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LATEST NEWS

Caregiver payment platform wins Bloomington pitch competition INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

IEDC Awards $500K to 16 Entrepreneurship Projects INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Education Apps Win The Mill’s Pitch Competition INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Tech Center Groundbreaking at The Mill INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Ground Broken on Tech Center INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Bloomington Breaks Ground on Tech Center MIDWEST STARTUPS

Construction Work on Trades District Tech Center to Begin Next Week INDIANA PUBLIC MEDIA

$8M in Construction Bids Awarded for Bloomington Technology Center, More to Come B SQUARE BULLETIN

2023 Fuse Award Winners Announced at BragBox Breakfast WBIW.COM

Additional $3.8 Million for Tech Center Ok’d by Redevelopment Commission INDIANA PUBLIC MEDIA (see also B SQUARE BULLETIN)

Innovation Week Set to Run October 3-6 WBIW.COM

Indiana Entrepreneurs Vie for Investment WBIW.COM

Bloomington’s The Mill Optimistic with Trades District Advisory Board INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

2023 Best of the Midwest: Startup City Rankings MIDWEST STARTUPS 

Bloomington-Based Angel Investor Fund Has Big Growth Plans INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Boutique Hotel Proposed for Bloomington’s Trades District INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS       INDIANA DAILY STUDENT

Expanded Startup Summer Program Graduates First Cohort INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Faculty Not Ready for Startup Life? Try a Pre-Accelerator TECH TRANSFER CENTRAL

Clothing Resale, IVF Tech Startups Land Investments in Pitch Competition INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

The Mill Awarded $1.37M Grant for Coding Academy INDIANA PUBLIC MEDIA

Talent Development Programs Land READI Funding INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

The Mill Receives a $1.37M Grant to Expand Code/IT Academy WBIW.COM

Bloomington Council Approves $3 Million for Technology Center INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

NSWC Crane to Release Patented Tech for Private Development INDY CHAMBER   TECHPOINT

South Bend Tech Startup Wins Crossroads Pitch Competition INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS    TECHPOINT

A Software CEO Ditched Chicago for a Midwestern College Town BUSINESS INSIDER

‘Zoom Towns’ Exploded in the Work-From-Home Era BLOOMBERG

Ivy Tech Entrepreneurial Program Revisd to Better Fit Students’ Needs HERALD TIMES

What’s Next for the Trades District INDIANA PUBLIC MEDIA

Former Bloomington Mayor to Lead Trades District Development INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

The Mill to Manage Bloomington’s Trades District INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS      INDIANA PUBLIC MEDIA

IU Professor’s Cello Platform Wins Business Idea Competition INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS WBIW 

IU-affiliated startup wins the Regional Pre-Seed Award from Elevate Nexus Southern Region Pitch Competition INDIANA UNIVERSITY

MedTech Devices Sweep Crossroads Pitch Competition INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

The Mill Expanding Startup Summer Program Statewide INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Working Remote: How the Pandemic Changed the Landscape of Work and the Indiana City Taking Advantage WRTV

The Mill Offers a Week of Free Events During Innovation Week WBIW

Applications Are Now Open for the Free AWS Cloud Practitioner Course  WBIW

Crossroads Pitch Will Crown Two Winners This Fall WBIW.COM

Bloomington Startup Wins Pitch Competition INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Flywheel Participates in Series A Raise for Stagetime WBIW.COM

Elevate Ventures Awards Business Startup Grants INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Performing Arts Tech Startup Closes Series A Round INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Bloomington Fund Re-Ups Investment in Food Waste Startup WBIW.COM

FloWaste Raises a $1.1M Pre-Seed Round to Reduce Food Waste with Machine Learning THE SPOON

Vaccine Freezer Wins Top Prize at Competition  INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

The Mill to Launch Second Investment Fund  INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

The Mill Awarded Nearly $400,00 from EDA WBIW.COM

Bloomington Looking to Expand Trades District, Build on Coworking Success INDIANA PUBLIC MEDIA

Free Program Provides Fast Track to Better Wages WBIW.COM

Looking to Relocate? A Bloomington Program Is Offering Incentives to Lure Remote Workers HERALD-TIMES

Duke Energy Foundation Awards Grants INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS MY WABASH VALLEY  WISHTV  YAHOO

MakeMyMove Attracts Remote Workers to Indiana INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Basketball Stats Software Gains New Investment INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS IBJtech  WISHTV  WBIW.COM iEMPRESARIAL

Remote Worker Program Showing Early Positive Results INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS  WISH TV  WBIW.COM  BLOOM

Remote Worker Program Attracting New Professionals to Bloomington INDIANA PUBLIC MEDIA 

Venture Firm Announces 2020 Awards, Recognizes Statewide Players ELEVATE VENTURES

“Bloom”ing Success: City on the Rise as Entrepreneurial Home BIZ VOICE

Indy Tech Company Lands Flywheel Fund Investment INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Bloomington Program to Pay Students to Develop Startups INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Camping Gear Rental Sparks Business Idea INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Pitch Win Boosts Freezer ‘Pod’ for Vaccines INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

The Mill Expands Lineup INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

IU, Ivy Tech Students Can Get Paid to Develop Their Own Startup This Summer HERALD TIMES 

Indiana-Based Startups to Compete for Cash, Connections SOUTHERN INDIANA BUSINESS REPORT 

The Mill Plans Growth for ‘Bloomington Remote’ INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Remote Workers Fleeing Big Cities Get “Instant Raise” YAHOO 

Applications Open for Bloomington’s ReBoot Program INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS WBIW

The Bee Corp Gains Funding for New Growth FRUIT GROWERS NEWS

DC-Based Firm Plans to Hire 100 Indiana Tech Professionals BUILDING INDIANA BUSINESS

Qualifi Raises $2.5M YAHOO!

Utility App Wins Crossroads Pitch Competition INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

New Accelerator Focusing on Defense Tech
INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS    SOUTHERN INDIANA BUSINESS REPORT   WBIW

New Program Offers Remote Workers Incentives to Move to Bloomington WXIN TV 

Hoosier Startup Using Data to Predict Water Pipe Breaks INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

ICO Launches IU Faculty Startup Accelerator Program in Partnership With The Mill RESEARCH IMPACT IU

College Towns Lure Out-of-State Workers to Live and Work in Indiana WTHR

Popular YouTuber Moves to Central Indiana Through Bloomington Remote WRTV

Drawing Remote Workers to Indiana INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Indiana Student Startups Vie for Investment at Crossroads Collegiate SOUTHERN INDIANA BUSINESS REPORT

Crossroads Powers New Pitch Competition in Fort Wayne WOWO.COM FORT WAYNE NBC

The Mill, NSWC Crane Enter Agreement INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS  WISH TV  WBIW.COM

Bloomington to Receive Rising Tech City Award TECHPOINT INDEX   INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Bloomington-Based Fund Sees Rapid Expansion STARTUP MATH.COM WBIW.COM    AGRINOVUS

Sports Team Management App Receives New Investment INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS   WBIW.COM

The Mill Enticing Remote Workers to Move to Bloomington INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

Bloomington Capital Fund Growing in Second Cohort INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS WISH TV

New Cybersecurity Network Launched in Southern Indiana WBIW.COM  

The Mill Partners on New Coding School INSIDE INDIANA BUSINESS

PRESS RELEASES FROM The mill

Flywheel Fund Invests in Two Crossroads Pitch Competition Winners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 26, 2024

For more information, please contact:

Bram Boyd, Program Manager, The Mill, bram@dimensionmill.org, or  812-250-9714

Grace Snyder, Founder, Tee Genius, gramsnyd@iu.edu 

Tiffney Vivo, Founder & CEO, Therapprove, tiff@therapprove.com 

 

Flywheel Fund Invests in Two Crossroads Pitch Competition Winners

Tee Genius and Therapprove announced as winners of Collegiate and Spring tracks

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced the winners of the Spring 2024 Crossroads Pitch Competition. Tee Genius won the Collegiate competition for the first-ever golf tee time booking and notification software that is financially advantageous to both golf courses and golfers. Therapprove, the winner of the Crossroads Spring, serves as a comprehensive hub for pediatric therapies, including physical, occupational, speech, behavioral, and mental health, offering a streamlined solution for caregivers whose children often require multidisciplinary care. They introduced pioneering features aimed at reducing the referral-to-response time to zero days.

“We’re honored to accept the Crossroads Collegiate award for Tee Genius,” said founder, Grace Snyder. “This recognition, supported by The Mill and Flywheel Fund, fills us with immense gratitude and appreciation for their investment in our vision.” 

Tee Genius is fueled by their team’s passion for redefining golf course management and enhancing the golfer experience by optimizing tee times. As the trends for online tee times rise, Tee Genius is making sure that golf courses aren’t leaving any revenue on the table when it comes to cancellations and no-shows. 

The Collegiate Finals were judged by Amanda Findlay, Managing Director & Acceleration Lead, MatchBOX Studio, Katie Birge, VP Platform, M25, and Geoff Zentz, Senior Director of Innovation, AgriNovus Indiana. Tee Genius takes home the Collegiate grand prize – a $5,000 investment from Flywheel Fund. 

The winner of Crossroads Spring is a software-as-a-service platform that gives caregivers direct and clear access to pediatric therapists. 

“We want to thank the Mill and Flywheel Fund for celebrating Therapprove as the Crossroads Spring 2024 winner—and more grateful still that they are truly celebrating our mission of timely and trustworthy delivery of therapy services for children who need them,” expressed Tiffney Vivo, Founder & CEO of Therapprove. “The experience of the competition was exciting but the prospect of collaboration is even more energizing for a digital health startup like us.”

Tiffney noted that more than 26 million families in the US have children with a developmental disability or mental health disorder, all requiring at least one type of therapy to reach their full potential. The average wait time for families from sending a referral for therapy to obtaining a response from an agency is intolerably long. Therapprove addresses many critical industry pain points. It improves children’s outcomes, eliminates system inefficiencies, and reduces administrative burdens–making it a win-win proposition for all stakeholders in the Therapprove ecosystem and ultimately reducing the referral to response time to zero days.

For their all-in-one solution, Therapprove received a $10,000 investment from Flywheel Fund. The Spring Finals were judged by Jacob Schpok, Partner, Head of Platform, Elevate Ventures, Angie Stocklin, Senior Lecturer, Purdue University, and M Shane Bivens, President, ArcticRx by ChefsFridge Co.

“It was a great event,” said Bram Boyd, Program Manager at The Mill. “This was our biggest Crossroads ever, highlighting both the Crossroads Collegiate nominees and the finalists from Crossroads Spring. We were blown away by the innovation and excitement in the room. Thanks to all our finalists and congratulations to Tee Genius and Therapprove!”  

 

Crossroads Pitch Competition is open to any Indiana-based startup with less than $250,000 in annual recurring revenue. The other Collegiate finalists were Card Genie, Mili Llama, and UChef. Finalists for Crossroads Spring also included Collabrix, Junogo, Noveltor, and TitleWise. 

Visit https://www.crossroadspitch.com/ to learn more and to subscribe to future competitions. 

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org /

About Flywheel Fund

Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana. It’s administered and run by The Mill.

Caregiver Platform Paid.Care Wins Idea Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 21, 2023

For more information, please contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org, or 812-679-6140

JR Ricker, Co-founder & CEO, Paid.Care, jr@paid.care 

Whitney Schlegel, Marble Hill Farm, marblehillfarmin@gmail.com 

Caregiver Platform Paid.Care Wins Idea Competition

Duke Energy grants Climate Resiliency Award to Sheep Wool Pellets

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced two winners of the Crossroads Idea Competition, held December 20, 2023. JR Ricker, Co-founder & CEO of Paid.Care, won for his innovative caregiver payment platform. He will be awarded a $2,500 investment from Flywheel Fund, The Mill’s venture capital fund for startup companies. Whitney Schlegel was awarded the first-ever Climate Resiliency Award, made possible by a grant from Duke Energy. 

“Paid.care has been working silently out of the Mill for the last 6 months and let me tell you…bootstrapping & building any startup that is pre-revenue can be stressful at times,” said JR Ricker. “With that, the Paid.care team was incredibly grateful to have the Crossroads Idea Competition as a way to showcase the last 6 months of work before we officially launch in 2024. Not to mention, we received feedback & necessary questions from an awesome group of judges that we’ll carry forward in future Paid.care pitches.” 

Paid.care provides the technology, support, and training to qualify and ultimately pay family caregivers who deliver high-quality in-home care for loved ones. Currently, they can provide this to caregivers in Indiana but will soon be expanding throughout the country via a mobile app.

In addition to the main track of the competition, ideas that supported environmental causes were considered for a $1k cash prize as part of the Climate Resiliency Award – made possible by a grant from Duke Energy. The inaugural winner was Whitney Schlegel who won with Sheep Wool Pellets, a product designed to contribute to sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.

“I am over the moon to have been named the Climate Resiliency Winner for the Crossroads Idea Competition,” said Whitney Schlegel of Marble Hill Farm. “I so appreciate the support of The Mill and the community they cultivate for entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs. I am excited to continue to work with The Mill to develop my business model and marketing strategy for sheep wool pellets as a climate-smart commodity for specialty crop growers as well as for landscapers and gardeners. Many thanks to The Mill and Duke Energy for jump-starting my dream!” 

Sheep Wool Pellets are a product that can contribute to sustainable and resilient agricultural systems when used as a soil amendment or mulch. As a sheep producer, Whitney is motivated to find uses for waste wool that will improve soil health as well as increase awareness for wool as a regenerative, renewable, and climate-smart resource. 

“I am thrilled for both of the winners of this year’s Idea Competition,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill. “JR and Whitney are proof of the magic that happens when you combine passion with a needed solution to a unique problem. I’m so proud of both of them and excited to see the impact their ideas have on the world.” 

Crossroads Idea is a low-barrier pitch competition that launched in 2020. It’s a chance for founders in the earliest stages of their entrepreneurial journey to showcase their ideas and get feedback from expert judges. This year’s judges were Cerwin Rush, Data Enablement Leader, Crush Corporation; Ellie Symes, CEO, The Bee Corp; Liz Cook Irwin, Government & Community Relations Manager, Duke Energy; and Dave Bittner, Rural Business Advisor, West Central Indiana Small Business Development Center. 

Visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/crossroads-idea-competition to learn more about the competition.

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org 

About Flywheel Fund

Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana. It’s administered and run by The Mill.

Mayor-Elect Thomson Names Mill Head of Operations as Deputy Mayor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 5, 2023

For more information, please contact:

Pat East, Executive Director, The Mill pat@dimensionmill.org or 317-965-2155

Aimee Cottle, Head of Marketing, The Mill, aimee@dimensionmill.org, 317-946-7438

Mayor-Elect Thomson Names Mill Head of Operations as Deputy Mayor

Gretchen Knapp to oversee daily operations of City Hall

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill today announced Gretchen Knapp, Head of Operations, will be leaving December 31 to start a new position as Deputy Mayor of the City of Bloomington. Bloomington Mayor-Elect Kerry Thomson published her leadership team appointments on Friday, December 1. As Deputy Mayor, Knapp will oversee the daily operations of City Hall. 

“This role is a perfect match for Gretchen’s and interests,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “She excels in optimizing processes and building systems, and in such a large organization, there will be plenty of opportunities to do so. As the second-in-command, her decisions will significantly impact both the organization and Bloomington, and I’m confident that Gretchen’s thorough approach will lead to excellent outcomes.”

Knapp was hired at The Mill in April 2020 as Head of Marketing. In 2022, she became the Head of Operations as well. Prior to The Mill, Knapp worked for five years as a consultant and for nearly a decade at Solution Tree, a K-12 professional development provider, in leadership roles. A former entrepreneur as well as executive, Knapp graduated from Kalamazoo College and holds a masters from Indiana University. 

“I’m thrilled to join the expert team Mayor-Elect Thomson has put together to build an even better Bloomington for everyone,” said Knapp. “I’ve lived here in Bloomington for over 30 years and am honored to serve the community I love.”

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org / 

 

Duke Energy, The Mill offer $1,000 Climate Resiliency Award for Environmental Startup Ideas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

November 9, 2023

Contact: Bram Boyd, Program Manager, The Mill, bram@dimensionmill.org, 765-993-7929 

Duke Energy, The Mill offer $1,000 Climate Resiliency Award for Environmental Startup Ideas

Crossroads Idea Competition applications open 

Bloomington, Ind.— The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced that applications for the 2023 Crossroads Idea Competition are now open. The competition is open to Indiana-based founders who have innovative ideas for startup businesses. The winner will receive a $2,500 investment from Flywheel Fund. In addition, The Mill is offering a second stand-alone prize of $1,000 cash, sponsored by Duke Energy Foundation, for ideas that solve an environmental problem by addressing conservation, climate change, natural disaster preparedness, or other issues of climate resiliency.

“The Crossroads Idea Competition fuels the earliest stage of innovation,” said Bram Boyd, Program Manager for Crossroads. “We want to encourage Indiana innovators to take action on their ideas and explore building a company. With feedback from judges and a little cash, they can take the next step. We’re especially excited to see new environmental solutions in this year’s competition.”

This is the fourth year for the Crossroads Idea Competition. Applicants submit a three-minute video describing the problem they’re solving, their target customer, their solution, and their plan to create revenue. A team of independent judges from around the state, with expertise in entrepreneurship and business, will review all the applications in mid-December. The finalists will pitch their ideas, Shark Tank–style, via Zoom on December 20.

All applications will be considered for both the top prize of $2,500 investment and the $1,000 cash Climate Resiliency Award from Duke Energy Foundation. 

“The Crossroads Idea Competition is an easy way to explore whether an entrepreneurial idea has legs,” explained Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming for The Mill. “Contestants don’t have to pitch their ideas live, and everyone receives feedback from the judges, regardless of whether they win. Past winners have gone to participate in entrepreneurial programming and win further investments. It’s always exciting to see the next wave of startups emerge.”

Past winners include Quiptu, a peer-to-peer outdoor equipment rental site; WayZada, maker of 3D commemorative items for athletes, and Celadore, a specialized acoustic podium for cellists. 

