For Immediate Release
Helping Illinois entrepreneurs realize their dreams – one brilliant idea at a time.
January 29, 2010 Champaign-Urbana
What do the founders of Delta Airlines, You Tube, BET, and The Pampered Chef have in common? They all went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In an effort to continue in the long line of successful businesses coming out of the University of Illinois, the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership housed in the College of Business at Illinois is starting a new program called Illinois Launch.
Last year, two young brothers donated the money needed to get this program up and running. Al and Alex Goldstein founded CashNetUSA and sold it for $265M in 2006. They decided to not only give back to the university, but also to help fellow entrepreneurs realize the same success. Using their generous donation, the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership has developed a new venture pipeline project to link existing campus efforts and initiatives and to create new opportunities for students to receive mentoring, funding, and support as they launch new ventures.
In this large, decentralized institution, a variety of activities and strategies are needed to address students with different goals and at different stages of entrepreneurial interest and start-up development. Some students need to test the feasibility of a new idea or create a prototype; others are ready to write a business plan or seek funding. However, it can become a challenge to navigate the range of opportunities.
The goal of Illinois Launch is to create an individualized program designed to take student entrepreneurs from the idea stage of a business to a new venture ready to launch and pitch to investors. This is a campus-wide effort which seeks to link and exploit synergies between existing programs, identify gaps and needs, and promote an awareness and understanding of this pipeline of opportunities. The primary partners in Launch are the Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC), IllinoisVENTURES, the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network (IEN), and EnterpriseWorks.
The program will assign a mentor to each student venture once the Launch team has assessed the application. The team will also suggest coursework, workshops, competitions, and funding streams that will work best for the venture or business idea. New ventures may seek space in EnterpriseWorks, apply for funding, attend workshops and meet successful entrepreneurs and investors. Each year, Launch will host a Demo Day for student start-ups in Chicago. Additionally, in coordination with Launch, the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership is developing Illinois Angels, a group of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders interested in investing in young companies. Launch ventures will have an opportunity to pitch to the Illinois Angels starting this Fall.
For more information or to apply, visit www.ael.illinois.edu or contact:
Amara Andrews, JD
Assistant Director, Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership
University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, College of Business
270 Wohlers Hall, 1206 S. Sixth Street
Champaign, Illinois 61820
Phone: 217-244-9425, Direct: 217-333-0656, Fax: 217-244-3118