The Blackstone Launchpad

Blackstone Launchpad Header

With initial funding from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, the Blackstone LaunchPad opened in September 2012, offering guidance, resources and advice to entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors at Kent State University. Its primary mission is to show Kent State students that starting a new venture is a legitimate career path and attainable reality. A secondary mission is to encourage every student, faculty/staff member or alumni who wants to start a new venture — either for-profit or not-for-profit — to do so in Northeast Ohio and contribute to the economic and social growth of the region.

Through regular individual and group consultations, workshops and networking events, the Blackstone LaunchPad is strengthening the entrepreneurial culture at Kent State and helping students from every school, college and campus transform innovative ideas into successful startups. Through partnerships, the program is committed to fostering the entrepreneurial community and revitalizing the economies of Northeast Ohio. The Blackstone LaunchPad team is composed of innovators, inventors, business professionals and students who are committed to helping at every stage of the entrepreneurial journey.


Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities. (For more information, visit


The Burton D. Morgan Foundation supports entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education at the youth, collegiate and adult levels. With a 360-degree view of entrepreneurship education programs and their intersection with entrepreneurship activity across Northeast Ohio, the foundation has a vantage point that allows it to link ideas, people and opportunities to advance entrepreneurship. (For more information, visit

Matt Kolic, owner of Steel Clothing, was originally an exercise science major. Matt took Introduction to Entrepreneurship as an elective course and realized he could combine his passion for weight lifting and fitness into a viable business and career.(Pictured at left is Matt Kolic, owner of Steel Clothing. Kolic combined his passion for weightlifting and fitness into a viable business and career. Blackstone Launchpad helped him achieve his goal.)

Named Venture Advisor and Student Fellow Program

An endowment of $1.5 million will generate $75,000 annually to ensure a complete network of venture advisors and student fellows who will coach student entrepreneurs and connect them with the resources that will help them reach the next level in business success.

Marketing, Events and Regional Campus Outreach

A commitment of $140,000 over three years will provide funding for campus-wide marketing and events to educate and support entrepreneurs across Kent State’s eight-campus system. It will support and extend the LaunchPad’s reach and economic impact across Northeast Ohio.

Cross-University Student Business Seed Fund

This fund will help seed new businesses that are started through the Blackstone Launchpad program. Investments in the fund will be allocated and managed by a team of entrepreneurs, university representatives and investors. Gifts can be made in any amount of $2,000 or more. These gifts can be applied to the general fund or can be donor directed towards specific areas or fields of study (i.e., fashion, IT, etc.)

Key Short -Term Initiatives
Funding for up to six student fellows for the Blackstone LaunchPad

These graduate-level or advanced undergraduate students will provide venture advising and consulting to student entrepreneurs. They will also work on specialized programs to serve the Kent State entrepreneurial community. A gift of $6,000 annually will support one student fellow.

Blackstone LaunchPad Tech Lab

The Tech Lab is a long-term, three-part innovation and prototyping strategy that will drive interdisciplinary collaboration and help entrepreneurs engage in new dialogues using fabrication equipment in a central, secure space on campus. Phase One will establish the lab with a gift of $75,000.

Blackstone LaunchPad Professional Development Fund

This professional development fund will help Blackstone LaunchPad staff members stay current with the latest entrepreneurial engagement activities through participation in conferences, workshops and other programs. An annual gift of $5,000 will support three development programs per year.

Sponsorship Opportunities for Events and Workshops

 The Blackstone LaunchPad offers more than 100 events a year to educate student and community entrepreneurs in various aspects of entrepreneurship and innovation. A gift of $2,500 or more will support specific events or series of events held throughout the year. A donation of professional hours could also be offered as a prize in several competitions. Some of these events include:

  • Legal Series
  • Marketing and Branding Series
  • Specialized Entrepreneur Boot Camps
  • Entrepreneur of the Month Series
  • Launch Weekends
  • Accounting and Risk Management Series
  • Funding Your Venture Series

Dreaming of owning her own business one day, Genia Kollie took an entrepreneurship course. She collaborated with a team of classmates to create International Home Markets, located in downtown Kent, which offers international foods.(Photo at left: Genia Kollie took an entrepreneurship course. With the help of Blackstone Launchpad, she collaborated with a team of classmates to create International Home Markets, located in downtown Kent, which offers international foods.)


We can help you decide what and how to give. You may want to specify criteria for your gift. You may want to take advantage of tax savings, make a onetime contribution or a gift over multiple years. We can guide you through your options and help you choose what works best for you.

For more information, contact:

Julie Messing
Executive Director, Entrepreneurship Initiatives
Center for Entrepreneurship, College of Business
P.O. Box 5190
Kent, Ohio 44242-0001
330-672-9430 (CEBI)
330-672-6781 (Blackstone Launchpad)