The deadline to apply to the competition is December 6, 2023. Learn more and apply at: https://www.dimensionmill.org/crossroads-idea-competition/

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

 

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Bloomington Breaks Ground on Trades District Tech Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

October 6, 2023

For more information, please contact:

John Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, The Mill, 202-420-8594 or john@dimensionmill.org

Angela Van Rooy, Interim Communications Director, Office of the Mayor angela.vanrooy@bloomington.in.gov or 812-349-3505

Photos available here

Bloomington Breaks Ground on Trades District Tech Center

Bloomington, Ind. – Members of Bloomington’s tech community joined together with civic and private sector leaders on Thursday, October 5, to celebrate a groundbreaking for the Trades District Tech Center. Due to inclement weather, the ceremony was held indoors across the street at The Mill, with a make-shift trough of dirt, hardhats, and nickel-plated shovels. The mood was festive as presenters shared the history of the project to date and the vision for its future.

The Trades District Tech Center is a new, 22,000 square foot, sustainably designed building that will provide class A office space for Bloomington’s growing tech sector. The project is funded by a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), and $9.3 million in matching funds from the City of Bloomington.

The groundbreaking ceremony featured remarks from Pat East, Executive Director, The Mill; Larry Allen, Deputy Mayor, City of Bloomington; Sue Sgambelluri, President, Bloomington Common Council; Dianne Powell, Regional Director, US Senator Todd Young; Jennifer Pearl, President, Bloomington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC); and John Fernandez, Senior Vice President, The Mill.

“The Trades District Tech Center is a major investment in Bloomington’s future,” said Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton in a prepared statement. “Our thriving tech sector needs room to grow, and this new facility fits beautifully, complementing the adjacent Mill, and helping us attract and retain top talent. We are grateful to the EDA for their support of this important project.”

The Trades District Tech Center is part of a larger vision to transform Bloomington’s Trades District into a vibrant hub for technology and innovation. The project is expected to create 866 new private sector jobs and generate $218 million in economic activity for the community over a ten-year period.

“The Trades District Tech Center is a critical piece of our vision for a modern, sustainable urban neighborhood that nurtures creativity and entrepreneurship,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “This project will help us to brand Bloomington as a lively tech sector hub and attract private investment, employment, and visitors.” 

The development of the Trades District Tech Center comes at an opportune time to leverage major new federal investments at NSWC Crane / Westgate to the south, and 16 Tech to the north in downtown Indianapolis. “The Trades District Tech Center in Bloomington is another piece of Indiana’s emerging hard tech corridor. From north to south, Hoosiers are innovating in ways that will bolster our nation’s economic and national security for decades to come,” said United States Senator Todd Young.

About the Trades District

The Trades District is a former industrial area in Bloomington that is being transformed by public and private investment into a vibrant hub for technology and innovation. The district is home to a growing number of tech companies, startups, and coworking spaces. The Trades District Tech Center is the latest addition to the district and will provide much-needed office space for Bloomington’s growing tech sector.

 

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. The Mill is a leader in the development of the Trades District Tech Center.

 

 

EdTech Apps Sweep 2023 Fall Crossroads Pitch Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 9, 2023 

For more information, please contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org, 812-679-6140

Charlie Edmonds, CEO and Founder, Pocket, pocketmethods@gmail.com

Kevin Celisca, CEO and Co-Founder, Integrate School, kevin@integrateschool.com

Photos available here

EdTech Apps Sweep 2023 Fall Crossroads Pitch Competition

Pocket wins pre-seed, Integrate School wins seed division

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, today announced the winners of the Fall 2023 Crossroads Pitch Competition, sponsored by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Pocket won the pre-seed competition for its educational platform for beginning band and orchestra that utilizes Black gospel music as its instructional vehicle to engage students with a historically important genre. Integrate School, the winner of the seed competition, improves instructional quality and equity by allowing any teacher to easily create standards-based, curriculum-mapped lesson plans. Pocket will receive a $10,000 investment from Flywheel Fund. Integrate School will receive a $20,000 investment. The two winning startups also receive priority consideration to pitch at an upcoming Elevate Ventures event for further investment.

Pocket to close long-standing content gap

The Pocket app gives beginning band and orchestra instructors access to a curated catalog of music, lesson plans, and pacing guides based on Black gospel music. This historical music, founder Charlie Edmonds said in her pitch, has deeply influenced American rock, hip hop, and contemporary music, and yet is radically underrepresented in music textbooks—a long-standing pain point of teachers and students. A former middle school band director, Edmonds saw other band instructors regularly expressing frustration in professional forums on the dearth of appropriate African-American content for their students. In Edmonds’ own school, band enrollment tripled when she expanded the curriculum to include relevant Black music.

“It was an absolute honor to participate in and win the pre-seed finals of the Crossroads Pitch Competition,” said Edmonds. “The process gifted me the ability to learn from amazing judges and participants, immerse myself in the thriving entrepreneurship community in Southern Indiana, and share my world of Pocket Methods, LLC with a wide audience. With the pre-seed funding from Crossroads, I am now accelerating my goals for development, piloting in schools, and gaining much needed legal access. I am filled with gratitude for this opportunity.”

Now a PhD student in music education, Edmonds aims to crack the $3 billion child instrumental music learning market. Band directors are unusual, Edmonds notes, in that they usually have a separate budget and discretion to spend it—thus eliminating barriers to market penetration. In her customer discovery surveys, 100% of band instructors were willing to pay for access to Pocket’s platform. This fall, Pocket will pilot in two schools, and by August 2024, Edmonds hopes to have her minimum viable product complete.

“My forward movement would not be possible without the support of The Mill and the Flywheel Fund,” Edmonds said. “From my participation in The Mill’s Startup Summer program to now, I have been endlessly supported by The Mill’s staff in startup coaching, accountability meetings, connections to venture capital companies, marketing assistance, and anything I could request. Compounding that support is The Mill’s community of members who have shown genuine care for my founder journey with their feedback and willingness to help in any way. Pocket has introduced me to an entrepreneurial community that I will always cherish.”

The pre-seed finals were judged by Nida Ansari, CEO of Karmic Partners; Landon Young, Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Programming at Elevate Ventures; and Logan Herzog, Innovation Fellow at The Idea Center at Notre Dame.

Integrate School to increase access to high-quality instruction

Integrate School is a lesson planning tool that maps to curriculum and state standards. Currently, co-founder and CEO Kevin Celisca said in his pitch, schools use cumbersome combinations of Google Docs and email, or even handwritten notes, to communicate lesson plans to the main office. Most have no verification process of alignment to standards, and no tracking of whether the lesson itself has good student learning outcomes. This leads to inequities in instruction, especially for students in zipcodes with lower tax revenue and fewer teacher resources.

“The reason this is important to me,” Celisca said, “is I was a victim of zipcode discrimination.” Celisca credits his fourth-grade teacher for helping him turn the corner on learning. “She worked with me after school every day and customized a lesson plan to help me excel academically, to eventually go to college and study abroad.” After college, Celisca worked for a big-four accounting firm working with Fortune 500 companies. Later he started a nonprofit, College Lingual, to help first-generation students transition from high school to college, where he learned how to sell to schools.

Celisca says it’s now his sole mission to help teachers everywhere easily create high-quality lesson plans, personalized to student needs, to ensure all students succeed. Integrate School increases job satisfaction for teachers, while also increasing accountability and transparency for administrators and parents.

Integration with key education software is key to the product’s viability, according to co-founder Maxwell Witt. Integrate School has a two-way data synch with EdLink, to connect data to class rosters; 1EdTech’s CASENetwork, a central repository for state and national learning standards; and OpenAI, to fuel AI-generated lesson plans that align with those standards and students’ current levels of understanding.

“I am deeply honored and incredibly grateful to accept the prestigious Crossroads seed award,” said Celisca. “The unwavering support extended to us by the Mill and Flywheel Fund for Indiana startups is truly unparalleled and unlike anything I have ever experienced in any other state. My team and I now have the fuel we need to propel our company to new heights. The level of dedication and encouragement we have received from this community is nothing short of inspiring. Their belief in our vision and their willingness to invest in our potential is a testament to the transformative impact our company aims to make.”

Integrate Schools uses a B2B SaaS model, with site license pricing starting at $5,000. Their average contract value, with value-adds like a library of pre-made lessons, is now $50,000. The app is ESSA / ESSER level 4 approved (an evidence-based certificate of efficacy) by the Learn Platform, a third-party evaluator, which allows schools to purchase the software through their emergency funds.

The seed finals were judged by Julie Heath, Executive Director of IU Innovates; Ryan Locke, Vice President of Venture Finance at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation; and Alex Shortle, Partner at EO Advisors.

“This fall’s competitors were truly outstanding,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming. “We couldn’t be happier with these two worthy winners, who’ve founded companies with great potential not just for growth and investors, but with great potential to make a positive impact on students and communities. We look forward to hearing more about the future success of all the competitors.”

Crossroads Pitch Competition is open to any Indiana-based startup with less than $250,000 in annual recurring revenue. A panel of over 40 entrepreneurs, investors, and business experts selected four finalists for each of the two tracks. The other pre-seed finalists were Primary Record (Jean Ross); Rescue Biomedical (Vy Le); and Soloist (Parker Busick). The other seed finalists were HEMSCap (Hoda Salsabili), rScan (Rod Baradaran), and Traduality (Diego Achio).

Visit https://www.crossroadspitch.com/ to learn more about the competition.

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

About Crossroads

Launched in 2017 as a regional event, Crossroads Pitch Competition is now one of Indiana’s biggest pitch competitions, attracting startups from all over the state. Crossroads takes place in spring and fall, with tracks for seed and pre-seed startups. The Crossroads brand also includes Crossroads Collegiate, for Hoosier students; the Crossroads Platform, white-label support for regional pitch competitions; and the Crossroads Idea Competition, for entrepreneurs exploring very early-stage business concepts.

 

 

2023 Fuse Award Winners Announced at BragBox Breakfast

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 4, 2023

For more information, please contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, andy@dimensionmill.org , 812-679-6140

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2023 Fuse Award Winners Announced at BragBox Breakfast

Julie Adams, Ari Vidali named Entrepreneurs of the Year

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, today announced the 2023 Fuse Business Innovation award winners. The Fuse Awards recognize the accomplishments of both companies and individuals in Bloomington’s technology and innovation community.

The nominees and winners were revealed at the gBETA BragBox Breakfast, the kick-off event for the 2023 Innovation Week at The Mill. Attendees included past and current participants in the gBETA accelerator program for startup founders, along with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and Mill members. During the “brag” portion of the morning, entrepreneurs shared stories from their experience launching startups. Later, Logan White, gBETA Program Manager, handed out awards with Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill.

“It might not be very midwestern to brag,” said Pat East, The Mill’s Executive Director, “but it’s important to publicize and celebrate successes. We want to shine a light on the great work local companies are doing, and also to thank the dedicated people and organizations who support The Mill. Together, we’re building Bloomington’s innovation economy.”

The 2023 Fuse Business Innovation Award winners are:

  • Bill & Gayle Cook Entrepreneur of the Year (tie): Julie Adams and Ari Vidali
  • Mentor of the Year (awarded to an outstanding role model who has advised and encouraged best practices in an early stage company’s growth): Ravi Bhatt
  • Company of the Year (awarded to a company who exemplifies Bloomington’s values while achieving revenue and job growth): SecondSight
  • Rising Star of the Year (awarded to a company with less than ten employees that has laid the foundation for future revenue and job growth): e2e Advising
  • Partner of the Year (awarded to an organization who directly impacts the success of The Mill and its members): Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington
  • Community Leader Supporting Entrepreneurship & Innovation (awarded to an individual who proudly and unapologetically supports The Mill and its members with time, energy, and talent): Tina Peterson

As part of the awards, Mill members vote on the “Newsworthy Event of the Year.” This year’s vote was tied between two stories. The first was the appointment of (Mill member) Erik Coyne as Chancellor of Ivy Tech Bloomington. The second was the agreement between the Redevelopment Commission (RDC) for The Mill to manage the development and marketing of the Trades District and the Tech Center.

The Fuse Awards were founded by the Indiana SBDC (Small Business Development Center) in 2004. The Mill rebooted the awards and has been celebrating the community’s successes since 2017. For a full list of all nominees and winners, visit https://communityinnovationawards.com/fuse-business-innovation-awards/

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

Innovation Week Set to Run October 3-6

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 27, 2023

Contact: Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, 812.679.6140, andy@dimensionmill.org 

Innovation Week Set to Run October 3-6

Annual celebration of entrepreneurship, tech at The Mill

Bloomington, Ind.— The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for coworking and entrepreneurship, today announced the dates for Innovation Week (iWeek) 2023, a slate of free events on technology and innovation that runs from October 3 through October 6.

“It’s been five years since The Mill first opened our doors,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “We’ve got a great birthday celebration planned, along with a ceremonial groundbreaking of the tech center, and many more events from partners and friends. For anyone interested in innovation, technology, or entrepreneurship, iWeek is a great way to learn what’s happening locally, connect with community, and get inspired.”

The Mill will host events all week in partnership with gBETA, the STARTedUP Foundation, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), the Indiana University Innovation & Commercialization Office (ICO), the Uplands LEAN Network, and the City of Bloomington.

The week kicks off on the morning of Tuesday, October 3, with the gBETA BragBox Breakfast, a breakfast buffet for startup founders, gBETA program alumni, and ecosystem friends. The Mill will also announce the winners of the Fuse Business Innovation awards, including Entrepreneur of the Year and Company of the Year.

At 5 pm on Tuesday, The Mill will relaunch Collide. “Pre-pandemic, Collide was one of our most popular monthly events, featuring a guest business speaker and lunch,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill. “We think Collide 2.0 is going to be even better.” The evening includes a startup pitch, networking opportunities, and a panel on innovation featuring John Fernandez, former Bloomington mayor and former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development; Kerry Thomson, mayoral candidate and current Executive Director of the IU Center for Rural Engagement; Julie Heath, the inaugural executive director for the new IU Innovates Hub; and Folia CEO Ravi Bhatt. Upland Brewing and sponsor Oliver Winery are providing beverages, Lehman said, and Chef’s Table Catering is sponsoring the event with heavy appetizers.

Wednesday, October 4, opens with an innovation workshop for high school students, led by the STARTedUP Foundation. Dozens of students have signed up to participate, East said, and the public is invited to support the students from the audience, either by offering feedback on their solutions or simply by cheering them on. The public portion of the event starts around 11 am, and lunch will be served (rsvp here).

In the afternoon, The Mill will host the finals of the Crossroads Pitch Competition on two stages. Eight startup founders will “pitch” their companies, Shark-Tank-style, to two panels of judges, in competition for $30,000 in investments from Flywheel Fund. The founders come from all across Indiana. “Our spotlight sponsor, the IEDC, provides so much support for Hoosier innovators,” East said. “We’re really excited they’ve agreed to serve on our judging panel alongside some other very distinguished guests.”

After the competition, attendees can stay for a short Angel Investing 101 panel to learn about the process of becoming an angel investor. The day closes with the Community Innovation Awards, where The Mill and event sponsor TechPoint will announce the winners of Bloomington’s Best Places to Work and the Fast 15 MVP Employees. The gala is closed to nominees and their guests. 

Thursday, October 5, starts with the IU Idea to Startup Pitch Competition from IU Research and the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office. IU faculty, students, and staff will pitch business ideas in competition for $30,000 in prizes. Later that day, the Uplands LEAN Network will hold a workshop on Innovation + Process Improvement for Remote Work, open to network members, LEAN practitioners, and anyone curious about LEAN methods and process improvement. In a closed session, 10 startup founders will give a speed version of their pitch to win $500 in cash from sponsor German American, who also is providing financial counseling to all participants.

At 4 pm, the anniversary festivities for The Mill begin. “First we’ll gather at the site of the future Tech Center,” Lehman said, “for a ceremonial groundbreaking. John Fernandez and others will share our progress and unveil the next steps.” Afterwards, guests will cross the street to celebrate The Mill’s fifth birthday with food, drink, and music. Jane Martin and Lynn Coyne, who were instrumental to founding The Mill, will make some remarks, along with others who have participated in The Mill’s programming. Ivy Tech, a key partner of The Mill in programs like Code/IT Academy, is sponsoring the celebration. RSVPs are appreciated, Lehman said.

Innovation Week closes with the City of Bloomington’s Innovation Celebration on Friday, October 6. The public is invited to drop in, learn more about the City’s innovation initiatives from the past year, and enjoy Hartzell’s ice cream.

“iWeek is possible with the support of many local businesses and organizations,” East noted. “We’re so grateful to our partners for cohosting events with us, and to local entrepreneurs at Chef’s Table Catering,  Rainbow Bakery, Gables Bagels, Parlor Doughnuts, Oliver Winery, Upland Brewing, and Raising Cane’s for sponsoring events with food and beverage during Innovation Week. We hope others will join us in supporting them, in turn, with our business throughout the year, and reaping the delicious rewards of our thriving community.”

View the full slate of iWeek events and RSVP on Eventbrite.

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

 

 

Indiana Entrepreneurs Vie for Investment, Exposure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 10, 2022

For more information, please contact: Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, 812.679.6140, andy@dimensionmill.org

Indiana Entrepreneurs Vie for Investment, Exposure

Applications open for Crossroads Fall Pitch Competition

Bloomington, Ind.—Today The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced that applications are open for Crossroads Fall 2023, one of the largest statewide pitch competitions for startups. 

Crossroads has two tracks of competition. Companies who have already launched a product compete for the seed prize, a $20,000 investment from Flywheel Fund. Startups who have not yet created a product compete for the pre-seed prize, a $10,000 investment. Both winners are also given the opportunity to pitch at an upcoming Elevate Ventures event for additional potential investment. All competing startups must be based in Indiana and have annual recurring revenue of under $250,000.

“One of the best things about Crossroads is that you don’t have to win to benefit from participating,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill. “All the competitors get exposure to dozens of investors and ecosystem leaders who are on the lookout for rising stars. Sidebar conversations, investments, talent recruitment, and more are all part of the Crossroads experience. And we’ve found that when we hold the finals in person, as we will this fall, the energy of the crowd really helps spark those connections.”

