A new, hands-on learning program will help University at Buffalo students launch entrepreneurships. WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley was at UB's north campus Monday as it officially opened Blackstone LaunchPad.
UB leaders opened up the center inside the Student Union. It is a place where any of the approximately 30,000 UB students can seek guidance in developing a business idea. UB President Satish Tripathi tells us it's open to all students no matter what they are studying.
“This is a facility, this is a program which is open to everyone. It’s not just for the business school or engineering school. It’s right in the middle of the center, right in the Student Union, where people are seeing it, going and coming, so this provides that ecosystem,” stated Tripathi.
The program is already running on 17-campuses world-wide.
“And it really is amazing to see the amount of students come through the door with these amazing ideas that just take flight,” said Alisha Slye, Global Director at Blackstone LaunchPad.
Last fall the Blackstone Charitable Foundation pledged a three-year, 4.5-million dollar grant to connect five New York campuses, UB, Cornell and the Universities of New York, Syracuse and Albany.
“So whether it is a humus company, a wearable device, believe or not – camel milk – I mean it ranges from really serious entrepreneurs who take it very far to students who just want to participate in the community,” explained Slye.
Blackstone LaunchPad will match students with mentors and venture capital to help with their student pitch.
Some students who have already launched entrepreneur businesses had information displayed in the student union.
UB graduate student Kevin Cullen and his wife, Christen, are operating Sup Erie Adventures. It’s a stand paddle boarding and Kayak business at Sunset Bay Beach. The Cullen's are hoping to hook up with Blackstone LaunchPad to grow their business.
“You learn a lot and it’s challenging, so a center like Blackstone – try to coordinate all those resources into one location is a tremendous benefit to students and alumni,” explained Kevin Cullen. “Since we are, you know, new at business, keeping books and you know doing our taxes,” said Christen Cullen. “Marketing, it’s a ton of work,” said the Cullen’s.
So far the Blackstone program has helped over 14,000 students launch their business.