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 student 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

Imagine your product on our shelves.

Join the Shelfie program at Shift Retail Lab! 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!

2023 Demo Day

VCU Demo Day

Friday, April 28
In-person & Live Stream
10 a.m. - 12 p.m.: Student Pitches
12 p.m. - 2 p.m.: Reception at Shift Retail Lab

VCU Demo Day is the da Vinci Center’s annual event showcasing the top talent of the university’s student and alumni entrepreneurship and VCU Pre-X. The event will include pitches, founder Q&A, and networking to meet student and alumni founders and learn more about their growing ventures. Demo Day is an opportunity to highlight and reward the top talent across the university, ranging from medical devices to social and non-profit ideas.


This year at Demo Day, we have different categories for entrepreneurs of all levels:

  • Ideas are quick pitches about an idea waiting to be made tangible
  • Alumni pitches are products and services created by VCU graduates that they will present to a panel of judges
  • Academic pitches showcase the entrepreneurship and innovation in our classrooms throughout VCU
  • Featured pitches are the main event where students will present their current ventures to a panel of judges


Co-work at Shift!


Monday-Friday: 10am - 3pm
Saturday: 12 - 2pm

Coworking can be a fun alternative to working from home or office. A shared workspace offers a variety of perks and a sense of community, collaboration, learning, and sustainability with individuals who you may not have met otherwise. Join us during our open hours for free coffee, tea, snacks, and collaboration!

Co-work at Shift Retail Lab


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