The Shoemaker Scholars program brings together 10 Indiana University Bloomington students from a variety of academic disciplines. They encourage other students to explore their own entrepreneurial and innovative interests, and they oversee the StartupIU website that connects students with university-based startups. John and Donna Shoemaker funded the program, which awards annual scholarships to its members. Travis J. Brown launched and directs the program.
Zach Simunic, a senior from Bloomington, Indiana, majors in marketing, entrepreneurship and sales in the Kelley School of Business. He has been a Shoemaker scholar for two semesters. Zach was kind enough to answer questions for the Crimson Catalyst.
Crimson Catalyst: How did you learn about the Shoemaker Scholars program?
Zach Simunic: I originally learned about the program from Wes Wagner, who was in the group. After learning about the group’s mission and attending an open-forum event, I realized that being a part of the group would be a tremendous experience and an opportunity to connect with like-minded students on campus.
CC: What impact do Shoemaker scholars have?
ZS: We connect innovators and changemakers to the many resources that Indiana University offers for student entrepreneurs. In my opinion, that means our greatest impact is that we help connect student entrepreneurs to communities they were not aware existed. Entrepreneurship, especially student entrepreneurship, can be a lonely world. Finding the right community can help students build connections and learn from other perspectives that, in turn, can greatly impact their ventures.
CC: What is a common misconception students have about entrepreneurship and innovation?
ZS: A common misconception is that we need to wait until we have the experience to pursue a startup. College is an amazing time for any student to take the leap and pursue a venture. The point of higher education is to learn, and I believe that there is often no better way to learn than by doing. This time of life offers very little risk, and any failure that we might face will have the least amount of impact during this part of our lives. Indiana University and the Bloomington community are incredible places to try, fail, learn and pivot.
CC: How do you share insights with others, as an ambassador?
ZS: We have a variety of ways in which we share insights with our fellow students. We send newsletters, we have the StartupIU website and we organize events that are all meant to help student entrepreneurs learn about the opportunities around them. Often the most rewarding opportunities are unplanned conversations with classmates, because information can be catered to that specific individual.
CC: What are your own entrepreneurial endeavors?
ZS: Over the past year, I have worked with Kennedy Brown, my co-founder, developing our company, Hunger Curbed. We are working to build stronger relationships between food trucks and their customers. Food truck customers are looking to be better informed about the options that are available, while food truck owners are looking to limit the amount of extra work on their end. Being a co-founder of a startup while still in college means that I am an active user of the information the Shoemaker Scholars program provides. Because I intimately understand what founders’ needs are, I am motivated to offer the best information to student entrepreneurs on campus.
CC: What do you enjoy most about being a Shoemaker scholar?
ZS: I enjoy connecting students to communities that they often had no idea existed on campus. This is something I am passionate about because during my first few years at IU, I struggled to find a community that pushed me to pursue my ideas in a business setting. That’s why I find personal enjoyment in helping other students learn about the opportunities available to them on campus and in the Bloomington community.
More information about the Shoemaker Scholars program is available at the following websites: