Leading Student Entrepreneurial Teams Begin LaunchPad Lift Program

Recent research confirms that successful startup founders need a combination of passion and vision (soft skills) and experience (hard skills). But how do enthusiastic and driven—but young—entrepreneurs quickly gain the critical knowledge and benefits that come with experience? One proven strategy is participation in a program like LaunchPad Lift.

For the second time this year, seven of the top collegiate entrepreneurial teams from campuses across the country are participating in LaunchPad Lift, an exclusive offering of Blackstone Launchpad powered by Techstars. This eight week virtual program offers valuable outside-the-classroom instruction and mentorship on a variety of topics critical to the success of startups including goal setting, fundraising, product development and roadmapping, and more. It also provides students access to the Blackstone and Techstars networks of advisors and mentors who can provide the crucial insight and advice that young founders need.

“After seeing the tremendous impact from the inaugural Lift cohort earlier this year, we’re excited to be offering this unique and powerful startup program once again,” said Erica Lock, Vice President at the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “As the LaunchPad network grows to reaching nearly a million students, we need smaller, more focused programs like this to offer unparalleled network-building opportunities to the nation’s top operating collegiate entrepreneurs.”

Young founders face a number of unique challenges, including student debt and increased global competition, but one of the most significant obstacles to a startup is forging connections with advocates outside the academic environment. With Lift subject matter experts and mentors from organizations like Rally and Quark Software, Highway 12 Ventures, and Shutterfly, these 20 student founders will have an incredible opportunity for dialogue and relationship-building with these extraordinarily innovative and experienced entrepreneurial advisors.

According to Alyssa Petersel, Founder of My WellBeing and Spring 2019 LaunchPad Lift participant, “LaunchPad Lift is a fantastic opportunity to gain an overview of the topics and themes most relevant to leading a successful startup. Connecting weekly with a mentor who is committed to your growth, who has experience starting and growing a startup, is a truly irreplaceable experience in gaining perspective, support and feedback, and broadening your network.”

The seven student-led teams in this fall’s Lift program include diverse participants with a wide range of backgrounds from schools in the northeast, western, and southern regions of the United States. These students’ businesses represent industries including hardware, applications, health and beauty, food and beverage, and more.

Ventures selected for inclusion in this program were chosen by a team of experts from Blackstone and Techstars. These experts looked for passionate entrepreneurs who were willing and able to learn from mentor and advisor feedback, and whose companies show great startup potential. 

Meet the ventures:

OptechVR (Syracuse) – Using a combination of technologies, OptechVR is developing a standalone virtual reality headset for use in enterprise, medicine, education, and visualization. Twitter: @optechvr

Via (University of Texas at Austin) – Via is developing an online platform to facilitate local experiences with the help of youth ambassadors. Twitter: @hiddenwanders

ROSEN (UCLA) – Rosen is a natural skincare business helping individuals feel confident and in control of their skin health. Twitter: @rosenskincare

Antithesis Foods (Cornell) – Making food better through science, Antithesis makes a high fiber, high protein, low calorie chickpea-based snack. Twitter: @grabanzos

Ridesurf (University of Central Florida) – A ride sharing app, Ridesurf helps coordinate long distance rides between two or more people. Twitter: @goridesurf

Aviate Audio (University of Buffalo) – Aviate produces Airpatch, a wireless effects dock and controller that can interface with any guitar pedal or signal chain. Twitter: @aviateaudio

May West (Montana State University) – Using milkweed seedpod, May West produces an animal product- and synthetic-free, plant-based winter coat. Instagram: @may__west

The fall 2019 LaunchPad Lift program will run for eight weeks from June 26 until August 21 and will culminate with a final event on November 7 at the Blackstone offices in New York. This premier closing event will take place in conjunction with the LaunchPad Fall Training Camp.

Stay tuned to this blog or follow @Techstars on Twitter for more information about these businesses, their student founders, and the impact of the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars partnership increases the chances for collegiate ventures to succeed by ensuring they have the resources they need to thrive. The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars entrepreneurship program is accessible by over 500,000 college students globally and designed to support and mentor students, staff, and alumni entrepreneurs regardless of major, experience, or discipline.

