Hoosier Angels | Data & GoodMaps | Funding for Midwest startups
“I’ve achieved ‘the American dream.’ I feel it’s my duty to help others achieve their vision, too.” — Joe Frazier
December 10, 2020
CHAT WITH A CHANGEMAKER
How IU Angel Network helps new businesses launch
Image courtesy of the Trustees of Indiana University
The IU Angel Network is designed to connect qualified investors with an Indiana University (IU) affiliation to early-stage startups led by members of the IU community.
Flyover Future spoke to Jason Lee Whitney, Executive Director, about the beginnings of the organization and where it is now.
What does the IU Angel Network do?
Whitney: It facilitates connections between startup companies and prospective investors among Indiana University’s global community of alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends. Through this network, we aim to foster an entrepreneurial culture. IU Angel Network provides mentors, educational programming and networking opportunities for budding entrepreneurs throughout the state.
When investors with an IU affiliation join the IU Angel Network, they connect with a growing collective of successful IU alumni to exchange ideas and review investment opportunities in a curated list of IU-affiliated startup ventures.
How did the program begin?
Whitney: When I was with the Launch Indiana platform, I spent two years mapping out the state in cities like New Albany, Evansville, Kokomo, etc. We found innovative entrepreneurs in these cities, and we needed to find a way to support them so they remained there. It’s where they went to high school, where they want to raise their kids and where they’ll be good citizens of the community without having to move to bigger cities like Indianapolis or Chicago.
IU asked if I could come and support entrepreneurs on campus in the same manner—surround them with the tools they need to be successful. After a time, we realized that we weren’t fully utilizing our network of alumnae throughout the world.
"Our nationwide engagements have given us an opportunity to search out the most promising IU alumni-founded startups in the country."
— Jason Lee Whitney, IU Angel Network
What did that involve?
Whitney: We started making connections with those folks who were interested in supporting the innovation happening on campus. We started a traditional venture fund, but the thing that really through gasoline on the fire was the launch of our angel network in Sept. 2019.
When we instituted that program, we were giving people the chance to invest in the companies we were working with. I spent most of those first months traveling throughout the country curating this community of alumna who were interested in supporting businesses and reconnecting with this area. Our nationwide engagements have given us an opportunity to search out the most promising IU alumni-founded startups in the country.
Our network has grown from 20 members to almost 60 and, since February, we’ve invested around a $1 million this year.
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Serve the superuser, change the world
Jose Gaztambide thought he would be a baseball insider but instead is leading the charge on a new kind of mapping that is literally changing how people navigate the world. Hear the details on Jose's journey, his company GoodMaps and the concepts, ideas and data they are harnessing to change the way we think about movement.
You can also listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever else you get your podcasts.
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ON THE RADAR
Pittsburgh startup helps entrepreneurs connect with peers
Entre is a social network created to bring together entrepreneurs, freelancers, and investors and provide a community that helps founders learn, build relationships, and exchange ideas with others who are starting or growing a business. Membership is free (although there’s also a premium version) and now you can download a new app—also free—to help you interact with other members, ask questions and solicit feedback, connect with investors, find a mentor, launch your project, and build a team.
While it was still in beta, the app garnered more than 4,000 users in 100 countries—an impressive start for a company whose mission is to “build the largest network of entrepreneurs.” Entre has raised over $185,000 from angel investors, is actively raising additional funding, and is planning to start its seed round in 2021.
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Notre Dame scientists study the brain’s immune system
Notre Dame researchers recently published a report that details the results of a study involving the brain’s immune environment. Scientists believe that the brain suppresses an aggressive immune response to protect against inflammation. However, that suppression opens the door to metastasizing cancer cells.
The researchers demonstrated that a particular type of cell, a myeloid cell, is responsible for suppressing the immune response, allowing breast cancer cells to metastasize and form secondary tumor cells in the brain. One kind of myeloid cell, microglia, releases a protein called VISTA, which protects against brain inflammation. Unfortunately, it also suppresses the T-cells that would otherwise be inhibiting the spread of cancer.
Antibodies have been developed to block VISTA, but considerable research and testing needs to be done to ensure the safety and effectiveness of that approach in combating brain metastases.
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FUELING THE FUTURE
What is fueling Flyover Country innovation? In this weekly feature, we share a variety of announcements covering funding, acquisitions, exits, grants, and everything in between. Got something to celebrate? Click here to share your story.
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NAME THAT FLYOVER CITY!
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