Lehman noted that in the past year alone, former Crossroads finalists and winners secured nearly $200,000 in additional investment at Elevate’s Nexus events. AI translation startup Traduality honed their pitch over several Crossroads competitions and was recently accepted to gener8tor’s prestigious Milwaukee Investment Accelerator Program, which comes with a $100,000 investment. Six former Crossroads competitors have been accepted into The Mill’s Startup Summer program, which pays collegiate entrepreneurs to develop their companies.

“Since we know that competing at Crossroads can lead to valuable connections and opportunities, it’s important to set founders up for success,” said Bram Boyd, Program Manager for Crossroads. “We’ve always posted tips on creating a great pitch deck and pitch video. This year we added detailed information about the eight criteria our judges use to evaluate presentations. Founders can use those tips and the judging rubric to make sure they’re putting their best foot forward.”

Crossroads is judged by independent panels of investors, entrepreneurs, and business experts from around the state. They rate pitches based on categories such as “market/customers”, “product/service,” “financials,” “scaleability, “risk and risk mitigation,” and a few other factors. For example, under “market/customers,” the rubric asks judges to evaluate how well the founder defines marketing and customers, demonstrates an understanding of market dynamics, and strategically positions the company.

The deadline to apply to the fall competition is August 30. Startups can also pre-register to receive reminders to submit a pitch deck and a 3-5 minute pitch video. Finals will be held on October 4 in person in Bloomington, during The Mill’s annual Innovation Week. 

The Mill launched the Crossroads Pitch Competition in 2017 as a regional event. Since then, it has grown to become one of Indiana’s biggest competitions, with two competitions a year, in spring and fall. The Crossroads family of events also includes a collegiate competition, an idea competition, and a white-label event platform to help other organizations and regions hold their own pitch competitions and grow Indiana’s innovation economy.

Learn more at https://www.crossroadspitch.com/.

About The Mill

The Mill (https://www.dimensionmill.org/) is the heart of southern Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its largest coworking space. Its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. 

About Crossroads Pitch Competition

Launched in 2017 as a regional event, Crossroads Pitch Competition is now one of Indiana’s biggest statewide pitch competitions. Startups from all over the state pitch to panels of dozens of judges with expertise in entrepreneurship, business, and investing. In 2021, The Mill launched Crossroads Collegiate for Hoosier students and the Crossroads Platform to support regional pitch competitions.

 

About Flywheel Fund

Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana, with special attention to startups based in Bloomington and southern Indiana and underrepresented founders. Flywheel Fund launched in 2020 and is managed by The Mill.

 

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Leaders Tapped to Guide Innovation District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 9, 2023

For more information, please contact:

John Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, john@dimensionmill.org or 202-420-8594

Pat East, Executive Director, pat@dimensionmill.org or 317-965-2155

Leaders Tapped to Guide Innovation District

New advisory board to shape Trades District into vibrant regional hub

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill today announced the formation of a new advisory board to provide guidance and counsel to The Mill’s Trades District development team. The board will advise on developing the real estate and related ecosystem infrastructure to establish the Trades District as a strategic hub for the Bloomington region’s innovation-fueled economic development initiatives.

“We’re very excited to bring together this panel of leaders to help realize the long-standing vision of the Trades District,” said John Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships at The Mill. “Collaboration across sectors is essential to building a vibrant innovation hub. We’re not just selling real estate. We’re building a dynamic entrepreneurial neighborhood that channels Bloomington’s unique spirit and attracts the young professional talent and innovation-driven companies that can drive our economy forward.”

The new board includes experts from real estate, business, academia, and government, with the majority representing private sector organizations. The board may eventually grow to 15 members, Fernandez said, but is launching with these initial members:

Sue Aguila, Founder/Owner, Bloomington Bagel Co.

Isak Asare, Consultant, Aleria Research Corp; Co-Director Cybersecurity & Global Policy Program, Hamilton Lugar School of Global & International Studies

Jay Baer, Owner, Convince & Convert; Founder, Tequila Jay Baer

Erik Coyne, Chancellor, Ivy Tech Bloomington

Hamid Farzad, Vice President, Global Business Development, BioProduct

Commercial, Catalent

Anne Fields Lucas, NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge Director

Jon-Paul Herron, Director of Network Services, Energy Sciences Network (ESnet)

Michael Huber, Vice President University Relations, Indiana University

Bryant Niehoff, CEO, Uplands Science & Technology Foundation

Development of the 12-acre Trades District has accelerated since Bloomington’s Redevelopment Commission (RDC) signed an innovation partnership agreement in January 2023, authorizing The Mill to manage its development and marketing.  The planned development of the much-anticipated tech center is on track for a fall ground breaking. The tech center, a new 22,000 square foot LEED certified office building, has received $5 million in funding from the City of Bloomington and $3.5 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The Mill also recently received a proposal for a $35 million boutique hotel in response to the initial Notice of Offering for the development of the district’s four parcels. Fernandez hopes to present that project to the RDC in the coming weeks, 

“As a cultural magnet located right at the heart of the sci-tech corridor that runs from Crane to Indianapolis, Bloomington is perfectly positioned to become a regional innovation hub,” Fernandez said. “If you’re a startup or a growth-stage company, you’ve got access to the talent and applied R&D coming out of IU, the incredible IP at Crane, a community of fellow founders, and the startup programming at The Mill—all in a city rich in arts, entertainment, sports, great food, fantastic outdoor recreation. I think we’ll find that even some mature companies will want to tap into that pipeline of talent and opportunity.”

Private development projects in the district are also moving forward. A collective of local businesses are redeveloping the former Kiln Building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, into tech and startup office space. Renovation is underway on the former Showers Administration building as well.

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.or

About the Trades District

The Trades District, a 12-acre portion of the Bloomington Certified Technology Park, is envisioned as a place of innovation, attraction, and job creation for the City of Bloomington. The Bloomington Certified Technology Park encompasses 65 acres of downtown and is adjacent to many cultural attractions, downtown restaurants, core neighborhoods and downtown housing. The B-Line Trail, the City’s multi-use urban trail, runs through the area further linking the Certified Technology Park to other areas of Bloomington’s historic, vibrant downtown and to parts beyond.

Collegiate CEOs Graduate From Entrepreneurship Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 26, 2023

For more information, please contact: Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org or 812-679-6140 

Collegiate CEOs Graduate From Entrepreneurship Program

Showcase and celebration to take place at The Mill on July 27 

Bloomington, Ind.— The Mill today announced that six collegiate business founders from across Indiana have successfully completed the 2023 Startup Summer program. On Thursday, July 27, The Mill will host a public showcase to celebrate the startups. Lunch will be provided by SmokeWorks, and the Elevate Southern Indiana Roadshow of entrepreneurial support organizations will be on hand to network with the audience as well. 

Startup Summer allows student founders to spend their summers working on their own businesses,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill. “They’re growing the next generation of Hoosier businesses, and this year’s group has already made remarkable progress. We’re really excited for the community to join us for a fun, inspiring celebration of their accomplishments.”

Doors open at 11 am in the Event Hall at The Mill (642 N Madison) for networking and lunch. Starting at 11:55, each founder will give a short, 5-minute pitch for their startup, followed by additional time to meet the founders and network. Six students will present five different companies ranging from software to musical curriculum to energy bars.

Brady Anderson’s company Prospect XR provides a reputation system for online community building. “Brady’s startup solves a problem many of us have experienced online,” Lehman explained. “How can you build dynamic communities and discussions that are trustworthy without requiring hours of human moderation?” Anderson’s software already has thousands of users.

Rod Baradaran says his platform rScan cuts down the time it takes to sell secondhand products online by over 80%. rScan was the winner of the Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition earlier this year and has produced over $400,000 in revenue. Baradaran sees his software as empowering the general public to more easily participate in a huge market and supplement their income.

IU graduate student Charlie Edmonds’ startup Pocket fills a longstanding content gap in beginning band and orchestra instruction. Pocket provides musical curriculum based on traditional Black gospel music, which is typically underrepresented in instruction, Edmonds says,  and highly engaging and relevant for students. She has assembled a test package for band directors and schools to gather customer feedback and is currently developing online materials.

Matthew Joseph and Roscoe Bell, passionate advocates for mental health, are building Noveltor, reflective and action-based software that therapists can share with their clients. Noveltor leverages technology to support the therapeutic process and help clients solve life problems, build emotional skills, and develop confidence. Joseph and Bell have been working on their concept for two years and recently won the special recognition prize and $5,000 at the ICO Pitch Competition.

Finally, GrandQvist, founded by Fabian Granqvist, provides athletes with energy bars made from plant-based, whole food ingredients. Founder Granqvist won first place at the Indiana Tech Innovation Challenge and has multiple partnerships and customers lined up. GrandQvist bars are available at the Fort Wayne Farmers’ Market as well.

This is the second cohort of students to graduate from Startup Summer, which officially launched in 2022. Participants are recruited from around the state to spend the summer in Bloomington, meeting with peers and mentors, and working with Mill staff to develop their businesses.

“We’re very grateful to the City of Bloomington for sponsoring this program,” Lehman said. “They recognize the importance of fueling the growth of new businesses to our future economy.” Participating companies also receive investment from Flywheel Fund, a member-managed micro-VC operated by The Mill.

Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill, noted that the public is welcome to attend to the showcase and lunch, which are sponsored by Elevate Ventures and SmokeWorks of Finney Hospitality Group. “Our sponsors for this event reflect the ultimate goals of this program,” East commented. “Nathan Finney is a great model of entrepreneurial success and community and business leadership for our students. Startup Summer is also an important opportunity to engage with the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We’re honored that the Elevate Southern Indiana Roadshow has included the Startup Summer Showcase on their itinerary, and we look forward to seeing these founders spark important new connections.”

To learn more and RSVP to Thursday’s showcase, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/startup-summer-showcase-tickets-678241156557 

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org /

 

Resale App, IVF Tech Company Win 2023 Spring Crossroads Pitch Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 30, 2023

For more information, please contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org, 812-679-6140

James Donahue, CEO and Founder, ReproHealth Technologies, jdonahue@reprohealthtech.com

Anna Dorris, Founder, Everewear, anna@everewear.com

Resale App, IVF Tech Company Win 2023 Spring Crossroads Pitch Competition

Everewear wins pre-seed, ReproHealth Technologies wins seed division

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, today announced the winners of the Spring 2023 Crossroads Pitch Competition. Indianapolis company Everewear won the pre-seed competition for its AI-powered platform for resale clothing. Indianapolis-based ReproHealth Technologies, the winner of the seed competition, uses biomedical engineering and embryology to improve in vitro fertilization (IVF). Everewear will receive a $10,000 investment from Flywheel Fund. ReproHealth Technologies will receive a $20,000 investment.

“I am absolutely thrilled and honored to accept the Crossroads pre-seed award,” said Everewear founder Anna Dorris. “The support from The Mill and Flywheel Fund for Indiana startups has been incredible to witness, and I am so glad to now be a part of the ecosystem. The cash prize allows for Everewear to further our pre-seed raise and gets us one step closer to moving sustainable fashion forward. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry, and we will not be able to reach circularity until we solve the discoverability problem that is inherent with secondhand clothes. I am very grateful to have Crossroads’ support in our mission.” 

Everewear addresses a core problem in the secondhand clothing market: each item has a quantity of one, and there are 200 million potentially unique items. Everewear’s B2B2C platform increases discoverability by using technologies uncommon in the market. API pulls inventory from other existing resale sites, and artificial intelligence matches users with items relevant to their style, size, and budget efficiently. Everewear has no listing fees, no inventory, and no fulfillment. It earns revenue by taking a percentage of each sale. CEO Dorris says her platform’s technology decreases customer shopping time by 60% and increases conversion by 25%.

In her winning pitch, Dorris noted that the resale market is expected to grow 16 times faster than the broader retail market, reaching 82 billion dollars in total addressable market by 2026. In college Dorris ran a paid pilot and currently has over 600 customers on a wait list. An IU grad with a degree in finance, Dorris has raised $45,000 to date and is currently raising pre-seed funds to build a custom website and API.

The pre-seed finals were judged by Doug Applegate, Associate Director of Incubator at Purdue Research Foundation; David Bolling, Executive Director of Launch Fishers and the Indiana IoT Lab; Erik Coyne, Chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington; Titi Obasanya, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Elevate Ventures; and Audrey Wessel, attorney at Gutwein Law.

Seed winner ReproHealth Technologies solves technical problems in in vitro fertilization (IVF) that have high human and business costs. Founded by a human fertility doctor and embryologist, a biomedical engineer, and a large animal reproductive veterinarian, ReproHealth creates devices to improve assisted reproductive technology in veterinary and human medicine and holds nonprovisional patents in the US and Brazil.

In cow IVF, founder and CEO Dr. James Donahue explained in his winning pitch, less than 25% of eggs produce a viable embryo. This inefficiency creates a loss of over $1.2 billion across the industry. In response, ReproHealth Technologies has created the world’s first bovine intravaginal embryo culture device, which Donahue says will change cattle production, a $66 billion industry.

“The team at ReproHealth Technologies is proud to have been selected as winners of the Crossroads competition,” said Donahue. “We are honored to be part of a diverse group of startup companies, all bringing novel innovation to the state of Indiana. We are especially happy that The Mill will be part of our company going forward with its investment.”

ReproHealth has also created a specialized embryo culture dish that improves human IVF. Donahue noted that while incubator technology has changed, culture media hasn’t, resulting in significant financial loss and emotional impact when IVF fails. Donahue estimates the total addressable market for his culture dish at $23 billion.  

The seed finals were judged by Amanda Findlay, Managing Director and Acceleration Lead at MatchBOX Coworking Studio; Jane Martin, Village Ventures, US VP, retired venture capitalist; Jacob Schpok, Partner, Elevate Ventures; Roger Shuman Director of Engagement at TechPoint; and Angie Stocklin, Lecturer of Entrepreneurship at Purdue University.

“We had a record number of applicants to Crossroads this spring,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, who noted that 55 startups from 17 different cities applied. “Almost 40% of those startups have BIPOC founders or at least one woman founder,” Lehman added. “This kind of diversity is exactly what our ecosystem needs to thrive. It’s an honor to support all the founders and connect them to opportunity.” 

The two winning startups also receive priority consideration to pitch at Elevate Ventures’ Nexus Regional Pitch Competition, where they could win an additional $20,000 or $80,000 investment.

Crossroads Pitch Competition is open to any Indiana-based startup with less than $250,000 in annual recurring revenue. A panel of over 50 entrepreneurs, investors, and business experts selected four finalists for each of the two tracks. The other pre-seed finalists were Bar Bands (out of Carmel, pitched by Andrew Dimond);  Dynamic House (Dyer, Eva Rivera); and Soloist (Bloomington, Parker Busick). The other seed finalists were Bilingual Bridges (Indianapolis, Kelly Minks); DiversiFind (Indianapolis, Lesley Crane); and Practical Products (Bloomington, Aaron Farrer).  

Visit https://www.crossroadspitch.com/ to learn more about the competition or to download the Spring 2023 Crossroads Lookbook of all startup competitors.

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

About Crossroads

Launched in 2017 as a regional event, Crossroads Pitch Competition is now one of Indiana’s biggest pitch competitions, attracting startups from all over the state. Crossroads takes place in spring and fall, with tracks for seed and pre-seed startups. The Crossroads brand also includes Crossroads Collegiate, for Hoosier students; the Crossroads Platform, white-label support for regional pitch competitions; and the Crossroads Idea Competition, for entrepreneurs exploring very early-stage business concepts.

The Mill Receives $1.37M Grant to Expand Code/IT Academy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 23, 2023

For more information, please contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org or 812-679-6140

Pat East, Executive Director, The Mill, pat@dimensionmill.org or 317-965-2155

The Mill Receives $1.37M Grant to Expand Code/IT Academy

READI to Fund Tech Training Program

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill today announced that it was awarded $1,370,325 from the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) to expand Code/IT Academy across 10 Indiana Uplands counties over the next three years. Code/IT Academy provides free training to grow Indiana’s tech talent pool and to help Hoosiers access higher-paying jobs in the digital economy. Code/IT is a partnership between The Mill, Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI), and Ivy Tech. The funds were awarded by the Indiana Uplands READI Steering Committee, ROI Board of Directors, and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).

“We are incredibly grateful to READI, ROI, and the IEDC for sharing our vision of Indiana as a leader in tech, and for funding the expansion of Code/IT Academy to reach more Hoosiers,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “The Uplands has enviable assets and opportunities for both tech companies and tech talent. Code/IT opens the door to those opportunities a little wider, to bring more folks into the new economy and its good-paying jobs.”

Code/IT’s ten weeks of free training prepares individuals for certifications and jobs in areas such as web development, IT administration, CompTIA Security+, and Amazon Web Services Cloud Practitioner. Ivy Tech instructors teach three sessions of Code/IT a year on a variety of in-demand topics. Participants join study groups and hone soft skills, and receive career coaching through the Ivy+ Career Link program.

“The expansion of Code/IT would not be possible without exceptional collaboration,” said Vice President of Talent Development Michi McClaine. “All of the partners in this program have worked together to re-imagine regionally relevant, high-tech opportunities that will open new doors not just for individuals in the Uplands but also for employers and communities.”

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill, said the program will expand to Washington and Crawford Counties in summer of 2023. In 2024, it will expand to Daviess, Dubois, and Orange counties. In 2025, it will reach Lawrence, Greene, Martin, Brown, and Owen Counties. Sessions will be live-streamed to satellite county locations with on-site facilitators. In person options will be available to those in close proximity to the Mill.

“One of the things we’ve learned is the importance of an in-person cohort,” Lehman said. “Folks going through this training really benefit from making connections with peers. Personal relationships and the group dynamic build camaraderie and a shared sense of excitement about the possibilities. And that support helps keep folks motivated and moving forward to complete the 10-week session, pass the certification exams, and take steps toward a new career.”

Among other expenses, READI funds will cover the costs of adding on-site facilitators at satellite locations, paying for certification exams, and ramping up career supports. The partnership with ROI is essential to expanding Code/IT Academy throughout the Uplands, Lehman said. The Mill is working closely with each county and ROI to identify convenient community locations.

