LaunchNET Shines a Light on the Collaborative Work Done this Year

Expo & Awards Celebrates Kent State Entrepreneurship & Innovation

On Tuesday, April 23, LaunchNET Kent State held its annual Awards & Expo at Ray’s Place, where they highlighted their many partners, students, clients, and events from the 2018-19 academic year. “We wouldn’t be able to do all the great things we do at LaunchNET without our partners across the region and university, so it’s very important for us to take time to recognize them, in addition to our students and clients,” said Julie Messing, executive director of LaunchNET.

The evening started with networking and an expo with about a dozen LaunchNET clients, who are students, alumni, faculty and staff at Kent State. Each entrepreneur had a display, some selling their wares, and all connecting with potential customers, mentors, and one another throughout the event. Food and drinks added to the celebratory atmosphere, with the crowd filling Ray’s upstairs room.

A short awards ceremony recognized key partners and students, as well as awarding the second annual Paul L. Pfeiffer Student Start-up Scholarship and Faculty Award. The scholarship and faculty award are a collaboration with LaunchNET Advisory Board member Brent Pfeiffer, in honor of his grandfather who was a member of the KSU College of Business faculty. He shared that, “As an entrepreneur and innovator himself, my grandfather paved the way for these inspiring students and faculty members, and I’m pleased to be able to honor him in this way. He really embedded the blend of practice and theory and enriched each student by adding real life experience to the classroom, just like LaunchNET gives everyone at Kent the opportunity to add this real-world experience to their education.” Senior Entrepreneurship major Lauren McKown was the recipient of the scholarship, and Dr. Edgar Kooijman (Director, Biotechnology Program and Associate Professor, Biological Sciences) received the faculty award for his work with the winning Kent State Mission:Life team.

In addition to the Pfeiffer awards, partners from around the university were honored: Annette Kratcoski, Director of the Research Center for Educational Technology, for her work in supporting LaunchNET in many K-12 initiatives, as well as the Mini Maker Faire; JR Campbell and the Design Innovation Initiative, with whom LaunchNET has been a partner throughout its creation and who has supported many LaunchNET events; and “Emerging Partner,” Kevin Dilley who worked with LaunchNET in developing more innovation through KSU Student Media with the FlashLabs program and competition. Freshmen “Rising Stars” Jillian Eddy (sophomore, Engineering Technology) and Amrth Ashok Shenava (sophomore, Computer Science) were presented with awards for their dedication and commitment to participating in many LaunchNET events. Alumni Entrepreneur winner Anne Skoch (2018) from Anne Cate was recognized for her successes, even though she was unable to attend.

Students who participated in previous competitions over the year were also recognized:

  • Taylor Savage (senior, Marketing), E’lyric Christopher (junior, Managerial Marketing), Nick Marsteller (senior, Entrepreneurship), Myles Taylor (senior, Communication Studies), and Linden Lehner (senior, Entrepreneurship) for their participation in Entrepreneur Immersion Week 2018 at John Carroll University

  • Students who won prizes at the 2018 LaunchNET Elevator Pitch competition:

    • Nicole Bitskay (junior, Human Development & Family Studies), 1st place winner

    • Uju Izuchukwu (senior, Fashion Merchandising), who won for her personal pitch

    • Runners-up Gregory Joyce (senior, Finance) and Halle Small (sophomore, Entrepreneurship)

  • Build Your Own Brand series Launch Fund winner, Taylor Ginwright (senior, Fashion Merchandising) for the An Ode to Her art show

  • Winners at the 2019 Idea Olympics:

    • Gregory Joyce, Provok Media, in first place

    • Togetherness Application by graduate students Tam Ngoc Minh Nguyen, Dania Mofleh, Joud Roufael, and Anthony Coetzer-Liversage with second place and who took First Place in the international Mission:Life competition

    • Amrth Ashok Shenava, Eduverse, in third place

  • LaunchTown Experience, a regional pitch competition: Tianyi Guo, PhD candidate from Liquid Crystal, took first place with Shear Force

“It was a year of brick and mortar,” announced LaunchNET program manager Zach Mikrut at the event, with five clients opening spaces this year: Javon Miller (junior, Psychology) with Arize Entertainment complex, Symone Baskerville (senior, Fashion Design) and Kent Fabrics, Anne Cate’s new showroom and manufacturing facility in Mentor, Bethany Westphal (2019) opening Rising Star Center for the Arts in downtown Akron, and alumni Vick Searcy (2013) whose concept restaurant Sauce the City opened in the Ohio City Galley.

“The event was a celebratory finish to a year filled with fantastic partnerships, innovative events, and an exciting new selection of clients,” recalled Tabitha Messmore, LaunchNET venture advisor. “It’s such a fun way to finish strong and thank everyone who we get to work with.”

LaunchNET Kent State works with students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as regional, community, and university organizations who are interested in promoting entrepreneurship and innovation.

POSTED: Friday, May 17, 2019 - 4:15pm
UPDATED: Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 12:39pm