In 2020, members of the IU Angel Network announced a $300,000 investment in Sacred Serve, a fully organic, plant-based gelato company headquartered in Chicago and founded by Indiana University alumna Kailey Donewald. It was the first-ever investment in a consumer goods company by the network, one of four major investment programs managed by IU Ventures, IU’s early-stage venture and angel investment arm.
Fittingly, Donewald will return to IU next month for the inaugural IU Ventures Founders and Funders Network Summit, joining several other leading IU-affiliated entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and others who are helping to expand the university’s global venture ecosystem. IU Ventures will host the summit, which will be held May 12-13 at the Indiana Memorial Union at IU Bloomington.
Registration for the summit is now open on the IU Ventures website. Registration is $95 and includes all summit programming.
Donewald, who earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and real estate from IU’s Kelley School of Business and is a certified health coach, will participate in a panel discussion on May 13 on launching a successful new venture. The breakout session will explore topics such as finding product market fit, developing a minimally viable product, fundraising, corporate governance and the importance of “failing fast.”
Growing up, Donewald suffered from severe allergies and asthma. Numerous doctors told her she would need to rely on medications for the rest of her life.
Many years later, at the age of 25, she embarked on a plant-based and raw food diet while living in Bali, Indonesia. Within weeks, her body had completely healed itself of her ailments without any medication. Her healing was so profound, Donewald decided to quit her job, return to school to study nutrition and dedicate her life to empowering more individuals to heal themselves holistically.
Sacred Serve was born out of a desire to take ice cream, the most dairy- and sugar-laden category of food she could think of, and make a healthy, indulgent alternative. Its products are free of the top eight allergens and are made with certified organic young Thai coconut meat and superfoods, in addition to being non-GMO and low-glycemic.
The funding from the IU Angel Network has enabled Sacred Serve, part of a growing number of companies dedicated to plant-based, functional foods, to scale up its manufacturing, expand into nationwide regions, hire additional staff, and develop several new initiatives. Sacred Serve has also attracted the attention of chefs, food writers and even athletes such as former Chicago Bulls player Nikola Mirotic, who is also an investor in the company.
The IU Angel Network facilitates connections between IU-affiliated ventures and prospective investors from among the university’s global community of alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends.
This past December, Donewald came back to Bloomington and the Kelley School to listen to and judge presentations by Kelley MBA students. As part of their class, which was taught by Kelley Senior Lecturer Tatiana Kolovou, the students conducted case studies on Sacred Serve and presented ideas for how the company could advance its business goals and address its biggest challenges. Jason Whitney, vice president of venture development at IU Ventures and executive director of the IU Angel Network, also helped judge the students’ presentations.
Joining Donewald for her session at next month’s summit will be Tarek Alaruri, COO and co-founder of the intelligence sourcing platform Fairmarkit, and Cy Megnin, entrepreneur in residence at Elevate Ventures. Samantha Ginther, an associate at High Alpha and former member of the IU Ventures team, will moderate the discussion. All are IU alumni.
Read a press release about the summit. More information about the event, including a complete list of speakers and events, is also available on the IU Ventures website. The summit will be presented by Bridge Bank, a division of Western Alliance Bank.