18 Nov IU-affiliated startups Stagetime and Blueprint Stats secure second investments from IU Angel Network
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IU-affiliated startups Stagetime and Blueprint Stats secure second investments from IU Angel Network
BLOOMINGTON, IN — As artists across the nation resume performing in front of live audiences and sports teams return to competing in arenas and stadiums quieted this past year by the COVID-19 pandemic, two rapidly emerging Indiana University-affiliated and Bloomington-based startups are poised to extend the reach of their innovations after receiving another round of investment from IU Ventures.
Stagetime, a performing arts startup founded by IU Jacobs School of Music alumnus Jennie Moser, and Blueprint Stats, a sports analytics startup launched by recent IU Kelley School of Business graduate Hunter Hawley, have received follow-on investments through the IU Angel Network. The network, one of three investment programs managed by IU Ventures, facilitates connections between startup companies and prospective funding sources from IU’s global community of alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends.
Stagetime and Blueprint Stats received their first IU Angel Network investments in July and December 2020, respectively. On Tuesday (Nov. 16), Stagetime announced it had raised $1.5 million in a new fundraising round, which included the follow-on investment from the IU Angel Network.
“At a time when communities around the U.S. are considering music, theater, sports and other entertainment activities as central to their COVID-19 reopening plans, we are extremely pleased to announce additional support for these two IU-affiliated startup companies that are poised to make dramatic leaps forward with their innovative and greatly sought after technological platforms,” said Jason Whitney, vice president of venture development for IU Ventures and executive director of the IU Angel Network. “Stagetime and Blueprint Stats have both demonstrated a high level of executive leadership, the ability to generate strong partner support, and excellent technical and marketing plans since the Angel Network’s initial investment. Both have also grown their platforms to a point where they are ready to really take off in the next year or so.”
Stagetime: Ready to seize the spotlight during the COVID-19 recovery
Stagetime is an online networking tool for actors, musicians and other performing arts professionals looking to build a profile showcasing their work and expertise and find new performing and other artistic opportunities.
Moser, Stagetime’s founder and CEO, who has a master’s degree in vocal performance from IU and is also a highly successful graphic designer, developed the idea for the company after she graduated from the Jacobs School in 2019.
“After college, I started missing my professional network,” she said. “I wanted a more organic way to understand who my peers were and where my network was, and to have the tech-enabled aggregation where I could look at and access my network.”
Among Stagetime’s unique features is allowing users to create customized online profiles that consolidate the various multimedia — including photo, audio and video files — that they use to showcase and promote their work. Moser is hopeful the ability to create such a creative, media-rich narrative will help enable performing arts professionals — especially freelancers who may not have the benefit of a larger backing organization — to better connect and collaborate with talent managers and arts administrators. The platform is also intended to provide a more affordable alternative to designing and maintaining a personal website, which may not be obtainable for new or emerging artists.
Moser also described several other features in development to help arts organizations, which often book performances years in advance, to find top talent, including a “casting tool” that allows users to create lists of contacts as they plan for future events.
“It’s exciting because arts employers are almost always open to talent,” Moser said. “It’s not as cut and dry as ‘they didn’t get the job.’ It’s more like, ‘Oh, I didn’t need that artist for this production, but they would be perfect for next season.'”
Moser added that as the performing arts industry starts to recover from a devastating pandemic, Stagetime is positioned to help advance the recovery once beta testing is completed.
“On a basic level, everyone has relocated, and something has changed for everyone,” she said. “It’s a mad shuffle right now to re-staff everything under different parameters, different capacities and changing circumstances for every performer. Stagetime is going to be the perfect resource for people to leverage their network as they try to restart their careers.”
A video spotlighting the mission and success of Stagetime is available online.
Blueprint Stats: Bringing the power of sports analytics to the public
Founded by Hawley in 2017 while he was an IU Kelley School freshman, Blueprint Stats is a video analytics platform that relies on artificial intelligence and other technologies to help athletes, coaches and teams improve their performance on and off the court. Video from almost any device can be uploaded to the product, and in return, users receive not only breakdowns and statistics but also actionable advice about how to use the video to improve their game. On the back end of Blueprint, human statisticians record and react to events that take place throughout the game film that customers provide.
Hawley, the first student to pitch a startup idea to the IU Angel Network, has overseen steady growth at Blueprint with the support of campus and city resources, including the Shoemaker Innovation Center, which is housed at IU’s Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, and The Mill, a center in Bloomington that supports the needs of startups and entrepreneurs. Hawley also is an alumnus of the Shoemaker Scholars Program, which helps entrepreneurial students navigate available resources and enhanced communication across campus and beyond.
Hawley said Blueprint is now in the process of engaging with several potential partners, unlocking more value for customers and preparing for the return of “as close to a normal high school basketball season as possible” with the easing of certain COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’re on track to process about 2,000 basketball games in quarter four [of the financial year], and this pace will continue into the first quarter of 2022,” he said. “We’re also engaging with people who have experience working with a lot of game film who have the ability to transform our company in many positive ways and potentially thrust us into new sporting venues beyond basketball.”
As the company seeks to further its success and grow in new directions, Hawley is grateful for the continued support of members of the IU Angel Network and the broader IU community who were available “at the perfect time” to encourage, guide and advance his startup vision.
“It’s been extremely nice to feel that we have a community rallied behind us,” Hawley said. “It also means so much that there are people who are invested in our success for no other reason than they want to see IU students and recent IU graduates get off on the right foot and do great things.
“Across the board, there’s not one aspect of our company that hasn’t been touched and influenced for the better by an IU company or member of the IU community,” he added. “When you layer on top of this the support we’ve received from the Angel Network and IU Ventures, the ability to stay engaged at The Mill and staying closely connected to the Shoemaker Scholars and other IU programming — it’s 100 percent why we’re in the position we are now. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
About IU Ventures:
IU Ventures invests in and supports early-stage companies through three programs: the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, IU Angel Network, and IU Founders and Funders network. Each program takes unique approaches to accelerate and support the positive impacts that entrepreneurs affiliated with IU already achieve across the world. In Indiana alone, IU Ventures made new and follow-on investments in 19 companies during 2020-21, was recognized as one of the top three most active funds in the state and received the MIRA Venture Fund of the Year award. More than 50 percent of the companies in which IU Ventures has invested since 2018 have had women or minority founders, CEOs or other C-suite members.