From University Innovation
Blackstone is a global alternative investment firm established in 1985. They currently have 230 billion in assets, and they went public in 2007. From their own description:
"Blackstone is the world’s largest independent alternative asset manager, serving the investment needs of leading public pension funds, academic and charitable institutions and other investors for more than 25 years. Our funds include private equity funds, real estate funds, customized hedge fund solution funds, credit-oriented funds and publicly traded closed-end mutual funds. In addition, we provide investment advice and management services to institutional investors through a variety of separately managed accounts. "
Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus based entrepreneurship program, accessible by over 500K students globally, designed to support and mentor students, staff and alumni - regardless of major, experience or discipline. This program is available mostly in economically depressed regions of California, Montana, Central Florida, Pennslyvania, Ohio and Michigan. Blackstone recently partnered with VentureBoard to supply services f or the LaunchPad program. VentureBoard is two-sided 'Startup Data Platform', specifically oriented for universities and early stage startup ecosystems.
Blackstone's Charitable Foundation includes an "Entrepreneurship Initiative", a part of which is their Blackstone LaunchPad program. From their description:
"Blackstone LaunchPad is a national model for fostering entrepreneurship through higher education. Based on a successful program at the University of Miami, it encourages entrepreneurial thinking and activity among undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and alumni for the purpose of incubating a new generation of entrepreneurs who will contribute to the economic revitalization of distressed regions."
Their main goal is to educate and "Supercharge Regional Economies." They do this by focusing on areas in which the entrepreneurial ecosystem is underdeveloped. They connect these regions with an influx of what they consider to be "high growth ventures" from students and building a network of already successful entrepreneurs around them.
They have a simple incubation process:
- A young entrepreneur completes a profile that all members of the Launch Pad Community can access, and they complete a "Venture Assessment Form" that illustrates the details of their expected market, competitors, and the future of their product
- Pair a student with a master entrepreneur to develop a business idea. These entrepreneurs can recognize great potential and they guide subjects through the rigorous process. The subject can meet regularly with the LaunchPad staff as well.
- Blackstone does the networking and provides the student with the proper resources- they are able to meet a number of business leaders in their area to recieve additional mentorship. Partnerships are also formed with programs, firms, and investors in the area.
- Blackstone helps bring their product to the market, and this creates new jobs in the area, leaving a lasting, sustainable network
Blackstone Launchpad also has programs which work in regions that have some pre-existing entrepreneurial activity. They create what they call an "Innovation Hub" in this area to coordinate resources they already have and expand them to new territories.
Distinct Differences From Other Offerings
Blackstone LaunchPad is a unique resource for Universities because very few campus incubators are run by external resources. Typically, these incubators are somewhat limited to an alumni network and the resources they have to offer, where as Blackstone LaunchPad has a very diverse collection of Entrepreneurial Masters to educate, coach, and connect students with the rest of the entrepreneurial world. LaunchPad offers the networking and resources of being a leading global venture capital firm.
Blackstone also has a number of Organizational Grants, funding the growth of entrepreneurship across the country. Many of these organizations either promote entrepreneurial action, provide funding and support for existing entrepreneurs, or educate students about entrepreneurship.
VentureBoard: An Online Entrepreneurship Platform
VentureBoard is an online entrepreneurship platform for students, entrepreneurers, universities, and organizations. It is the basis of Blackstone Launchpad's website, and is also available as a stand-alone product.
Universities and organizations that adopt VentureBoard are provided with a way to organize advising for students and aspiring (or current) entrepreneurers, as well as provide resources and track the progress and performance of their spin-offs and startups.
Students and entrepreneurers that use VentureBoard through such an institutuion have access to mentorship opportunities, as well as resources such as a business model canvas, closed discussion boards, a search option to find potential business partners or interested parties, and other contextual resources. Students and entrepreneurers can also express interest in seeking venture capital funding, alerting their mentor and institution so that they can provide potential connections.
Beyond Blackstone Launchpad, VentureBoard is currently used by University of Maryland, NC State University and Duke University.
Ventureboard was created by Scott Block, Justin Searles, Avi Eisenberger and Jordan Goldstein, students at the University of Maryland. The platform evolved to fill a gap they perceived in the ability of entreperenurially-minded students at their school to connect with one another to form successful startups.
More information can be found on VentureBoard's website, at ventureboard.co.
Impact On Students and Campus
Q-Cigarettes- Drew Park, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and a first-year master’s student at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, pitched his company's unique new treatment for tobacco dependence at Wake Forest's 2014 Retail and Health Innovation Challenge, taking home the grand prize of $25,000.
O'Dang Hummus - After winning $15,000 at a Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day, Jesse Wolfe, a University of Central Florida student, landed a deal with supermarket chain Publix, which will now carry his new salad dressing product.
Fever Smart - A Penn and Wharton collaboration, non-invasive fever monitoring technology Fever Smart won $10,000 at the first Rise Above the Rest student speed pitch competition.
Roar for Good - Wearable self-defense technologhy Roar for Good raised over $260,000 on Kickstarter, receiving more than 4,000 orders from 47 countries around the world. Roar for Good will also compete for a $70,000 grand prize at the SBA InnovateHer Challenge Competition in March.
...and more! Click here for more recent success stories.
Blackstone LaunchPad not only helps budding entrepreneurs; it also aids the local economy surrounding the university the students are attending. The ventures that students create help increase the number of jobs available in the area, and expand the network of professionals in the region.
- White House's Startup America Initiative- "Startup America is a White House initiative that was launched to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation" More details can be found at the website- http://www.whitehouse.gov/economy/business/startup-america
- California- Largest grant of $3.5 million, over 100,000 students affected within California, 350,000 students nationwide involved in networks created
- Montana- Blackstone Charitable Foundation partnership with University of Montana, Montana State University and Headwaters RC&D creating 200,000 person peer community which encompasses 150 new ventures and has generated hundreds of jobs
- Central Florida- Blackstone Charitable Foundation partnership established with $1.4 million grant to UCF and U. Miami, focus on entrepreneurship education in respective universities
- Pennsylvania-Blackstone Charitable Foundation partnership est. with $3 million grant to Philadelphia and Temple University and University City Science Center, total of 40,836 students impacted
- Ohio- Blackstone Charitable Foundation created annual $3.2 million contribution with Burton D. Morgan Foundation to be put towards numerous universities in Northeast Ohio, impacting over 72,000 students. The Burton D. Morgan Foundation invests in numerous entrepreneurially focused organizations and institutions to strengthen free enterprise
- New Economy Initiative (NEI) (Michigan)- $2 million contribution to boost employment and restart the economy specifically in Detroit after economic crises
Launch Pad at Kent State University
Schools and associations with Blackstone LaunchPad Program
- UC Irvine
- Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation
- University of Montana
- Montana State University
- University of Central Florida
- Temple University
- University City Science Center
- Philadelphia University
- Kent State University
- Lorain County Community College
- Baldwin Wallace University
- Case Western Reserve University
- Wayne State University
- Walsh College
All of these schools offer the Blackstone LaunchPad program and interested students can follow the multi-step process listed above to get involved.
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