Students packed the Shoemaker Innovation Center to discover all it has to offer.
The passion for entrepreneurship at IU was on display as the Shoemaker Innovation Center at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering hosted its annual open house to showcase the resources provided for students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship at SICE.
Students from across campus packed the Shoebox to discover all the center has to offer, and they had the opportunity to network with clients of the Shoemaker Innovation Center, and a Service Providers Showcase designed to connect campus service organizations with students provided a chance for the fledgling entrepreneurs to ask questions about what is possible.
“The whole idea of this is to expose them to the idea of what we’re doing as a School and as a campus in respect to supporting student innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Travis Brown, senior executive assistant dean at SICE and the executive director of the Shoemaker Innovation Center. “For the open house for the Shoemaker Innovation Center and the Shoebox, it was intended to be a platform for the existing clients to come and talk to students about what they’re doing, and also for students who wanted to join the start-up of an existing client to come together and understand what the community looks like and what resources are available.”
Rohini Malpe, a first-year master’s student in the human-computer interaction program at SICE, enjoyed exploring ways she can get involved at the Center.
“I feel like this event is really valuable because you can sometimes get stuck being too focused on your own program and your classes,” Malpe said. “Events like these really help you get out there and learn more about what the university provides and what resources the school makes available to you, and it gives me the chance to meet people and discover new areas and resources. I have a background in design, and I’m looking to join someone to help with their business. I’m exploring what’s happening here to see how I can be helpful.
Nicholas Lugo, a freshman at the Kelley School of Business, came to the Shoemaker Innovation Center with a focus on finding like-minded people who could help him get a business idea off the ground.
“I’m just starting to figure out the clubs and opportunities that exist at IU,” Lugo said. “I found out about this event on the SICE website and discovered that this is where entrepreneurs come together. This is really a place where people can grow together. If you have a bunch of entrepreneurs who are working separately, it can be tough. But if entrepreneurs are working together and learning from one another, building something, and bouncing ideas off one another, it’s invaluable, and this is a great space to do just that. The fact there are so many people interested in the Shoemaker Innovation Center means there are a lot of resources I can lean on to help me.”
Bennett Gasner, another freshman from Kelley, came to SICE to get involved. He has the spark of a business idea, and he was at the open house looking for people who can bring his idea to life.
“It’s great to get in here and meet people from all over the university and all different walks of life,” Gasner said. “As a freshman, it can be easy to fall into a habit of only meeting a certain type of people, so it’s great to be here and meet tons of different people who are working on really meaningful and cool projects.”
Brown is pleased with the development of the innovation and entrepreneurship program, especially since the Shoebox opened in 2018.
“My belief has always been that student want to be heard,” Brown said. “They want to make change in the world, and you need to facilitate that. Students can be suspicious at first of how their entrepreneurial endeavors are going to be supported, but we’ve built a community here where we’ve been able to break down those barriers and build trust. We’re to the point where we had 30 teams last year, and 24 have opted to continue. Some of the teams graduated, but the students who returned saw the value the Shoemaker Innovation Center provides. Before the semester started, I had students emailing me asking, ‘How can I get involved?’ There are so many resources available, and this place has come to represent a hub students can use as they develop their ideas.”