Pence hopes budget will spur innovation


On his first full day in office, Gov. Mike Pence submitted his budget and it includes a bit of a break for Indiana workers. That is something winners of the Innovate Indiana grant appreciate.

Gov. Pence says that 92 percent of the state's small and mid-sized businesses pay personal income tax. He is betting the $500 million that will go back to taxpayers will be reinvested by those businesses.

Pence is also pushing to make Indiana a cradle of business innovation. Two 21-year-old part time college students are doing just that and they may be on the verge of something big.

It's hard to imagine two college students approaching the City of Indianapolis with a new idea and getting a green light. But Gagan Dhillon and Andrew Blejde, both 21, did just that. They created an iPhone app that will match non-profits with volunteers.

"How can we take this issue and make it more compelling for younger people?" asked Andrew Blejde, Inc.

"You come out and pick up litter for a couple of hours. You can earn a percentage off something in town," said Ashlee Fujawa, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful is one of the 100 non-profits that got on board since last March. With over 30,000 volunteers, KIB was the perfect place to test their idea.

"We are seeing a lot of different brands partner up with us to do that. It's something we did not see eight months ago but it's something that has come up and it's something we are really excited about," said Gagan Dhillon, Inc.

Just last month the two secured $500,000 in seed money from the Innovate Indiana Fund that invests in growing Indiana University-affiliated startups.

Dhillon is a part-time student now at the Kelley School at IUPUI and Blejde is a part-time student at Purdue. They are both trying to finish up school but they are currently putting in 60 to 70 hours a week working on their start-up. Sometimes that can be difficult.

"To explain to them, hey I am not going to be able to make it to school. It's not because I'm skipping. I really have something going on," said Dhillon.

The two have been bouncing business ideas off each other since their high school days in Brownsburg.

"In our case we have something that stuck. The real world is not waiting on us yet so we can pursue it and build it," said Blejde.

"Andrew and I spent our Christmas break, instead of opening presents, planning what we are going to do in 2013. Our big focus this year is to get to new markets. It's why we received this money," said Dhillon.