The Venture of a Lifetime

16252563576_1eb686d4e4_zIU Kelley School professors extend their passion beyond the classroom

Writer / Kara Reibel
What do two high-energy individuals who are passionate about their work consider fun: investing in startups, consulting with business owners, mentoring, holding Board positions, supporting charitable organizations, traveling and train for triathlons.

Todd Saxton is an associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship for the IU Kelley School of Business. He is also the 2015 president of board of directors for the Venture Club of Indiana and Indiana Venture Faculty Fellow. Kim Saxton is a clinical associate professor of marketing at the Kelley school, leads Lean In Circle for women MBA students, and holds a doctorate in statistics. As popular professors, both instruct an unusually high number of classes per year, across a number of Kelley’s leading programs.

Not only are Todd and Kim committed to education, they are involved beyond the scope of their jobs and have immersed themselves in the venture community. For example — 15 years ago — Todd sought opportunities to strengthen the relationship between Kelley and the Indianapolis venture community, so he joined the Venture Club of Indianapolis, of which he is now president. Both Todd and Kim are involved with numerous other organizations, including being board members for Marlon Jackson’s Fight for Life organization, which facilitates social and emotional learning programs for kids.

Entrepreneurs at heart, neither set out to be educators, but eventually tapped into their natural talent in the area, as both have parents that were teachers. The two met as employees of a startup company in D.C., providing competitive analysis and acquisition support for Fortune 500 companies.

The appeal of IU’s doctorate and MBA programs brought them to Indianapolis. “We were looking for a program that would work with the needs of our growing family,” said Todd. IU won out over several schools, including a few Ivy League options.

Once their girls were older, Todd and Kim made a commitment to each other and set new goals to celebrate turning 50. After years of shorter events, some with their daughters at kids’ triathlons, they decided to train for an Ironman distance event. No small undertaking, this fits right in line with their “all in” modus operandi.

16246801321_6cd2651555_z“My parents encouraged me early on to find the activities that I most enjoy and pursue them,” shared daughter Lindsey. “And going to their triathlons has helped foster part of my giving nature. At triathlons, you’re not just cheering on the people you’re there with, you’re supporting every runner that passes you, as well as other spectators.”

Everything that Todd and Kim do is done with intensity and tenacity of purpose. An Ironman race is the pinnacle of a personal fitness challenge, consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run over the course of one day. Supportive and dedicated, the time spent training only brought Kim and Todd closer.

Todd and Kim are people of initiative and action, engaging and energetic. Whether it is triathlons, corporate ventures, the entrepreneurial community, or teaching, the Saxtons are fully engaged.

The Saxton’s note many parallels between the triathlon and venture communities. Both are made up of supportive, fun, inspiring and very generous people taking on a very complex and challenging endeavors; but ones nearly all of us could be successful in undertaking with the right encouragement and training.

“There is an entrepreneur inside of all of us, depending on circumstance and provocativeness, it can come out at any time,” said Todd.