JMU Bluestone Seed Fund announces spring investments

JMU News

by Ginny Cramer


Harrisonburg, Virginia –  The James Madison University Bluestone Seed Fund, managed by the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship, is wrapping up its inaugural year of investments with the addition of two alumni-led startups to the portfolio. Investments now total $30,000 in seven startup companies.

The spring investment recipients include:

Maddy Ebbert Art & Design

Maddy Ebbert (JMU ’19) is a digital artist who creates accessible everyday products in a sustainable manner. She is opening a storefront in Charlotte, North Carolina called Mindful Goods. Mindful Goods is an eco-conscious, women-owned retail shop in Charlotte offering a wide variety of refillable bulk products, gifts, home decor, art, housewares and more. She thoughtfully selects ethically made and sustainably sourced products so customers can easily make conscientious decisions with their money and contribute to a low-waste economy.

United Pantry

The stigma of food insecurity is real on college and university campuses across the country. That is why Isaac Smith (JMU ’20) founded United Pantry and created an app that would allow students to view what is available in their school’s pantry from the comfort of their dorm room, place an order and schedule either curbside or in-person pickup. The app issues a random ID and does not collect personal identifiable information, so the student remains anonymous. United Pantry also created an administrative website for the pantry to streamline their inventory management system and interface with the app. The app and website were launched at JMU in October 2021 with plans to offer them to other colleges and universities.

The Bluestone Seed Fund is a donor-backed investment fund that provides equity investments in JMU affiliated startups, while also providing hands-on venture investing experience for JMU students, via the Student Venture Associates program. The program is the first of its kind at JMU. 

Past investments in Tow Ninja, Handicans, Gewd Botanicals, BarTrack and RecRe have built a diverse portfolio that will vitalize the Fund for future investment cycles.

 “We’ve had two successful investment cycles so far with the Bluestone Seed Fund, and we’re looking forward to another one this fall. Our nine-person investment committee, made up of GCFE Advisory Council Members, JMU faculty, and local professionals, has done a great job of vetting the investments and our Student Venture Associates are getting hands-on experience learning about venture investing. So far, we have $240,000 committed to the fund, and I’m confident we will reach our $500,000 target,” said Suzanne Bergmeister, executive director of the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship.

The fund is open to any JMU student-led startup or JMU alumni-led startup, if the alumni is within five years of graduation.  Interested donors to the fund can invest here.


Contact: Ginny Cramer,, 540-568-5325

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Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2024

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