The LaunchPad

The LaunchPad provides both the process and the facilities for students to conceive, nurture, and launch real companies. The learning experience nurtures the belief that students can indeed build a successful company, which can ultimately impact culture for Christ. It provides students with a rigorous and time-demanding academic and mentoring process to nurture sustainable companies. It provides a safe environment to attempt to launch a company and aims to significantly increase the likelihood of a company's success. Passion and hard work are required for student companies to remain in the LaunchPad.

The LaunchPad Facility

The LaunchPad is about to move into the second floor of our main Academic Building. It provides space for business ideation, prototyping and validation. Here start-up companies grow and achieve their goals. It provides desk space, access to a conference room, and other business-support infrastructure. The LaunchPad provides student participants relevant faculty and outside professionals mentoring. Failure of a business idea should not be feared.

Current LaunchPad Companies

  • Upliterate - helps authors and readers connect over great stories. It gives authors a place to post their work while they're writing and allows them to build an audience while they are still developing their book. It also gives readers a place to easily find their next favorite book while giving them insider access to the stories being written.
  • Lexicon Studios - believes that videos are the essential foundation for establishing brand loyalty and identity. They bridge the gap between the customer experience and the story behind products and services to create this personal and emotional connection. Fully equipped with experience, strategic vision, and passion, they will elevate your company to experience growth with increased awareness about who you are, what you do, and what makes your company unique.
  • Uncanny Labs - Animated film production.
  • ZenGarden Productions - believes film has a power that no other artistic medium can rival. The combination of sight and sound blends to provide audiences with a personal and emotional experience that can leave them crying, laughing, or simply in awe.

Other Student Companies

  • Vandals Games - Video Game collectors first, reseller second. They have been buying and selling games for almost a decade.

LaunchPad Mentor

Marc Burch is a founder and VP Business Development at ComoBlue - a software application development company for Social Networks. He helped develop ideation, social gaming and product strategy for Facebook and mobile applications. He managed the business development and partnerships with Facebook and mobile developers, ad networks and companies. He served as Entrepreneur-in-residence, subject matter expert, judge and mentor for funding grants at the Center of Commercialization of Advanced Technology. He is also an angel investor and executive entrepreneur providing early-stage capital. Previously, he have had over 20 years of marketing, sales, business development, strategic partnerships and executive management experience in technology companies, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Actra (Netscape & GE Joint Venture), and MarketFirst. While at Actra, he managed an aggressive sales channel which helped Actra grow to a $127 million market valuation before the Netscape acquisition. At MarketFirst, he helped them grow to over 240 employees with a $450 million valuation.

LaunchPad Curriculum & Experience

All undergraduates in the Entrepreneurship area of emphasis participate in the LaunchPad. Other undergraduate students in their senior year, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, may participate. Admission is limited. Sophomores and juniors may not take the class sequence for credit but may audit if space is available. You must apply to Prof. Connolly expressing your interest and why you expect the LaunchPad will help you achieve your goal to build a company

The sequence of three 3-unit classes are offered beginning Winter quarter and run through Summer - aligned with the Senior year.

The first course explores Business Model Innovation, looking at the critical ingredients of a business model, as well as ways people have derived innovation in their business models to gain competitive advantage. The second class takes an in-depth look at Strategic Marketing Management, which analyzes market opportunities and customer needs, competitive market landscapes, skill competencies and gaps. Next, the student learns the process of creating a financial forecast model. The class culminates with the student assembling a business plan for his/her idea. In the final class, the student working one-on-one with his/her mentor towards creating their product or service prototype, which allows for an assessment of customer reaction to your value proposition. The student and/or team will seek to build relationships with external collaborators, develop a market entry strategy, and develop a clear awareness of the challenges of delivering your product or services idea to the market. The team will continue to refine their financial forecast model and develop their marketing and funding plans, as well as putting their legal structure in place. The goal is to have a product or service ready for market with a team in place to deliver and support it, with a complete business plan, which includes a refined financial forecast model.

Throughout the 3-quarter course sequence, faculty members and guest industry professionals will teach the 'ins and outs' of sales and marketing, finance and accounting, organizational and legal structures, leadership and management.

The LaunchPad experience is more than just learning how to launch a start-up. It is about identifying and creating opportunities, understanding your goals, managing team dynamics, and communicating effectively. It is also about exploring entrepreneurial career options. Above all, it is about turning your ideas into reality. Students admitted to the LaunchPad take a sequence of three 3-unit classes, which walks them through the business creation, planning and launch process. It provides student entrepreneurs with mentoring by faculty and outside professionals. After successful completion of the curriculum, the University provides student companies with incubator space and other infrastructure support until their company can stand on its own.