IU entrepreneurs find advocate in Shoemaker Scholars program
An entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well on the IU campus. The problem is sometimes it can be a bit scattered.
The Shoemaker Scholars program hopes to solve that problem.
The program, funded by John and Donna Shoemaker, welcomed nine students who were selected for their entrepreneurial ambition and drive. The students—four from the School of Informatics and Computing, four from the Kelley School of Business, and one from the Jacobs School of Music—received scholarships worth $2,500 for the 2016-17 academic year with the goal of building experience that enhances their knowledge of and experience with entrepreneurship. They also aim to contribute to entrepreneurial programs around campus and the local community.
Travis Brown, the director of strategic initiatives and entrepreneurship for SoIC, said the program has become more focused in its second year.
“The students know a little about what it means to be in the group, and they’re more serious about being a part of the Shoemaker Scholars,” Brown said. “That means we can be more productive. This group happens to be very aware of what’s going on entrepreneurially, which is very helpful. In turn, we can better position ourselves to help facilitate what’s already going on but also position ourselves where we can offer new things that can foster entrepreneurship on campus.”
Through research and discussions with entrepreneurial leaders throughout the IU Bloomington campus, the group hopes to build an understanding of the different types of entrepreneurial programs available, and it hopes to establish itself as a clearinghouse of sorts for information.
“(The Shoemaker Scholars) want to bring people together to collaborate,” said Tyler Citrin, a junior with a double major in information systems at Kelley and computer science at SoIC. “We want to find a way to bring all of those people together and take advantage of all the resources, the people, and their ideas, and stir the best ideas to create the best opportunities.”
The past entrepreneurial experience of some of the group’s members is a positive, as well.
“I’ve been involved in entrepreneurship since my freshman year,” said Martin Aguinis, a senior in marketing and technology management at Kelley. “I was involved in scattered entrepreneurial events across campus, and I thought it would be interesting to have more of a combined system where students can actually find all these resources easier than I did. When I found out about the Shoemaker Scholars, I thought it was a great opportunity for me to use my past experiences to help create a more streamlined environment for entrepreneurs.”
The challenge with the group is to get everyone on the same page. Entrepreneurs tend toward leadership, but getting everyone to work toward a common goal is more important. That means talking to groups to find out what is really needed and making sure that the work of the Shoemaker Scholars won’t compete against existing organizations on campus.
“I want them to be student entrepreneurship ambassadors,” Brown said. “They really need to be the subject matter experts for these matters. They have to do the legwork and find the information that’s out there. Then they can bring it back, and they can share that knowledge with people. There’s an opportunity for us to create a program that adds value and doesn’t duplicate what already exists. You want people to have that good warm-and-fuzzy that the Shoemaker Scholars are here to help.”
The program also has allowed some of the scholars to stretch their wings a little bit.
“I also wanted to do this because it was a challenge, and being in this makes me uncomfortable,” said Ashley Bates, a junior informatics major with a cognate in graphic design and a minor in human-centered computing. “I like that. I want to be more versatile when it comes to looking for work. I pigeonholed myself in the beginning by saying that I was just a designer, and that was all I could do. But I realized that I like more of the process, and putting something together to help other people and help them improve their lives is great.”
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