The Launch Pad at the University of Miami uniquely makes entrepreneurship a viable career path for undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni. The Launch Pad is fully integrated into the University’s Toppel Career Center and provides concrete tools, guidance by an experienced entrepreneurial staff, and mentoring from a network of Venture Coaches from the South Florida business community to help aspiring entrepreneurs university-wide transform untested and new ideas into vital businesses that lead to economic revitalization. Since opening in 2008, The Launch Pad has become the largest single student activity at the University of Miami, with over 1700 student and young alumni participants. By September 2010, its programs and networks had helped establish 45 new companies and 102 new jobs. In June of 2010, a grant from Blackstone Charitable Foundation established the Blackstone LaunchPad, a program that replicates Miami’s model in two universities in Detroit: Wayne State University and Walsh College. As part of President Obama’s Startup America initiative, on January 29, 2011, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced a five-region expansion of Blackstone LaunchPad program. Much of The Launch Pad’s entrepreneurship education occurs in one-on-one consulting meetings, which provide just-in-time delivery of resources for projects and businesses from the concept phase through acquisition. The Launch Pad’s experiential approach allows students to experiment, try, assess, and try again free from the concern of semester timelines or transcript constraints. The are over twenty consulting appointments each week on average. Additionally, each month there are three meetings to in whichThe Launch Pad’s sixty- member Venture Coaches to assess new ventures and smaller Venture Coaching teams engage in advisory-board style consulting sessions with specific new enterprises. The Launch Pad at the University of Miami hosts a variety of educational and business development events; from workshops to lectures, networking and hands-on learning. Here's a sample of February's schedule: Monday, Feb 7: Franchising - How Does it Work? Part of the LP Weekly Workshop Series, focusing on the concept of franchise versus new business. Monday, Feb 14: Simple Truths of Building a Website Part of the LP Weekly Workshop Series, teaching the basics of setting up a website, simple development and content management. Wednesday, Feb 16 and Friday, Feb 18: Market Research Workshop on strategy for organizing market and customer research for LP users and Business Plan Contest finalists. Thursday, Feb 17: FundingPost Miami Angel and VC investor contest hosted by FundingPost with optional pitching workshop luncheon and afternoon panel moderated by Daymond John of FUBU. Saturday, Feb 19: Wordpress Workshop Hosted by RefreshMiami, a web/tech pro networking group, and led by top WordPress architect David Bisset who runs WordCamp Miami. Hands-on full day conference where users bring their laptops and learn to develop a fully functional WordPress site in style. Monday, Feb 21: Social Media Marketing Part of the LP Weekly Workshop Series teaching the basics of digital media tools as marketing and PR tactics. Monday, Feb 28: Customer Growth and Retention Part of the LP Weekly Workshop Series exploring the importance of both customer growth and retention for business. Wednesday, Mar 2 and Friday, Mar 4: Financials and Pro-Formas Workshop on financial modeling with practical component for participants to develop pro-formas for LP users and Business Plan Contest finalists. In addition to these events open to students, alumni and the community at large, the Launch Pad team regularly attends chamber events, entrepreneur and small business networking events and other community events to engage the entrepreneurial community and connect our students to the South Florida business network.
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