• 2018

    our year in review

  • Stats at a glance

    totals across life of program






    arts and design (majors)


    business (majors)


    STEM (majors)


    (other majors)

  • Support Kent State Entrepreneurs!

    In the spirit of the holiday season, please take a moment to support our clients with this LaunchNET gift guide

    Symone Baskerville, a senior fashion design major recently opened her business, Kent Fabrics in downtown Kent! Support Symone and Kent Fabrics at the grand opening celebration on January 19th!

    Kent State alumnus, Victor Searcy, launched Sauce the City restaurant in the Ohio City Galley! Support Vick and grab some amazing food!

  • January

    We hit the ground running in 2018! Our entrepreneurs were eager to get a head-start on new goals for the year and we joined the party with several innovative events.

    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.

    Creative Hustle!

    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!

    5th Annual Fashion Tech Hackathon

    Students once again came together to form teams and spent 36 hours building apps, garments, and other wearable technologies at the 5th annual Fashion Tech Hackathon!

  • february

    LaunchTalks Podcast

    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.

  • March

    Idea Olympics

    Symone Baskerville took home the top prize of $2,500, for her concept Kent Fabrics at our annual pitch competition, the Idea Olympics.

    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.”


    Continued here...


  • Idea Olympics

  • April

    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.


    Continued here...

    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

    Current Kent State University entrepreneurs were the judges this time as we hosted local high school students in our "Live Teen Pitch Tank", cosponsored with the Young Entrepreneurs Institute.

    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!

  • Symone BAskerville

    Paul L. Pfeiffer Student Startup Scholarship Award Recipient

    Jennifer Kulics

    Represented by Gary Myers for the Paul L Pfeiffer Faculty Award

    Victor Searcy

    Alumni Entrepreneur

    Career Exploration and Development

    University Partner - Department

    Women’s Center

    University Partner - Emerging

    Jackie Ruller

    University Partner - Individual

    Marty Erbaugh

    Program Mentor

    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

  • Summer

    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.

  • September

    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.

    Office Workshops

    This semester also featured a ton of workshops in our office, including the Honors Leadership Academy!

  • October

    Elevator Pitch

    We once again jumped in the elevators in The University Library, this time on the second floor near our new location, to deliver our 90 second elevator pitches. This was the sixth time we held this Elevator Pitch event!


    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.

    Continued here...

    Client Profile: Obianuju "Uju" Izuchukwu, Pop Style



    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.


    Continued here...

  • November

    Sauce the City

    Kent State alumnus, Victor Searcy, officially launched Sauce the City restaurant in the Ohio City Galley! Support Vick and grab some amazing food!

    Kent State hosts high school innovation forum, “NEO Innovates”

    On Wednesday, November 7, 2018, over 220 high school students and faculty from around Northeast Ohio gathered in the Kent State University ballroom to learn more about the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in the economics of the state of Ohio. The event was organized as part of a larger series of events around Ohio held by Entrepreneurial Engagement Ohio (EEO) and sponsored by LaunchNET Kent State.


    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.


    Continued here...


    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.


    Continued here...

    Client Profile: Bethany Westphal, Rising Start Center for the Arts

    As a passionate student of the arts, Bethany Westphal felt the need to share her love with others, specifically younger children, and help them avoid some of the negative experiences she had with music teachers growing up.

    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.


    Continued here...

  • December

    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.


    Continued here...

    Kent Fabrics

    Symone Baskerville, a senior fashion design major, had a soft opening for her business, Kent Fabrics, in downtown Kent! Support Symone and Kent Fabrics!

  • Thank You!

    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.

    Emily Gommel


    Javon Miller

    Student Fellow

    Lindsay Pizzurro

    Student Fellow

    Taylor Savage

    Student Fellow

    Zaria Ware

    Student Fellow

  • Thank you!

    A huge thanks to all of our

    entrepreneurs, collaborators, partners,

    mentors, supporters, and everyone!




    A special thank you to the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, University Libraries, our advisory board members, Office of the Provost, and all of our University partners for your support in 2018!


    2018 was an amazing year & here's to an awesome 2019!