Indiana University has launched the Shoebox Fund with the support of a $60,000 gift from Donna and John Shoemaker. IU says the funding will support student startups that have been built in the startup incubator known as the Shoebox within the Shoemaker Innovation Center at the IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering.
Two Shoebox-born companies will receive investment as a part of the launch: ShuffleMe and Deep Word.
“Shoebox clients get all-hours access to the center offices, and advice from venture capitalists and other professionals,” said Travis Brown, senior executive assistant dean of innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization and director of the Shoemaker Innovation Center and Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program at the Luddy School. “They engage in weekly standups with peers to build, launch and sustain their startups. The program is designed to help students self-discover through the entrepreneurial process.”
ShuffleMe is a social media mood tracker that provides users a snapshot of social media’s effect on them. Using artificial intelligence, IU says the tracker learns a user’s baseline emotions and gets to know them better over time. ShuffleMe analyzes facial expressions to generate reports.
Deep Word is a synthetic media creation tool that allows users to create videos of people talking. IU says the technology has potential applications to drive innovation in areas such as education, health care and employee onboarding.
“The resources we provide to students working in the center facilitate them achieving key learning objectives through experiential learning, rather than focusing primarily on the long-term viability of their business. Of course, our hope is that the startups being built in the Shoebox will succeed, but our primary focus is education.”
IU says the fund addresses a need identified by the Shoemakers and Brown to provide stronger financial support for student entrepreneurs through early-stage investments, supporting the development of feasible businesses.
“They’re both great technologies and both are led by terrific students,” said Tony Armstrong, president and CEO of IU Ventures. “We think both have tremendous upside and positive potential for social impact. We’re excited about their futures.
The university says the Shoebox accommodates up to 30 teams of student entrepreneurs from across IU’s schools.