Code/IT Academy held its first session in June of 2020 and is currently in its seventh. By April 2023, nearly 200 people will have gone through the program. East credited the critical role played by the City of Bloomington in the launch and refinement of the program. In 2020, the City of Bloomington invested $100,000 in Recover Forward funding in The Mill Code School, and in 2022 invested an additional $75,000 in federal ARPA funds in the rebranded Code/IT Academy.

“Three years ago, the City of Bloomington saw the urgency of expanding the digital economy to benefit more citizens,” said East. “Today, the READI expansion allows us to open the doors to opportunity even wider, to Hoosiers across the Uplands.”

“The READI grant builds on the City’s investment in Code/IT Academy,” said Mayor Hamilton. “I’m excited that the Uplands READI steering committee and the IEDC see the value of this program that helps residents chart brighter futures and employers hire needed talent. This program is a win for our community and now the Uplands region. Hats off to The Mill for their vision and leadership.”

Increasing digital equity has been an intentional goal of the program from its outset, according to Lehman. Of the spring 2023 Bloomington participants, 80% identify as belonging to a group underrepresented in tech, and 50% do not have a college degree. Across all sessions to date, over half identify as women, and over 30% identify as belonging to a minority group.

Residents of Monroe, Washington, and Crawford counties can sign up here to be notified when enrollment opens for new sessions. To enroll in the current session or learn more about Code/IT Academy, visit https://codeitacademy.org/ .

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org /

About Regional Opportunity Initiatives

Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to advance economic and community prosperity in the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands (Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen, and Washington counties). ROI is growing potential and possibility through a focus on advanced industry sectors, regionalism, transformative school and workforce redesign, and placemaking strategies. To learn more about ROI’s programs, visit https://regionalopportunityinc.org/.

About the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) in the Indiana Uplands

In May 2021, Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) launched the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI), a transformational initiative with $500 million in state appropriations to promote strategic investments to make Indiana a magnet for talent and economic growth.

Through READI, regions worked collaboratively to create visions for the future, with programs, initiatives, and projects critical to retaining talent and attracting the workforce of tomorrow. In the Uplands region, this effort, led by ROI and Radius Indiana, included participation from hundreds of stakeholders and organizations and leadership from a steering committee with 17 members representing regional anchor institutions and regional organizations.

Seventeen regions, including the Indiana Uplands, developed plans that outline strategies focused on improving the quality of place, quality of life, and quality of opportunity. The Indiana Uplands plan, entitled “A Region on the Rise,” can be accessed on the ROI website at: https://regionalopportunityinc.org/readi

To help regions achieve their goals, the IEDC awarded READI funds to accelerate the implementation of regional development plans and the programs and projects identified that will catalyze economic and population growth.  In December 2021, the Indiana Uplands was awarded $30 million in READI funds for our “Region on the Rise.” Regions are expected to provide a 4:1 match in support of projects and programs. This includes a required 1:1 match from local public funding and a recommended 3:1 match from private and philanthropic sources.

For more information and announcements on Indiana Uplands READI projects, please visit: https://regionalopportunityinc.org/readi-projects/

About Recover Forward

Recover Forward is a multi-year initiative to help the Bloomington community rebound and thrive coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, thus moving toward greater racial, economic, and climate justice.

More than $15 million has been approved to date by the City Council for critical investments. Recover Forward Bloomington includes $9 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and $6 million from City reserve funds. Learn more at bloomington.in.gov/recoverforward

Bloomington City Council Approves $3 Million for Tech Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 13, 2023

For more information, please contact:

John Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, john@dimensionmill.org or 202-420-8594

Pat East, Executive Director, The Mill, pat@dimensionmill.org or 317-965-2155

Andrew Krebbs, Communications Director, Office of the Mayor, andrew.krebbs@bloomington.in.gov or 812-349-3406

Bloomington City Council Approves $3 Million for Tech Center

Tech Center, Trades District to serve as regional innovation hub

Bloomington, Ind.—On Wednesday, April 12, the Bloomington City Council voted to appropriate $3 million towards funding construction of a new technology center in the Trades District. This allocation draws from the Bloomington Community Revitalization and Enhancement District (CRED) funds. Additional funding for the project comprises $3.5 million from the United States Economic Development Administration (US EDA) and nearly $2 million from the Bloomington Redevelopment Commission (RDC). Construction is expected to begin this fall and be complete by early 2025.

“This vote empowers us to move forward quickly on the construction of the Tech Center,” said John Fernandez, Senior Vice President of Innovation & Strategic Partnerships at The Mill. “It’s important to understand that we’re not just building office space with these funds. We’re catalyzing a shift in our economy. What we’re really building is a major innovation hub for our region, at the heart of the 84-mile corridor that runs from Crane to Indianapolis. Bloomington is perfectly positioned to become a vibrant center for the emerging tech-focused economy.”

The Council voted 8-0-1 in favor of funding, including one abstention. The tech center will be a 22,000 square-foot Class A office building located at the southwest corner of Maker Way and Madison Street, in the 12-acre Trades District, a portion of the Certified Technology Park. StudioAXIS led a design team of local stakeholders to create the architectural and construction plans. The plans are designed to meet minimum Silver LEED certification standards and include collaboration and office spaces and a public plaza.

“The City has long envisioned the Trades District as a place of innovation, business attraction, and job-creation,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “Our previous investments, including renovating The Mill, collaborating on the B-Line Heights affordable housing development, preparing the infrastructure, and building the Trades District Garage, laid the groundwork for the surge in private investment and development we’re now seeing. The success of The Mill, the renovations of the Kiln and the Showers Administration building, and now the creation of the Tech Center are forming a nexus of innovation. It’s an exciting time. And this transformation in the landscape mirrors the transformation in our economy that we’re working toward.”

Public-private partnerships with Indiana University and other partners along the 84-mile innovation corridor will be central to the success of that transformation, Fernandez noted.  Future developments around the Tech Center are expected to also build out entertainment and housing options that contribute to a dynamic community experience. “Innovators, founders, and talent are attracted to places that provide not just great startup and business resources, but also a quality of life and local culture that feed creativity,” he said. “And that’s where Bloomington shines.”

The total project cost is estimated at $8.5 million. City staff on behalf of the RDC  and the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) applied for and received the $3.5 million US EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant in 2021, with the RDC  committing a grant match of $2 million. Wednesday’s vote to allocate CRED funds filled a $3 million funding gap that arose from rising construction costs after the award of the grant. A feasibility study conducted by IU’s Public Policy Institute in 2020 estimated that the $8.5 million project will have a $218 million economic impact over ten years.

“We’re grateful to the City Council for understanding the importance of this project,” said Pat East, the Executive Director of The Mill. “The Tech Center doesn’t just benefit techies. Innovation-driven companies create a wide range of jobs and typically pay much higher wages, up to 38% more for a person with a bachelor’s degree. So, for example, someone who makes our average household income today of $54,096 would make $74,652 in a new economy job. That’s how we’re going to close the wage gap here in Bloomington, and that’s going to bring more money to feed our creative and cultural scene, too.”

In January 2023, the RDC signed an innovation partnership agreement (available here: https://bloomington.in.gov/news/2023/01/24/5473) authorizing The Mill to manage the development and marketing of the Trades District. Fernandez, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and the mayor of Bloomington from 1995-2003, was hired to lead the work in February.

 

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org

 

About the Trades District

The Trades District, a 12-acre portion of the Bloomington Certified Technology Park, is envisioned as a place of innovation, attraction, and job creation for the City of Bloomington. The Bloomington Certified Technology Park encompasses 65 acres of downtown and is adjacent to many cultural attractions, downtown restaurants, core neighborhoods and downtown housing. The B-Line Trail, the City’s multiuse urban trail, runs through the area further linking the Certified Technology Park to other areas of Bloomington’s historic, vibrant downtown and to parts beyond.

 

NSWC Crane to Release Patented Tech for Private Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 3, 2023

For more information, contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org, (812) 679-6140

Jeremy Brilliant, Dioltas, jbrilliant@dioltas.com, (317) 508-3928

NSWC Crane to Release Patented Tech for Private Development

PROPELS Program to showcase government Intellectual Property (IP), facilitate entrepreneurial commercialization

(Bloomington, IN) – The NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge and Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane), in collaboration with The Mill and Dioltas, today announced that registration is open for the second annual PRomising OPportunities for Engagement with the Local ecoSystem (PROPELS) tech transfer program. PROPELS assists entrepreneurs in licensing and commercializing technology developed by the Navy. 

Four patented innovations will be showcased at a tech expo on April 26th. Potential licensees will participate in an intensive week-long business accelerator to create commercialization plans and pitch deck, with support from The Mill and NSWC Crane. The program culminates in a public demonstration of those plans on June 20 and the opportunity to participate in the Radius Indiana Pitch Competition on June 27th. The Mill and Crane will then provide ongoing technical and administrative support to assist the participants launching new businesses and/or product lines.

“We introduced the concept of a technology transfer challenge last year with great success,” explained Maria Duran, director of NSWC Crane’s Office of Technology Transfer (T2). “This year, we want to expand the number of entrepreneurs involved and believe we’ll diversify the skillsets of participants based upon new technology available.”

“Connecting the entrepreneurial community with the Navy is one of the goals of NavalX,” said Anne Fields Lucas, director of the Midwest Tech Bridge, headquartered at NSWC Crane. “It’s our hope that events like PROPELS create synergies for future collaboration between the government and the tech community all with the intent of increasing our defense industrial base and supporting our warfighters.”

The government-invented technology that will be showcased includes IP for drone detection and tracking, a specialized tourniquet to treat hard-to-reach injuries, natural language processing (NLP) software to categorize large amounts of data, and a 3D-printing innovation for additive manufacturing.

NSWC Crane scientists will present the tech–what it is and how it’s being used by the Navy– during the Crane Tech Expo at The Mill on April 26. Entrepreneurs interested in licensing one of the feature technologies will then participate in the PROPELS accelerator, a week-long bootcamp to create a plan to launch a commercial product or platform. Ongoing support for the licensing process and business launch will be provided as well.

“Crane’s IP presents incredible opportunities for entrepreneurs,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “Some of these innovations are virtually plug-and-play. We’ve already seen firsthand how a founder can take Navy tech and quickly build a company around it.”

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill, commented, “The best part about PROPELS is that you don’t need to have experience working with the defense ecosystem to succeed. Crane, the NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge, Dioltas, The Mill, we’re all working together to bridge gaps and connect entrepreneurial talent to world-class IP.”

Assisting in the production of the accelerator is Dioltas, a national security-focused, disruptive technologies strategic advisory.

“Creating purposeful collisions between government and innovators is critical to advancing our national security capabilities,” said Mike Dodd, Dioltas Advisory Board Chairman. “This event and accelerator does just that and can potentially introduce new companies and individuals to the Midwest defense ecosystem.”

At the conclusion of the accelerator program, participants can license the technology from the Navy and launch new businesses or product lines. They’ll also be invited to pitch their ideas and compete for prizes at the Radius Indiana Crane IP Defense Innovation Pitch Competition.

RSVP here for the April 26 Tech Expo showcasing the IP up for licensing. A networking reception with complimentary hors d’oeuvre and drinks from Upland follows the presentations.

Learn more about PROPELS and register for the business accelerator here. The program is free.

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About NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge

The NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge encompasses a vibrant innovation ecosystem made up of academia, industry, partnership intermediaries, the government and Department of Defense laboratories that are closely aligned to Navy and Marine Corps interests. The Midwest Tech Bridge resides at the crossroads of not only Navy and Marine Corps mission sets, but also connects nearby Air Force and Army Research Laboratories. ARI serves as our Partnership Intermediary. 

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a Naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today’s Warfighter.

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its largest coworking space. The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

About Dioltas

Dioltas is a global firm dedicated to providing design, implementation processes of superior technologies and next-generation security solutions to governments, global corporations, and organizations. Dioltas advises public and private clients on all facets of business strategy, planning, development, management, marketing, directorship, and obtaining access to capital markets in exchange for equity stakes in the companies and/or management fees.

 

 

rScan, Software for Selling Returns Online, Wins 2023 Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 28, 2023

For more information, please contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org or 812-679-6140

Rod Baradaran, rod@rscan.com, 574-323-3773 

rScan, Software for Selling Returns Online, Wins 2023 Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s center for entrepreneurship, announced today that rScan won the 2023 Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition. Co-founders Rod Baradaran and Dmitri Brown took home a $2,500 investment from Flywheel Fund and access to their network of investors and mentors.

rScan’s app simplifies the process of selling returned merchandise online. One of three products purchased online is returned, CEO Baradaran explained in the winning pitch. Retailers accumulate pallets of returns and sell 75% of it for pennies on the dollars. rScan’s technology cuts the time to post an item for sale from 30 minutes to under two, thus making it easier for members of the general public with extra storage space to participate in the $800 billion resale market. CTO Brown explained that the technology behind the app scans the UPC code, then uses a reverse lookup algorithm to gather detailed product information, which can then be customized. The product also includes a custom returns ERP system and uses a neural network algorithm to generate price comparisons.

“The Crossroads Collegiate program was a wonderful experience that brought together driven college entrepreneurs with exciting new ideas,” said Baradaran, a graduate student in the MBA program at Indiana University. “Winning the pitch competition is a great achievement for us and it provides a validation of the hard work that we have put into developing rScan. We will be using the prize money to expand our user base and add great new features that will take our app to the next level of success!” 

Prior to founding rScan, Baradaran co-founded Midwest Bitcoin and grew that startup to over $1.5 million in revenue before being acquired. Brown, CTO of rScan, spent nine years working in natural gas trading and business development, building optimization algorithms for energy assets.

rScan’s other cofounders include Ryan Ryker, Julian Marquez, and Michael Altenburger. COO Ryker is a business administration graduate of Ivy Tech and active member of the Startup South Bend – Elkhart Pre-Accelerator who previously led operations for Gryphon, a national apparel supply company. Marquez, Chief Evangelist, mostly recently worked at Jayco, Inc., building traditional and guerrilla marketing campaigns. Altenburger, a Notre Dame graduate, was an Innovation Fellow at Enfocus in South Bend and now runs an internal corporate startup development program in the healthcare field at Anthem. 

rScan released their beta in 2023. The company plans to expand in 2024 to Indianapolis, the returns headquarters of the country. To date over 31,000 unique items have been scanned using rScan, representing $1.6 million in product value.

“Rod and Dmitry exemplify the startup spirit,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming for The Mill, which produces the Crossroads pitch competitions. “They’ve identified a unique opportunity in a growing market, and built great technology to make that opportunity accessible.”

Bram Boyd, Program Manager for Crossroads, noted that this year’s competition included 39 contestants representing Indiana University, Ivy Tech Bloomington, Ivy Tech South Bend, Notre Dame, Purdue University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Taylor University, and Wabash College. “Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition is open to any student currently enrolled at any Indiana university or college with a startup based in Indiana,” said Boyd. “And even though the competition is held here in Bloomington and run out of The Mill, we use panels of expert, outside judges, so it’s really anyone’s game.”

The finals were held live over Zoom and judged by Amanda Findlay (Managing Director, MatchBOX), Adam Gross (Executive Director, Career Coaching & Employer Connections at Ivy Tech), Kelli Jones (General Partner, Sixty8 Capital), Cerwin Rush (Senior Data Consultant, Onebridge), and Ty Tjoelker (gBETA Indiana Director, gener8tor). The five finalists were rScan (Rod Baradaran, IU Bloomington), Campus Closet (Emily Mooney, IU Bloomington), The Country Market (Filip Kubiki, Notre Dame), HiFive (Paul Gipkin, IU Bloomington), and JL Innovators (Lextin Willis, Taylor University).

The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. The Mill operates Flywheel Fund, a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana, with special attention to startups based in Bloomington and southern Indiana.

For more information on Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition, visit https://crossroadscollegiate.com/ For more information on the flagship Crossroads event, visit https://crossroadspitch.com/

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The Mill Hires John Fernandez to Develop Tech Center, Trades District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

February 14, 2023 

For more information, please contact:

Pat East, Executive Director, The Mill

pat@dimensionmill.org or 317-965-2155 

John Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, john@dimensionmill.org or 202-420-8594

 

The Mill Hires John Fernandez to Develop Tech Center, Trades District

Innovation cluster to fuel startup growth, catalyze regional economy

 Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill today announced that it has hired John Fernandez to lead the development and marketing of the Trades District. The former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Fernandez also served as mayor of Bloomington from 1995 to 2003. As senior vice president for innovation and strategic partnerships at The Mill, Fernandez’s first priority will be overseeing the construction and launch of the new Technology Center.

“John Fernandez has an exceptional, global track record in innovation-oriented economic development,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “It is truly a coup for Bloomington that he’s bringing his world-class experience home to catalyze our regional economy. His skills and connections, combined with The Mill’s successful entrepreneurial programming, are going to supercharge our work to grow cutting-edge startups, attract investment, and create new careers and opportunities.”

Fernandez most recently served as Global Chief Innovation Officer at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm. At Dentons, he cofounded and lead the $20 million Nextlaw business portfolio from the ground up, as well as Nextlaw Ventures, the world’s first venture development organization solely focused on the legal tech sector. Nextlaw Ventures completed its first successful exit in 2019.

As Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development in the Obama administration, Fernandez launched the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the US Economic Development Administration. There he led the execution of inter-agency regional economic strategies, and designed innovative investment competitions such as the Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge, the i6 Challenge, and the i6 Green Challenge.

“John’s expertise in forging multi-disciplinary, private/public partnerships is exactly what we need to capitalize on local assets to build this region into a thriving hub of innovation,” said East.

“We are thrilled that (three-time IU alum) John Fernandez has decided to serve in this role supporting Bloomington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Michael Huber, Indiana University vice president of university relations. “Since his time as mayor when he collaborated with the university to develop Bloomington’s Life Sciences Partnership, John has been a long-time partner to IU, and a strong advocate and innovator for economic development in Bloomington.”

As mayor of Bloomington from 1995 to 2003, Fernandez also launched the Bloomington Tech Partnership. His initiatives leveraged university and private sector assets to accelerate business growth, secure over $143 million in private investments, and create over 2,300 jobs.

