Blackstone and Techstars partner to support student entrepreneurs globally

UB students Bernard Cohen and Joseph Ricciardi, center, who founded Chip-Down, a portable golf game, participated in Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars Bootcamp training program.

Leading programs team up to build the largest global network of college entrepreneurs

Release Date: March 9, 2018

“We are excited for this new partnership. It is a natural next step to build on our early momentum and will help with our goal of launching more student startups on campus. Techstars’ expertise, resources and mentor network will really help us take the Blackstone LaunchPad at UB to the next level.”
Thomas Ulbrich
Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at UB

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars have joined forces to supercharge Blackstone LaunchPad beyond college campuses to reach more than a million new students over the next three years.

Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, will provide Blackstone LaunchPad, the preeminent campus-based entrepreneurship program, with access to their network of more than 10,000 mentors, invitations to signature events, and access to world-renowned content and startup services.

“We are excited for this new partnership. It is a natural next step to build on our early momentum and will help with our goal of launching more student startups on campus. Techstars’ expertise, resources and mentor network will really help us take the Blackstone LaunchPad at UB to the next level,” said Thomas Ulbrich, executive director of Blackstone LaunchPad at UB and executive director of UB School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Techstars will also help student entrepreneurs navigate the complex landscape of fundraising, job placement and recruitment. All of these opportunities and resources are seldom available to collegiate entrepreneurs and campus-based programs, and are crucial to the long term success of ventures.

The partnership, announced this week at SXSW EDU in Texas, will begin in 2018.

“This exciting partnership between Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars comes at the perfect time to build on the strong and rapidly growing student interest and involvement in entrepreneurship that has been made possible by UB’s LaunchPad. Through this partnership, UB students will have access to exciting new networks of entrepreneurship mentors, events, high-quality content and startup support and services. I am looking forward to our students’ entrepreneurial thinking and success as current and future entrepreneurs advance through these new opportunities,” said Paul Tesluk, dean of the UB School of Management.

Blackstone LaunchPad, a program that encourages entrepreneurial thinking and startup activity, is currently available to more than 500,000 students, including more than 30,000 at the University at Buffalo.

The university unveiled Blackstone LaunchPad at UB in 2016 as part of a statewide rollout of the campus entrepreneurship program that included Cornell University, New York University, Syracuse University and the University at Albany. Funded by a $4.5 million grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, the statewide program is the largest expansion of Blackstone LaunchPad, which includes eight regions.

Located within the Student Union on the North Campus, Blackstone Launchpad at UB introduces entrepreneurship as a viable career option to UB students, regardless of major. It provides students with individualized mentorship and ideation support, as well as seminars and training sessions related to building a business. Students also gain access to resources and specialized tools that will enable them to share knowledge, explore best practices, find team members and launch their startup.

Additionally, Blackstone LaunchPad at UB matches students with venture or angel funding by creating forums for investors to entertain student entrepreneur pitches, and help place students with business incubators. The program has the potential to generate some 4,000 new ventures and 6,000 new jobs across New York State throughout its first five years.

“Access to experienced entrepreneurs and investors is important to the success of startup companies. TechStars will extend our network of expertise to help drive the growth of future UB spin-outs and the more than 50 UB based startups we currently support in our incubators and entrepreneur programs,” said Christina P. Orsi, associate vice president of economic development at UB.

What They Are Saying: A Quote Roundup

Alisha Slye, global director of Blackstone LaunchPad

“Since starting Blackstone LaunchPad, we have seen incredible entrepreneurs, ideas, and companies emerge from campuses, and witnessed the transformational power entrepreneurship can have in driving institutional change. I am excited to team with Techstars to further scale our LaunchPad success and help many more entrepreneurs who can start and grow their businesses as a result of this additional expertise and support.”

David Cohen, founder and Co-CEO, Techstars

"Techstars has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs over the years and we've seen that entrepreneurship is not only a life choice, but it's also a career choice. It's powerful that, together, Techstars and Blackstone Charitable Foundation will have the ability to impact these choices and will be a part of these decisions earlier in the career process for students on university campuses worldwide."

John Hill, vice president, network, Techstars

"Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed and, by partnering with Blackstone LaunchPad, we are amplifying the number of entrepreneurs that we can help around the world. We'll apply Techstars' proven methodology to startups created by amazing university entrepreneurs so they can do more faster. Techstars is excited to play an impactful role in students chasing their dreams."

Amy Stursberg, executive Director, Blackstone Charitable Foundation

“Over the past 10 years, the collegiate entrepreneurship landscape has changed dramatically. As we look to the future, Techstars is a perfect partner for Blackstone. They will meaningfully expand our support for student entrepreneurs on a global scale. I am thrilled that we have found a like-minded organization to work with us towards the shared goal of increasing economic impact through entrepreneurship.”

Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman, CEO & co-founder, Blackstone

“Helping entrepreneurs in the early stages of their careers has been a natural extension of Blackstone’s work – launching businesses and helping them grow. I could not be more pleased that Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars are partnering to turbocharge the networks and access of LaunchPad’s student entrepreneurs on their path to success.”

About 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 Blackstone LaunchPad

Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus-based experiential entrepreneurship program open to students, alumni, staff and faculty offering coaching, ideation and venture creation support. It is modeled on a successful program originated at the University of Miami and was further developed and expanded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. 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.  For more information, see

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