our year in review
Support Kent State Entrepreneurs!
All the CEO Ladies
In partnership with the Women's Center at Kent State, we kicked off another year of All the CEO Ladies, a meet-up group comprised of women entrepreneurs working to gain skills and support each other and their ventures.
LaunchNET & the College of the Arts launched Creative Hustle, a series of workshops & speaker panels all about how to make it with your art. Each month, we brought successful creative professionals from the area and a hands-on workshop to apply learnings, culminating in a pitch competition!
Lindsay Pizzuro, LaunchNET student fellow, launched a podcast called LaunchTalks! The podcast features interviews with Kent State founders, entrepreneurs, and innovators talking about their journeys as students and business owners. Check it out!
LaunchNET teamed up with Student Support Services and Student Multicultural Center for S.N.A.P.P., a program focused on helping students to solve problems and issues that they find in campus programs.
Elevator Pitch workshops and practice
LaunchNET once again joined Career Exploration and Development's Career Prep workshops, offering elevator pitching tips and practice for the career and internship fair. We were even at the fair providing a last-minute chance to practice with us before speaking with employers.
Claire Coder, Social Entrepreneur
We joined the Women's Center in an event featuring Columbus entrepreneur Claire Coder discussing her social enterprise, Aunt Flow.
Client Profile: Javon Miller, Bovazi
Entrepreneurship takes many forms. It can take advantage of new technology or a new way of using old technology. In some cases, it combines new and old to create something entirely new. In Javon Miller’s case, his business was created by combining a new hobby with a tool that humans have used for centuries.
“Bovazi is a handcrafted pen and pencil company that I started in January 2017 as a senior in high school,” says Mr. Miller, a freshman psychology major. “I hand carve and assemble luxury pens from different materials.”
Remesh raises $10 Million!
Through a series of company-building steps, programs and funding, Remesh, what started as the idea of a Kent State University student, has become a star in the Northeast Ohio tech-startup world. The company recently raised $10 million from a Series A funding round led by General Catalyst with participation from seed-round lead investor LionBird Ventures.
Andrew Konya, co-founder of Remesh and Kent State alumnus, who received his bachelor’s degree in physics in 2010, began his entrepreneurial journey as a Kent State graduate student in 2013 by developing algorithms to facilitate conversations between large groups of people, inspired by the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict. He then spent time at Kent State hackathons building a prototype and working with advisors from LaunchNET Kent State (then named Blackstone LaunchPad) during the winter and spring of 2014.
LaunchNET Pop-Up Shop
LaunchNET Kent State hosted its third pop-up shop at Tree City Coffee. The event featured local artists and entrepreneurs. The event entailed an awesome night of shopping, coffee, networking, and fun!
See more of the event below!
Live Teen Pitch Tank
International Entrepreneur Workshop
International entrepreneurs learned from legal experts on the OPT process and on starting venture ideas in this engaging workshop!
Kent State Mini Maker Faire
Makers across all disciplines, from art and design to technology and science had the opportunity to exhibit and discuss their unique talents in one environment at the annual Kent State Mini Maker Faire, held at the University Library. Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue to for these “makers” to show hobbies, experiments, and projects.
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.
Awards and EXPO
Each spring, we hold an awards and expo event to showcase our current entrepreneurs as well as recognize our partners, supporters, scholarship winners, and participants.
See below for this year's award recipients!
Paul L. Pfeiffer Student Startup Scholarship Award Recipient
Represented by Gary Myers for the Paul L Pfeiffer Faculty Award
Career Exploration and Development
University Partner - Department
University Partner - Emerging
University Partner - Individual
Yayra Tamakloe, TAY Herbal Tea Infusions
$500 - Student Launch Fund Venture Creation Award
Stephen Dickman, Big Need Marketing
$500 - Student Launch Fund Venture Creation Award
E'Lyric Christopher, Lyric’s Cupcakes
$500 - Student Launch Fund Venture Creation Award
Destination Kent State
We started the summer by welcoming new Kent State students during the Destination Kent State program!
Entrepreneurship Immersion Week
Five Kent State students took a week of their summer to fully immerse themselves in an entrepreneurial environment, learning what it take to start a successful business. The LaunchNET Kent State clients joined student teams from 9 other Northeast Ohio colleges and universities for Entrepreneurship Immersion Week (EIW), which took place at John Carroll University.
Build Your Own Brand
We kicked off our Build Your Own Brand series. Build Your Own Brand is an entrepreneurial workshop series geared toward underrepresented minority students with businesses or business ideas, to help them gain the skills and tools to be confident leaders with memorable brands.
