LaunchIt, the University of Louisville’s 10-week entrepreneurial bootcamp, has taken its training online and expanded to serve innovators and university researchers throughout the Midwest and Southeast.
Historically, LaunchIt training had been done in person in downtown Louisville, but in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, program leaders took the bootcamp online. This allowed innovators to participate remotely — and from farther away. The spring 2020 virtual pilot cohort included entrepreneurs from Michigan, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia and across Kentucky.
“We’re excited to invite these regional entrepreneurs into our LaunchIt family,” said program director Mary Tapolsky, assistant director of external programs at the UofL Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship. “Each class brings fresh ideas and perspectives, and this expansion will amplify that while accelerating the launch of innovative new products and startups that energize our regional economy.”
Since 2011, more than 600 entrepreneurs and university researchers have completed the LaunchIt program. The curriculum includes lessons on customer discovery, product validation, marketing and other considerations when preparing for market launch.
Participants normally would attend classes in person once per week in the iHub co-working space on UofL’s downtown JD Nichols Campus for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In the virtual program, the meetings and content are entirely online.
One attendee in the spring 2020 virtual pilot cohort was Brad Profitt, assistant professor in the Marshall University School of Physical Therapy in West Virginia. Profitt’s participation in LaunchIt was sponsored by UofL’s NSF-designated I-Corps Site program, part of the UofL’s suite of prestigious innovation programs aimed at commercializing university-born research. Profitt hopes to further develop a patent-pending therapeutic device used to regain knee extension after an injury or surgery.
“The ultimate goal is to get this device in the hands of patients for home use to promote carryover between their physical therapy visits,” he said. “I learned a lot about how to effectively commercialize my product during LaunchIt and I highly recommend it to other researchers looking to do the same.”
Registration is open through Feb. 9 for the spring virtual cohort, which again will accept researchers from XLerator Network Hub partner institutions and universities across Kentucky. More information on registration and grant funding opportunities is available here.