Shaker Heights

LaunchHouse shifts focus to educating student entrepreneurs
When Todd Goldstein and Dar Caldwell first created LaunchHouse in 2008, the organization was the first accelerator in the region to support early-stage startup companies. Since then, LaunchHouse has supported 62 companies and secured $23 million in follow-on funding. “We’re still going to work with our portfolio companies and help those companies be successful,” says Goldstein.

But earlier this month, LaunchHouse announced it was moving away from its adult accelerator model and instead will focus on fostering student entrepreneurs. The move comes with the success of the LaunchHouse Institute, a program started two years ago by LaunchHouse the and Shaker Heights Development Corporation as a way to educate, mentor and invest in student entrepreneurs.

“We’re going back to the roots of LaunchHouse, which are education, investing and bringing the entire community together, and create successful, vibrant entrepreneurs,” says Goldstein. “We’re reinforcing our position as a place in the community for entrepreneurial organizations to start and grow businesses. We’re really recognizing that education is the first step in growing any business.”

With the establishment of the LaunchHouse Institute came LEAP, one of the country’s first high school accelerators. Students go through a summer program to take business ideas to fruition. “I think what’s exciting about entrepreneurship is the opportunity to be creative while doing something to make money,” says Katie Connelly, LaunchHouse’s director of entrepreneurial programming. “You’re never too young to think about entrepreneurship and starting a business.”

The decision to focus on students came in part after noticing a skills gap in adult entrepreneurs. Goldstein saw the need to teach basic skills, like speaking to people and writing a professional emails, to young entrepreneurs in middle school, high school and college.

This summer LaunchHouse will also offer a Hack-a-Thing, one-day and five-day programs for middle and high school students centered on developing a physical product, says Connelly.

Additionally, through funding from the Arminius Foundation LaunchHouse will place two shipping containers in its garage for office space. The containers can house between two and 10 employees. “There’s no space for entrepreneurs who are growing and need space,” explains Goldstein. “This is an agile space to work out of. LaunchHouse is really a place for all entrepreneurs.”
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"The rust belt city offers some old-fashioned, even old-world, charms. Readers ranked it at No. 5 for its rich food halls, like West Side Market—with spices, baked goods and delis—which dates back to 1912, when it catered primarily to the city’s immigrants."

Read the full story here.
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Read the full story here.
Fayvel makes personalized kids' shoes into a trading game
Growing up, Erin Slater was a sticker fanatic “I have fond memories of trading stickers with my neighbor and friend,” she recalls. Little did she know, that childhood passion would turn into a business model as an adult.
 
Earlier this month Slater launched Fayvel, a line of colorful children’s shoes made with a blank canvas. The kids can then attach Frieze Tags –embroidered patches with industrial Velcro backings in a variety of themes. The Frieze Tags can easily be attached to and removed from the shoes and traded with friends. The tags are available in themes, from fairies and superheroes to sports and outer space.
 
“Kids personalize the shoes and it encourages creativity,” says Slater, who has a background in product management and two daughters, aged five and seven. “It’s injecting personality into their shoes.”
 
Slater came up with the idea eight years ago. She spent countless hours researching her idea through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at the Cleveland Public Library. “I spent a lot of time on the seventh floor of the library downtown,” she says. “The librarians are trained and use the same databases as the USPTO to research my idea.”
 
Slater then leased co-working space at LaunchHouse before recently moving to an office in Beachwood. “I wanted to work in shared space,” she says. “They have great internet and white board space, and Dar Caldwell had great advice.”

Slater chose the name “Fayvel,” which means "bright one" in Yiddish because the term resonated with the brand's concept of empowering kids to personalize their shoes and harness their imaginations for creativity. 
 
While the shoes are currently available through the Fayvel site, Slater has talked to major retailers about carrying the brand. The shoes are available in sizes 10 through two and will be available in kids’ sizes three and four in May. The Frieze Tags come in sets out four around 10 different themes, with more on the way.
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"Cleveland Neighborhood Progress is pleased to offer citywide bus tours to introduce (or re-introduce) you to some of the coolest and most unique places to live in Northeast Ohio," the website states. "Join us and see why Tremont and Ohio City receive so much publicity. We’ll  show you why University Circle is considered the most intellectual square mile in the nation. And you’ll understand why demand is so high for Downtown living options. All this and more!"

The cost of the tour is $12. You can register here.
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