Blackstone LaunchPad

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The LaunchPad is virtual! Stop by our coworking space on Pragli from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday to talk to our staff members, host informal meetings, and more.

Meet the Team

Mitch Jacobson, Executive Director

He/Him/His | | LinkedIn 

Mitch Jacobson

Mitch is the Executive Director of The LaunchPad at The University of Texas at Austin. He also serves as the director of the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI)—the university’s business and technology incubator and the ED of the SW I-Corps Node at UT. As the past director of the Clean Energy Incubator at ATI, Mitch helped build the $2.5B cleantech ecosystem in Central Texas over the past eight years. He has over 20 years in the tech world in executive sales positions at Dell and Tech Data. He is the founder of the Eyes of Texas Partners Angel Group. In 2016, he was named “Mentor of the Year” in Austin by the Young Men’s Business League and the Young Women’s Alliance as part of Austin Under 40. He and his wife Janna have three children and two grandchildren.

Schedule a mentorship meeting with Mitch here.


Nina Ho, Assistant Director

She/Her/Hers | | LinkedIn 

Nina Ho 

In addition to being the assistant director of The LaunchPad at The University of Texas at Austin, Nina Ho is also an entrepreneur, creative director, and educator. She is the founder of collective blue—a lifestyle brand that celebrates diverse creators through digital storytelling and event production as well as missfits productions—an annual festival and event series for self-identifying Asian American women in entrepreneurship and the arts. Nina has been recognized in publications such as Business Insider, Austin Monthly, and Austin Woman for her work. Nina has a B.S. in advertising, B.A. in French, Portuguese minor, and a Bridging Disciplines certificate in “Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship” from The University of Texas at Austin.

Schedule a mentorship meeting with Nina here.


Shannon Lundquist, Program Coordinator

She/Her/Hers | | LinkedIn

Shannon Lundquist 

Shannon is the program coordinator and “Mom” of The LaunchPad at The University of Texas at Austin. In her 18 years of working in education, she has worked as a physical education teacher and office manager in the private sector. She most recently served as the office manager for the Austin Technology Incubator, the startup incubator of The University of Texas at Austin, where she was responsible for, among other things, membership and equity contracts for their participating startups. Shannon is near completion of a B.S. degree in healthcare management from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She was awarded the 2011 University of Texas Outstanding Staff Award and is a veteran of the United States Navy where she was a hospital corpsman and later a physical therapy technician. She was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal (with gold star in lieu of second award) for meritorious service during Operation Desert Shield and was a member of the Honor (Color) Guard during military ceremonies and events before being honorably discharged. She worked as a licensed physical therapy assistant after leaving the military before moving “back home” to Texas with her family. Shannon now resides in Austin.


Sandy West, Director of Development & Partnerships

She/Her/Hers | | LinkedIn

Sandy West

Sandy West is an entrepreneur at heart. She’s the founding president and director of a management consultancy dedicated to strategy development, integrated marketing communication, thought leadership initiatives, and go-to-market plans. Her personal passion is for brand creation, activation, and launch execution; her favorite mantra is “it’s all about the brand.” Clients have included Fortune 500, emerging growth companies, and 100+ startups. Prior to joining the LaunchPad, she served as director of marketing for ATI where she managed ATI’s rebrand, relaunch, and production of their thirtieth-anniversary celebration as the longest active technology incubator in the US. She also currently serves on the advisory board for, an Austin-based AI service provider. Her previous roles have included: VP, corporate affairs for F1 US Grand Prix, executive director of the inaugural Circuit Events Host Committee; VP, director of corporate communications for Motorola (head of global branding); and a number of executive roles with Austin-based AI startups. Sandy earned a B.S. in business administration and management from San Jose State University and while at Motorola was selected for Motorola’s Chairman Institute (a Kellogg School of Business MBA for the Top 200 Executives at Motorola).

Schedule a mentorship meeting with Sandy here.


Bart Bohn, Director of SEAL & Special Projects

He/Him/His | LinkedIn

Bart Bohn 

Bart is a serial entrepreneur in building entrepreneurship programs (and his own occasional startups). In that journey, Bart founded 3 Day Startup to provide learning-by-doing entrepreneurship education programs to college students; ATI Water to reduce embedded water in agriculture, energy production, and manufacturing; WaterRIOT to get internet-of-things technologists to focus on our water infrastructure; SEAL (Student Entrepreneur Acceleration and Launch) to transition the most promising university-sourced startups to the mainstream startup ecosystem; and Build Sec Foundry to help veterans launch cybersecurity startups. His own startups were members of Techstars, Capital Factory, and Austin Technology Incubator. In all, startups he supported have gone onto raise over $1B in capital and already realized $800m in exits.


Innovation Fellows

Starting in fall 2019, we launched our Student Innovation Fellows program in which we hired undergraduate students from all backgrounds to treat the LaunchPad as a startup and help us tackle our business challenges. While our staff set the priorities for our daily operations, students lead the initiatives. From proposing a content marketing strategy to expand our reach to more students, producing events from the ground up, to developing a data system to track student founders along their journey, our Innovation Fellows are empowered to build an entrepreneurial experience that aligns with their personal interests and goals. 

If you’re interested in becoming a LaunchPad Innovation Fellow, please email our Assistant Director, Nina Ho, for more information.  

Nathan Hughes (He/Him/His)

Nathan Hughes

Major: Mechanical engineering
Graduation Year: Junior, spring 2022

Seun Ibitoye (She/Her/Hers)

Seun Ibitoye

Major: Economics and pre-med
Graduation Year: Fifth year, fall 2020

Montse Santibanez  (She/Her/Hers)
Montse Santibanez
Major: Theater arts, international relations & global studies, and BDP in Human Rights and Social Justice 
Graduation Year: Junior, spring 2022