 “In the Tech Center and the district as a whole, we have a golden opportunity to design an innovation cluster that is uniquely Bloomington,” Fernandez said. “Our ecosystem is in a sweet spot right now. Yes, we’ve got the resources startups need, but so do a lot of places. What sets us apart is that founders can actually access those resources here, whether it’s capital, IP, talent, or connections to peers and mentors. The Mill has already made rapid progress in building a thriving startup community. I’m thrilled to join this team and to lead the development of the Tech Center and the Trades District. We have exciting times ahead of us.”

The Mill, an award-winning nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, bills itself as “Bloomington’s home for innovators.” Over the past two years, Flywheel Fund, The Mill’s micro-investment fund, has invested $1.6 million in 29 Indiana-based startups. That seed funding has allowed those small, fast-growing, companies to attract $8.9 million in additional outside investment, according to The Mill.

In January 2023, the Bloomington’s Redevelopment Commission signed an innovation partnership agreement authorizing The Mill to manage the development and marketing of the Trades District, a 12-acre portion of the Bloomington Certified Technology Park. The Trades District Technology Center is funded in part by a $3.5 million Economic Development Administration CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant awarded in 2021. The EDA projects that the grant will create 530 jobs and generate $51 million in private investment in the region.

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org / 

About the Trades District

The Trades District, a 12-acre portion of the Bloomington Certified Technology Park, is envisioned as a place of innovation, attraction, and job creation for the City of Bloomington. The Bloomington Certified Technology Park encompasses 65 acres of downtown and is adjacent to many cultural attractions, downtown restaurants, core neighborhoods and downtown housing. The B-Line Trail, the City’s multi-use urban trail, runs through the area further linking the Certified Technology Park to other areas of Bloomington’s historic, vibrant downtown and to parts beyond.

Trades District and Tech Center Surge Forward

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 24, 2023

 

For more information, please contact:

Alex Crowley, Director, Economic & Sustainable Development crowleya@bloomington.in.gov or 812-349-3477

Pat East, Executive Director, The Mill pat@dimensionmill.org or 317-965-2155

Jennifer Pearl, President, Bloomington Economic Development Corporation jpearl@bloomingtonedc.com or 812-320-1003

Andrew Krebbs, Communications Director, Office of the Mayor andrew.krebbs@bloomington.in.gov or 812-349-3406

City and The Mill Sign Innovation Partnership Agreement; Trades District and Tech Center Surge Forward

Bloomington, Ind.—The City of Bloomington and The Mill today announced they have formalized a new partnership to expand Bloomington’s innovation economy, attract cutting-edge companies, and create high-paying jobs. According to the Innovation Partnership Agreement approved by the Redevelopment Commission (RDC) on January 23 (https://bton.in/nuuxS), The Mill will now manage the development and marketing of the Trades District, a 12-acre portion of the Bloomington Certified Technology Park.

The first priority will be establishing an executive director position for the Trades District and Tech Center, finalizing the vision for the Trades District Technology Center (https://bton.in/aI8lp), overseeing its construction, recruiting tenants, and building collaborations and furthering partnerships with the City, BEDC, Indiana University, and private sector leaders.

“Innovation-based startups and growth-stage companies are critical for building a dynamic economy that creates good jobs for our region,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “This partnership positions us to quickly move forward and build on the long-term work of many partners. Since opening in 2018, The Mill has transformed our tech sector economy. Their startup expertise, operational experience, ecosystem connections across the state, and programming resources align with what we need to develop the Tech Center and the Trades District into a thriving hub of innovation.”

The Mill, a nonprofit center for entrepreneurship and coworking, offers entrepreneurial community, training, mentoring, and capital. Since its launch in 2020, Flywheel Fund, The Mill’s micro-investment fund, has invested $1.6 million in 29 Indiana-based startups (flywheelfund.vc). That seed funding has allowed those small, fast-growing companies to attract $8.9 million in additional outside investment, according to The Mill. The Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit that tracks entrepreneurial growth, regards access to early-stage capital as critical to increasing business starts and creating jobs.

In 2022, Flywheel and The Mill helped propel Bloomington to #15 in the Midwest Startup City rankings, despite Bloomington being the smallest city in the top 20 and one of the smallest in the list as a whole. TechPoint, Indiana’s nonprofit industry group for the tech sector, named Bloomington Indiana’s Rising Tech City Award in 2021 and singled out The Mill as instrumental.

“To accomplish the economic development goals for our region, the Tech Center must become not merely a physical space but a hub of connectivity that sparks innovation and opportunity and attracts talent and investment. We’ve seen at The Mill how clustering tech companies in close proximity has a compounding effect on innovation. Multi-disciplinary, private/public partnerships will be essential in that network of connections,” said Pat East, Executive Director for The Mill. “The City and RDC have made a deep, visionary investment in the Trades District, and with the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) secured critical federal funding for the Tech Center, now is the time to take action and turn vision into reality.”

Construction on the Tech Center is expected to begin in the fall of 2023. In 2021, the Economic Development Administration awarded the RDC and the BEDC a $3.5 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant to build the Tech Center. Acting on behalf of the City, the RDC will match the federal investment with a $1.6 million pledge to the project. The EDA projects that the grant will create 530 jobs and generate $51 million in private investment in the region.

“We’re excited for this next stage of the Trades District and Tech Center development, which The Mill is very strongly positioned to carry forward,” said Jennifer Pearl, President of the BEDC. “It builds on our earlier work with the City and other partners to foster an innovative economy while redeveloping the Trades District for our community’s future.”

Since the designation of the 65-acre Certified Technology Park in 2005, of which the 12-acre Trades District is part, the site has seen the transformation of the historic Dimension Mill into a business incubator and co-work space. Infrastructure improvements in the form of new streets, walkways, and other environmentally friendly amenities, and a new 350-space parking structure (the first in Indiana to achieve Parksmart certification, a sustainability credential) have made the area a benefit to Bloomington and friendly to visitors utilizing various modes of transportation.

Recently, in December 2022, the Showers Administration Building at 601 N. Morton Street (https://bton.in/_QO1n) was sold to Eurton Qualified Opportunity Fund, LLC, who is performing a preliminary restoration of the building’s interior and intends to solicit potential technology and innovation tenants this year. In November 2022, the Showers Brothers Furniture Factory Kiln Building at 642 N Madison Street was sold to The Kiln Collective (https://bton.in/XP3Pb), who will renovate the structure and occupy it with their respective ventures.   

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. Learn more at dimensionmill.org

About the Trades District

The Trades District, a 12-acre portion of the Bloomington Certified Technology Park, is envisioned as a place of innovation, attraction, and job creation for the City of Bloomington. The Bloomington Certified Technology Park encompasses 65 acres of downtown and is adjacent to many cultural attractions, downtown restaurants, core neighborhoods, and downtown housing. The B-Line Trail (https://bton.in/wKq3F), the City’s multi-use urban trail, runs through the area, further linking the Certified Technology Park to other areas of Bloomington’s historic, vibrant downtown and to parts beyond. Learn more at bloomington.in.gov/trades.

About the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC)

The BEDC is a nonprofit dedicated to economic development strategy and the retention, development, and attraction of quality jobs across Monroe County, Indiana. It has close to 100 members representing the private, local government, nonprofit, and educational sectors. The BEDC is funded through memberships and grants from private industry, the City of Bloomington, the Town of Ellettsville, Monroe County, Indiana University, and Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington. Learn more at bloomingtonedc.com.

 

 

Jacobs Professor Wins Business Idea Competition for Innovative Cello Platform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 11, 2023

For more information, please contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org, or 812-679-6140

Jamie Tagg, Associate Professor of Music, Audio Engineering and Sound Production, IU Jacobs School of Music, jamtagg@indiana.edu

Jacobs Professor Wins Business Idea Competition for Innovative Cello Platform

Jamie Tagg takes home $2,500 investment for Celadore

Bloomington, Ind.— The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced today the winner of the Crossroads Idea Competition, held December 14, 2022. Jamie Tagg, Associate Professor of Music, Audio Engineering and Sound Production at the IU Jacobs School of Music, won for his business concept Celadore, an innovative performance riser for cellists soloing with orchestras. Celadore will receive a $2,500 investment from Flywheel Fund, The Mill’s venture capital fund for startup companies.

“I am so excited to have won the Crossroads Idea Pitch Competition,” Tagg said. “I want to highlight and thank the team at The Mill for their support through events and individual consultations, as well as the partnership they have forged with the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office, offering a wide variety of educational resources and events to IU faculty startups. There is no question that these resources have set me and my company up for success as we move from a simple prototype to a commercially viable product and company!”

Celadore is the world’s first acoustically optimized and modular cello podium. It harnesses the vibration of the cello’s endpin, focuses it into a resonant panel made of wood and carbon fiber, and makes the instrument louder and clearer for the audience and performer alike.

Cello podiums are essential in concert settings, Tagg explained, to promote visibility of the star performer. The problem is that each riser is different, and typically the endpin resonates it with it in ways that detrimental to sound or tone—the unique signature of the cellist. As a result, cellists are constantly forced to modify their performance to compensate.

Tagg first developed the concept in 2013 while working for a professional orchestra as a recording engineer. The orchestra had two events planned at a venue with no podium, so Tagg constructed one drawing on his knowledge of acoustics and carpentry. The prototype was such an improvement that both cellists performing with the orchestra asked if they could buy it.

“Celadore is a perfect example of how great business ideas are born,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill. “When someone like Jamie has expertise in a particular area, in this case musical sound and performance, they develop insights into that industry’s unique problems. And when you create a needed solution to one of those problems, that’s entrepreneurship. Great entrepreneurial ideas can come from folks working in any field, regardless of whether they have a business background. The key is creating a terrific solution to a pain point.”

Tagg has continued to modify the riser since then. Earlier in 2022, he participated in the IU Faculty Startup Accelerator, a collaboration between The Mill and IU’s Innovation and Commercialization Office to help IU faculty learn how to develop their promising entrepreneurial ideas.

Tagg will use the Crossroads Idea prize money, a $2,500 investment from Flywheel Fund, to take the Celadore prototype design to a manufacturable, cost-effective product. He plans to launch with direct to consumer sales to prestige musicians to build a reputation. Later, the company will use that experience to refine the product and eventually license the manufacturing to a company with established production and sales channels in the musical instrument and staging industries.

Crossroads Idea Competition was launched in 2020.  A panel of twelve entrepreneurs, investors, and business experts selected five finalists to pitch their ideas live over Zoom. The other finalists were Kristin Cummings, Andrew Riordan, Tyler Jones, and Jack Megnin. The Crossroads Idea Competition finals were judged by Samantha Ginther, Venture Associate at High Alpha; Adam Gross, Executive Director of Ivy+ Career Link at Ivy Tech; and Heath Murray, Partner at consulting firm Dioltas.

Visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/crossroads-idea-competition to learn more about the competition.

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

About Flywheel Fund

Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana. It’s administered and run by The Mill.

 

 

MedTech Devices Sweep 2022 Fall Crossroads Pitch Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 18, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org

Jessica Bussert, CEO, Wave Therapeutics, Jessica@bussert.com

Riley Ellingsen, Co-Founder, CEO, heARsight, riley@hearsight.net

MedTech Devices Sweep 2022 Fall Crossroads Pitch Competition

heARsight wins pre-seed, Wave Therapeutics wins seed competition

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, today announced the winners of the Fall 2022 Crossroads Pitch Competition. South Bend company heARsight won the pre-seed competition for its augmented reality smart-glasses that provide real-time subtitles during in-person conversations. Nashville-based Wave Therapeutics won the seed competition for its therapeutic devices and software that prevent bendsores and blood clots for mobility impaired patients. HeARsight will receive a $10,000 investment from Flywheel Fund. Wave Therapeutics will receive a $20,000 investment.

“We’re proud to have been selected as the winners of the Crossroads pre-seed track, amongst an impressive and diverse group of startups,” said heARsight co-founder and CEO Riley Ellingsen. “The feedback we received from each round of the competition was invaluable, and the cash award gets us closer to our target for unlocking our next product development milestone. This recognition inspires confidence in our team that our recent efforts have demonstrated sufficient validation and traction to move forward with our pre-seed raise. We’re excited to be one step closer to creating a more accessible world for people who are hard of hearing and/or d/Deaf and incredibly grateful for Crossroads’ support of this mission.”

The pre-seed finals were judged by Geoff Zentz, Senior Director of Innovation at AgriNovus Indiana, and two past Crossroads winners, Jennie Moser, CEO of Stagetime, and Ellie Symes, CEO of The Bee Corp.

HeARsight’s glasses use an embedded microphone and speech-to-text and AR technology to create real-time subtitles. Danny Fritz and Ellingsen founded heARsight while students in Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Engineering, Science, & Technology Entrepreneurship Excellences program. Fritz saw his girlfriend struggling with speech comprehension—exacerbated by the prevalence of masks during the pandemic—and was inspired to explore how assistive tech could improve her quality of life. Globally, WHO reports that 430 million people have hearing difficulties, and as populations age and unsafe listening practices rise, that number is expected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2050. Earlier in 2022, heARsight was a semifinalist in the McCloskey New Venture Competition and won the third annual Recognition for Innovative Startup Excellence (RISE) Award.

Seed winner Wave Therapeutics, a Techstars Future of Longevity company, has also been on a winning streak this year. CEO Jessica Bussert won the Women’s Fast Pitch Finals and was selected as the judges’ and audience favorite pitch at the Revolutionize 2022 conference in Boston. 

Wave’s product is the culmination of Bussert’s diverse background in programming, nursing, entrepreneurship, and business consulting. As a nurse, she saw the horrific wounds caused by bedsores firsthand. She then drew on her tech experience to design the first smart active cushioning product for wheelchairs to prevent pressure injuries and report data automatically to physicians.

Wave has already secured one patent and a contracted research agreement with the VHA, which has 85,000 wheelchair-bound clients. At an affordable reimbursement price of $450, Wave’s initial serviceable obtainable market is over $38 million, and CEO Bussert has a plan to expand beyond that to a nearly $2.5 billion US market.

“The Crossroads competition brings in great companies from across the state, and I’m honored to be selected as the winner,” said Bussert. “We’re working on a life-saving technology to prevent bedsores, and it’s gratifying to know that the judges understand and support the work we’re doing. We’ve been a part of The Mill for several years, and we appreciate the support we get there and from the Indiana business community. Americans are 50% more likely to die of a bedsore than in an automobile accident, so the fact is we’re working on a product that impacts almost every family at some point in their lifetime.”

The seed finals were judged by Julie Heath, Vice President of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems at the IEDC; Jillian Ivers, Senior Manager of Global Research at Cook Medical; and John Wechsler, CEO of Spokenote.

“We were thrilled to so many great startups and such diverse founders from across Indiana,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming. “We fully expect to see great things from the winners and finalists, and from many semifinalists as well. It’s especially gratifying to see our two winners using technology to create innovative products that have not just outstanding market potential, but also profound impact on human lives.”

The two winning startups also receive priority to pitch at Elevate Ventures’ Nexus Regional Pitch Competition, where they could win an additional $20,000 or $80,000 investment.

Crossroads Pitch Competition, now in its sixth year, is open to any Indiana-based startup with less than $250,000 in annual recurring revenue. A panel of over 50 entrepreneurs, investors, and business experts selected four finalists for each of the two tracks. The other pre-seed finalists were BeautyAround (out of South Bend, pitched by Ange Agasaro and Teayanna Leytham);  Dynamic House (Dyer,  Eva Rivera); and Soloist (Bloomington, Parker Busick). The other seed finalists were Juke (South Bend, Griffin Eaton); and Plantennas (Chesterton, Alexandra Moran); and  Quiptu (Bloomington, Joshua Roche).

Visit https://www.crossroadspitch.com/ to learn more about the competition or to download the Fall 2022 Crossroads Lookbook of all startup competitors.

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

 

About Crossroads

Launched in 2017 as a regional event, Crossroads Pitch Competition is now one of Indiana’s biggest pitch competitions, attracting startups from all over the state. Crossroads takes place in spring and fall, with tracks for seed and pre-seed startups. The Crossroads brand also includes Crossroads Collegiate, for Hoosier students; the Crossroads Platform, white-label support for regional pitch competitions; and the Crossroads Idea Competition, for entrepreneurs exploring very early-stage business concepts.

 

 

Program for Collegiate Entrepreneurs Expands Across Indiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 6, 2022

Contact: Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org 

Program for Collegiate Entrepreneurs Expands Across Indiana

Startup Summer 2023 Applications Open

Bloomington, Ind.—Today The Mill, a nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced a statewide expansion of Startup Summer, its program that pays collegiate entrepreneurs to spend 10 weeks building their own companies.

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill, described the program as “a chance to spend the summer interning for yourself.” “Instead of spending the summer making coffee and copies for another company,” he said, “these students can make progress building their own businesses. We tailor our support to whatever they need and introduce them to other founders, investors, and experts who can help.”

The 2022 pilot program exceeded The Mill’s expectations, according to Lehman. Six students worked on startups ranging from a materials sourcing app for commercial real estate developers, to a sewing device for ballet dancers, to a new social media platform using augmented reality, to an app for solo musicians to practice along with high-quality recordings.

“We were amazed at how far they took their startups over the course of the summer,” said Lehman. “These founders are already receiving investment, winning pitch competitions, signing up customers, launching beta platforms.”

Andrew McMaster, CEO of Finniva, said that before his participation in Startup Summer, “The idea of an ‘ecosystem’ was really squishy to me – it was hard to know what that really meant. But being here this summer and meeting with all those people so excited to help us as well as us getting an opportunity to give back, I truly get what it means to be a part of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

The 2023 program will run for 10 weeks, from May 17 through July 26, on site at The Mill in Bloomington. Applicants must be currently enrolled at any Indiana university or college. In addition, their companies need to have their product or solution built, or be almost ready to launch. Those who are accepted and complete the program will receive stipends ranging from $4,000 to $4,500. The Mill also provides a four-month, full-time membership to ensure founders have ongoing access to resources and community.

