Why Steve Cage is Building the Future of Business in Fishers
The Future of Business
Entrepreneur and business expert Steve Cage knows what it takes to create, invest in, and grow companies. He devotes much of his own time and resources to supporting the communities he cares about most: donating $10 million to his alma mater Berry College; starting and scaling two very successful companies; donating to the construction of pickleball courts at Cyntheanne Park in Fishers. People and place are important to Steve, and he’s dedicated to helping create places that make people better.
Steve’s latest project, Cage Campus, is a long-held vision made real: offering entrepreneurs and their teams a new kind of workplace that prioritizes innovation, collaboration, and wellness. In this interview, Steve details how his own history in business led him to launch Cage Campus, why location and environment are foundational elements of successful companies, and how to build teams that fuel growth and get results.
The Spark: Paying It Forward
After decades of launching and leading various companies, Steve took time to identify the experiences and people that propelled him along his professional journey. Thinking about his own path to leadership, as well as what today’s entrepreneurs need to be successful, helped sow the seed for Cage Campus.
“There weren’t many resources available when I was getting started,” he said. But early in his career, Steve found a banking seminar that offered him a crash course in how to organize an early-stage business. It’s an experience he came to value, and a concept he wants to expand for other early entrepreneurs.
“You should take advantage of anything out there that’s free or doesn’t cost much,” Steve said. Free advice and resources, however, are hard to come by: unless business owners have well-established professional networks and a deep bench of mentors, many of them go it alone. Steve wants to close that gap with Cage Campus, creating a space for entrepreneurs and their teams to share innovative ideas and learn from experienced business veterans. “The amount of knowledge we leave on the table is crazy; in Europe and other places, it’s common to pass it on. That’s what I want to build here – a way to pay it forward.”
Cage Campus helps companies make the kinds of connections that propel success, and it’s a model Steve wants to pass on to others. “In my businesses, I’ve managed a lot of great people who move the ball forward,” Steve said. “Leading them gives me a chance now to give back, give guidance and thoughts that can help the companies that join Cage Campus. There’s so much experience and knowledge to exchange just in conversations between people. That can make a real difference, especially for people just starting out.”
The Place: More Than Just Location
Steve’s own career is rooted in Fishers, and it’s an area he’s dedicated to developing – both physically and economically. The location of Cage Campus provides more than an opportunity to build a new kind of business community in his backyard; it’s also a chance to infuse an environment with his own philosophy of building the ideal workspace.
It begins with his attitude toward quality, both inside and outside a company. Real estate is one of the most challenging aspects of building a business – and in an area like Indianapolis, where companies compete for prime office space, finding the right area can steal precious time from entrepreneurs. Cage Campus is designed to change that.
“We’re keeping the focus on the entrepreneurial process, and the quality experience is being transferred to the physical space,” Steve said. To him, that means creating a space that enables people to be comfortable and productive. Cage Campus’s buildings are crafted to accommodate companies past the startup stage; the companies Steve is seeking for the campus include teams that want an environment that will grow with them and allow them to collaborate directly with other tenants.
“This isn’t your everyday commercial real estate,” Steve said. “This is offering resources that aren’t just the bottom line for your P&L sheets; it’s building the connection between quality facilities and amenities and delivering a better place to work.”
A great place to work also makes the wellness of its teams a priority. It’s why Cage Campus’s pickleball and (soon-to-be-built) basketball courts will give campus tenants a place to work out and interact with other people. “We think these facilities will be very helpful for people's overall wellness, instead of just sitting in a chair all day long, which is the worst thing you can do now,” he said. Steve was an athlete in high school and college, and credits sports with teaching him to hone his “full court press” approach toward business.
The People: A Business’s Most Important Investment
At the heart of Cage Campus is Steve’s desire to build a business community that elevates teamwork and encourages cross-pollination between companies. He also strives to develop people’s unique strengths by introducing them to new ways of working.
But team building is one of Steve’s most important values: he believes that choosing the right people is the one of the most critical parts of building a successful business. Bringing together a diversity of companies, teams and ideas is a central goal of Cage Campus. His experience in the early 1970s as a summer intern at the Indianapolis Chrysler foundry demonstrated to him just how much he could learn from a diverse group of people, and it’s a lesson he’s carried with him throughout his career.
“I was a skinny kid in a room full of men used to working in 110-degree heat,” Steve said. “These men did back-breaking work to provide for their families, put their kids through college, build a life for themselves. And I was just there for the summer – but I did everything I could to keep up. And they respected that. They respected my hard work, my willingness to learn and try and understand how they did their jobs. That’s one of the most important lessons I learned; it made me empathetic toward teams of all kinds, and showed me that respect is what matters. Trust is what matters.”
Trust can be hard to come by, but Steve believes it’s impossible to do business without it. Trust, honesty, and commitment are all traits Steve looks for when choosing people for teams, and they’re the building blocks of the community at Cage Campus.
“You’ve got to be honest with everyone and work hard--I expect a lot out of the people on my teams,” he said. “But as a leader, it’s my job to stay focused on the mission. Leaders need to spend the time learning about their people, recognizing their strengths. The opportunity to develop their careers is part of that mission.”
With Cage Campus, Steve Cage is investing in the careers and futures of the companies that join his community. It’s a mission he believes can change the way businesses in Fishers work, collaborate and live.
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