Catalyzing student entrepreneurship

Students in the Shoemaker Scholars program advocate for all at IU Bloomington

2019-20 Shoemaker Scholars program students and advisor Travis J. BrownView print quality image
Indiana University Shoemaker scholars for the 2019-20 academic year. Front row, from left: Kacey Wood, Jenny Ye, Ashley Hennessey, Natalia Galá and Sneha Dave. Back row, from left: Davis Joseph, Stephen Conway, Ryan MacDonald, Hunter Hawley, Zach Simunic and the group's advisor, School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering Senior Executive Assistant Dean Travis Brown. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

As one of the world's preeminent research institutions, Indiana University has many resources -- including expert faculty and staff -- to bolster and encourage students' interests. Since 2016, IU students in the Shoemaker Scholars program have served as resources for peers who want to start a business and service customers.

Who are the Shoemaker scholars?

The Shoemaker Scholars program, funded by a generous gift by John and Donna Shoemaker, is organized through the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering. But it's a degree-agnostic organization -- its members are advocates for students in all majors and at all schools at IU Bloomington. The program boasts previous and current members from almost every school and college on campus.

The 10 Shoemaker scholars for the 2019-20 academic year are:

  • Stephen Conway, a junior in the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering and the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
  • Sneha Dave, a senior in The Media School in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Natalia Galá, a junior in the School of Education.
  • Hunter Hawley, a junior in the Kelley School of Business.
  • Ashley Hennessey, a junior in the School of Education.
  • Davis Joseph, a junior in the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering.
  • Ryan McDonald, a junior in the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.
  • Zach Simunic, a senior in the Kelley School of Business.
  • Kacey Wood, a junior in the Kelley School of Business.
  • Jenny Ye, a senior in the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering.

Connecting students with resources

Travis J. Brown oversees the program. He is senior executive assistant dean for innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization at the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering. He said the program excels at what entrepreneurs need most when starting a company: networking.

"There are so many facets to creating products or services and then creating a business to service customers -- ideation, market analysis, securing funding, marketing and then delivering solutions," Brown said. "The students in the Shoemaker Scholars program have personal experience in these areas and can guide their peers to IU- and Bloomington-based resources that address those needs."

The Shoemaker scholars manage the StartupIU website, which includes listings of activities, programs, clubs and organizations focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. There is also a page on that site where students can put out a call for assistance, including co-founders, developers, interns and more. And every week, newsletters with upcoming events and opportunities are mailed to subscribers.

Getting involved

Brown and the Shoemaker scholars periodically hold informal meetings that are open to all IU students at the Shoemaker Innovation Center, Luddy Hall 2150. The regularly scheduled meetings take place throughout the year. Students can also connect with the scholars on the StartupIU page or by emailing sscholar@indiana.edu.

"There is a strong tradition of IU students being as innovative and entrepreneurial as any in the Midwest," Brown said. "The desire to continue to build on that tradition drives the Shoemaker Scholars program, not only for this current cohort of students but also those who will follow."