Posted tagged ‘Launchpad’

This Quarter’s Focus: Action

February 4, 2009

So we finally are entering the final stretch of the Business LaunchPad. We the graduate this December and we have 11 months to get ready. The students are ready. They have the process down. Professor Iocco shifted gears with the class. We now only meet one and one and our homework is to meet the individual needs of each group’s business. Some kids will have to read a book, another will have to do market research, and some will have to start making films. The big word of the quarter is action. We have the presentations down. We just are working on the actual ideas and making them a reality. It is a very exciting time and you can feel the urgency in the air.

Passion to Succeed

February 4, 2009

Last week it seemed that every professor was lecturing about passion in some way or another. It apparently woke up a lot of students and forced them take a hard long at their ideas and business models. I would say half the class changed their idea this week. But this is welcomed and encouraged. Our professors have come across a multitude of people throughout the course of their careers who have novel business ideas that they later find are unsustainable, which leads them to abandon not only the idea but also their life as an entrepreneur. The LaunchPad process is the antidote to that problem. It forces students to think of a new idea and pursue it. Students will hopefully go through numerous ideas at JP Catholic. The idea is to get one to stick really well.

This past week, people were going through the fleshing out process much faster than anytime previously. Students were able to go through ideas and make them more concrete within the LaunchPad. The ideas were presented and new directions were given. Although so people are starting over, it’s not really a big deal, as they are more passionate about it, which leads them to plow through the details much faster than before.

The ideas were getting more interesting and more exciting. You can really see the pulse of the LaunchPad growing. People are getting more excited, more intense, and most importantly more passionate.

Business Launch Pad: What Is It?

February 4, 2009

So my job is to show you guys out there what is going on in the Business Launch Pad. So the first question that comes to mind is: What is the Business Launch Pad, Justin? You can look it up on the school’s website:Click Here

But if you want a student’s version of what it is, I am going to tell you. Well it is the final project for every student at JP Catholic, but it is not just an academic project. It is a platform to launch a real, breathing business. The project is part of the last six quarters of our time at JP Catholic. What is interesting is that every class that you take at JP Catholic has its end goal in supporting the Business LaunchPad. As an example, our marketing class’ final marketing plan was an initial marketing plan for our business idea.

Every professor is at a student’s disposal to offer invaluable advice and mentorship. This advice comes from true business leaders that have proven track records. Every business professor is an expert in their field as well as an experienced executive. To prove this, the chairman of a bank taught my economics class. The ability to seek advice from any professor is invaluable to the development and launching a business.

The school pours every resource it has at its disposable. If it doesn’t and you need a certain resource, they bend over backwards to get it. The school’s physical and intellectual assets also become the assets of any student venture. You are able to use their phones, internet, buildings, and really any typical business need. So instead of launching your company and taking on huge debts with non-strategic assets, you are able to save money and use the school’s infrastructure as your own.

What this means to us is that we are able to mitigate the risk of launching a new business. Everyone knows the failure rates for a new small business, but with the JP Catholic Business LaunchPad, you are able to dramatically decrease the failure rate with mentorship and cost savings.

The director of the LaunchPad is Professor Dominic Iocco. Here is a little about himself:

Family: Dominic and his wife Kate have three children. They currently attend St. Therese of Carmel Parish in Carmel Valley. Dominic and Kate grew up in Michigan and relocated to San Diego in late 2007.

Education: Dominic holds a BAA and an MBA.

Career: Dominic, along with his parents built a company that was a pioneer in the highly lucrative, and heavily patent protected inkjet cartridge business. Having developed some key intellectual property in the form of trade secrets around a novel cartridge refilling process, they were able to rapidly grow the business supplying inkjet cartridges to the wholesale market. Their company was acquired in 2007 by the world’s largest aftermarket inkjet and toner company. He also orchestrated the rescue of a failed PayPal competitor that had received over $14 million in venture capital. He was able to successfully stabilize and sell the operation. Dominic, in addition to his role at JP Catholic University, serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at San Diego’s CONNECT. In this role he is helping other entrepreneurs build their companies.

Check out his website.

It has all the information for the LaunchPad classes on there as well as student presentations.

Summary of the First Quarter of the LaunchPad

February 4, 2009

In order to give you a behind the scenes look at the LaunchPad, I have to bring you guys up to speed. I am a junior and we did our first quarter of the six-quarter series. The main purpose of the quarter was to examine an industry and increase speaking, writing, and presentation skills. We had to give numerous speeches about an industry of our choice. We would choice any industry that we were interested in. From there, we would analyze the industry as a whole and understand it better. From this understanding, business opportunities would present themselves.

Many industries were chosen and many were changed. The key was finding an industry that you were truly interested in. My colleague, Chris Lane, and I started the class looking at opportunities in the real estate markets, more specifically, college town real estate markets. Through careful analysis of this industry, we realized there was not a significant problem in the industry that we could solve (the real estate markets have bigger problems than a solution we could have thought of).

Check out our terrible first presentation, it’s the first one on the page: (keep in mind these were presentations on where we were at).

Halfway through the quarter, we changed our industry to laundry services. This may seem like a random jump, but it wasn’t. We were talking to the LaunchPad director, Professor Iocco, and we hitting off ideas to him. We were really curious about launching a small community bank focusing on providing funding to small to medium sized businesses in San Diego (currently there is a huge demand for this). Again we would be unable to deliver as a bank. It is way too complex and to launch a bank, you need a CEO with numerous years of banking experience as a CEO to get a bank charter (Chris and I had a combined total of zero experience as a CEO). We were disappointed again. Through this conversation, Chris joked and said “what about a laundromat for college-kids with high-end amenities, and call it The Mat.” This was an idea his uncle had for a business. Professor Iocco entertained the joke and we kept talking about it. Then we realized as we kept talking about the laundromat, many problems surfaced. Professor Iocco told us to check out the industry and see what are current solutions. We did and realized there were numerous problems and a few solutions that weren’t exactly favorable.

Through mentorship by the professors, we had a new direction. This happened to almost every student in the LaunchPad. They started somewhere, ended up somewhere us. At the end of the six quarters, I’m sure there is a possibility we could end up somewhere else again.

So we spent the rest of quarter analyzing the laundry services industry. The class had a couple of deliverables: one being a 30-minute presentation on the industry and a 20-page paper on the industry as well. The whole quarter was spent preparing for these two. We would give mini speeches through out the quarter that would be building into the final one. These helped our skills and build confidence. I can’t think of a school that really pours its heart and attention into the success of the students. Through constant mentorship and feedback from faculty and students alike, all of our presentations really took shape. It was really awesome to see the change from the beginning of the class to the presentations at the end.

Beginning Presentation of Laundry Services Industry

Final Presentation of Laundry Services Industry

Overall the class was great. Every student came out a better presenter from it. It really taught us to examine an industry and see problems and trying to solve those problems. The next class will focus on solving that problem.