Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Lafayette, IN

Lafayette, IN

Lafayette, Indiana’s economy largely revolves around Purdue University which also offers opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs.

Named for American Revolutionary War and French Revolution hero Marquis de Lafayette, Lafayette, Indiana is the state’s 10th-largest city. Combined with West Lafayette and other nearby cities, the Lafayette metropolitan area is the state’s sixth-largest. While the area’s economy largely revolves around West Lafayette’s Purdue University, it does offer opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs to be successful.

As an example, industrial manufacturing company Wabash National was founded in Lafayette in 1985 and has since gone on to become North America’s largest producer of semi-trailers. The area ranks well in a pair of entrepreneurial lists: despite Lafayette and West Lafayette ranking 252nd and 275th respectively in WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best small cities to start a business, the former was 111th in the “Business Costs” category while the latter ranked 8th overall in the “Access to Resources” category. Finally, Lafayette ranked 44th overall in a 2019 Verizon article ranking the most innovative metro areas in the US.

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

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Formerly known as GLOSSY, HackLafayette is a networking group for software developers that hosts regular events.

Business owners, entrepreneurs, and other professionals can connect with each other monthly by attending their events.

T-6.6 is a group that supports Lafayette entrepreneurs, software developers, and investors by hosting monthly Pitch Nights at a local co-working space.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

765Entrepreneurship runs a calendar containing all of the major entrepreneurial and other business-related events happening in the Lafayette area.

Organized by Greater Lafayette Commerce, the Business Expo is an opportunity for local small business owners to present their companies and create new customer bases.

This organization creates a variety of events for local businesses to take part in, including regular networking opportunities.

Organized and hosted by the MatchBOX co-working space, Entrepreneurship Week is a weeklong series of events supporting area entrepreneurs.


Startup Competitions:

The first three days of Greater Lafayette Entrepreneurship Week are Techstars’ Startup Weekend, a multi-day entrepreneurship pitch competition.

Across the river, Purdue University runs a number of startup competitions that students can enter and compete to win cash prizes.

A program of Purdue Foundry, WomenIN organized and held their first annual technology pitch competition in 2018.


Co-working Spaces:

Known as Purdue’s Student Entrepreneurship Hub, The Anvil offers co-working spaces to students and non-students alike. Students are given a discounted membership rate.

MatchBOX is a co-working space that offers a number of amenities to its members. Their aim is to support the entrepreneurial community as a whole by hosting regular events.

Located in the Purdue Research Park, Purdue Railyard is a 26,140-square foot co-working space that offers its members 24/7 access and hosts regular networking events.



Purdue University’s Bechtel Innovation Design Center is a makerspace and prototyping facility open students of the school.

In addition to providing co-working space, MatchBOX regularly hosts events, workshops, and classes for makers in the area.

West Lafayette is home to one of several worldwide locations of the Wonder Design Lab. The lab is an industrial design shop rather than a traditional makerspace.



Home to the Hoosier Heartland branch of the Indiana Small Business Development Center. The organization offers a number of resources to help support area businesses.

One of the many programs offered by Purdue University, the foundry supports student entrepreneurship through mentorship, education, office space and more.

The Purdue Research Park is a collection of incubation services and other resources designed to support area entrepreneurship, technology, and small business.

WomenIN works to support entrepreneurial women in Lafayette and the surrounding areas.



One of the programs organized by The Anvil at Purdue University is The Boiler. The program is a student-run pre-seed startup accelerator for student entrepreneurs.

Elevate Ventures is a statewide accelerator program and venture capital firm in Indiana. They maintain a partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Fund and Purdue University.

MatchBOX has continued to grow beyond the traditional roles of co-working spaces by organizing six-week and 12-week accelerator programs to support area entrepreneurship.



Ivy Tech Community College offers both a certificate and technical certificate program in entrepreneurship.

Purdue University offers a robust support system to student entrepreneurs, with a number of resources available both inside and outside of the classroom.

Wabash College’s Center for Innovation, Business & Entrepreneurship helps educate and support entrepreneurial students.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Little Engine Ventures is a group of Lafayette-area business owners that buy small businesses and help them grow.

The P3 Alliance is an angel investment group that supports Purdue-related startup companies. Their goal is to promote both the local economy and the university’s profile.

Purdue Ventures runs five funds that each work to support and finance separate industries among Purdue entrepreneurs.

VisionTech Partners and VisionTech Angels are investment groups with a Greater Lafayette-area chapter that work to support promising technology companies in Indiana and the Midwest.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

INdiana Business covers business and entrepreneurship news throughout the state.

The Lafayette Journal & Courier does not offer any newsletters specifically covering business or entrepreneurship, though the biggest stories would appear in the paper’s Daily Briefing e-mail.

Offered by Purdue Research Park, the Startup Express Newsletter is a monthly e-newsletter covering entrepreneurship and startup news in the area and beyond.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Lafayette 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?

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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 FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.