The Student Launch Pad (SLP) has just finished its second academic year of operation at Towson University. After a pilot year that served to experiment and discover where Student Launch Pad fit in the TU ecosystem, the 2015–2016 academic year was SLP’s first “full” year. With two years under our belt, it is finally time to take a breath, look back, and see how we did.
Student Launch Pad activities are divided into six categories: In-class workshops, Tabling, Entrepreneur U, Speaker Series, Entrepreneur Fair, Advising, and Partnership Activities. If you want to find more information about any of these, check out the Student Launch Pad website. Between these six categories, the Student Launch Pad has generated 2,006 student interactions since inception. We had a very strong pilot year, or so we thought until we increased interactions by more than 50% in the following year.
As a “new kid” on campus, 90% of our battle is generating awareness of Student Launch Pad and entrepreneurship across the university. Our goal is that every student, regardless of department or college, knows that there is a resource available to them to help them become successful entrepreneurs. We cover the usual spectrum of awareness generation (i.e. social media, digital signage) but our best tool for connecting to a student is by engaging face-to-face with their entrepreneurial ideas and aspirations.
The “tabling” category encompasses all of the activities where SLP staff post on campus at various locations and events with information and promotions with the sole purpose of engaging students about their ideas and getting them excited about entrepreneurship. With this in mind, I am happy to report that tabling interactions from year one to year two increased more than three fold. These interactions mostly consist of students who have never heard of the Student Launch Pad, and our hopes are that these interactions have a viral effect as these newly introduced students share their discovery with their peers.
Another notable increase, year over year, was in student startup advising. We consider this the most accurate representation of the number of students that are significantly serious about being entrepreneurial and starting their own ventures. We had the privilege of getting to know 29 driven students that came in for SLP advising last year. This year, we had 27 students come for advising in the fall semester alone, and we have advised 47 students this year in total (with more appointments still coming in). Not all of these students are ready to launch their ideas today or tomorrow, but more importantly they are taking the next steps to get closer to the day when they can.
Other notable increases included an additional 19% attendance at Entrepreneur U, and an additional 17% attendance at Speaker Series events. Unfortunately, we saw a decrease in our Entrepreneur Fair attendance, as our spring fair this year was completely rained out. In-class workshop interactions remained stable, and we have recognized this type of interaction as an opportunity to greatly expand the exposure of the Student Launch Pad next year.
Like I stated before, 90% of our battle is student awareness. We are going to be in our junior year next semester, and I know we’re going to become as popular as we wanted to be since we were bright-eyed freshmen. We know that not every student will be an entrepreneur, start their own business, or come up with a game-breaking innovation. But, every day at Student Launch Pad, we are trying to cast our net as wide as we can, so that we can find those students that are trying to start something new and provide them the support they need to grow. We provide hands on education for those who want to build new entrepreneurial skills, and we are building a community around entrepreneurship at Towson University and in the broader community.