Blackstone LaunchPad at Stark, Tuscarawas campuses


The LauchPad office, located in the main lobby of the Student Center, is a program that helps students with their entrepreneural endevors to get their business ideas started. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Mariam Makatsaria

Since its grand opening on Kent’s main campus September 2012, LaunchPad has provided free in advisers and resources to current and future entrepreneurs who need help developing business ideas. This fall, the initiative extended to Kent State Stark and Tuscarawas campuses.

“We are trying to get the Blackstone LanchPad brand out there to the Stark and Tuscarawas campuses so that students, faculty and alumni are aware of the services,” venture adviser Stacey Banks-Houston said. “They don’t have to necessarily come to the main campus to have it open and available locally to them.”

Zachary Mikrut, marketing and events manager, said several venture advisers with professional entrepreneurship backgrounds offered help with issues such as feasibility analysis, marketing and funding.

“We’ve always been open to the entire Kent campus network, but now we’re really starting to have a real physical presence,” Mikrut said. “As we start building awareness, we’re going to have regular advisers down there. We’re also looking to do workshops and classes there, as well as events, and bringing some of those Stark and Tuscarawas students up here for some of the larger events that we have this year.”

LaunchPad services are open to students of all majors with any type of business idea, whether it is a product or service for profit or not.

“I think that makes our program unique because no matter what your study, whether it’s architecture or fashion or nursing, if you have that idea you can come in and meet with us,” Mikrut said. “It’s not for a grade; it’s not for a class. It is just to help you pursue that stuff outside of it.”

Mikrut said anyone who has an idea, invention or a current business can create a profile on Blackstone LaunchPad’s website and request meetings online. Meetings can be conducted inperson or through Skype or conference call.

Earlier this year, Kent State’s Blackstone LaunchPad helped a group of students set up The New Fuel, a motion graphics and video production company. Mikrut said that LaunchPad also coached Kent State University student Krista Jordan when she established Flight for the Cure, a handmade scarf and bracelet company. Proceeds go to cancer research.

LaunchPad “is something that Kent State has developed — and they’ve had a year to go through this program — and now that it’s happening here at the Stark campus and the Tuscarawas campus, we get to benefit from it as well, and not have to actually travel,” Cynthia Williams, public relations coordinator said.

Mikrut said that Blackstone LaunchPad’s goals is to eventually expand to all Kent State’s campuses.

Mariam Makatsaria is the regional campus and Honors College reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].