Blackstone LaunchPad

Looking to speak to someone about a new venture concept? The Blackstone LaunchPad at USC supports student ventures from the very earliest stages of their business careers, helping provide them the resources and skills to launch startups or entrepreneurial careers. The Blackstone LaunchPad has an international network of 30 schools and >900,000 students, having distributed over $175,000 to program participants. 

At USC, the Blackstone Launchpad offers mentoring (to schedule, click here), programming (calendar available here), and access to unique on and off-campus activities including an annual conference and fellowship opportunities. 

In fact, Blackstone LaunchPad applications are now open for its Summer 2021 Fellowship program -- an intensive, 8-week program in which a select group of 50 student startups nationwide receive mentoring, training, and $5,000 grants. If interested in securing a nomination for this opportunity, contact us now. We work closely with the USC teams selected for this wonderful opportunity, from first referral through fellowship. Check out the USC teams who received Spring 2021 Fellowships, below:

Spring 2021 Blackstone Launchpad Fellowship Winners

Key LinkedInKey Learning, an offline ed-tech app that uses byte-sized videos to teach in-demand vocational skills to refugee students, was created by Autumn Gupta (B.S. '20) and Anya Nutakki (B.S. '22) in a Viterbi class geared towards social impact. After conducting feasibility analysis in Moira refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece, the two decided they had to do something to make the dreams of the young people they met in the camps feel more attainable. KeyLearning serves as a critical connector to opportunities for a population that has not benefited from growth in the ed-tech industry due to displacement by war or other conflict, or barriers to entry like income or language. Through KeyLearning, users can learn everything from coding to jewelry making without access to the internet in order to train necessary skills to make their dreams a reality. The KeyLearning team noted the value of the peer-to-peer mentorship and networking they’ve received as members of the LaunchPad Fellowship cohort, specifically among other students founding social impact ventures. 

SoundMindBrian A. Femminella (B.S. '22) combined his experience as a Private in the US military and in neuroscience research to create SoundMind: an application designed to lower one's concentration of stress hormones, increase memory resilience, and mitigate the impacts of emotional and auditory triggers. SoundMind co-founded with Travis Chen (B.S. '21) with the goal of bridging the gap between innovative technologies such as AI and VR in cognitive therapy and underrepresented groups in the Veteran, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC communities as well as victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trauma, anxiety, and depression. It offers music therapy, brain exercises, and other tools to improve the mental health of its users. SoundMind is currently in the beta testing stage with over 30 COVID-19 first responders nationwide using the pilot version. The SoundMind team sought the opportunity, with Blackstone LaunchPad fellowship, to find the best product-market fit and accelerate its launch process -- seeking to get the application into the hands of the people who need it most, as quickly as possible. 

Inked SportsWhen the NCAA announced in a landmark case this year that they would begin allowing Division I athletes to profit off of their names, images, and likenesses, Tyler Shooshani (B.S. '22) and Max Friedman (B.S. '22) spotted an opportunity to create Inked Sports, a platform aimed at helping these athletes-turned-influencers maximize their branding and social media potential. Inked Sports connects these athletes to resources like brand deals, sponsorships, and other marketing opportunities, while also providing the hassle-free engagement tracking and management that ensures they can focus on their sports first. The platform combines the co-founders' individual passions for collegiate athletics and product development, as they have backgrounds working with USC Athletics and in the tech space. Inked Sport is set to launch in Spring of 2021, depending on the finalization of the new NCAA Name, Image, and Likeness legislation. The Inked Sports team has particularly enjoyed the networking opportunities presented to them through the Blackstone LaunchPad fellowship, as they build their early stage business.

CONGRATULATIONS to Max Orozco and Ready Teddy by Lumeum -- for their 2nd place win in the 2021 Blackstone Launchpad Startup Grind competition!!