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SHIFT Retail Lab named winner

The next generation of entrepreneurs won’t be stuck in the classroom.
Virginia Commonwealth University reimagines entrepreneurship training with its Shift Retail Lab, a winner of 2023’s Innovation By Design Awards.

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Here, failure is an option.

Successful innovators and entrepreneurs take risks and never give up. When you take a risk, failure is an option, and often the quickest way to learn and improve. Shift Retail Lab provides an important space for entrepreneurs to test their ideas through sales and customer feedback. This alternative type of retail offers a lab-type approach for creative thinkers and doers from a wide range of backgrounds to put their ideas into action. Shift customers have the opportunity to take an active part in developing ideas into successful products and services ready to go out to market.

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Each semester we have multiple opportunities for current VCU students, alumni, and community founders to test their products, services, and ideas on the shelf at Shift.


Host an Event

Our space makes a great venue for any of your events! From happy hours and fashion shows, to concerts and speaking events, we are happy to help make your event a success.



We host many events at Shift Retail Lab and you are invited! The events at Shift are designed to inspire diverse talent within the VCU community, build community and support entrepreneurship.


translucent pink cups with the shift retail lab logo arranged in a line across a row of shelves

Join the Shelfie program at Shift Retail Lab! 

How it works:

Our Shelfies have about a month to showcase and test their ideas. They could be working on a product or service that is already developed or starting at the beginning, with just an idea. During their month at Shift they will receive a stipend and programming, including a bootcamp, Feedback Friday, and group pop-up market.

Each semester there are multiple opportunities for current VCU students, alumni, and community founders to test their products, services, and ideas on the shelf at Shift. Our application isn't really an application, we just want to hear more about your idea or product. Fill out the form below and we will be in touch!



When you are selected to test your ideas out at Shift, we give you a little stipend that you can use for product development, advertising, display design, and more.


We have a mandatory workshop to get you all set up at Shift. Our bootcamp will give you a foundation in design thinking and support you in creating your display and feedback questionnaire.

Feedback Friday

During your time as a Shelfie, you will have a feedback event where you will present your idea and display to an enthusiastic community for feedback. Feedback Friday is designed as a round table discussion with peers, community members, staff and more. 

Popup Market

You and your peers will collaborate to plan and promote a popup market event. You can sell your product or get in-person feedback on your idea.


Micro-credentials are short, flexible, asynchronous learning modules designed to help participants develop the specialized, job-ready skills. Our Shelfies are required to complete our micro-credential courses.


Students from VCU Ad Club are interning to help entrepreneurs on campus and off with branding and marketing support. Let us know what help you need and fill out this form and we will match you with an intern!


Join our staff and students at an upcoming event at Shift Retail Lab!

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Help the Shelfies out by browsing and taking their surveys. Your insight will help them be more successful, more quickly!

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Shift Retail Lab at VCU is brought to you by the VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation. Construction of Shift Retail Lab was made possible by a partnership with Mark Hourigan and Hourigan Group. Branding created by students from VCU Brandcenter.

VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation

Shift Retail Lab is brought to you by VCU da Vinci Center