IU’s Shoebox Fund Invests in Student-Led Innovation
Two student-led startups at Indiana University have been selected to benefit from the Shoebox Fund, which supports student innovation at IU. Each startup received $5,000 from the fund that was started last June through the university’s startup incubator known as Shoebox.
One of the startups developed a smartphone app for new music discovery. The other is a battery part supplier targeting the electric vehicle market.
The smartphone app, HotDrop, plays 30 seconds of a random song, allowing the user to swipe if they like or don’t like the song. Users can also share the song. It was developed by Max Goldberg and Steven Segel, both juniors at the IU Kelley School of Business in Bloomington.
“We empower a community of Gen Z listeners to discover, share and experience music together, picking the stars of tomorrow,” said the founders.
IU says in addition to the support of the Shoebox, the company recently closed a “significant” round of pre-seed financing, enabling the team to expand to 10 members.
The other business is Natrion, an electric-vehicle battery part supplier founded by Thomas Rouffiac, a sophomore at the IU Kelley School of Business.
Natrion looks to improve battery production by removing bottlenecks that prevent widespread adoption of EVs.
“This mentorship has also allowed us as a company to find new resources, funding opportunities and research collaborations that we otherwise wouldn’t have known about,” said Natrion founder Thomas Rouffiac of the partnership with Shoebox.
He said Natrion is on track to close a $1.25 million seed round. The company has also received small business research grants from the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy.