Launch League has a new Executive Director, and here’s her story:
When I was in college, I listened to countless people talk about how I should strive to have a career that doesn’t feel like work to me. Day in and day out, the ideal situation is to be doing exactly what I am great at, and exactly what I love. I am thrilled to announce that as-of today, I have that career by accepting the position of Interim Executive Director for Launch League.
I first became engaged with the Akron startup scene when I was a student studying electrical engineering at the University of Akron. Out of an extracurricular research project sprung my startup company, Design Flux Technologies, LLC, which I co-founded in 2011. At that time, we were the perfect target for a Launch League company: first-time entrepreneurs with a scaleable product concept who had absolutely no idea where to start or how to get going. But Launch League wasn’t around in 2011, and if it weren’t for our teams determination and some happy coincidences, Design Flux might not be here today.
Fast forward to fall 2014 and I found myself at a local entrepreneurship event listening to a cheerful-looking fellow named Rick Stockburger talk about an event called a “Spacewalk”. He said he was from an organization called Launch League, and that this organization existed to increase startup success and bring founders together in a community right here in Akron. Since I had recently left my job at NASA Glenn Research Center to become a full-time entrepreneur, the combination of “startup community”, “success”, and quite frankly, “space”-anything caught my attention. I attended the Spacewalk event and started to see what Launch League could do for my startup. I saw the power of their online community using Slack, where I could ask a startup-related questions and get answers from another local founder within minutes. I made both business and personal connections at their Techtini Tuesday networking events and found new ways to address issues within my own startup from founders that were just a few steps ahead of me.
“There really is something to this concept of community”, I thought (having been a critic in the past). I saw the effect of accountability and a support system, and how this invisible force was pushing me and team to be successful. Because we weren’t just fighting for Design Flux anymore, we were fighting for the entire Akron startup community.
Following my new-found passion for helping other founders, Launch League ushered me into their Board of Directors in Spring 2016. In parallel with supporting their Micro Communities, the NEXT Ohio Startup Conference, and even their volleyball team with Stay in Play Recreation, I continued to dig my teeth into the Akron entrepreneurship ecosystem. I joined the Community Advisory Council of the EX[L] Center at the University of Akron and continue to support their programs and entrepreneurship education outreach. I’m also leading an effort to launch the first startup career fair at the University of Akron on October 26th, and continue to expand my professional speaking by sharing keynotes on entrepreneurship and women in tech at colleges and conferences around the globe. My recent talk at Pechakucha Akron in April 2015 will give you a sample. 🙂
So what’s next for Launch League and for my role?
As the title of this note says, “New Launch Director, Same Trajectory” (I had to sneak a NASA-reference in here somehow). Launch League fundamentally exists as a backbone organization in the entrepreneurship community: to make Akron the place to build and launch scalable startups and to give our entrepreneurs a voice. Since we are a young organization, I will focus my initial efforts on three things:
- Listen. Solicit feedback from our stakeholders through surveys and in-person meetings and apply their feedback to adjust our “orbit” within the Akron community.
- Evangelize. Share our mission and vision to local corporations, other nonprofits and individuals to ensure we build strong partnerships with other organizations in the community.
- Execute. Based on this feedback and new partnerships, drive new programs (e.g. our inaugural Civic Hackathon) and strengthen what’s already working to better-serve the startup community.
Launch League will remain the same organization as always, with laser sharp focus on always asking the question, “what does this do for our founders?” first. If you have any questions or comments at all, I’d love to hear from you! You can find me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-543-6066.