Fire-it Up Fridays
The LaunchNET office is the place to be on Fridays as we now have Fire-it Up Fridays! Come get fired up in the LaunchNET office every Friday with speakers, founders, and workshops designed to inspire and move the needle.
This semester also featured a ton of workshops in our office, including the Honors Leadership Academy!
Donald Wayne McLeod, author of Perceptionology 101, spoke in the Kent State ballroom on Tuesday October 9, to a crowd of local high school students, Kent State students, staff, faculty, and community business members from all over Northeast Ohio. The event was a collaboration between LaunchNET Kent State; DECA at Theodore Roosevelt High School, Kent; and the Hudson, Kent, Streetsboro, and Stow-Munroe Falls Chambers of Commerce.
Client Profile: Katie Kimble, By Katie K
By Katie K is a jewelry line created by Katie Kimble, a 2017 Kent State College of Business graduate and current Higher Education and Student Affairs grad student.
Her boho, fun design aesthetic came to life at a dining room table covered in beads (her kind of Legos). Katie is devoted to making jewelry that complements everyday style and spirit. Katie brings her bubbly personality to her business, through her fun and funky designs, as well as in meetings and while selling her wares. Her tenacity and independent spirit have paid dividends, now that she is able to sell fully licensed Kent State-branded jewelry items.
Uju is a senior fashion major and the founder of Pop Style (@_popstyle), an on-campus pop-up thrift shop that allows you to buy, donate and trade clothing for $3, $7, or $10. Customers can donate clothes they don't want anymore but someone else could wear and trade clothes at each price point.
Kent State hosts high school innovation forum, “NEO Innovates”
A team of Kent State students took first place in the seventh annual Mission:Life international competition on November 12, which took place at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Mission:Life is an international and interdisciplinary competition to address global sustainability issues, while fostering innovative ideas and entrepreneurship and originated in 2012 at the Pontificia Universidade Catolica Do Parana (PUCPR), located in Curitiba, in the southern part of Brazil. This year’s Kent State team consisted of: Anthony Coetzer-Liversage (PhD, Public Health: Prevention Science), Tam Ngoc Minh Nguyen (Master of Public Health: Health Policy and Management), Dania Mofleh (Master of Public Health: Epidemiology), and Joud Roufael (Master of Public Health: Health Policy and Management). Each student brought not only their educational credentials to bear in designing their solution, but their own experiences and backgrounds as international students.
Support for the competition was provided through a collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences, Design Innovation Initiative, LaunchNET, and members of the College of Public Health.
On November 30, the Kent State University Library hosted the Girls4Steam hackathon-style event, which brought together over 80 local high school students. The purpose of the annual event is to “inspire young women to be creators of technological innovations—not just consumers of technology—who use technology as a creative tool to build solutions for problems people face in their daily lives.” The students were presented with technology training and then tasked with a design innovation challenge to collaboratively create their own unique product, such as a game, website, app, or circuit project.
She recently opened Rising Star Center for the Arts in downtown Akron, where she hopes to “create a positive, fun, and encouraging learning environment for the arts so that everyone can be free to pursue their creative dreams.”
Bethany (senior, Integrative Studies) shared what inspired her to start Rising Star: “What ignited a spark in me to start a new business was first my passion for the arts. I am a proud arts advocate, as I have loved playing music, acting, and creating throughout my entire life. I always have new ideas popping into my head like popcorn and I wanted to create a positive space for students that was safe for creativity without fear of being rejected, discouraged, or excluded.
Client Profile: Gregory Joyce II, Provok Clothing
Transfer student Gregory Joyce II is a great example of the wide variety of clients served by LaunchNET. While many students come to the office looking to start a venture of some type, Gregory came in with multiple businesses already going and ideas for more.
His journey to successful college student and business person, like most, is not a simple, straightforward one. He grew up on the west side of Cleveland, and after completing a semester of college at the University of Akron, he was kicked out of school. In 2014 he moved to Atlanta, Georgia and attended Morehouse College, where he was exposed to different world than the one he grew up in, allowing him to foster his love for art.
Greg launched Provok Clothing in the spring of 2018. After his clothing line’s initial launch, The Shaderoom (aka TSR Media Company) shared the brand, sending it viral. This set him up for a college tour, where he participated in fashion shows, speaking engagements, and pop-up shops at nine universities. His brand has also participated in over a dozen fashion shows across Ohio. His brand has been worn by music artists, comedians, athletes, and media moguls alike.
We would like to give a special shout-out and thank you to all of our student employees this year! LaunchNET would not have been able to produce these events and activities without your hard work throughout the year.