New York, New York, October 29, 2014 – Yesterday, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation was proud to host its first annual Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day. At the event, twenty venture teams from Blackstone LaunchPad programs at colleges and universities around the country competed in a day-long pitch event for prizes to further develop their businesses. Blackstone LaunchPad is a co-curricular, experiential, campus program designed to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path and develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets through individualized coaching, idea and venture creation support.
Gabriel Mandujano of Wash Cycle Laundry, which uses bicycles to deliver laundry to hospitals, businesses, and consumers, received the first-place award of $25,000. Gabriel lectures on sustainable design at Philadelphia University.
Jesse Wolf of O’Dang Hummus, which manufactures and sells a range of unique hummus products, was the second-place winner, and received the second-place award of $15,000. Jesse attends the University of Central Florida and plans to graduate in May 2015.
Amogha Srirangarajan and Kailey Shara of Carbon Origins, an aerospace technology company, was the third-place winner, and received the third-place award of $10,000. Both Amogha and Kailey attend Case Western Reserve University as undergraduates.
Walid Abdul-Wahad of Desert Farms, a global camel milk brand, was the fourth-place winner, and received the fourth place award of $5,000. Walid is a graduate of the University of Southern California.
“Entrepreneurship is central to Blackstone’s culture, and is the single most effective way to spur economic growth and job creation,” said Stephen A. Schwarzman, Blackstone’s Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder, who delivered keynote remarks. “These new and innovative companies have the potential to impact their local economies, and we look forward to seeing them do so.”
“The ingenuity and far-reaching potential of these terrific ventures demonstrated the value of the Blackstone LaunchPad program,” said Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “In their own way, each venture offered a product or service that could transform the wide range of sectors represented at our event. Through the work of Blackstone LaunchPad on campuses nationwide, we are proud to be a part of these ventures’ development and continued growth.”
Judges at the event included Joan Solotar, Blackstone’s Head of External Relations and Strategy, Bill Murphy, Blackstone’s Chief Technology Officer, Jason Kelly, Managing Editor at Bloomberg LINK, Matt Skurbe, Treasurer and Managing Director in Blackstone’s Finance Group, and other Blackstone executives, who assessed the ventures’ products, business models, and scalability potential.
The Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day was held as part of a wider convening of management representatives from Blackstone LaunchPad programs from around the country. During the conference, these representatives shared best practices, discussed strategies for program implementation and innovation, and as part of the Demo Day segment, showcased the most promising student ventures from their respective schools.
Modeled after a program at University of Miami and further developed and expanded by Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Blackstone LaunchPad is currently available to more than 350,000 students at 15 colleges and universities nationwide. To date, Blackstone LaunchPad has advised more than 5,100 ventures and created or supported more than 1,400 jobs.
About the Blackstone Charitable Foundation
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s IPO in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas nationwide and globally. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities. For more information, see http://www.blackstone.com/foundation.
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