Individuals or teams may apply, Lehman said, and The Mill is hoping to see all corners of the state represented. “We’ve been contacting entrepreneurship programs and centers across the state, and the feedback has been very positive. This is a very special, intensive program for student entrepreneurs. It’s a rare opportunity to get paid to pursue your passion.”

Students must apply by November 4, 2022, to be considered for the 2023 summer program. A panel of experts in entrepreneurship, business, and investing will conduct a blind review of all applications.

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

 

 

Mill Offers Innovation Week of Free Events

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 3, 2022

Contact: Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org

Mill to Offer Week of Free Events

Innovation Week Takes Place October 11-15

Bloomington, Ind.— The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for coworking and entrepreneurship, today announced the dates for Innovation Week (iWeek) 2022, a slate of free events on technology and innovation.

“Every year we partner with ecosystem leaders to celebrate and support innovation for one jam-packed week in October,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “This year’s iWeek is a mix of celebration and hands-on practical sessions. For anyone interested in entrepreneurship or tech, this is a great way to explore, learn, and connect to the local startup community.”

The Mill will host events all week from TechPoint, gBETA, the Indiana Technology & Innovation Association (ITIA), the Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech, the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, Indiana University Innovation & Commercialization Office, NSWC Crane, and Purdue MEP.

The week kicks off on the morning of October 11 with a free financial modeling workshop from Ivy Tech that provides a great tool to make projecting business financials easier. At 11:30, Bloomington celebrates its fourth annual Ada Lovelace Day, a global event commemorating the first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace. The local celebration will feature a buffet lunch, panel of speakers (including a mystery guest from Palo Alto), and a new Ada Lovelace Innovation Awardee. The day closes with the Community Innovation Awards, where Bloomington’s Best Places to Work, Fast 15 MVP Employees, and Fuse Innovation winners will be announced.

Several iWeek sessions focus on how to attract and retain tech talent, which East described as a critical issue for local companies and Indiana’s economic growth. TechPoint, Indiana’s nonprofit industry organization supporting the tech ecosystem, will share their findings on state trends, average salaries, and best practices on Tuesday, October 11. Then on Friday, October 14, Purdue’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership will lead a hands-on workshop to build an employee attraction and retention action plan.

Small group and working sessions do require registration, East noted, and the Bloomington Chamber’s session on innovation is members-only. Several large public events are open for drop-ins. On Wednesday, October 12, ITIA, which advocates for technology in the public policy and political arenas, will lead a Tech Town Hall. Mayor Hamilton and other elected local officials will be on hand to discuss the future of tech in Bloomington. On Thursday, October 13, speakers from NSWC Crane, IN3, the NavalX Tech Bridge, NSTXL, and others will explain how non-traditional and small businesses can participate in the vibrant defense innovation ecosystem at the Defense Innovation Enablers panel discussion.

iWeek will also include two pitch competition finals, one for the Crossroads Pitch Competition (Weds., October 12, 1-3 pm) and one for the IU Idea to Startup Pitch Competition (Thurs., October 13, 9 am-noon).

“If you’re a fan of ‘Shark Tank,’ this is your chance to see the action in person,” East said. “Local companies will ‘pitch’ their innovative ideas to a panel of judges to compete for thousands of dollars in cash and investment. Watching the finals is a lot of fun and a great way to get a better sense of the scale of innovation happening in Indiana.” 

For those looking to connect with startup founders on a more personal level, East suggested the gBETA breakfast on Wednesday, October 12 as the best opportunity.

Registration is required for some, but not all events. See the full slate here, or explore and RSVP on Eventbrite.

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

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Applications Open for Free AWS Cloud Practitioner Course

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 7, 2022

Contact: Julie Sylvester, Program Manager, The Mill, julie@dimensionmill.org 

Applications Open for Free AWS Cloud Practitioner Course

Bloomington, Ind.— The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for coworking and entrepreneurship, today announced that applications are open for the fall session of Code/IT Academy, a free upskilling program. The fall session will prepare participants to take the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Practitioner exam.

“Code/IT is a great opportunity for anyone who’s looking to acquire in-demand skills and build a new career path,” said Julie Sylvester, Program Manager at The Mill. “AWS Cloud Practitioner certification is an industry-recognized credential that adds real value to a resume. This particular session is ideal for people who are laser-focused on passing the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam. You’ll study the critical skills, and if you meet attendance requirements, we’ll give you a voucher to take the exam.”

Applications are open now until October 2 for the AWS Cloud Practitioner course of Code/IT Academy. The course runs October 17 until December 14. Sessions are held in-person at The Mill on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30-7:30 pm. Participants should expect to spend 8-10 hours a week outside of class studying and completing exercises, according to Ivy Tech instructor Jason Endris.

The AWS Cloud Practitioner exam is considered moderately challenging for beginners. Before taking the course, participants should already have a basic understanding of IT services, such as networks, security, data storage, and their uses in an organization. There are no other eligibility restrictions, but enrollment is limited, said Sylvester, and preference is given to those without a college degree.

The course provides a detailed overview of cloud concepts, core services, security, architecture, pricing, and support. Participants gain an understanding of cloud computing concepts, independent of specific technical roles. They also receive career counseling and interviewing support from Ivy+ Career Link.

The Mill is able to offer Code/IT Academy for free thanks to a partnership with Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington and funding from the City of Bloomington and the Duke Energy Foundation, Sylvester said.

“Code/IT attracts a really diverse selection of participants,” Sylvester commented. “Some folks need training to advance in their current job, others are un- or underemployed and looking for better jobs. We’re always excited to see how Code/IT can ignite new possibilities for participants.

To learn more about Code/IT Academy, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/code-it-academy/

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

About Ivy Tech

Ivy Tech Community College serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering associate degree and short-term certificate programs, and trainings that align to the needs of the community. The College also offers courses and associate degree programs that seamlessly transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a Bachelor’s degree.

About the Duke Energy Foundation

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy’s customers live and work. The foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts, and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. More information about the foundation and its Powerful Communities program can be found at https://www.duke-energy.com/community/duke-energy-foundation.

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Nominations Open for Awards to Recognize MVP Employees and Tech Innovation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 12, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Gretchen Knapp, Head of Operations & Marketing, The Mill, gretchen@dimensionmill.org

Nominations Open for Awards to Recognize MVP Employees and Tech Innovation 

Bloomington, Ind. – Today The Mill announced that nominations are open for the Fast 15 MVP Employee Awards and the Fuse Business Innovation Awards. The awards are part of the annual Community Innovation Awards sponsored by The Mill and the Herald-Times. Winners will be announced at a live event and publicized in a special supplement to the Herald-Times in October.

“Every organization has key people that everyone knows are the go-to if you want to get something done,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill. “These are the folks who always seem to go above and beyond. When they’re on the team, you know you can do anything. The MVP Awards are a chance to celebrate these star performers and show that we appreciate them.”

Nominees must live in Monroe County but can work for any company, including those without a local location. Self-nominations are accepted. More information and links to nominate are available at: https://communityinnovationawards.com/fast-15-awards/

Fifteen MVP employees will be recognized at an evening gala at The Mill on October 11. The winners of two other programs will also be announced then: Best Places to Work Bloomington and the Fuse Business Innovation Awards. Nominations are closed for Best Places to Work, but there’s still time to nominate for Fuse, according to The Mill.

“We have a thriving local innovation ecosystem,” said Lehman. “Bloomington was recently ranked as the number 15 startup city in the Midwest, despite being much smaller than the other top-ranking cities. The Fuse Business Innovation awards recognize the leaders who are supporting and driving Bloomington’s growth as an innovation and tech hub.”

Fuse award categories include Entrepreneur of the Year, Mentor of the Year, Company of the Year, and others. More information and links to nominate are available at: https://communityinnovationawards.com/fuse-business-innovation-awards/

 Nominations for the Fast 15 MVP Awards and the Fuse Business Innovation Awards are open until September 16.

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About The Mill

The Mill (https://www.dimensionmill.org/) is southern Indiana’s largest coworking space. Its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

 

 

Crossroads to Crown Two Winners in Fall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 3, 2022

For more information, please contact: Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, 812.679.6140, andy@dimensionmill.org

Crossroads Pitch Will Crown Two Winners This Fall

Flywheel Fund to Invest $30,000 Total in Seed and Pre-Seed Startups 

Bloomington, Ind.—Today The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship and coworking, announced that applications are open for Crossroads Fall 2022, one of the largest statewide pitch competitions for startups. The fall event marks the debut of separate tracks for companies at the earliest, pre-seed stage of development and companies at the seed stage with a viable product.

“We’ve created two tracks to level the playing field for competitors,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill. “We’ve also simplified the application a bit and set up a pre-registration option so that founders can get reminders of the deadline. We’re really hoping to discover some exciting new startups from diverse founders across Indiana.” 

Two tracks will create two sets of finalists, Lehman explained. The seed winner will receive a $20,000 investment from Flywheel Fund, as well as priority consideration to pitch at Elevate Ventures’ regional Nexus Pitch Competition for the chance to win up to $80,000 more. The pre-seed winner will also receive priority consideration for Nexus, as well as a $10,000 investment from Flywheel Fund.

Contestants also gain connections and exposure to the statewide ecosystem. The judges for the fall competition include over 50 investors, entrepreneurs, and business experts from across the statewide ecosystem. In addition, Crossroads winners receive ongoing mentoring from Flywheel Fund’s network.

“Past participants have told us that Crossroads created important opportunities and connections for them, even when they didn’t win,” Lehman said. “We want to make sure we’re giving Hoosier innovators broad access to the Crossroads experience.”

Robert Henschel, Chief Technology Officer for WayZada, a two-time contestant at Crossroads, commented, “The Crossroads pitch competition has really motivated us to further refine our pitch deck and continue to work on the vision of our company. Every time we pitch, we get a question from the audience that we have never gotten, and this reveals a new aspect of our business.”

Spring 2022 finalist Paradise Spreads, headed up by CEO Emily Edwards, leveraged priority access to Nexus regional finals and won a $20,000 investment from Elevate Ventures. Paradise Spreads will be competing for further investment at the Nexus state finals on Friday. 

2019 Crossroads winner Ellie Symes, CEO of The Bee Corp, recalls, “Every company hits an inflection point where they transition from competing in competitions to competing for customers for big checks. Crossroads ended up being the last competition we needed to rocket our company into the competing for customers phase.”

To compete at Crossroads, startups must be based in Indiana and have annual recurring revenue of under $250,000. Applicants submit a pitch deck and a 3-5 minute pitch video. The application deadline for the fall event is September 2. Finals will be held live at The Mill in Bloomington on October 12.

The Mill launched Crossroads Pitch Competition in 2017 as a regional event. Since then, it has grown to become one of Indiana’s biggest competitions, with two competitions a year, in spring and fall. In 2021, The Mill added Crossroads Collegiate, a pitch competition exclusively for student founders. The Crossroads family of events also includes an idea competition and a white-label event platform to help other organizations and regions hold their own pitch competitions and grow Indiana’s innovation economy.

Startups can pre-register or apply to the Fall 2022 Crossroads Pitch Competition at https://www.crossroadspitch.com/.

 

About The Mill

The Mill (https://www.dimensionmill.org/) is southern Indiana’s largest coworking space. Its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

About Crossroads Pitch Competition

Launched in 2017 as a regional event, Crossroads Pitch Competition is now one of Indiana’s biggest statewide pitch competitions. Dozens of startups from all over the state pitch to a panel of over 50 judges with expertise in entrepreneurship, business, and investing. In 2021, The Mill launched Crossroads Collegiate for Hoosier students and the Crossroads Platform to support regional pitch competitions.

About Flywheel Fund

Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana, with special attention to startups based in Bloomington and southern Indiana and underrepresented founders. Flywheel Fund launched in 2020 and is managed by The Mill.

 

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Coding Program Receives $25,000 Grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Julie Sylvester, Program Manager, The Mill, julie@dimensionmill.org, 812-327-1566

Free Coding Program Receives $25,000 Grant From Duke Energy Foundation

Upskilling Program Accepting Applications Through June 17

Bloomington, IN—The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for coworking and entrepreneurship, today announced that Code/IT Academy, a free upskilling program that prepares residents for high-paying jobs in the digital economy, has received a $25,000 grant from Duke Energy Foundation. Applications are now open for the next session of the program, focused on web development skills.

“This program is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who has been thinking about making a career change,” said Julie Sylvester, Program Manager at The Mill. “Web developers are in high demand, and Code/IT Academy is a risk-free way to explore whether this is a good career fit. You don’t need any previous experience, and there is no cost except the time and energy you put into it.”

The Mill runs Code/IT to help build the talent pool to support Bloomington’s innovation economy, Sylvester noted. “It’s a win-win. Local residents need good jobs, and we need more skilled developers and coders here to fuel the growth of our local startups and attract tech companies.”

The summer session runs for 10 weeks starting July 11. Ivy Tech faculty lead classes at The Mill on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 5:45-7:15 pm, with about three hours of additional study required outside of class. Participants gain a basic understanding of essential web development skills and business practices and learn to build websites using HTML and CSS, following the principles of “mobile first” and responsive web design. The program also includes career counseling through Ivy Tech’s Career Coaching and Employer Connections and a part-time membership to The Mill, to ensure participants have access to high-speed WiFi, a quiet place to learn, and a supportive community.

“The Code/IT Academy addresses the IT talent deficit facing business owners in the area by training and connecting graduates to those businesses in need of these valuable skills,” said Bruce Calloway, Duke Energy government and community relations for Monroe County. “The Mill, in partnership with Ivy Tech Bloomington, continues to provide much-needed support to tech companies by assisting those looking to skill-up and enter the tech sector.”

Code/IT also receives support from the City of Bloomington, through ARPA funding. Funding from community partners and the support of Ivy Tech are essential to keep the program free for residents, said Sylvester. 

“Code/IT Academy is a tremendous asset to the regional community and our economy,” said Adam Gross, Executive Director of Career Coaching and Employer Connections at Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington. “Ivy Tech values our partnership with The Mill and Code/IT Academy as it seeks to support an additional talent pipeline into in demand IT careers for Hoosiers. We appreciate that the program is accessible to anyone interested in the training and provides valuable support for all participants.”

For more information, or to apply by June 17, visit: https://www.dimensionmill.org/code-it-academy/ 

# # #

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

About Ivy Tech

Ivy Tech Community College serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering associate degree and short-term certificate programs, and trainings that align to the needs of the community. The College also offers courses and associate degree programs that seamlessly transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a Bachelor’s degree.

About the Duke Energy Foundation

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy’s customers live and work. The foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts, and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. More information about the foundation and its Powerful Communities program can be found at https://www.duke-energy.com/community/duke-energy-foundation.

 

Finniva Wins 2022 Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 25, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org or 812-679-6140

Andrew McMaster, CEO, Finniva, andrew@finniva.com or 502-599-7560

Finniva Wins 2022 Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s center for entrepreneurship, announced today that Finniva won the 2022 Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition, sponsored by Velocities. Co-founder and CEO Andrew McMaster, a student at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University Bloomington, took home a $2,500 investment from Flywheel Fund and access to their network of investors and mentors.

Finniva is building a streamlined marketplace for large multi-family and commercial real estate developers to source materials directly from the supplier. Finniva helps developers efficiently locate the best materials for each project’s specs—keeping the work on time and on budget. McMaster founded the company with Kelley grad Michael Wayne, who is also CEO of Detroit Riverside Capital, a real estate investment firm with focus on constructing mixed-use communities.

The market opportunity is substantial. According to McMaster’s winning pitch, the US construction material market was $650 billion in 2021. Finniva has targeted Michigan for their initial launch, with a focus on doors: a $500 million market in itself. They’ve already begun working with developers at Counterpart to build the platform and are populating it with suppliers. Finniva expects to launch in January 2023.

“Crossroads Collegiate was a beautiful experience: ambitious student entrepreneurs coming together to explore their work with a group of passionate investors,” said McMaster. “Finniva, a real estate development material sourcing marketplace, is the startup I got the chance to share with the judges. We believe in rethinking how things are done and aim to revitalize the way developers source direct materials for good. I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve done and am ecstatic to dive into working with the Flywheel Fund!”

Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition was open to any student currently enrolled at any Indiana university or college with a startup based in Indiana. Each student submitted an executive summary, a pitch deck, and a 10-minute pitch video to the competition. A panel of seventeen judges of entrepreneurs, investors, and business experts selected four finalists from twenty-one semifinalists.

The four finalists were Finniva (Andrew McMaster, IU Bloomington), Freshen Up (Rahil Kumar, IU Bloomington), Lodos Theranostics (Scott Clark, Purdue University), and Platform (Patrick Startner, Notre Dame).

“Andrew McMasters and the team have done the customer validation and market analysis to set up Finniva for success,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming for The Mill. “It’s exciting to see the scale of ambition from these Hoosier collegiate founders and the breadth of their reach. This year’s finalists pitched innovations in real estate development, personal care services, cancer treatment, and theater. They wowed our judges, and I hope to see them again in The Mill’s other entrepreneurial programs and competitions.”

The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. The Mill runs Flywheel Fund, a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana, with special attention to startups based in Bloomington and southern Indiana. For more information on Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition, visit https://crossroadscollegiate.com/ For more information on the flagship Crossroads event, visit https://crossroadspitch.com/

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Flywheel Fund Participates in Folia’s $2 Million Seed Round

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 25, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Pat East, Executive Director, The Mill, pat@dimensionmill.org or 317.965.2155

Ravi Bhatt, CEO, Folia, ravi@folia.com

Flywheel Fund Participates in Folia’s $2 Million Seed Round 

Bloomington, Ind.—Flywheel Fund, a member-managed capital fund run by The Mill, today announced a $50,000 investment in Folia, as part of a $2 million seed round led by IU Ventures, with participation from the IU Angel Network and the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, as well as Elevate Ventures. Folia’s digital collaboration platform and tools improve organizational productivity and security while reducing economic and environmental costs. 

