Written by Shoemaker Scholar Hunter Hawley 2020-2021
Every August, Bloomington is rushed by thousands of undergraduate students, all anxious to see what the year ahead holds for them. Most are hoping for good grades, fun memories with their friends, and success for their favorite Hoosiers sports team. However, every year there is a group of students coming to campus looking for something more; to transform the innovative ideas that they’ve been thinking of all summer into reality.
In 2020, the hopes of all students are seen through the lens of a global pandemic. New concerns are on every student’s mind, and rightly so. Still, in this time of uncertainty we are seeing some students double-down on their innovations. I was able to sit down with one such student, Garrett Freeman. Garrett is a senior studying Sports Management and Entrepreneurship while launching his startup, Mixciti. Read our conversation below:
In one sentence, what does your startup do?
My startup is a mobile app/website that will connect individuals with like-minded people around them via communities of personal interests, passions, and hobbies while also keeping them informed of upcoming events relevant to the user.
What gave you the idea for Mixciti and when did you start working on it?
Before attending an IU basketball game in February 2019, I had nobody to go to the game with and wondered how I could find others around me that share the same love for the team as much as I do. I thought it would be a good way to find people to go to games with as well as building engagement and relationships within the IU basketball community. There were no sites that could connect me with fans locally so I knew there was a need for a product like this.
What is the biggest advantage to working on your startup while in school? Biggest disadvantage?
The biggest advantage would be the incredible entrepreneurial ecosystem at the University. Not only do we have a great program within the Shoebox Incubator that I definitely take full advantage of, but we also have the perfect place to test and validate the startup idea in order to help us improve and succeed. The biggest disadvantage has to be the load management – balancing being a full time student while also leading my startup is difficult but definitely manageable with effort.
With the world being in the state that it currently is, what have you been up to this summer? Have you found it easier or harder to be productive during the pandemic?
Since the pandemic, I was able to make some great strides with the startup. Since the end of March, we completely scratched our old code and developed a new and improved beta. The pandemic kept my developer and I grounded and focused on specific goals we needed to reach before the upcoming school year.
What would you like to see from the StartupIU community as we restart the school year with the hybrid approach?
I hope to see a large amount of engagement within the community regardless of the hybrid approach. We need to make sure we all help each other out and contribute to the growth of all startups within the community. Opinions and insight of others is always critical in order to reach any form of success.
Is there anybody who has helped you along your way that you’d like to recognize?
Some of the individuals that helped me along the way are Travis (Brown), Rob (Long), and Thomas (Parmer) [in the Shoemaker Innovation Center of the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering] as well as many of those that have their own startups within the center. I appreciate the foundation they’ve built as well as the suggestions and insight they have provided me.
We all love to see fellow innovators succeed in our community; What do you need from the StartupIU community to take Mixciti to the next level? Early users? Team members? App Store reviews?
I would really appreciate everybody testing out our product and possibly sharing it with others on campus when it’s ready to be deployed. I would really like to receive feedback (critical or positive) so we know what we should and shouldn’t do to improve the product. Mixciti will also like to hire interns – developers to assist my CT.