One wall in the bright, open work space of Happy Valley LaunchBox serves as a canvas for expressing dreams and goals written on a rainbow of Post-It notes and ranging from general to specific, from serious to whimsical: Build, and live on, my floating farms. Brain interface for communication. Emma Watson kisses me on the cheek. An adjacent wall proclaims in bold letters: Don’t quit your daydream.
Creative thinking is a cornerstone of LaunchBox, a business startup training program that is part of Invent Penn State, a statewide initiative started in 2015 by President Eric Barron. Located in downtown State College, Happy Valley LaunchBox provides free co-working space open to the public, free legal services to any Pennsylvania startup, and a ten-week Accelerator program that gives Launch Teams—open to both students and members of the wider community—the resources, support, and mentoring they need to increase the chances that their startup companies will find success.
To be accepted into the LaunchBox Accelerator program, teams must present a solid idea for a business that’s potentially scalable. “We help them test possible business models,” says Lee Erickson, director of Happy Valley LaunchBox. “Through mentorship and team meetings, teams share their challenges and get feedback. They begin to notice patterns and see that others are working through the same challenges.”
Here, meet five Launch Teams and their projects.