Student co-working space launches 13 startups in two years

September 3, 2015  


Anvil ribbon cutting

Purdue and West Lafayette officials dedicated the new location of the Anvil, a startup hub to help Purdue and community innovators with entrepreneurial activities, in November 2014. Since opening in 2013, the Anvil has been the incubator to 13 student startups. (Purdue Research Foundation photo)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Since opening in 2013 in the basement of a shared building, Purdue University's student-run entrepreneurship co-working space called the Anvil has been the incubator to 13 student startups and has moved into a 5,000-square-foot office space.

The student entrepreneurial hub was founded by Mike Asem, then a student in Purdue's College of Liberal Arts; Chris MacPherson, then a student in Purdue's Krannert School of Management; and Andrew Linfoot, then a student in Purdue's College of Engineering. They founded the nonprofit to provide resources for potential student entrepreneurs and to create a space where students can share their ideas and make connections.

Since opening, the center has been so successful that the mission to serve student entrepreneurs has expanded to include community entrepreneurs, and it has moved into a much larger space at 320 North St., West Lafayette.

Shane DeWael, Anvil's director and a student in Purdue's College of Science, said the Anvil has had a positive effect on the Purdue student entrepreneur community and continues to grow.

"We have seen exciting growth over the last few years: a new space, new companies and new members have fueled the community and have allowed the Anvil to have a real impact on the Purdue and Greater Lafayette entrepreneurship community," he said. "Along with overseeing programs like the Boiler, which funds student startups, and the Forge Innovation Series, the Anvil has been a place for networking and growing the footprint of entrepreneurs on campus. It is really exciting to be a part of this growth that has significantly impacted the number of student-run companies at Purdue."

The Anvil is supported by the Purdue Research Foundation, the City of West Lafayette and Cellaflora.

"Having a co-working place for community members to go and network or work quietly is an important amenity for entrepreneurs, and the Anvil filled that need," said John Dennis, mayor of West Lafayette. "I am not surprised that it has such a successful track record in supporting startups, and I am confident that the success will continue."

Some of the companies that have come out of the Anvil include:

* Caktus Music Inc., a mobile music app that allows people to connect with friends and find new music through a unique social network. It allows access to users' iTunes library, local media files, SoundCloud tracks, and is now supported by a global leader in music streaming, Spotify.

* FundSponge, an online startup that helps nonprofits, student organizations and other groups raise money through the online purchases that their members and supporters already make. The student startup has 160 groups using its service, over $150,000 in purchases and recently won IU Bloomington's 2015 BEST competition, receiving $100,000 in funding. The company also received funding from the Boiler competition and Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition at Purdue.

* Mimir, a computer technology company, is commercializing a cloud-based classroom for computing courses that allows instructors to develop and students to complete programming projects. The company placed first in the Boiler competition in 2014, winning $5,000, and received the First Tier Black Award for the Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund competition, winning $20,000. It has been accepted into Y Combinator, an international program for funding startups.

* Vivaldi Education LLC is a startup developing a music learning management system for high schools. The company participated in Purdue Foundry's LaunchBox program and was accepted into the Silicon Valley Boilermaker Innovation Group Program.  

Prahasith Veluvolu of Mimir credited the Anvil for having a positive impact on his company.

"The Anvil has been instrumental to not only our success, but to the success of all the companies who are part of the community," he said. "It made the difference in getting our idea off the ground. We have worked with three advisers whom we met through the Anvil, and their knowledge and guidance was invaluable to us."

Joel Benson, Purdue alumnus and marketing specialist at Caktus Music, recognized the Anvil for creating a space for entrepreneurs at Purdue and in Indiana.

"The Anvil is a great place to work and interact with other startups and entrepreneurs, sharing ideas and being a part of the Indiana startup community," he said. 

DeWael is excited for what the next year will bring to students at Purdue and entrepreneurs in the Greater Lafayette community.          

"The Anvil expects to sustain its growth and continue to work with organizations like Purdue Foundry and MatchBOX to aid student and community entrepreneurs in creating innovative companies," he said. "Simultaneously, we're working on new programs that will give both existing and new members the opportunity to plug deeper into Purdue's entrepreneurial ecosystem."

As the Anvil expands to serve the Greater Lafayette community, it has attracted companies with an international reach. Most recently, the international transportation networking company Uber Technologies established a Partner Support Center in the Anvil to better serve the local community. Uber's Greater Lafayette Partner Support Center hours currently vary from week to week and can be found on the Uber Indiana website.

"We are excited to establish a Partner Support Center for Greater Lafayette at the Anvil, further highlighting our commitment to Uber's operations across the state,” said Chris Nakutis, general manager of Uber Indiana. "This center will serve as a resource for local Uber driver-partners, where they can conveniently meet in-person with Uber staff." 

DeWael and the leadership team are excited to see the Anvil attracting branches of larger companies.

"We are excited to see that companies that don't necessarily have any connection with Purdue are utilizing our services to establish a presence in Lafayette," he said. "We hope to continue growing this culture and community over the next few years."

The City of West Lafayette and Purdue Foundry invested in the Anvil's creation and subsequent move. Purdue Foundry provided seed funding to establish the Anvil and the West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission approved a two-year lease of $200,000 for 5,000 square feet of office space in the new location to support the expanded use for community entrepreneurs.

About the Anvil

The Anvil is a co-working space at Purdue University that serves the unique needs of passionate students, acting as a center of creative culture in West Lafayette. The Anvil focuses on providing local and student run startups affordable office space. 

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Hillary Henry, 765-588-3586, hkhenry@prf.org 

Source: Shane DeWael, 317-667-7235, swdewael@gmail.com 

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