program opened its doors on the Baldwin-Wallace College
and Lorain County Community College
campuses on Sept. 6 and 7 and will open at Kent State University
later this month and CWRU
The Burton D. Morgan Foundation
in Hudson and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation
announced last November that they had committed $3.2 million to open LaunchPad locations in Northeast Ohio to train area student entrepreneurs.
The LaunchPad is a venture coach program developed at the University of Miami, Florida in 2008. The program provides participants with advice and mentorship to take business ideas to fruition. Students are matched up with venture coaches to guide them through the development process.
“The real goal here is around education,” says Deborah D. Hoover, president and CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. “We’re providing a strong education, it’s experiential. Our key approach to the program is about networking – obviously in Northeast Ohio and venture coaches, but also in the larger community and through the national network of LaunchPad locations.”
Hoover reports that the potential is there for 150 new sustainable companies in the next five years, which could generate as many as 3,000 jobs.
Amy Stursberg, executive director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, says Northeast Ohio is an idea fit for LaunchPad. “We try to choose locations where we feel there is a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem and culture,” she says. “We’re leveraging those assets to jumpstart the region where it already exists.”
Kent State, which had a soft launch of LaunchPad this summer, already has 70 to 80 students involved in the program.
Sources: Deborah H. Hoover, Amy Stursberg
Writer: Karin Connelly