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.
Elevate was founded by Madeline Athanasiou of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, a sophomore in the Kelley School of Business; Casey Curtis of Los Angeles, a sophomore in the Kelley School of Business; Casey Daleiden of Arlington Heights, Illinois, a junior in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering; and Sophia Schmidt of Dallas, a junior in the Kelley School of Business.
The company developed a hardware-software duo to help keep elevators more efficient and hygienic. Its clients include property managers whose buildings have at least one active elevator. Curtis said all elevators run the risk of being inefficient and unsanitary.
“The surface of elevator buttons serves as a Petri dish for bacteria. Amidst a pandemic, the concept of thousands of people touching the same surface is unappealing,” Curtis said.
“Additionally, elevator wait times can cause great inconveniences by creating disruptions of three to even 10 minutes. Think of a university student rushing to get to class from the top floor of their dormitory, or an ER nurse bringing a patient to an operating room for emergency surgery.”
Athanasiou said the Elevate software-hardware duo eliminates elevator wait time and makes using the elevator a hands-free process.
“The app allows users to call elevators from their phone to any floor in a building at any time, minimizing wait time and maximizing efficiency. This ensures seamless elevator usage and predictable wait times,” Athanasiou said.
“Our software and hardware allow Elevate clients to activate elevator buttons simply by pressing floor buttons on their phones. Buildings employing our technology could see decreased risk of spreading disease because of this hands-free technology.”
Elevate’s present and future
In the Fall 2020 semester, Elevate won the Cheng Wu Shoebox Scholarship, which supports the development of a technological innovation through university resources. The company earned $1,000 as a result. It also built its MVP, or minimally viable product, in the fall 2020 semester.
“Winning the Cheng Wu Shoebox Scholarship was a great source of validation at the end of the semester, and we are excited to allocate the funds according to our needs,” Daleiden said.
“Our MVP was built in collaboration with the Indiana IoT Lab in Fishers. It has been a wonderful experience working with professional engineers. It has allowed us to work with more complex systems such as motors, 3D printers and laser cutters. We feel prepared to take the next steps with our MVP as we enter the spring 2021 semester.”
Elevate’s next steps include testing the app and creating iterations. Simultaneously, the company will incorporate, bring in investors, and scale its client base through marketing and sales activity.
“By the end of 2021, we hope to have Elevate in a variety of residential and commercial buildings throughout the nation,” Schmidt said. “We are in the early stages of discussing implementation with commercial real estate companies.”
Praise for the Shoebox
“The Shoebox has given us every and any tool we could possibly need to build our product. As our team did not have a skilled electrical engineer, the Shoebox provided us with a mentor who connected us with the Indiana IoT Lab, whom we have now collaborated with to get the product built. We have had mentoring sessions with lawyers, entrepreneurs, investors and engineers whom we would not have been able to speak with had it not been for the Shoebox setting up those relationships,” Curtis said.
“Along with that, the community in the Shoebox is very special, as we are all in a unique circumstance. It is not normal to try and start a technology company as a student in college, so to have other like-minded students and advisors who understand us is a really important part of our support and growth.”
Student startups can apply for 24/7 access to the Shoebox’s office space, which is located in the Shoemaker Innovation Center, Luddy Hall 2150. The Shoebox also collaborates with the Hoosier Hatchery pre-incubator at the Kelley School of Business, as well as Bloomington’s Dimension Mill startup accelerator. To apply for coworking space, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.