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Below is our recent interview with Glen Wakeman, Co-Founder and CEO at LaunchPad Holdings:
Q: How did you get the idea to start LaunchPad Holdings? What makes your company’s focus unique?
A: In my experience working in the startup space with my partners, we have seen too many good ideas fail as a business because they lacked a plan and capital. That bothered us and we thought we could help. Ideas and plans are not the same things. It is easy to confuse the two, and in so doing, probably lose your savings as your idea never materializes into a business. Launchpad addresses that misunderstanding and therefore lowers the risk of failure, by helping early stage entrepreneurs think things through in a fast, clear and easy way. The end product is a plan, and with a plan, the entrepreneur becomes a more attractive opportunity to funding providers. The process of raising capital from either family, friends or supporters is much easier for entrepreneurs with a solid plan in hand because it addresses their key concern which is how they will get their money back. LaunchPad provides a structured way of thinking about creating a plan that is both fast and easy to implement. We walk you through a planning model in a question and answer format, provide guidance, and assemble a professional document that entrepreneurs can email to their associates. So, both parts of the problem are addressed: planning and capital.
Q: How have you used your background and interests to shape the tools that LaunchPad offers?
A: It is a synthesis of what I’ve learned over a 30 year career of building businesses globally. I’ve lived and worked in over 30 countries, done start-ups, divestitures, integrations, acquisitions and exponential growth. I’ve had my shares of hits and misses and have learned from all of it. So, I’ve tried to translate that experience into a tool that benefits others. Through a question and answer format, LaunchPad enables us to pass on those lessons to developing entrepreneurs. Our hope is to contribute our ideas, tools and ecosystem, to their successes.
Q: What does the operational flow of LaunchPad Toolkit look like? Can you walk us through its basic process?
A: The basic premise is to guide our users through the process of establishing a business – this includes every step, be it legal, staffing, operations or marketing. LaunchPad is an online service software that takes the user through several thought-provoking questions and helps provide answers to them. All of that culminates in a presentable document with which the rising entrepreneurs, or users, are ready to effectively raise funds for their businesses.
Q: What is your strategy for tempering risk with reward both for your company and LaunchPad users?
A: Approximately 50,000 new businesses are created on a monthly basis, which means that there are many opportunities for LaunchPad to contribute to early-stage success. Many of the newly created enterprises are not successful due to the lack of either capital or proper planning or both. LaunchPad focuses on addressing the risks that come with not having a solid plan, and as such we increase the chances of success.
Q: What is unique about LaunchPad and how does it differ from other businesses that work with rising entrepreneurs?
A: The uniqueness, as well as the advantage of LaunchPad, is in its ToolKit, which is simple and easy-to-use process. Rising entrepreneurs have access to tips that will help them not just grow their business but also clarify the basics of their business, find helpful resources, and develop themselves into successful leaders.
Q: What lessons have you learned through the growth of LaunchPad? How has it diverged from what you had originally envisioned?
A: We have found that a simpler and more clear process is better and much more effective. Just like many rising entrepreneurs, we originally made plans that were overly ambitious and as such tried to “boil the ocean”. We rid ourselves of the feature set, and we found that by trimming it down, we were able to deliver bigger and more clear benefits and tools to our customers. We also learned that an effective way to grow a business is by listening to our customers and adapting to their needs and insights. They want a fast, simple, clear planning tool. And connections to a bigger ecosystem.
Q: Given your background, it would not be strange to hear that you are pursuing side projects in addition to LaunchPad. What’s next for you over the next year or so?
A: While it is still under development, the current project I am working on is called “Snarkify”- funny at your fingertips. Boring business presentations can turn audience’s attention away from an otherwise impressive opportunity. It doesn’t have to be that way as humor can create engagement. But, not every presenter is funny. The good news is funny writers and designers are everywhere and can be part of a readily available ecosystem. So, why not leverage the gig economy to bring creative, funny writers and artists into the content of the presentations? The feedback from prospective clients, members and investors so far has been positive because funny is interesting and there are a lot of funny people who can use the extra income. The model is scalable and we are working on getting an MVP into the market. We expect Snarkify to be in the market in 2019.