Lakeland University Blog

VIDEO: Launch: Lakeland Student-Run Businesses


VIDEO: Launch: Lakeland Student-Run Businesses

Launch: Lakeland Student-Run Businesses, LU’s latest innovative venture, has had much to celebrate in its first year.

Lakeland students working for Launch have created a number of new opportunities to hone their entrepreneurial skills. Launch empowers students to create, develop, manage and lead business ventures. These experiences are part of a campus-wide initiative that instills an entrepreneurial mindset that is applicable across all majors.

Launch is one of just three student-run business ventures at the collegiate level in Wisconsin. There are currently six student executives employed by Launch, and the total workforce grew to more than 90 over the summer.

Among the businesses and initiatives that Launch students currently or recently managed:

  • Musko’s Campus Shop, which opened physically in August and will open online soon.
  • Elementastic, a variety of after-school programs, interactive science shows, in-school field trips and public and company events performed by Launch student workers.
  • The City of Sheboygan’s annual Memorial Day parade.
  • Lakeland’s annual Blaster’s Golf Tournament held in June at Blackwolf Run.
  • Sheboygan’s 26th Gus Macker
  • 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament at the end of July.
  • A food/beverage stand at Road America in Elkhart Lake during the summer racing season.

“Launch is an extension of our award-winning Cooperative Education program, giving students the opportunity to earn credit and a salary through top-level management and entrepreneurial experiences,” said Lakeland President Beth Borgen. “What this group has accomplished in its first year is impressive, and we are excited to see what more is coming from these talented students.”

In addition to events management, Launch’s Nonprofit Wage Collaboration provides local nonprofit agencies with interns from Lakeland at little to no cost to the nonprofit.

To date, Launch has funded more than $55,000 in wage relief and more than 5,000 hours of labor. This equates to 13 different students being hired at 19 different internship opportunities within just over a year. This division is estimated to fund another $10,000 in student wages during the 2021-22 school year.

“Our goal is to increase the

effectiveness of local nonprofit organizations by providing outstanding students to fill administrative and professional roles or customized projects or events,” said John Putnam, a Lakeland sophomore serving as chief executive officer of Launch.

Launch plans to fund at least three opportunities in both the fall and spring semesters. Launch funds these positions through external donations and gives 10% of its net profit to this fund.

Launch students have had numerous speaking opportunities to tell the Launch and Lakeland stories, although many presentations have had to occur virtually due to COVID. Among the groups that students have presented to include:

  • Startup Wisconsin Week
  • The Student-Run Business Association Board of Directors
  • The Sheboygan Early Bird Rotary and Noon Rotary Clubs
  • Wisconsin FBLA Panelists
  • Women in Management
  • Members of Lakeland’s Board of Trustees and LU’s administrative leadership team
  • Lakeland’s Cooperative Education Advisory Board
  • Lakeland Alumni Board Meeting, as well as the annual Arizona and Florida alumni events

“These speaking opportunities give each of us a chance to use our professional presentation skills as we share stories about the many opportunities available to students who are part of Launch,” said Ali Wilson, a 2021 Lakeland graduate who served as Launch’s event planner. “These are great ways to spread the word about our work while also showing people how Lakeland is focused on innovation and growing new entrepreneurs.”

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