Next week, the UM campus will be flooded with a bevy of entrepreneurs, including the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the co-founder of the SciFi Channel, a fashion designer for the Sex and the City movie and a musician labeled by Billboard Magazine as Miami’s “most in-demand drummer.”
Running next Monday through Friday, the Launch Pad will be hosting Global Entrepreneurship Week. With more than 30 events featuring various keynote speakers, panel discussions and educational sessions, the Launch Pad aims to reach out to ambitious and innovative thinkers at UM and throughout Miami by creating a forum for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Started by the Public Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., GEW began three years ago. UM’s Launch Pad, which opened in August 2008, was invited to participate for the first time last year. Even though the Launch Pad was only two months old at the time, it still managed to rank as the #1 GEW partner out of more than 1,000 participants.
This year, the Launch Pad, part of the Toppel Career Center, has even higher hopes.
“We tried to get bigger names,” said Susan Amat, executive director of the Launch Pad. “We also focused on making every event a lot more interdisciplinary. Our goal is to really bring the concept of entrepreneurship as a real job to every student at this school.”
Senior Vice Provost William Green, who was instrumental in creating the Launch Pad, said, “The list of co-sponsors is quite a comprehensive list and shows the depth and diversity of students interests at UM.”
Unlike last year’s GEW, this year’s event features a diverse number of themes such as arts and entertainment, women in entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship and science and technology. By instituting themed days, Amat hopes to appeal to those students whose interests are in programs that aren’t necessarily offered at UM, such as the fashion-savvy or gamers.
In addition to thematic events, GEW participants will have the opportunity to partake in an Elevator Pitch Competition, where they will be given one minute to pitch a proposal. Although the Launch Pad requires that all participants have existing businesses, more than $80,000 in prizes will be given out to the competition’s winners.
For the sports fanatics, Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White’s event on Monday is sure to draw crowds. White will speak of his experiences as an entrepreneur in the sports industry. Other speakers include Laurie Silvers of the SciFi Channel, top Miami drummer Lee Levin and handbag and shoe designer Donald J. Pliner.
Finally, to ensure that all aspects of education and interests at UM and within the community are covered, there will also be programs during GEW for graduate students.
Matt McGuane, who is in his fourth and final year of a joint J.D./ M.B.A. program, said, “I’m focusing on and promoting the event at UM’s School of Law, where John Christopher of the law firm Christopher and Weisberg is coming. There will be good information from this session on finding a job in this economy.”
“Simply repeating the results of last year would be a success in my eyes,” said senior Seth Levy, who is in charge of freshman outreach for the Launch Pad. “However, considering our events have vastly improved in content and diversity this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we receive a stronger response than ever before.”
A complete list of GEW events is available at http://thelaunchpad.org/gew-calendar. Certain events require RSVPs, all details are available on the website.