LaunchNET Kent State Holds Annual Entrepreneur Awards and Expo
On Monday, April 23, LaunchNET Kent State celebrated its 5th annual Entrepreneur Awards and Expo event at Ray’s Place. In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of LaunchNET Kent State clients over the course of the year, the staff awarded university partners, alumni clients, Launch Fund recipients and the winners of the inaugural Paul L. Pfeiffer Endowed Scholarship fund.
LaunchNET Kent State is thrilled to be the new partner for the prestigious Paul L. Pfeiffer Student Start-Up Scholarship and the Faculty Mentorship Award, which were conceived more than 20 years ago. Retired Dean George Stevens, from the College of Business and Administration, and several alumni, including Charlie Thomas, owner of Ray’s Place, wanted to honor Mr. Pfeiffer for his dedication to his profession and Kent State. The award originally honored professors from the College of Business Administration who brought real-world experience into the classroom. Through the generosity of Mr. Pfeiffer’s family, LaunchNET Kent State is now able to offer two annual awards in his name.
Mr. Thomas was on-hand to congratulate the scholarship and mentor award winners: Symone Baskerville (junior, Fashion Design) who not only has a business called Kiwi Nation, but has been working on a new business model, Kent Fabrics, winning multiple awards this semester for them. The faculty award winner, Jen Kulics, Ph.D., was nominated by LaunchNET Kent State client Gary Myers, for working with him on his research leading to his new business, VALOR LLC.
LaunchNET Kent State celebrated its university partners with awards as well. It recognized Jackie Ruller, interim director for applied engineering in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering. LaunchNET worked with Ms. Ruller on Skyhack, the first collegiate aviation hackathon, bringing 200 students to Northeast Ohio to “hack” the aviation industry. Ms. Ruller is part of the design innovation group and was an integral part of the Mini Maker Faire, adding innovative and interactive exhibits to the event. Some Kent State departments also were honored: Career Exploration and Development for its partnerships on a variety of programs this year, as well as the Women’s Center, a key collaborator on the All the CEO Ladies female entrepreneurship monthly meet ups.
Alumni client Vic Searcy, founder of Appling Food Products, who is working on some new and exciting concepts through recent recipe and menu demos, was awarded for his contributions as a speaker and judge for LaunchNET Kent State. Long-time LaunchNET Kent State mentor and advisory board member Marty Erbaugh also was honored.
Funding is a common need and concern for entrepreneurs today, particularly student entrepreneurs. The Launch Fund was conceived as a funding platform to assist student entrepreneurs in starting their business with an LLC, business cards, or purchasing that next equipment item or inventory to take their business to the next level. The spring 2018 recipients of the Student Launch Fund (Venture Creation Award) are: E'Lyric Christopher, founder of Lyric’s Cupcakes; Yayra Tamakloe with TAY Herbal Tea Infusions; and Stephen Dickman, founder of Big Need Marketing. Each recipient will receive $500 to help with the early stage creation of their venture.