Five startups with connections to Indiana University students or alumni received $220,000 in total during the fall 2020 Elevate Nexus Pitch Competition.
Deep Word and ShuffleMe both received $20,000 in the pre-seed category for the Southern Indiana region. Reezy received $20,000 in the pre-seed category for the Central Indiana region. Blueprint Stats and Stagetime Inc. both received $80,000 investments in the seed category for the Southern Indiana region.
Deep Word, ShuffleMe and Blueprint Stats are clients of the Shoebox, the university’s student startup incubator, located in the Shoemaker Innovation Center in Luddy Hall on the Bloomington campus. Stagetime has attracted an additional $210,000 in investments from members of the IU Angel Network and the Flywheel Fund, a newly launched member-managed fund in Bloomington.
The students and recent alumni founders and their schools are:
- Ankush Bikkasani, Deep Word, is an undergraduate student in the Kelley School of Business.
- Hunter Hawley, Blueprint Stats, is an undergraduate student in the Kelley School of Business.
- Jennie Moser, Stagetime, is an alumna of the Jacobs School of Music.
- Cole Stark, Reezy, is an alumnus of the Kelley School of Business.
- Britain Taylor, ShuffleMe, is a graduate student in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.
Travis J. Brown is the senior executive assistant dean of innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, and the executive director of the Shoemaker Innovation Center. He also has worked with the Kelley School of Business through the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation to support IU Bloomington student innovators and entrepreneurs. He has witnessed the university increasingly dedicate resources to support students’ innovative and entrepreneurial endeavors over the past decade.
“I am heartened to witness the coming together of IU Bloomington students to support each other’s entrepreneurial pursuits with the resources provided through the collective efforts of the university and the local community,” Brown said.
“I can personally attest to the fact that the institution has never been better positioned to support our students’ entrepreneurial ambitions. I am deeply proud of these teams, and I look forward to keep working alongside our community partners to continue to build our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
The Elevate Nexus Pitch Competition was launched to invest in startups based in Indiana, especially those connected with the state’s institutions of higher education.
Seventy-two finalists competed in the virtual regional contests in October. Finalists competing for pre-seed awards were seeking funds to create their minimum viable product, or MVP. Finalists competing for seed awards were further along in their development and looking to scale their business.
The 15 companies awarded investments in the competition are eligible to pitch during the 2021 statewide competition, when an additional $320,000 will be awarded.