• Banner JWU Magazine Spring 2012
  • JWU Alumni: Business

    If You Build It They Will Stay

    Todd Goldstein at a LaunchHouse portfolio eventHow do you keep people from leaving town for better business and job opportunities? You create an organization to help build startups. That’s what Todd Goldstein ’03 did in his hometown of Shaker Heights, a Cleveland, Ohio suburb.

    When Goldstein, co-founder and managing partner of Shaker LaunchHouse, moved back to the area after college, he realized many friends had moved to more startup-friendly cities on the East and West Coasts. “Cleveland was built on manufacturing and when that pretty much died, Cleveland died along with it,” says Goldstein. “I wanted to figure out how to stop the next generation of graduates from leaving too.”

    In 2009 Goldstein and co-founder Darragh “Dar” Caldwell began working together as early-seed venture capitalists, being initial investors in beginner startups. In 2010, their business, originally Goldstein, Caldwell & Associates, expanded into Shaker LaunchHouse, a business accelerator that invests in new ventures and recruits entrepreneurial talent to Northeast Ohio. They also formed a unique public-private partnership with the City of Cleveland’s Community Improvement Corp. (CIC). LaunchHouse received five years of free rent in a city-owned building and CIC got a three percent equity stake in the organization.

    Now, with a third partner, Sam Krichevsky, LaunchHouse funds, accelerates and supports early-stage startups, mostly in technology and consumer products. They choose entrepreneurs needing less than $2 million in follow-on funding (investments beyond LaunchHouses’s initial funds), and “capable of developing their idea within three months and producing a prototype or proof of concept,” says Goldstein. The partners also analyze the entrepreneur’s skills and targeted problem to determine if the potential is great enough to generate income with the proposed solution.

    LaunchHouse has invested more than $130,000 in 30 startups that have since raised more than $3 million in follow-on funding and receives two to 10 percent stock in the companies.

    Several of the 30 startups have already hired staff and are poised for success. Knowta, a “very exciting, fast growing company,” developed a program that lets public and college library patrons print documents for free or at a discount. Company ads are printed on the bottom three inches of 8.5” x 14” paper perforated to tear off.

    Marketed as an “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” LaunchHouse has more than 100 companies sharing space, information, ideas and support. Educational programs, like “Launching a Billion Dollar Company: The Story of OfficeMax,” have been packed with entrepreneurs who also have access to brainstorming sessions, networking, mentoring programs, low-rent office space and free coffee and Wi-fi.

    Startups LaunchHouse invests in also get operational support, coaching, business development and introductions to potential partners, customers and investors.
    Online > launchhouse.com or email: todd@launchhouse.com

    Alums Give Insight on Be Your Own Boss Day
    Before starting Subculture Marketing, Dan MacKinnon ’10 had two failed businesses. “You have to use failure as a growing point,” he told students at JWU’s Providence Campus attending an alumni panel titled, “We Did It, So Can You.”

    JWU Alumni Panel Advises StudentsThe forum was part of “Be Your Own Boss Day” sponsored by the Larry Friedman International Center for Entrepreneurship and its executive-in-residence John Robitaille. MacKinnon told a packed house at the Pepsi Forum about charging too little for his services and losing $20,000 of his own money by using Groupon to market a client’s event with little return on investment; a mistake he won’t repeat.

    Bjorn Minde ’06 founded BAM Designs in Newport, R.I., after getting laid off. Within 48 hours he’d printed résumés and business cards and “hit the ground running,” getting clients through word of mouth and networking. For support, he said to “latch onto friends or others you can run things by and get different opinions.”

    Coming from a family of business owners, Allie Crowder-Schaefer ’08 decided to create an opportunity for herself and now runs Eventium, a full-service event management company. “Figure out how it [entrepreneurship] can work for you,” she advised. “Believe in yourself and go do it.” Knowing it’s all on her shoulders helped her persevere.

    “Intrepreneur,” is a buzzword for those like Kristy Leger ’07 using entrepreneurial skills to work for someone else. Leger, an entrepreneurship major and general manager for Talbot’s, plans to open a diaper service down the road. “Be prepared,” she said. “It might be best to train in management through a company you work for before starting your own.”

    Passion, Pitch and Hard Work
    In April, JWU’s Ad Team placed first in New England in the American Advertising Federation’s (AAF) National Student Advertising Campaign (NSAC) and headed for national competition in what is becoming an annual College of Business rite of spring. In 2007 and 2008, the Providence Campus student chapter placed in the top five in regional competition, and teams have since taken first place in the regional and 13th at the national level in 2009, and first in the regional and third in the nation in 2011 against winners from 14 other districts.

    JWU AdTeam Won Third Place at the Nissan 2012 American Advertising Federation’s (AAF) National Student Advertising Campaign (NSAC)

    Former team members have gone on to jobs at the world’s leading ad agencies — Deutsche, BBDO, McCann WorldGroup, Arnold Worldwide and Hill Holiday. Seven were also among the top 40 finalists for AAF’s Most Promising Minority Student.

    JWU Alum, Jack Burtch ’08, an account manager at GMI in Boston, Mass.Jack Burtch ’08, an account manager at GMI in Boston, Mass., and one of many alumni who are also former members of JWU’s Ad Team, believes student diversity helped fuel the team’s success. “You have a mixed bag of people with different backgrounds and insights,” he says. “We used those differences in the processes of our campaigns for research, developing different strategies and the creative process.” He credits Ad Team advisors Oscar Chilabato and Christine Ure for their hands-off guidance as well.

    In Ure’s view, “I think our students do so well because they’re passionate about the industry, are no strangers to hard work and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices in their social life and other areas to come up with a great campaign.”

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