New LaunchPad Model Introduces Pitch Competitions for Seed and Growth Funding
November 3, 2022
Starting in 2023, JPCatholic’s LaunchPad and Incubator programs will begin incorporating business pitch competitions, giving the chance for two rounds of funding for student and alumni ventures.
The LaunchPad program has been a long standing anchor of the University’s business program, and is required for students in the Creative Entrepreneurship emphasis. Throughout the three course sequence, students receive professional mentorship to conceive, nurture, and launch real companies.
Upon completion of the LaunchPad, students will now be eligible to participate in a new Seed Pitch. The progress made during the past nine months will be presented to a panel of judges, who will award University funds based on a venture’s merit and need. This funding will empower students to implement their ideas and launch the company.
Success in the Seed Pitch is a prerequisite for entry to the Incubator program, which is now a sequence of two courses. The Incubator provides a structured context for the student to nurture their business, receiving further guidance on refining and scaling their business model. Prof. Marc Burch, a veteran of Silicon Valley tech companies, will continue his role as mentor for students in the Incubator.
At the end of the Incubator courses, students will once again present their ideas to a panel of faculty and other professionals—this time in front of an audience of classmates, families, and friends. Successful pitches will be awarded even greater funding for their company. During this phase of pitches, alumni with business ideas are also invited to come back and compete for funding.
Over the years, JPCatholic’s LaunchPad program has provided a springboard for a variety of companies, with ventures ranging from chocolate, dolls, film production, video game resales, to invoice factoring, and more. Yellow Line Digital, a marketing firm founded by students and faculty in 2012, began bringing in an annual revenue of $1 million dollars just four years later. They continue to employ alumni, and their clientele has included large diamond companies, religious liberty campaigns, and the Vatican.
“Our goal is to do everything we can to ensure student success,” said Prof. Joe Connolly, Chair of Business. “By expanding the support structure we have for entrepreneurial students and making cash available to them, we hope to have even more success stories from the LaunchPad. Culture is impacted by ethical men and women running successful companies, guided by the moral principles of Christ and the Church. The more graduates we have owning and running their own companies, the more impact we’ll have.”
The first pitches are scheduled for September 2023 and February 2024. Learn more about the LaunchPad here.