Blackstone LaunchPad: Celebrating Student Entrepreneurship

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation invites you to join us for a reception celebrating student entrepreneurship in Texas. Event will include a pitch competition featuring student entrepreneurs from Texas A&M, UT Austin, and UT Dallas.

To learn more about our program supporting student entrepreneurs, please visit www.blackstonelaunchpad.org

Startup Weekend Missoula Hosts Area Entrepreneurs for a Crash Course in Creating a Business


Event Name: Startup Weekend Missoula
Event Dates: March 7-9, 2014
Event Location: Elks Lodge #383, 112 N Pattee St, Missoula, Mt 59802
Contact: Geoff Pepos, Co-Organizer
Phone Number: (406) 546-0351
E-mail Address: missoula@startupweekend.org
Website Address: http://missoula.startupweekend.org

What’s happening and who’s it for?

Missoula is set to host its second Startup Weekend from March 7 through the 9, 2014. Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers, and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups! Local CEOs, founders, startup veterans, attorneys, publishers, professors, and economic developers with entrepreneurship, investing, marketing, and technology expertise will be on hand to coach teams.

Alongside members from the local tech and entrepreneur communities, Startup Weekend Missoula will welcome a new kind of participant to the local event: students from Montana University System’s new Blackstone LaunchPad program. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation knows that entrepreneurship is the single most effective way to spur economic growth and job creation. Through the Blackstone LaunchPad, students will have access to an expanded universe of resources and years of institutional knowledge, helping them launch ventures that can take root locally and strengthen Montana’s economy.

“The opportunity to assemble your own startup dream team of peers to work on a common idea for a weekend was too good to pass up. The experience reinforced why I love working with startups,” says Colin Stoner who attended Startup Weekend Missoula 2013.

Said Startup Weekend Missoula coach Elke Govertsen of last years event, “The energy and momentum were palpable. To see that kind of collaborative potential made me excited for the future of Missoula and the entrepreneur startup ecosystem we are fostering.”

“When startup entrepreneurs come together, innovative ideas are launched” said Nathan Stephens who’s helping organize this, his third Startup Weekend in Montana.

Why attend a Startup Weekend event?

  • Education – learn by doing.
  • Build your network – meet talented entrepreneurs.
  • Co-founder dating – build your team.
  • Learn a new skill – flex your technical and business muscle.
  • Get face time with thought leaders – local leaders on tap.
  • Join a global community – over 45,000 alumni out to change the world.

How is it done?

Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday, attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts. Over 36% of Startup Weekend startups are still going strong after 3 months. Roughly 80% of participants plan on continuing working with their team or startup after the weekend. (Statistics from http://startupweekend.org/about/)

When and where is it?

The detailed Startup Weekend Missoula 2014 Schedule can be found online at http://missoula.startupweekend.org/. The general hours of the event are Friday, March 7, 2014 from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m.; Saturday, March 8, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday, March 9, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. It will be held in downtown Missoula at the Elks Lodge, 112 N. Pattee St.

How can I sign up?

Interested parties can click on the orange “Register” link at the main website to sign up: http://missoula.startupweekend.org/ Students tickets are offered at a discounted price and are limited. Registration includes pizza and caffeine Friday night as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner catered by Bravo! Catering and Market on Front.  Attendees will also receive a custom team t-shirt and exclusive Startup Weekend perks.

About our local sponsors

Thanks to our local sponsors Blackstone LaunchPad MSU; Blackstone LaunchPad UM; MonTec; GCS; Missoula Economic Partnership; Elks Lodge Post #383; Acuity Design; Content Monkeys; Goodworks Ventures, LLC; MissoulaEvents.net;  Boyle, Deveny, and Meyer, PC; Wilma Condo; Dorsey & Whitney, LLP;  Submittable.com; Frontier Angel Fund, LLC; Market on Front; moo.com; PickFu.com; and TicketPrinting.com.

Sponsorship opportunities still available, please contact us.

ABOUT STARTUP WEEKEND: Startup Weekend is a program of UP Global along with NEXT, StartupDigest and Startup America. UP Global is a non-profit dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship, grassroots leadership, and strong communities. UP Global is supported by Google for Entrepreneurs, Coca-Cola, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and the Case Foundation.