LaunchPad Fellowship Helps Students Develop Entrepreneurial Skills
Forty social impact-focused student teams recently participated in the Fall 2020 cohort of the LaunchPad Fellowship. In addition to impressive startup progress, the founders also achieved remarkable growth in developing entrepreneurial skills and competencies. These capabilities include Leadership, Management, Problem-solving, Communication, Social Capital, and Business Acumen.
Students had access to a wide range of opportunities to support skill development, including weekly workshops, expert mentoring and coaching, goal-setting exercises and tracking, proven content and resources, and peer community-building and collaboration activities.
According to the University of Texas, Austin student Ariel Lee, who cofounded haircare solutions brand Remane, “The Leadership and Team Management workshop equipped me with the skills I needed in order to recruit quality team members, modify my team management structure, and successfully onboard and operate a completely remote team. I am so glad that we were able to reach the goals we set at the beginning of the program and gain knowledge and skills from the workshops that directly related to our goals.”
Caitlin Luong, a Temple University student and founder of online mental health marketplace, MyTeleHeal, shared a similar Fellowship experience, “My involvement in the Fellowship has made me more confident and comfortable with creating a socially impactful company. The Fellowship’s resources have expanded my horizons within the start-up culture, and I am excited to take my company to the next level with the new skills that I’ve gained.”
Leadership and Problem-solving Skills
Within the Leadership skill competency, the ability to “develop goals and objectives and identify key results” was the area students indicated the most growth occurred – with a 27% increase between pre- and post-Fellowship self-assessments. Management and creative abilities, which also increased, evaluated students’ ability to handle time and talent effectively, assess problems, be resilient, leverage resources, and learn from mistakes. According to Daniel Vega, UC Irvine student and founder of Recreate Energy, a clean energy technology company, “The fellowship helped us accomplish our goals by giving us direction and input in the areas we most needed.”
Communication and Social Capital
These entrepreneurial skill groupings were the second and third most improved upon overall, and included measuring pitching ability, written and verbal information sharing, as well as building an effective team, a network of advisors, and community in support of the student’s product or service. Communication skills improved over the course of the program by more than 16% and social capital competencies increased by over 23%.
According to USC student Katherine Guevara, cofounder of Mobile Teacher, an offline accessible educator platform for use in developing countries, growing her capabilities with like-minded female students proved transformative. “For the first peer group pairing, I was matched with all women founders/CEOs with advanced degrees whose startups are social enterprises that focus on education… Meeting them proved to be an invaluable opportunity where we traded supportive brainstorming advice and lessons learned, made a pact to promote each other to our networks, and felt comfortable expressing shared internal vulnerabilities despite our outward fearlessness and fire.”
Finally, the entrepreneurial skill area that showed the greatest development during the fall cohort of the LaunchPad Fellowship was in Business Acumen, which includes product design, business modeling and financing, entity structuring, and operations. Overall business acumen increased by more than 26% for Fellowship participants. The greatest ability growth in this category was around “estimating the amount of startup funds and working capital necessary” which increased a remarkable 38% between pre- and post-Fellowship self-assessments.
UC Berkeley student, Olayinka Omoler, who founded, Seren an app combating workplace isolation, shared, “Start to finish, the program was an amazing opportunity to connect with passionate entrepreneurs – despite being remote – and interact with mentors who were generous with their time and continue to provide transformative guidance. We have a much clearer sense of our vision, and how to grow our company to the next stage, and can’t wait to execute!”