Business & Government

Aggie Undergrad Startup Selected For Blackstone, Techstars ‘LaunchPad Lift’Program

Ben Omonira and Elise Hackney, students of Texas A&M College of Engineering, were selected as one of seven startup teams to join the “LaunchPad Lift” program.
Stephanie Burns, Mays Business School at Texas A&M University December 12, 2018

Lazarus founder Ben Omonira.
Lazarus founder Ben Omonira.

Blackstone LaunchPad

Texas A&M University undergraduate students join founders from Cornell University, New York University, and others for inaugural cohort. Each venture will receive $10,000 grant; participate in 10-week development program with Techstars mentors and support from Blackstone.

Ben Omonira and Elise Hackney, students of Texas A&M College of Engineering, were selected as one of seven startup teams to join the “LaunchPad Lift” program. Their startup, Lazarus, provides a specialty ammunition that penetrates a threat while minimizing blood loss post-penetration to preserve life. Texas A&M’s Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars is a program of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars announced the creation of the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars “LaunchPad Lift” program.  As part of Blackstone and Techstars partnership to support collegiate entrepreneurs, LaunchPad Lift identifies top-performing student teams from across the LaunchPad global network and pairs them with resources and opportunities to help their ventures succeed.

The inaugural LaunchPad Lift cohort will provide additional support for promising student entrepreneurs through Techstar’s proven mentor model. At the start of the program, LaunchPad entrepreneurs will identify strategic developmental milestones and receive individualized support to achieve these goals over a 10-week period.

“I’m confident the inaugural cohort will experience huge gains in their development as entrepreneurs,” says Alisha Slye, Global Director of Blackstone LaunchPad.  “Through curated access to Techstars and Blackstone networks, entrepreneurs will be poised to experience real traction with funding, find great opportunities with competitive accelerator programs, and have the opportunity to acquire new customers.”

David Cohen, Co-CEO of Techstars, added: “Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars offers students valuable on-campus support during a critical time in their entrepreneurial journey. LaunchPad Lift will take this a step further – dedicating additional targeted support to a cohort of the most promising ventures. Techstars wants to be a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed from inspiration to IPO and we recognize the importance of early guidance.”

LaunchPad Lift ventures will each receive a $10,000 grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to support strategic efforts that grow and scale their ventures.  The seven selected ventures for the 2019 LaunchPad Lift cohort were selected from across the LaunchPad global network, representing seven schools in four states and two countries. Additionally, more than half of the startups in the 2019 LaunchPad Lift Cohort have a female founder.

2019 LaunchPad Lift Cohort

This new program is a continuation of Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s commitment to supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs, a mission they have invested over 25 million philanthropic dollars to date.

The ventures accepted to the 2019 LaunchPad Lift Cohort are:

  • Lazarus, Texas A&M University: Lazarus provides a specialty ammunition that penetrates a threat, and then minimizes blood loss post-penetration to preserve life.
  • CALM, Temple University: CALM is a small device that uses pulses of vibrations to influence the brain and de-escalate rising stress and anxiety attacks.
  • Combplex, Cornell University: Combplex provides an IoT solution to beekeepers’ number one problem, eliminating the parasites killing their bees.
  • MyWellBeing, New York University: My Wellbeing connects therapy-seekers to compatible therapist and coach matches in NYC.
  • Petitas LA, University of Southern California: Petitas LA is a clothing brand by and for petite, professional women. Petitas seeks to empower petite professional women to be #clothedinconfidence through uniquely-tailored, high-end garments.
  • Shower Stream, University of Texas at Austin: The Shower Stream is a smart shower head adapter that installs as easy as a light bulb, saves the waste, proves the savings via web and is completely unobtrusive to the user.
  • SteriCISION, National University of Ireland Galway: SteriCISION is developing a novel medical device to make caesarean delivery a safer and more superior surgery.

Ventures were selected following the second annual LaunchPad Training Camp, an event hosted by Blackstone and Techstars designed to supercharge top collegiate entrepreneurs from the LaunchPad global network.  Hosted in New York City, the 2018 LaunchPad Training Camp brought together a group of top performing student ventures, who, over the course of two days, heard from experts on entrepreneurship topics and received mentoring from Blackstone employees and members of the Techstars global mentor network.

The ventures selected for the LaunchPad Lift cohort were chosen based on a variety of factors, including mentor feedback and a review process conducted by the Blackstone and Techstars teams. They were rated on the strength of the business model and concept, coach-ability, venture stage, and the team’s ability to fully utilize a mentor to help reach a goal.

About the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship

Since its inception in 1999, the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship has served as the hub of entrepreneurship for Texas A&M University. Offering more than 30 enterprising programs each year, the center engages student and non-student entrepreneurs in a variety of opportunities to enhance their entrepreneurial skills. From business plan competitions to entrepreneurship certificates to the Startup Aggieland accelerator to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, the center’s programs are touted as transformative and inspiring.

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

About Techstars

Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed. Through the Techstars Worldwide Entrepreneur Network, founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates four divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships, and the Techstars Venture Capital Fund.

This article by Stephanie Burns originally appeared in Mays Impacts.

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