will return to IU Bloomington later this month to participate in the second-annual IU Founders & Funders Network Venture Summit, hosted by IU Ventures, IU’s early-stage venture and angel investment arm. The two-day event, scheduled for May 18-19, will bring together the best of IU’s startup community, enabling them to find industry experts, educational content, talent, investor partnerships, mentorship and other resources they need to advance their businesses.
“I always look forward to spending time on campus and connecting with students, faculty, and friends,” Dorsey says. “I hope to explore how we can accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship across the IU ecosystem.”
Dorsey, who earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the IU Kelley School of Business in 1989, will take part in final activity of the summit—an “IU Icons” fireside chat, hosted by Todd Richardson, IU vice president and chief human resources officer.
The fireside chat, scheduled for Friday afternoon, May 19, will showcase Dorsey’s personal and professional journey as an entrepreneur, investor and startup advisor.
The discussion will also explore the impact that Dorsey’s IU education had on his success as an entrepreneur and acclaimed technology executive. Dorsey credits his IU experience, including earning a business degree and growing as a leader through his involvement with various student organizations, with “building a strong foundation for business and life.”
In recent years, Dorsey, a two-time recipient of Indiana’s prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash Award, has worked to develop Indiana’s tech workforce by establishing new educational initiatives and leveraging partnerships with the state’s leading universities. In 2015, he launched Nextech, a technology-focused non-profit that aims to create equitable access to computer science curriculum and experiences for all K-12 students in Indiana. Dorsey formally served on the Dean’s Advisory Council for IU’s Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, and last week he delivered a keynote speech to graduates at the Luddy School’s Student Recognition Celebration IU Auditorium.
Dorsey also is committed to furthering Indianapolis’ national and international reputation as a host of major sporting events and a center for sports-tech innovation—a goal he shares with IU Ventures and IU Athletics, which recently unveiled a new IU Sports Innovation Initiative to fuel high-potential, IU-affiliated sports-tech business ideas. He chaired the marketing and communications division of the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee. As chairman of the Indiana Sports Corp., a role he served in for seven years beginning in 2009, he helped bring Techstars, a major sports tech accelerator, to Indianapolis.
While participating in the IU Ventures summit, Dorsey will have an opportunity to address the next generation of aspiring IU innovators and underscore for them the importance of understanding industry trends and building strong connections with their customers and colleagues.
“Being a founder can be both challenging and tremendously rewarding,” he says. “So, it’s important to make sure you have passion for and a unique understanding of the market you hope to serve. Lean into customer validation calls, and be a good listener. And most importantly, surround yourself with talented people who complement your strengths and gaps and will help you reach your full potential.”
Registration for the IU Founders & Funders Venture Network Summit, which is limited to 185 attendees, is now open on the IU Ventures website. Registration is $100 and includes all summit programming and special networking opportunities. IU Ventures will also offer a limited number of “first come, first served” full scholarships for current IU students to attend all Venture Summit activities.
Read a press release about the summit.