By Jason Whitney, associate vice president, IU Ventures; executive director, IU Angel Network
In recent months, IU Ventures has strengthened its efforts to connect with Indiana University alumni in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region. These efforts have included a virtual startup pitch event for alumni and a newly signed MOU, or memorandum of understanding, with Lead Angels, a venture capital firm based in Mumbai, India.
Developing a well-rounded entrepreneurial ecosystem requires engaging the most talented individuals and surrounding the project with a diverse set of founders and mentors. By leveraging the global IU alumni network, IU Ventures can add individuals to the IU entrepreneurial ecosystem who have industry expertise, cultural diversity and access to emerging market opportunities from outside the United States.
In addition to those efforts in Southeast Asia, we continue to connect with founders around the globe. Several founders have joined the IU Angel Network in an effort to give back to fellow alumni. Others have volunteered their time to host events and make introductions to local alumni. The network effect of these relationships magnifies the desire to connect back to IU and to support other alumni founders regardless of their location.
The gratitude expressed by these alumni toward the university and their desire to give back through this mechanism have been tremendous. The pandemic has led these alumni to think more globally in terms of connecting and to be more creative in how they engage, giving everyone an opportunity to connect in a more meaningful way.
Moving forward, IU Ventures will capitalize on our relationship with the IU Alumni Association and the IU Office of the Vice President for International Affairs in highlighting alumni entrepreneurs by engaging with the IU Global Gateways. These gateways are already a hub of activity for alumni. Adding this new, curated programming will help them expand their network and capitalize on IU Ventures’ success in connecting with alumni focused on this venture-backed entrepreneurial space.
Keep an eye out as we enter 2021. This collaborative university relationship intends to roll out a series of global programs highlighting entrepreneurs in a variety of verticals.