Mira-Mini | Bill Osterle: Trailblazer Award
Gerry Dick: Well, this year's Trailblazer Award winner is Bill Oesterle, one of Indiana's best known entrepreneurs, community leaders, a guy who has made impact in so many ways on the tech community and beyond. And Bill, thanks for joining us at the event and congratulations on the award.
Bill Oesterle: Thank you. Yeah, right.
Gerry Dick: Perhaps you're best known as co- founder of Angie's List, iconic Indiana Company, but so many of the things you have done, from a business and community standpoint, really connect with Indiana and connect with making Indiana better. I think one of them, as I look back on it, is the Governor Bob Orr Fellowship Program. Tell me about that, because I think that program has had so much impact on Indiana, on getting young people engaged in business and in the business community and in the workforce here. Talk about your thoughts in founding the Orr Fellowship and why you think it was important.
Bill Oesterle: Well, I love Indiana. One of the things I love is that you can work on various problems. And nowhere else I've ever been in the country can you just walk in and work on big stuff. And the Orr Fellowship, a few of us say, " Hey, let's work on a big problem and it'll be an adventure." And it has been, and I'm very proud of that.
Gerry Dick: Yeah, I was going to ask you, you have to be proud of that because there are so many young people now, not as young as they were, but who have made an impact in their particular businesses, has helped grown the business community. It really has had, I think, a unique impact on Indiana.
Bill Oesterle: It has worked extraordinarily well. Honestly, it has worked exactly like we hoped it would. We knew if we got good kids in in the beginning, they would run it, they would build it themselves. And they did, and it has been extraordinary.
Gerry Dick: Yeah. Another venture of yours, TMap, which has morphed into Make My Move.
Bill Oesterle: Yeah.
Gerry Dick: Again, in that talent space, solving that talent issue that's facing Indiana and so many other states, talk about Make My Move, because really focused now on remote workers and connecting with some of these remote workers who can work anywhere, getting them here in Indiana.
Bill Oesterle: Yeah. The pandemic has changed the entire dynamic around talent, and as a consequence, economic development has been revolutionized. Well, we felt Indiana better get in front of that. There will be winners and there will be losers, and we want to be a winner. So again, a giant problem that was all set that you'll work on and have fun with.
Gerry Dick: Yeah. You also took a very public stance during the whole Religious Freedom Restoration Act, RFRA, which caused a lot of concern in the business community, obviously at the time as that whole process was going on. Why did you feel it was important to take a leadership role in that?
Bill Oesterle: I cement my whole career attempting to attract and retain talent. Inaudible. And if we are unwelcome, it runs counter to all of that. And RFRA was decidedly unwelcome. I think, as inaudible goes, that is not who we are, and so I felt I had to say something.
Gerry Dick: Yeah. Final question for you. In your view, Bill, you talked about Indiana as a place where you can do big things. In your view, at the end of the day, technology, community and beyond, what makes Indiana a special place?
Bill Oesterle: The people. It's all about the people. We're honest, hardworking, inaudible, we'll learn to all pitch in and work hard on something. We just need some people who want to take a risk, take a chance, point out whatever we need, and say, " Go."
Gerry Dick: Bill Oesterle, the Trailblazer Award winner this year. Bill, I can't think of a guy more deserving than you. You're a special guy who's made a real impact in our state. Thank you.
Bill Oesterle: Thank you. All right.
The Trailblazer Award recognizes visionaries whose contributions have had lasting and significant impact on the state and its technology ecosystem. Oesterle, born in West Lafayette but an Indianapolis business leader, co-founded Angie’s List; is a pioneer in the effort to attract and retain the best talent in Indiana; and is an outspoken champion for human rights and equity. He has invested millions of dollars to revitalize neglected areas of Indianapolis, including the former Angie’s List campus, which is now known as Elevator Hill, and the 38th Street Corridor in Midtown.