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Leading Student Entrepreneurs to Pitch and Meet Founder Mentors at 3rd Annual Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars Convening

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars have announced headline speakers for its annual convening called Propel, an innovative program that brings together more than 200 exceptional student entrepreneurs from across the LaunchPad network. Student participants at the event will hear from world-class speakers including Jon Gray, Blackstone president and chief operating officer, Josh Hix, Plated co-founder, Kathryn Minshew, co-founder of The Muse, and Neil Blumenthal, who co-founded Warby Parker while in school. 

During the two-day event, student teams will have a chance to pitch their business before a panel of judges in order to win $20,000 in cash and prizes to accelerate their ventures’ growth. Attendees will also learn critical lessons, build technical skills and grow their networks as they hear from notable speakers, including a live Give First podcast recording with Techstars co-founder and Managing Partner David Cohen.

“Universities provide students with the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to start a business,” said Amy Stursberg, executive director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “LaunchPad accelerates student entrepreneurs’ growth by expanding their networks and providing access to  founders and other business leaders to help students think more creatively, take more calculated risks, and thrive.”

“These speakers were hand selected for their experience, insight, and expertise in early-stage startup strategy, as well as their commitment to helping the next generation of young entrepreneurs,” said David Cohen, founder and managing partner of Techstars. “We couldn’t be more proud of the determination and creativity of the students in our LaunchPad network, and we are deeply committed to providing them the resources and relationships necessary for them to succeed.”

Neil Blumenthal is a co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, a lifestyle brand that offers designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. Since day one, over five million pairs of glasses have been distributed through its Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. Warby Parker was previously named the most innovative company in the world by Fast Company. Neil was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company.

Josh Hix co-founded meal delivery service Plated in 2012 at the age of 30. He and Nick Taranto took their company through the Techstars NYC Accelerator, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, and eventually became the hit show’s largest exit following a sale to Albertson’s in 2017.

Kathryn Minshew co-founded The Muse, an online career platform that matches people with jobs/companies based on the strength of their company culture and employee experience, in 2011. Today the Muse is used by 75 million people per year, it has been named to Fast Company’s “World’s Most Innovative Companies” list, and Kathryn has been included in Inc magazine’s “Female Founder 100”.

Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars is an entrepreneurial network that helps students succeed in entrepreneurship and in their careers. Available to more than 700,000 students at over 20 campuses globally, LaunchPad is open to all students and recent alumni, regardless of major or discipline. Since the program’s inception, the companies founded at LaunchPad schools have collectively raised $193 million in capital and generated more than $90 million in revenue.

Propel will take place November 7–8, 2019 in NYC. Students and schools interested in bringing the LaunchPad network to their campus can visit www.blackstonelaunchpad.org.


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Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars founders make connections and gain access to resources to grow their companies. www.techstars.com