Blackstone LaunchPad

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The LaunchPad is going virtual! From now until the end of the semester, students can stop by our virtual coworking space Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (If you need separate rooms for meetings, we can create breakout rooms for your group.)

Meet the Team

Mitch Jacobson

Mitch Jacobson
Executive Director
mjacobson@ati.utexas.edu
LinkedIn | Twitter

Mitch is the Executive Director of the Blackstone 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. As the past director of the Clean Energy Incubator at ATI, Mitch helped build the $2.5B clean tech ecosystem in Central Texas over the past 8 years. He was recently awarded “Volunteer of the Year for Economic Development” by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. 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.

His 30-year career includes serving as VP of Sales & Operations for Tech Data Corporation and a number of executive positions at Dell Technologies in the U.S., Europe, and beyond. Mitch founded the Eyes of Texas Partners angel investment group in 1999 in Austin. He serves on the Board of Directors/Advisors at The Nature Conservancy, the UT Environmental Science Institute, Texas Foundation of Innovative Communities, The Austin Forum, and EcoRise. Mitch earned a BSBA in business and marketing from the University of Florida and pursued his MBA at the University of South Florida. He and his wife Janna have three children and two grandchildren.

Schedule a mentorship meeting with Mitch here.


Nina Ho

Nina Ho
Assistant Director
nina.q.ho@utexas.edu
LinkedIn | Twitter

Nina Ho is an entrepreneur, creative director, and educator based in Austin, Texas. 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 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 Language and Literature, a Portuguese minor, and a Bridging Disciplines certificate in “Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship” from The University of Texas at Austin. She speaks English, Vietnamese, French, and Brazilian Portuguese. Learn more about her work.

Schedule a mentorship meeting with Nina here.


Shannon Lundquist

Shannon Lundquist
Program Coordinator
slundquist@austin.utexas.edu
LinkedIn

Shannon serves as the Program Coordinator at the Blackstone 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

Sandy West
Director of Development & Partnerships
swest@ati.utexas.edu
LinkedIn

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 LaunchPad, she served as Director of Marketing for ATI where she managed ATI’s rebrand, relaunch, and production of their 30th Anniversary Celebration as the longest active technology incubator in the US. She also currently serves on the Advisory Board for Kungfu.ai, 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

Bart Bohn
Director of SEAL & Special Projects
LinkedIn

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 educational 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 cyber security 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.

 

Our 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 around Operations, Marketing, Community Building, Mentorship, Venue Management, and Business Development, students lead the initiatives. From proposing a content marketing strategy to help us reach more students, building out a Junior Fellows program for their peers, to developing an IT infrastructure to track student founders along their journey, Innovation Fellows are empowered to build an entrepreneurial experience that aligns with their personal interests and goals.

If you’re interested in becoming a Student Innovation Fellow for fall 2020-spring 2021, please email our Assistant Director Nina Ho for more information.

 

Fatoumata Diallo Fatoumata Diallo
Major: Health and Society Pre Law
Graduation Year: Spring 2020
Favorite Quote: “Leave the world a better place than you found it.”

Timothy OgunlowoTimothy Ogunlowo
Major: Human Dimensions of Organization
Graduation Year: Spring 2022
Favorite Quote: “Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.” -Uri Levine

Nathan HughesNathan Hughes
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Graduation Year: Spring 2022
Favorite Quote: “Action is the antidote to despair.” -Joan Baez

Mamadou BaldeMamadou Balde
Major: Chemical Engineering
Graduation Year: Spring 2020
Favorite Quote: “Use your time now to build your empire or use your time for the rest of your life to build someone else’s empire.”

Seun IbitoyeSeun Ibitoye
Major: Economics & Pre-Med
Graduation Year: Spring 2020
Favorite Quote: “Inspiration is a seed that turns into a vision, that turns into a goal and hopefully turns into victory.” -Grey’s Anatomy

Seth ApplebaumSeth Applebaum
Major: Communication & Leadership
Graduation Year: Spring 2020
Favorite Quote: “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” -Wayne Gretzky

Rebecca ChenRebecca Chen
Major: Advertising
Graduation Year: Spring 2020
Favorite Quote: “A story is based on what people think is important, so when we live a story, we are telling people around us what we think is important.” -Donald Miller