Blackstone LaunchPad brings entrepreneurship support to UT

Rachel Cooper

Students may have noticed a disruption in the study space at the Flawn Academic Center where the new Blackstone LaunchPad center has taken root.

The Blackstone LaunchPad had its grand opening last Wednesday after receiving a $1 million grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation last June. The program, which is one of 19 in the nation, aims to provide support to aspiring entrepreneurs among students, faculty and staff. 

“Our vision is that entrepreneurship is not just about starting companies,” said Cristal Glangchai, director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at UT. “We want to make entrepreneurship accessible to everyone. We think it can happen in any context, whether it’s a startup, a small business (or) within a profession. We just really see that entrepreneurship is an important skill set that everyone at the University needs to leave with.” 

Glangchai said the program will offer one-on-one coaching, online tools and a network of fellow entrepreneurs within the community. Glangchai said the FAC was chosen to house the program because of its central location on campus.

Brent Iverson, dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies, helped write the proposal for the grant from Blackstone. The program, hosted by the School of Undergraduate Studies and the Office of the Vice President for Research, will emphasize both internal and external networking and the program will support other University programs rather than compete with them. 

“The idea is that everybody is going to support everybody else,” Iverson said. “I would like to dream there are going to be some teams that develop naturally that have students, faculty and staff all mixed up that wouldn’t have happened any other way.”

Unspecified business freshman Faizan Kabir is CEO of Kleer Marketing, a marketing firm started by Kabir and two other UT students. Kabir said his company has been recruited to provide marketing services for the program. 

“We think this will be an amazing opportunity to support young entrepreneurs and also provide jobs to current college students,” Kabir said. 

The Blackstone LaunchPad will officially begin offering its services in the fall, but Glangchai said people can reach out to her personally with ideas now.