We’re celebrating Indiana University student innovators and entrepreneurs who are clients of the Shoebox, the university’s student-startup incubator. Located in the Shoemaker Innovation Center in Luddy Hall on the Bloomington campus, the Shoebox provides 24/7 office space to help student entrepreneurs build, launch and sustain their businesses.
Andrew Kubacki and Vaib Garimella are cofounders of Fixit. Kubacki is a senior from Fishers, Indiana, studying business informatics with a minor in entrepreneurship and small business management. Garimella is a senior from Singapore studying public financial management and business informatics, with a minor in business.
The Fixit platform serves two types of clients: residential homeowners and contractors. Kubacki said the biggest issues facing homeowners are the means to connect to contractors, their lack of knowledge about pricing and the unsecure payment methods many contractors employ.
“When homeowners face an issue, they rely on Google and the first few relevant contractors,” Kubacki said. “When they finally reach out, they are met with deadlines, voicemails and, at best, one or two estimates to compare the price of the job. This ultimately wastes precious time and money that could be better spent solving their home renovation/repair needs.
“On the flipside, contractors lack a platform that can provide an influx of high-fidelity leads at an affordable rate, as well as a centralized platform for advertisement. This problem affects mostly smaller contractors, as they can struggle to find work under the shadow of larger entities who can afford better advertising and capture more customers.”
Fixit addresses these issues with a dual-sided virtual marketplace where homeowners post jobs and contractors can make estimates virtually or on site. Kubacki said homeowners can see a breakdown of the job costs, compare estimates within the app and screen the contractors making the estimates, ensuring the right fit for the job.
“For contractors, our marketplace provides high-fidelity leads for free,” Kubacki said. “Having access to free leads ultimately allows the money contractors would spend on leads to instead be put into operating, advertising and other business costs. Fixit also provides multiple channels of advertisement in the forms of application banners, gallery space for contractors to show off images of their work, and promotions on specific jobs.”
Fixit’s present and future
Kubacki and Garimella have redesigned the Fixit marketplace, which currently is in its alpha phase. Kubacki said the next goal is to soft launch Fixit into Bloomington at the end of 2020.
“To reach this goal, we need to draw more attention toward the application from both homeowners and contractors in the Bloomington area,” Kubacki said. “We will do this through online advertising channels such as Google Ads, social media ads and more. This will require us to raise capital to support those efforts. In summary, more capital with the sole purpose of advertising is required for us to reach our next goal.”
Praise for the Shoebox
“The Shoebox has facilitated connections to many professional resources such as accelerator programs, investing firms, law firms and so much more,” Kubacki said. “All these resources have allowed us to create a more well-defined and sustainable business plan while engaging in the process of experiential learning alongside like-minded individuals.”
Student startups can apply for 24/7 access to the Shoebox’s office space in the Shoemaker Innovation Center, Luddy Hall 2150. The Shoebox also collaborates with the Hoosier Hatchery pre-incubator at the Kelley School of Business and Bloomington’s Dimension Mill startup accelerator. To apply for coworking space, write to email@example.com.