Words by Ashton Vogelhuber
Photos by Samantha Karam

LaunchNet Executive Director Julie Messing (left) and adviser Tabitha Martin (right) work in the LaunchNet office in the Student Center. LaunchNet offers business advise to students interested in entrepreneurship.

LaunchNet is available for businesses that aren’t sure where to begin, or need help creating a detailed business plan. It’s also there for when students want to practice their pitching skills in front of professionals. LaunchNET is available for all things entrepreneurial.

“It’s a free and confidential service for students, faculty, staff and alumni of the university,” Julie Messing, LaunchNET’s executive director, says. “We help when someone comes in wanting to develop an idea.”

A team of professional advisers and experienced student entrepreneurs consult and assist clients. Advisers connect clients with incubators, attorneys, accountants and any other resources they may need.

An incubator is an organization designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services. Resources can include physical building spaces, networking or capital.

“We evaluate where you are with your business and where you need to go, and then we help you connect with those resources,” Zaria Ware, a senior majoring in fashion merchandising, minoring in entrepreneurship and a student entrepreneur, says. “Because we take you from the idea phase all the way up to a full-fledged business, you just need to know where to go next.”

LaunchNET has been involved with a wide variety of entrepreneurs and ideas.

“We do everything from t-shirt companies, crafts and food to aerospace and changing the world, high-tech kind of stuff, Tabitha Martin, an adviser for LaunchNet, says. “Everybody’s kind of on their own path.”

LaunchNET also collaborates with offices and departments across campus. These collaborations include holding elevator pitch events and founding the Spark Innovation Studio.

“We’re the co-founders and leaders of Spark,” Messing says. “It’s ran jointly between LaunchNET and University Libraries.”

While Spark has a variety of industrial maker machinery, LaunchNET has a 3-D printer and several smaller tech pieces for students to use.

A 3-D printer request is made by filling out a form online or sending in a file. The smaller tech is available to be signed out.

“We actually have an in-house student who runs the 3-D printer and knows how to use it,” Ware says.

LaunchNET is on the first floor of the Student Center in the glass office and is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ashton Vogelhuber is the technology reporter for The Burr.