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Appirio and its path to Indianapolis

Indianapolis may not be at the tip of everyone’s tongue if asked about premier cities for cloud computing enterprises.

But Appirio, among the last of the independent cloud consulting firms, last summer relocated its headquarters from San Francisco to this Midwestern city. Appirio’s journey to the Crossroads of America actually began a few years prior when the company decided to look for a good central location for a U.S. regional office.

Chicago and other Midwestern locales were considered, but the company opted for Indianapolis. The talent pipeline was one attraction. Before Appirio settled on a regional office location, it interviewed prospective employees to determine where it could find a suitable concentration of workers. In the case of Indianapolis, Appirio conducted about 40 initial phone screens, invited 25 people to participate in two in-person interview rounds, made 14 job offers and received 13 acceptances, according to Steve Pruden, vice president, strategy and partnerships at Appirio.

That response helped tip the scales in favor of Indianapolis.

“We had such luck interviewing, hiring and getting a good acceptance rate,” he explained. “It all came down to the people and talent we could interview, hire and get on board.”

Once the decision was made on Indianapolis, Appirio was “off to the races” as it scrambled to secure office space, Pruden said.

Pruden cited the higher-education system in and around Indianapolis, or within a couple of hours by car, as another important plus for the location. He noted a number of schools with engineering, computer science or business orientations, citing Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Purdue University, Butler University, DePauw University and the University of Notre Dame as examples.

Appirio opened its downtown Indianapolis office in 2012. The office grew to become a training hub due to its central location, large conference rooms and ample office space. Its proximity to colleges and universities made it an important recruiting center as well. Against that backdrop, the designation of Indianapolis as Appirio’s headquarters “seemed a natural evolution,” Pruden said.

About 185 employees now work in the Indy office. When Appirio announced its relocation plan, the company committed to have nearly 600 employees in Indianapolis by 2020. The office is already the company’s second largest in terms of both headcount and physical size.

Indianapolis hasn’t historically offered a lot of options for such graduates looking for a tech enclave to launch their careers. Pruden said Indianapolis could point to some tech companies, such as ExactTarget, which Salesforce acquired in 2013. But he said the region “still had less demand for the amount of supply that was coming out of the schools.”

But Appirio and Salesforce, which is expanding in Indianapolis, and a few other cloud-driven companies, such as Interactive Intelligence, are in a position to soak up some of that demand. Appirio, for one, is working to give its Indy operation the cachet of a company located in a better-known tech metropolis. Appirio’s Indianapolis office, Pruden noted, offers perks such as fully stocked kitchens, Appirio-branded bicycles for use in the city, fitness activities and paid time off for volunteerism.

The aim is to give local technology and business grads a Silicon Valley-like working arrangement that doesn’t involve “packing a truck and moving across the country,” Pruden said.