Brian Hatton, Venture Partner for Flywheel Fund, said, “Folia solves a long-standing organizational challenge that’s been exacerbated by the rise of remote work: how to build shared knowledge. Folia’s tools allow organizations to assemble and share valuable information from a wide range of sources, while also collecting team insights on that information in real time, in a secure, user-friendly interface. One result, of course, is you get this terrific content repository. But what you’re really building is a powerful, paperless workflow of research, analysis, dialogue, decision-making and continuous improvement. Folia’s already got significant traction in the market, and we think they’re well-positioned for expansion.”

Folia’s iAnnotate tool already has more than million users across sectors such as education, legal, and finance. Folia’s ability to track comments revisions across versions also attracts users in creative fields such as screenwriting and design.

Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill, the nonprofit center for entrepreneurship that runs Flywheel Fund, commented, “As an investment fund, we’re constantly conducting research and due diligence and making notes on what we discover to inform our decision making about where to invest. So we can immediately understand the need for Folia’s software and its market potential. We’re thrilled to invest in Folia, and even more thrilled to see Folia putting down roots in Bloomington and making plans to significantly expand their workforce here.”

Cofounder and CEO Ravi Bhatt recently moved from Chicago back to Bloomington, where he had earned a degree in cognitive science at Indiana University. Cofounder and COO Erik Coyne is a Bloomington native and retired U.S. Air Force colonel. Both Bhatt and Coyne are attorneys and experienced firsthand the need for better annotation tools in the legal industry. Additionally, Coyne’s experience in the Pentagon gave him a unique perspective, he said, on the many benefits—security, environmental, efficiency—of eliminating reliance on paper.

Bhatt said, “We’re excited to be working with Flywheel to expand our vision of a paperless work life and help companies collaborate more effectively in the modern office. It’s also fantastic to see the impact that Pat, Brian, and team are having in our local startup community. It’s no small feat to get a member-run seed fund off the ground. Harder still to grow the program year over year and become one of the strongest match-makers (for investors, founders, and tech enthusiasts) in the state.” 

Folia will use the investment funds to expand their marketing, sales, and development teams and engage more companies in the paperless movement.

About Flywheel Fund

Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana, with special attention to startups based in Bloomington and southern Indiana. 

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its largest coworking space. The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

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Indiana Student Startups Vie for Investment at Crossroads Collegiate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 4, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org or 812-679-6140

Indiana Student Startups Vie for Investment at Crossroads Collegiate

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s center for entrepreneurship, announced today that applications are open for the 2022 Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition. The competition showcases startup businesses founded by college students across the state of Indiana. The winner takes home a $2,500 investment from Flywheel Fund, the micro-investment fund run by The Mill, and access to its powerful network and mentoring support.

“Last year, we saw pitches from fifteen fantastic startups from eleven campuses around the state,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming for The Mill. “We’d love to see even broader representation of Indiana’s universities and colleges this year. Crossroads Collegiate is just the first step for these founders. You only have to look at 2021 winner Andre Harakas’s success to see how far a startup can go in a year.”

 Andre Harakas from Indiana Wesleyan University won the 2021 competition for his company ProBook Sports, which recently rebranded to All In Sports Team Hub. All In streamlines sports team management, providing a complete platform for player development. Coaches can track and foster athlete development while building team culture through an all-in-one app where they can post game videos, set goals for athlete nutrition, share chat and news in a team feed, and more. After winning Crossroads Collegiate, Harakas went on to close a $350,000 pre-seed funding round led by Jim Zarvos and Michigan-based Skypoint Ventures. Flywheel Fund participated with an investment of $50,000.

“Indiana’s collegiate entrepreneurs represent diverse corners of the state,” Lehman said. “South Bend, Indy, West Lafayette, Notre Dame, Richmond, Columbus, Evansville, and of course Bloomington are bubbling with entrepreneurial activity. Part of what makes this competition so exciting is the process of discovery, seeing what’s happening all across Indiana and meeting the next generation of innovators. It’s energizing and inspiring to see the future they’re building.”

Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition is open to any student currently enrolled at any Indiana university or college with a startup based in Indiana. To apply, submit an executive summary, a pitch deck, and a 10-minute pitch video at https://crossroadspitch.com/ by midnight on April 18. A panel of entrepreneurs, investors, and business experts will judge four finalists on May 20.

The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information on Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition, visit https://crossroadscollegiate.com/

Utiliz Wins 2022 Spring Crossroads Pitch Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 8, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org or 812-679-6140

Jackson Bolek, CEO, Utiliz, jackson@utiliz.app or 812-217-7786

 Utiliz Wins 2022 Spring Crossroads Pitch Competition

Software uses machine learning to predict pipe failures for water utilities

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s center for entrepreneurship, announced today that Evansville-based startup Utiliz won first place in the Spring 2022 Crossroads Pitch Competition, held Saturday, March 5, at The Mill. CEO Jackson Bolek and his team will receive $10,000 in cash and a package of startup and business services.

“We’re absolutely thrilled,” Bolek said of the win, “and our team is excited to be developing software that will change how utilities look at their infrastructure. Utilities of all sizes need access to cutting-edge tools at a price point they can afford, and we believe that we’re equipped to deliver those tools later this spring.”

Utiliz won by unanimous vote from the three finals judges: Alex Shortle, Partner at EO Advisors, the spotlight sponsor for the spring competition; Julie Heath, VP of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems at the IEDC; and Elise Young, Director of gBETA Bloomington-Columbus.

Utiliz solves a critical problem for water utilities: how to know which pipes are most likely to fail next. Many utilities don’t have data, or useable data, to predict breakage. As a result, they’re forced to guess which pipes should be replaced next. In his winning pitch, Bolek explained that the age of a pipe is a poor predictor for breakage, but is nonetheless often used by utilities without access to better data. This highly inaccurate system of risk assessment results in huge expense for the utility and its consumers: unnecessary replacement of sound pipes, and emergency response to failed pipes.

The subscription-based Utiliz app aggregates data from various sources, including from their partner Frontier Geospatial, to provide a user-friendly asset management dashboard that shows which pipes are most at risk—with 75% accuracy out of the box. As utilities collect and add their own data, accuracy rises to 87%. Directors can use the app to map out liabilities, plan for future replacement, and manipulate data to examine the impact of various scenarios.

Bolek, a data engineer, first began exploring the problem of how to predict pipe breakage as an 18-year-old undergraduate student doing research for a professor. Utiliz CTO Jon Kline is a software engineer, and their advisory team brings expertise in GIS and water utility operations.

Utiliz has enrolled three utilities in a private beta that begins in April and plans on releasing its MVP (minimum viable product) in May. As data security is essential, the MVP will be SOC 1 and SOC 2 compliant at launch.  

“I think we all understand the urgency of ensuring reliable access to water,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming. “Utiliz is creating a user-friendly, essential solution that benefits not just their customers, but also communities and citizens as a whole. Its human-centered design makes insights from complex scientific data understandable and actionable, on one of the biggest infrastructure challenges facing cities across the county.”

Bolek estimates the US water asset management market at $2.1 billion. Utiliz hopes to eventually expand to other structural assets such as gas and electrical lines, increasing the potential market size to $102 billion.

Crossroads Pitch Competition, now in its sixth year, is open to any Indiana-based startup with less than $250,000 in annual recurring revenue. A panel of over 30 entrepreneurs, investors, and business experts selected four finalists. The other three finalists were NanoBio Designs (CEO Ryan Skaar, Indianapolis),  Paradise Spreads (CEO Emily D. Edwards, Schererville), and WayZada (CEO Adam Ward, Bloomington).

“Crossroads is one milestone of many yet to come for these finalists,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming for The Mill. “They’ve made already remarkable progress in terms of patents, partnerships, product validation, sales, and other measures. It’s truly thrilling to see the range of innovation coming out of Indiana.”

Download the 2022 Crossroads Lookbook of startup competitors.

Launched in 2017 as a regional event, Crossroads Pitch Competition is now one of Indiana’s biggest pitch competitions, attracting startups from all over the state. In 2022, for the first time, The Mill will host two competitions, one in spring and one in fall. The Crossroads brand also includes Crossroads Collegiate, for Hoosier students; the Crossroads Platform, white-label support for regional pitch competitions; and the Crossroads Idea Competition, for entrepreneurs exploring very early stage business concepts.

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

 

 

NSWC Crane to Offer Navy Technology for Commercial Applications

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 2, 2022

CONTACTS:

Jeremy Brilliant, Managing Partner, Dioltas, jbrilliant@dioltas.com, (317) 508-3928

Jenna Dix, Technology Transfer Director, Office of Research & Technology Applications, Chief Technology Office, NSWC Crane, cran_T2@navy.mil

Pat East, Executive Director, The Mill, pat@dimensionmill.org, 317-965-2155

NSWC Crane to Offer Navy Technology for Commercial Applications 

Entrepreneurs to license government IP free of charge, through PROPELS Accelerator

Bloomington, IN.– Today the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (NSWC Crane), in collaboration with The Mill, Dioltas and the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF) announced the launch of the PROPELS Accelerator. PROPELS offers teams of academics, entrepreneurs and small businesses an exciting opportunity to commercialize patented government technology.

“Scientists at NSWC Crane have invented some amazing technology, and while it’s great for the Navy, we believe that there are other use opportunities that can be explored,” explained Jenna Dix, Director of Technology Transfer at NSWC Crane. “We’re excited to see what kind of commercial applications can come from government-created tech.”

The new program will kick off with a Tech Expo at the Mill on April 14. NSWC Crane scientists will present the tech–what it is and how it’s being used by the Navy. Some examples of government-invented technology that will be showcased include: long-range heat detection, machine learning for “cleaning” data, assistive devices for low-light emergency response, and drone tracking technology.

Participants will then select one of the showcased technologies and develop a commercialization plan for a new product or platform during the six-week PROPELS Accelerator program that runs from May 4 through June 17.

“The Mill’s mission is to launch and accelerate startups,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill, “and the technology at Crane provides an exceptional opportunity for entrepreneurs. PROPELS bridges the gap between cutting-edge innovators in the public and private sectors.”

Supporting the accelerator program are Dioltas, a defense-disruptive technologies strategic advisory, and the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, a non-profit organization that promotes innovation in the national security community.

“This is exactly the type of event that will help introduce the Navy and its tremendous research and development capabilities to entrepreneurs looking for great new technologies,” said Mike Dodd, Dioltas Advisory Board Chairman. “We applaud NSWC Crane for their proactive approach to connecting with the business community.”

“At DEF we strive to break down barriers that often keep the government closed off from commercial entities,” said Heath Murray, Bloomington DEF Agora Lead. “PROPELS is the kind of event that not only breaks down those barriers, but also plants the seed for many future connections between entrepreneurs and the Navy.”

At the conclusion of the event, participants will be invited to pitch their ideas and compete for prizes at the Radius Indiana Crane IP Defense Innovation competition.

Learn more here about the PROPELS Accelerator. The deadline to apply to participate is April 22.

Register here for a March 28 virtual informational session.

Register here for the April 14 in-person Tech Expo at The Mill.

All events are free, and complimentary hors d’oeuvre and drinks will be provided at the Tech Expo.

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 About NSWC Crane:

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today’s Warfighter.

 About The Mill:

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its largest coworking space. The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

 About Dioltas:

Dioltas is a global firm dedicated to providing design, implementation processes of superior technologies and next-generation security solutions to governments, global corporations, and organizations. Dioltas advises public and private clients on all facets of business strategy, planning, development, management, marketing, directorship, and obtaining access to capital markets in exchange for equity stakes in the companies and/or management fees.

 About DEF:

The Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF) exists to inspire, connect and empower people committed to US national security through convening events, forging partnerships and delivery of tangible solutions. DEF does this in order to promote and enable a culture of innovation in the US national security community. DEF is an independent, 501(c)(3) registered, non-profit.

ReBoot Program to Help Veterans Become Entrepreneurs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 23, 2022

Contact: Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, andy@dimensionmill.org, 812-679-6140

ReBoot Program to Help Veterans Become Entrepreneurs

Applications are open now for spring session

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship and coworking, today announced that applications are open for the spring 2022 session of ReBoot. ReBoot is a six-week program to help people turn business ideas into business plans. The spring session is offered exclusively to all current and former military members.   

“We started the ReBoot program last year to help more people reap the rewards of entrepreneurship,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming for The Mill. “The discipline and grit developed through military experience lay a great foundation for starting a business. We’d like to help veterans design that next adventure.”

No previous business experience is required to participate, Lehman added. Participants meet once a week for six weeks to learn how to focus their business ideas, get customer validation, and present their business to potential investors. They’ll have access to mentors, successful entrepreneurs, and a slate of expert speakers. Participation is limited to a small group to increase the effectiveness of instruction and to encourage peer connections.

At the end of the program, participants present their business plans at a live showcase, and the winner takes home a little seed money for their business. All participants receive free part-time memberships to The Mill to connect to other founders and to access member perks to help grow their businesses.

“ReBoot is for folks at all stages of the entrepreneurial journey,” Lehman said. “We tailor the experience depending on whether you’re exploring a brand-new idea or growing a fledgling business.”

The ReBoot program, billed as “inclusive entrepreneurial development,” launched in 2021. The pilot session offered entrepreneurial training and support to the formerly incarcerated. To design the 2022 sessions, The Mill worked with the 180° Consulting, a group out of the Kelley Institute for Social Impact at Indiana University, to identify other populations who might benefit from small-group training. The spring 2022 session for veterans kicks off on March 28. In the summer The Mill will offer another ReBoot session for the formerly incarcerated. In late fall or winter, they’ll offer a new session tailored to women who are returning to the workforce or who have been impacted by the pandemic.

ReBoot is supported through ARPA funds from the City of Bloomington. The deadline to apply to the spring 2022 session is March 20, and the program kicks off on March 28. Visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/reboot/ to learn more, apply, and subscribe to updates on future sessions.

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

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Flywheel Fund Participates in Qualifi’s $2.5m Series Seed Round

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 21, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Pat East, Executive Director, The Mill, pat@dimensionmill.org or 317.965.2155

Flywheel Fund Participates in Qualifi’s $2.5m Series Seed Round 

Bloomington, Ind.—Flywheel Fund, a member-managed capital fund run by The Mill, today announced a $50,000 follow-on investment in Qualifi, as part of a $2.5 million seed round led by Rally Ventures. Qualifi’s on-demand screening platform allows recruiting teams to phone interview hundreds of candidates in minutes.

Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill, a nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, said, “I first became aware of Qualifi in 2019, when Darrien Mikell competed at Crossroads Pitch Competition. Darrian recognized then that phone interviews were the biggest bottleneck in the hiring process, particularly for high-volume recruiting efforts. And now, post-pandemic, with the global surge in hiring, Qualifi’s solution is needed more urgently than ever.”

Qualifi’s audio-based platform enables recruiters to phone screen multiple candidates simultaneously, resulting in faster time-to-hire (up to 8 days faster) with a more convenient, accessible, and unbiased hiring experience. Candidates respond to pre-recorded questions over a standard phone call, and because there’s no need for scheduling or phone tag, recruiters can vet seven times more candidates per day on average. The platform captures rich, actionable data so that recruiters can make the best hiring decisions without bias and scale their efforts with integrations to more than 30 of the top Applicant Tracking Systems.

Other investors this round included Techstars, Sixty8 Capital, Elevate Ventures, Debut Capital, Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator, Converge, Service Provider Capital, and multiple strategic angels. The Mill had previously invested $25,000 in Qualifi in February 2021. Brian Hatton, Venture Partner for Flywheel Fund, commented, “We’re particularly proud to invest in HR tech that not only solves a logistical problem in interviewing, but simultaneously reduces bias in hiring, enabling companies to quickly build highly qualified, diverse teams.”

Qualifi Co-Founder and CEO Mikell said, “Flywheel Fund is one of the most founder-friendly funds you can ask for. Not only is Pat East an excellent advisor, but the members of the fund are experienced in a variety of industries, and they are engaged in their companies. One of the happiest surprises I’ve had is how quickly they make funding decisions. They recognize that fundraising is a huge time commitment, so they don’t bog founders time down with long processes.”

Qualifi will use the financing to advance its product with additional AI, ML and Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities and expand go-to-market efforts with marketing and sales to support its rapid growth. Qualifi is an alumnus of Techstars Anywhere ’21.

About Flywheel Fund

Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana, with special attention to startups based in Bloomington and southern Indiana. Flywheel reserves a minimum of 13% of its funds for Black founding teams. Flywheel Fund launched in 2020 and is managed by The Mill.

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its largest coworking space. The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

About Qualifi

Qualifi is a platform that sends, shares, and tracks audio-based, on-demand asynchronous phone interviews for recruiters. This speeds up the hiring process, mitigates bias, and maintains a human touch while allowing recruiters to interview hundreds of candidates in minutes. With Qualifi, recruiters go from struggling to fill roles to becoming a talent engine.

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The Bee Corp Receives $50,000 Investment from Flywheel Fund

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 15, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Pat East, Executive Director, The Mill, pat@dimensionmill.org or 317.965.2155

Wyatt Wells, Co-founder & CMO, The Bee Corp, wyatt.wells@thebeecorp.com

The Bee Corp Receives $50,000 Investment from Flywheel Fund

Bloomington, Ind.—Flywheel Fund, a member-managed capital fund run by The Mill, today announced a $50,000 investment in The Bee Corp, as part of a $1 million round led by IU Ventures. The Bee Corp’s agritech solution Verifli uses infrared (IR) imagery to measure the strength and pollination value of a honeybee colony without opening the hive.

Ellie Symes and Wyatt Wells launched the Bee Corp in 2016, while they were still students at Indiana University, where they founded the Beekeeping Club. A benefit corporation, the Bee Corp has gone on to raise over $3 million in funding. In January 2022, Symes and Wells were names to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for enterprise technology.

Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill, said, “The Bee Corp has always been a winning team. I’m personally a three-time investor and proud the Flywheel Fund has the opportunity to support their innovative hive health technology. Ellie Symes is one of Indiana’s best young CEOs — resourceful, pragmatic and well-connected. Her drive to overcome obstacles that would defeat others will continue to serve The Bee Corp well as they scale their tech to break into new markets.”

Beekeepers use Verifli to reduce labor costs associated with sorting hives before pollination and prove the value of their bees when negotiating pricing. Users gain access to tools and information to improve pollination management on the Verifli dashboard, including an interactive hive mapping tool and a customizable report builder.

