LaunchNET revamp continues Blackstone Launchpad’s mission

Gabrielle Harrison

Kent State’s Blackstone Launchpad underwent a rebrand to what is now LaunchNET in January, but the organization’s ideals did not change with the name.

LaunchNET serves as a means for people in the university community to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions.

“We help Kent State students, faculty, staff and alumni transform their ideas into successful businesses,” said Julie Messing, an executive director of entrepreneurship initiatives at LaunchNET. “LaunchNET promotes creative collaboration.”

The co-curricular program allows students with any major to participate at any point in their academic career so they can pursue an entrepreneurial dream. Whether they come in with an entire business plan, or just an idea they thought of the night before, LaunchNET is available to help.

The process for starting a venture is fairly simple: An entrepreneur can go into LaunchNET with any idea — no matter how absurd — and will not be judged. They will then be taught to find their customer base to determine if their idea needs some form of readjustment, or pivot.

The people at LaunchNET are there to help entrepreneurs get started and then connect them to people that can help further advance their business. In the past four years, LaunchNET has helped 1,500 clients on over 900 business ventures.

Anne Skoch, a junior fashion merchandising major, utilizes LaunchNET. She owns her own business called Anne Cate Boutique that sells bracelets, purses, pillowcases and custom orders.

“I use LaunchNET weekly,” Skoch said. “LaunchNet’s resources and advisors have helped my business immensely and they have given me the confidence my business is lacking.”

Other than being an open environment for students to pitch ideas, LaunchNET also hosts 75 events for students every year.

These include tech events that allow students to network with professionals, as well as entrepreneurship programs for women called “All The CEO Ladies.” The program also hosts an elevator pitch competition and Girl Power pitch competitions sponsored by NEO LaunchNET and Bad Girl Ventures.

“When you enter the LaunchNET office, you see all of the student-led businesses, many that I’m familiar with,” said Aceani Ross-Bigbee, a sophomore fashion design major who placed second in the regional Girl Power Pitch Night held at Case Western Reserve University. “The LaunchNET staff is complete with experienced and well-educated staff coaches who don’t hesitate to help anyone who walks through the doors.”

Gabrielle Harrison is the technology reporter, contact her at [email protected].