Student innovators at Indiana University are getting a boost through a new investment fund from a startup incubator at IU Bloomington. The Shoebox Fund is designed to help student entrepreneurs build, launch and sustain their ideas. It is part of the Shoemaker Innovation Center at the IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering.
“The Shoebox is an incubation program with students from across campus, across disciplines, across majors. We have bachelor’s students, master students, doctoral students in the program. At any given time, we have 30 teams in there,” said Shoemaker Innovation Center Director Travis Brown in an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
Brown says while the Shoemaker Innovation Center is a more traditional academic center, the Shoebox gives entrepreneurial students a community of like-minded innovators to offer insight and accountability.
“Shoebox clients get all-hours access to the center offices, and advice from venture capitalists and other professionals. They engage in weekly standups with peers to build, launch and sustain their startups,” said Brown in a news release. “The program is designed to help students self-discover through the entrepreneurial process.
IU says the Shoebox Fund was launched with a gift of $60,000 from noted IU philanthropists Donna and John Shoemaker. Brown says when the couple threw their support behind the innovation Center, it saw immediately results as the hub for entrepreneurial activity on the Bloomington campus.
“And once they saw that, they suggested launching an investment fund for those students,” said Brown. Brown says he approached IU Ventures and the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund to partner on the Shoebox Fund.
One of its first recipients is Bloomington-based Shuffle Me, a platform that uses artificial intelligence to measure a social media users’ emotion. Founder Britain Taylor is a Ph.D. student in intelligent systems engineering at the Luddy School. Read about Shuffle Me in this previous IIB feature story.