News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Wayside Furniture

Metro RTA


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business

Exploradio: Launching a start-up revolution
A group of young entrepreneurs is building a community of start-ups that could stem Cleveland's brain drain
This story is part of a special series.

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
LaunchHouse is an entrepreneurial community in Shaker Hts. with 40 portfolio companies. This summer LaunchHouse will fund 10 start-ups with $200,000 in seed capital from Ohio's Third Frontier fund.
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

More than 8,000 new businesses are started each month in Ohio and a growing number are launched by young entrepreneurs.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair visits one of the epicenters of Northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial groundswell.

LISTEN: Launching a start-up revolution

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:52)

The LaunchHouse clubhouse
I feel like I’ve wandered into a hip coffeehouse instead of a business accelerator. The lunchtime crowd sips free coffee, and buys muffins, cakes, and pizza rolls from the cafe. It's pet friendly and casual, with the feel of a cozy clubhouse - exactly the atmosphere co- founder Todd Goldstein likes for LaunchHouse

Goldstein is an entrepreneurial evangelist, spreading the word of building community by nurturing start-ups.

“We’re not just an accelerator, we're bringing together a community of people that all want to help each other be successful and build their business.”

LaunchHouse moved here two years ago after the city of Shaker Hts. spent half a million dollars renovating the former car dealership on Lee Road. At LaunchHouse, forget sketching ideas on a napkin, every surface is a white board. Ideas are scrawled on the tables, walls, and partitions.  Beyond the café is an open office space where clusters of people huddle over laptops.

We meet Jake Pierce and Tyler Newby soaking-up the creative vibe. Newby says they're designing a video game for their Solon High School senior project. Newby's working on the art, Pierce is doing the programming. While LaunchHouse has about 50 companies renting space for as little as $100 a month, Goldstein says, “any community group that works with entrepreneurs, that works in the start-up space, that works in the business group -  they can come and use this space for free for their groups.”

The lean start-up survival guide
Partner Bob Means is developing a curriculum for hands-on entrepreneurship training. He says it’s based on Silicon Valley guru Steve Blank’s lean start-up model of customer development.

"Only after quick rounds of experimentation and feedback reveal a model that works, do lean founders focus on execution." - Steve Blank, Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything

Means says the focus is on market discovery and finding out whether there really is a need for a product. LaunchHouse will help you identify a potential customer, "not create a company first.”

Goldstein puts it another way, “We want to build ‘em quickly and kill ‘em quickly.”  He says, start-ups work closely with their customers to fine tune the product, but for businesses that don't take off, Goldstein says failure is the best teacher.

Summer start-up training
The next lean start-up training for entrepreneurs starts in early June with a two-day, intensive selection process. Twenty companies will start; ten survive to the next round in August.

Then Goldstein and his partners take them through a twelve-week customer development process where they learn who their customer is and what type of product that customer will want to buy. Because, Goldstein says, "you can build all the products in the world but if you don’t have a customer to buy that product you’re going to fail.”

The 10 finalists will also get $20,000 each in seed money from an Ohio Third Frontier entrepreneurship grant.  In the past two years LaunchHouse has doled out $380,000 in venture capital and launched 20 start-ups since 2011, and holds a minor stake in all of them. That stake could pay off as several of the businesses expand at LaunchHouse, but Goldstein’s immediate goal is to build a community of young entrepreneurs in Cleveland.

“And show people that this is a place where you want to live, start a business, have a family, and it’s cool.”

LaunchHouse has the cool factor down with a three-acre campus, two houses for rent, indoor basketball, fabricating facilities, and nearly non-stop parties and meet and greets.  While the start-ups’ products are virtual, the congeniality, and professional contacts made at LaunchHouse are very real.  Who knew starting a business could be so… fun?

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Support for Exploradio
provided by:

Stories with Recent Comments

Backers of legalizing marijuana in Ohio promise to be back in 2016
We should be aloud to grow more than 4 plants and not have to register with the state considering it will be a free market.

Akron says it's had no second thoughts about welcoming refugees
What business does Councilman Neal own on North Hill? I'd love to support him. I am so glad to have the refugees in our neighborhood. I have lived here for 25 ...

Scarborough says the University of Akron is trying to rebuild relationships
In order for the University of Akron to grow and become a desirable place for students across Ohio and elsewhere, it must address the crime problem in the Akron...

Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite wants to end pay-to-play sports fees at Ohio's schools
You can bet Hite and Husted will also rush to the rescue of the Academic Challenge team, the speech-and-debate squad, the Science Olympians and the chess club. ...

Ohio lawmakers consider new gun bills
States that have gun restrictions/cities have reduced gun violence is false. CHICAGO has some of the toughest gun laaws/restrictions but yet fun violence is off...

Cleveland's public transit system considers fare increase for 2016
I work with individuals with disabilities. Yes some of my folks need more help than the average person. As a whole, the group I work with however can manuver ju...

Community group sues to re-open part of Wadsworth hospital
My father was part of the founding group of citizens which started the "new" Wadsworth/Rittman Hospital. For some reason the leadership for the future of the ho...

The Cleveland Museum of Art presents painters who loved their gardens
brilliant masterpiece, Greetings from

Ohio Sen. Tom Patton proposes bill for firefighter cancer benefits
Thank you Senator Patton. On behalf of all of those who love our firefighters; we appreciate that someone is standing up for them and their continued health. ??...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University