“The Bee Corp is thankful for the opportunities that the Flywheel Fund has provided through their investment,” said The Bee Corp CEO, Ellie Symes. “We have had the ability to develop fast, accurate, non-invasive hive strength technology that will continue to provide growers with more data to improve their fields and support them through continuous technology advancements.”

According to COO Wells, the funding will go to hiring key roles and scaling the technology to new, underserved markets. The Bee Corp has a strong customer base in the California almond industry, but many other staple crops rely on bees for pollination, including berries, apples, and avocados. “This new investment round will provide the resources to maintain our momentum and capitalize on the mounting interest for fast, accurate, non-invasive hive strength assessments,” Wells said.

About Flywheel Fund

Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana, with special attention to startups based in Bloomington and southern Indiana. Flywheel Fund launched in 2020 and is managed by The Mill.

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its largest coworking space. The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

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Free Training for Cybersecurity Jobs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 2, 2022

Contact: Melissa Ward, Head of Initiatives and Partnerships, The Mill, melissa@dimensionmill.org

 

Free Training for Cybersecurity Jobs

Code/IT Academy opens applications for spring 2022

Bloomington, Ind.—The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship and coworking, announced the launch of a new session of Code/IT Academy. A partnership between The Mill, Ivy Tech Community College, and the City of Bloomington, Code/IT is a free 10-week upskilling program for locals seeking to transition to higher-paying jobs in the digital economy. The spring 2022 session prepares students to take the CompTIA Security+ certification exam, which is a springboard to intermediate-level cybersecurity jobs. 

“For this cohort, you do need to have a basic understanding of computer systems and network infrastructure in order to participate,” Melissa Ward, Head of Initiatives and Partnerships for The Mill. “But that’s the only prerequisite. We’ll provide access to laptops to those who need them, and a voucher to cover the exam costs.”

The spring 2022 session launches in early March and runs for 10 weeks. Classes are held twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30-7:00 pm. Participants should also expect to spend about 3 hours a week outside of class, according to Ward. Code/IT Academy will be held in person, on site at The Mill, with full COVID safety precautions.

“We’ve found that in-person instruction with peers produces deeper engagement,” said Ward. “The ultimate purpose of this program is to help participants improve their career options, and for that, we need to do all we can to be sure they emerge skilled, confident, and ready.”

The program also includes career counseling through Ivy Tech’s Career Coaching and Employer Connections, mock interviews, and job placement support. Participants receive a part-time membership to The Mill to ensure they have access to high-speed WiFi, a quiet place to learn, and a supportive community.

Code/IT Academy is funded in part through a generous grant from the City of Bloomington. Priority is given to applicants without a college degree.

The deadline to apply for the CompTIA Security+ cohort is February 25. Learn more and apply here. Employers interested in supporting Code/IT Academy graduates with mock interviews or job placement should contact Melissa Ward.

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

About Ivy Tech

Ivy Tech Community College serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering associate degree and short-term certificate programs, and trainings that align to the needs of the community. The College also offers courses and associate degree programs that seamlessly transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a Bachelor’s degree.

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Remote Workers Fleeing Big Cities Get “Instant Raise”

 January 25, 2022

Contact: Pat East, 317.965.2155 pat@dimensionmill.org

Remote Workers Fleeing Big Cities Get “Instant Raise”

Lower Cost of Living, Higher Quality of Life Fuel Exodus

Bloomington, Ind.—Last fall, Taylor R., a senior designer for the Washington Post, and her husband, a contractor for National Geographic, packed up their bags and their cat and drove from Washington D.C. to their new home in Bloomington, Indiana. Taylor was one of 14 people accepted to Bloomington Remote, a remote worker recruitment program from The Mill, a nonprofit center for entrepreneurship and coworking.

See why remote workers are leaving traditional tech hubs: https://www.bloomingtonremote.com/

“When we started this program, we got a few raised eyebrows,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “We don’t offer a cash incentive, and most remote worker programs are run through municipalities. But we’ve found that remote workers are hungry for creative and human connection. Our startup and cowork community makes it easier for transplants to feel at home.”

For Taylor and her husband, cost of living was a significant motivator. “Moving here was like getting an instant raise,” she told The Mill. 

Program participants receive three years of free coworking at The Mill, an iconic historic space. Applicants must live outside of Indiana, have full-time remote employment, and move within the year.

“Bloomington Remote is bringing diverse, tech-skilled, creative people into our community,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “We look forward to welcoming this year’s cohort of new Bloomingtonians.”

Indiana is emerging as a competitive state for tech talent, and in 2021, Bloomington was named Indiana’s Rising Tech City. The city also received a $3.5-million federal grant to build a new technology center to support Bloomington’s burgeoning startup ecosystem.

Tech community is attractive to Bloomington Remote participants Blake R., a cybersecurity engineer, and Pablo F., founder of a data science company. Others appreciate the arts scene and outdoor life. UX writer Lauren S. knew Bloomington by its improv comedy reputation, but had never visited. Neither had software engineer and rock climber Ritchel C. Fashion historian and YouTube influencer Abby C. remembered Bloomington fondly from college. Native Hoosiers Luke and Andi wanted to be closer to family after years in a tiny Bay Area apartment.

“The pandemic is driving remote workers to seek a fresh start and higher quality of life,” East remarked. “Bloomington offers cultural richness without big-city hassle or costs.”

Bloomington is home to Indiana University, with top-rated music, business, environmental policy, and informatics schools. A Democratic stronghold, Bloomington is known within Indiana for its progressive culture, college basketball, outdoor recreation, and 60-block entertainment and arts district.

Bloomington Remote provides relocation support through Century 21 Scheetz, concierge onboarding, networking events, banking discounts, and other benefits, with financial support from the City of Bloomington.

See details on eligibility and application at BloomingtonRemote.com.

About The Mill

The Mill (https://www.dimensionmill.org/) is southern Indiana’s largest coworking space. Its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups. Its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

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Crossroads Pitch Competition Announces New Spring Event

 January 3, 2022

Contact: Andy Lehman, 812.679.6140, andy@dimensionmill.org

Crossroads Pitch Competition Announces New Spring Event

Indiana-Based Startups to Compete for Cash, Connections 

Bloomington, Ind.—Today The Mill, a nonprofit center for entrepreneurship and coworking, announced the launch of a second date for Crossroads Pitch Competition, its statewide competition for Indiana-based startups. Now in its fifth year, the flagship Crossroads event occurs in fall. Applications are open for the new spring event, with finals scheduled to take place in March.

See how Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is gaining momentum at https://www.crossroadspitch.com/

“Indiana’s startup scene is hot right now,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill, “and fast access to capital is essential to startup growth. Founders can’t afford to wait a whole year for the next Crossroads. We’re adding a spring event to expand the window of opportunity and grow Indiana’s innovation economy.”

The winner of Crossroads receives a prize package of cash and in-kind services valued at over $10,000, as well as priority consideration to pitch at Elevate Ventures’ prestigious Nexus Pitch Competition for the chance to win up to $80,000 more. Competitors also connect to the state’s startup ecosystem leaders by gaining exposure to Crossroads judges, a panel of over 30 representatives from state and regional investors, entrepreneurs, and business experts.

Entrepreneurs report that Crossroads has significantly impacted their business growth. Stuart Lowry, co-founder of ArcticRX, the fall 2021 winner, described winning Crossroads as “a dramatic milestone” that put his startup “at a crossroads to the world.” ArcticRx’s reusable, low-cost shipping pod keeps vaccines at ultra-low temperatures up to five times longer than current methods, thus solving a critical problem in transporting vaccines to remote and rural areas.

Jennie Moser, CEO of Stagetime, a networking platform for the performing arts, won Crossroads in 2020. “The non-dilutive prize money allowed me to move to Stagetime full-time before I had originally planned,” she commented, “and even more importantly, to seize the opportunity to bring one of my most valuable contractors on full-time.” In 2021, Stagetime went on to close a $1.55 million seed round.

Ellie Symes, the first winner of Crossroads in 2017 (then known as inX3), was recently named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for enterprise technology. Symes is CEO of The Bee Corp, an agri-tech company that uses infrared imagery to measure the strength and pollination value of honeybee colonies.

To compete at Crossroads, startups must be based in Indiana and have annual recurring revenue of under $250,000. Applicants submit an executive summary, a pitch deck, and a 3-5 minute pitch video. The application deadline is January 31.

The Mill launched Crossroads Pitch Competition in 2017 as a regional event. Since then, it has grown to become one of Indiana’s biggest statewide competitions, each fall attracting competitors from all over Indiana. In 2021, The Mill added a collegiate division exclusively for student founders. The Crossroads family of events also includes an idea competition and a white-label event platform to help other organizations and regions in Indiana hold their own pitch competitions and grow Indiana’s innovation economy.

See details on eligibility, prizes, and application to the spring 2022 Crossroads Pitch Competition at https://www.crossroadspitch.com/.

About The Mill

The Mill (https://www.dimensionmill.org/) is southern Indiana’s largest coworking space. Its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

Flywheel Fund Invests in Invoke Learning

December 20, 2021

Contact: Pat East, Executive Director, The Mill, 371.965.2155, pat@dimensionmill.org

Invoke Learning, media@invokeintelligence.com

EdTech Company Brings Behavioral Analytics, AI to Higher Ed Data

Flywheel Fund invests in Invoke Learning

Bloomington, IN— Flywheel Fund, a member-managed capital fund run by The Mill, today announced a $50,000 investment in Invoke Learning, a higher education augmented-analytics company. Invoke Learning leverages artificial intelligence to provide higher education institutions with personalized data insights to help them improve student enrollment, retention, engagement, and DEI.

Invoke Learning was founded by Lige Hensley, former Chief Technology Officer for Ivy Tech Community College, and Brendan Aldrich, former Chief Data Officer in the Office of the Chancellor for the California State University system.

Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill, commented, “Higher education is at a crossroads. Enrollment is down, many students aren’t graduating on time or at all, and fulfilling the promise of diversity, equity, and inclusion has become a priority. Invoke provides the clear, actionable data colleges and universities need to navigate and address these challenges.”

Invoke Learning’s products, such as the InvokeDataLake, provide solutions for each stage of the student journey, from recruitment through application, enrollment, engagement, course completion, and retention. Behavioral analytics, like those used in the private sector for years, help paint a picture of how well the institution is achieving its goals, for example, those regarding equity and inclusion. Invoke Learning estimates that the higher ed market spends over $155 billion annually to address all of these student success issues.

Brian Hatton, Venture Partner for Flywheel Fund, commented, “Lige Hensley and Brendan Aldrich bring extensive experience from some of the largest higher ed institutions in the US and have won several international awards for their work with data and education. They deeply understand their market’s needs and have the technical knowledge to develop the right tools to meet those needs.”

Hatton noted that Invoke Learning’s tools provide a broad range of data on critical but difficult to quantify factors such as student and faculty engagement. “In addition to surfacing insights from aggregate data, Invoke Learning’s AI allows schools to measure stress and anxiety levels for each individual student on a daily basis,” Hatton said. “Particularly in the post-COVID era, these are essential predictors of student success.”

“We had a great 2021, with significant growth in our customer base and their ability to positively impact the full student journey at their institutions,” said Lige Hensley, CEO and co-founder of Invoke Learning. “Our InvokeDataLake and supporting solutions are proving to be beneficial in facilitating improved results. This additional funding from Flywheel Fund will help us invest further in sales and marketing and expand our impact in higher ed.”

Invoke Learning has raised just over $2 million to date, signed 18 colleges and universities, and secured partnerships with Google, Snowflake, and others.

About Flywheel Fund

Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana, with special attention to startups based in Bloomington and southern Indiana and underrepresented founders. Flywheel Fund launched in 2020 and is managed by The Mill. 

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its largest coworking space. The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

About Invoke Learning 

Invoke Learning provides an advanced-analytics solution for higher education that positively impacts the full student journey – enrollment, retention, engagement, and DEI – all leading to better student success. By combining academic and public data, along with artificial intelligence, Invoke Learning provides personalized and unique institutional insights that drive actionable results.

Platform for Renting Outdoor Gear Wins Idea Competition

December 16, 2021

Contact: Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, The Mill, 812.679.6140, andy@dimensionmill.org

John Laughlin, jlaughlin@nearthebox.com

Platform for Renting Outdoor Gear Wins Idea Competition

WANDR Aims for April 2022 Launch

Bloomington, Ind.— The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced that John Laughlin and Josh Roche are the winners of the 2021 Crossroads Idea Competition for their proposal, WANDR. WANDR will build a community of outdoor adventurers who want to either rent out their own gear or seek to rent others’ gear.

Roche, Senior Financial Analyst at Cook Medical, and Laughlin, Account Director at Near The Box, a custom software engineering company, have been exploring the WANDR concept for a few months. Outdoor adventure gear is expensive, they say, and cost is a major barrier, as is storage space. Meanwhile, people who do buy specialized equipment often find that it sits idle in the garage for most of the year. WANDR will connect the dots between adventurers who need gear and equipment owners who’d like to recoup some of the costs. Roche and Laughlin won the Crossroads Idea prize of $2,500, sponsored by Velocities, to develop the idea further.

This is the second year for the Crossroads Idea Competition (rebranded from Spark). Applicants submitted a one-page executive summary explaining the problem the startup would address, the solution, the customer base, revenue model, and evidence of need. Five finalists were selected to submit a five-minute recorded pitch for the demo night, which was held Wednesday afternoon on Zoom. Finalists then had five minutes to answer questions from judges. The judges were Elise Young, Director of gBETA Bloomington-Columbus; Adam Gross, Executive Director, Career Coaching & Employer Connections at Ivy Tech; and Dave Bittner, SCORE business consultant and retired executive.

“We designed this event to be a low-barrier entry to the entrepreneurial ecosystem that builds confidence and connections,” explained Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming for The Mill. “We see it as one of the first steps in bringing an idea to market. WayZada made their first pitch at this event last year, for example, and now they’ve just graduated from gBETA and secured a $20,000 investment from Elevate Ventures. I’m sure we’ll see other success stories emerge from this year’s participants.”

Roche and Laughlin have already done customer research and interviews, user flow mapping, and brand-building. Last month, they won the Elevate Nexus Regional Pre-Seed Competition. 

“The WANDR team is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to share our vision of the company through the Crossroads Idea Competition,” CEO Roche said in a statement. “Being selected not only validates what John and I have built thus far, but the funds will be useful as we continue to develop our MVP and engage in market research over the coming months. A secondary thanks to The Mill for their continued support of the startup community here in Bloomington. They are a resource any entrepreneur is lucky to have.”

Roche acknowledges that a few startups already exist in the outdoor equipment rental space, but none, he says, has achieved the robust pairing of supply (owners) and demand (renters) that fueled the growth of successful peer-to-peer platforms such as AirBnB. WANDR aims to solve this problem and leverage partnerships with retailers as well. Their next step is to build an MVP for a regional launch in the Midwest in April 2022. Key product categories will include camping/hiking, biking, and canoeing/kayaking.

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem and its largest coworking space. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/

 

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New Program Pays College Students to Develop Startups

December 6, 2021

Contacts: Pat East, Executive Director, pat@dimensionmill.org, 317.965.2155

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming, andy@dimensionmill.org, 812-679-6140 

New Program Pays College Students to Develop Startups

Bloomington, Indiana—The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship and coworking, today announced the launch of Startup Summer, a new program to pay collegiate founders to build out their startups.

“Startup Summer is essentially a paid internship program for collegiate founders,” said Pat East, Executive Director of the Mill. “In this case, however, the students are getting paid to work for themselves: to intern at their own startup.”

Participants will work on their startups for 25 hours a week out of The Mill’s coworking space in downtown Bloomington. They’ll set individualized goals for their businesses and receive personalized support. Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming explained, “This program targets founders who already have a minimum viable product or close to it. We know many students have businesses that are almost ready to launch, or even up and running. Startup Summer makes it possible for these founders to spend the summer positioning their startups to succeed, without having to sacrifice getting paid.”

Startup Summer will run eight weeks, from June 6 to July 29. The program includes weekly lunch and learns with experts from the startup ecosystem, mentoring from successful entrepreneurs, a chance to pitch investors for feedback, and leadership opportunities for college students to connect with K-12 students interested in entrepreneurship. Residency in Bloomington over the summer is required, as is current enrollment at Indiana University or Ivy Tech. Participants will receive a $2,000 stipend.

The Mill developed the program in collaboration with SEEK, a member of the Kelley Institute for Social Impact at Indiana University (KISI). SEEK—the Social Enterprise Engagement at Kelley—strives to create unique, hands-on experiences that simultaneously give back to the community. SEEK connects future business leaders to socially responsible companies and instills the concept that business can be both profitable and have a positive social impact.

“Since we want to offer this summer internship program to college students, we figured let’s go straight to that target market and see what they come up with — really find out what would make for an engaging program and get some validation for the concept,” East said.

Mill staff worked with the case competition team at SEEK for several weeks to write the scenario and set guidelines. Student teams had to provide programming options for the summer that would help accelerate startup growth without increasing staffing. Teams also considered housing needs, made recommendations for the application process, and identified potential grants or funding sources for the summer 2022 program and beyond.

This was SEEK’s first case competition since the onset of the pandemic. Ten teams submitted one-page proposals, and five finalists presented in-depth solutions to a panel of judges that included Mill staff, KISI Associate Director Shawna Meyer-Niederman, and two additional Kelley faculty.

“The winning team nailed it,” Lehman said. “They included things like a blind review process for applicants to remove bias, a realistic and comprehensive budget, and good ideas for how to engage the ecosystem to support these collegiate entrepreneurs.” He added that the case competition as a whole uncovered ten new potential sources for funding and showed an impressive commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“The energy and intelligence we saw in the SEEK case competition students came as no surprise to us,” East commented. “We meet exceptional collegiate founders at The Mill all the time, and we’re excited to offer Startup Summer to help nurture their talents.”

Applications for Startup Summer are open now and close on January 28. The Mill will accept up to 6 participants (co-founders may apply together). For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/startup-summer/

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About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its largest coworking space. The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.

 

 

Flywheel Participates in Series A Raise for Stagetime