Featured Partner: Indiana University

zWORKS partners with IU entrepreneurship program

Jason Whitney has always lived amongst small businesses and startups. His grandfather was a typical Indiana Main Street shop manager and Whitney worked closely with him.

Whitney ended up owning several small businesses in Richmond, Indiana including a pizza restaurant.

“Through those experiences I learned the value of knowing people on a personal level and not on a transactional level which helps me to do business effectively today,” he said.

It’s only fitting that he now manages the entrepreneurial initiative called The Quarry, launched by the IU Research and Technology Corp. earlier this year.

The Quarry is focused on faculty entrepreneurs at IU and has three main goals: business development/venture preparation, talent recruitment and retention, and source funding.

They have partnered with multiple coworking spaces across the state. Whitney is the former organizer of the Indiana Coworking Passport and said places like The Quarry and zWORKS are megaphones for startups.

“The Quarry gives me an opportunity to be the megaphone for university startups and to connect them to statewide and national resources similar to what Kate is able to do for zWORKS client companies,” he said.

Throughout the years, he has worked with hundreds of startups.

“You become a part of their team over time,” he said. “It is invigorating to see them succeed and to help them celebrate their success.”

Whitney said they are excited to learn more about the Zionsville startups and explore potential partners. Since many of the Indianapolis campus faculty live in the Zionsville region, he added that zWORKS is a convenient location for meeting.

He said it also allows them an opportunity to engage with IU alumni who may be valuable mentors or portfolio companies for the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund which invests in startups that have IU faculty or alumni as founders.

“We have faculty members that are global leaders in every department, but not all of them have experience being an entrepreneur,” he said. “We have an opportunity to be an ombudsman for them to explore that process.”

zWORKS Executive Director Kate Swanson said she is excited to be partnering with IU and an initiative like The Quarry.

“IU is making big waves in the tech scene around the state and we are thrilled to be connected with them,” she said.


Getting to know Jason…

  • Jason has run 10 marathons.
  • He was once called a smart ass by an Indiana Supreme Court Justice.