Veteran Entrepreneurs Launch New Venture Studio

By Alex Brown, Assistant Managing Editor

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INDIANAPOLIS – Four Hoosier entrepreneurs have launched a new venture studio designed to help fellow entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground. Indianapolis-based NEXT Studios is the brainchild of Joseph Cudby, Tom Kilcoyne, Shelley Klingerman and John McDonald. The goal of the studio is to create a “customizable, repeatable process” that is designed to help entrepreneurs avoid common problems and get their innovations to market more quickly.

Klingerman, a founder and former executive director of Launch Terre Haute, tells Inside INdiana Business the studio’s benefit corporation status sets it apart from other studios.

“We’ll use a portion of our process from operations to reduce or eliminate studio costs for other startup companies,” said Klingerman. “We understand that sometimes a founder does not have the up-front money. As a Benefits Corp., we are going to offset some of those for some of the founders to relieve some of that cost burden.”

Klingerman says the studio is a combination of seasoned entrepreneurs who have come together to help others de-risk their ideas to make them more attractive for investors. 

While NEXT Studios is officially headquartered in Indianapolis, it will operate out of coworking spaces throughout the state. Klingerman says they want to tap into the innovative ideas being developed in smaller Hoosier communities.

“Sometimes when you’re not directly located in central Indiana, it’s hard to plug in. So what we’re really looking to do is be a bridge and be a resource for communities around the state to kind of get involved in this process because it can be kind of lonely. It can be a little bit frightening. So we’re going to be doing outreach to these communities to make a connection back into central Indiana where there are a lot of resources.”

Klingerman says, in addition to independent entrepreneurs, the studio also plans to work with in-house innovators at corporations.

“I think COVID has really put a light on this that companies need to be able to pivot pretty quickly. Some companies have lost markets…some have opened new markets by thinking a little bit differently. So we are getting a lot of interest as well in coming in-house to really foster that process and be intentional about innovation within corporations and we’re actually working on a program to do that.”

She says corporations are also seeking to connect with outside founders to foster more innovation exchange among them. 

Klingerman adds she and the studio have a goal of growing the number of female entrepreneurs, particularly in the tech space.

In addition to his experience at various startups, Joe Cudby is a former chief technology officer with the Indiana State Office of Technology and has been an active angel investor since 2013. 

Tom Kilcoyne is the former chief operating officer of Fishers-based ClearObject and previously served as an entrepreneur-in-residence for Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures. He also co-founded NewRoad Partners, a boutique merger and acquisition advisory firm in Virginia.

John McDonald is the founder and former chief executive officer of ClearObject, where he continues to serve as chief evangelist. He is also a founder and board member of the Indiana Technology & Innovation Association.

Read more on Inside Indiana Business.

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