Cleveland incubator seeks Israeli tech entrepreneurs

LaunchHouse is a business accelerator that has helped get 30 startups off the ground.

June 26, 2012 23:57
2 minute read.
Co-founders of LaunchHouse

Dar Caldwell , Todd Goldstein, Sam Krichevsky 370. (photo credit: Courtesy of Dar Caldwell , Todd Goldstein, Sam Kri)


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A Cleveland-based entrepreneurship incubator is eager for Israeli technology innovators to join its inaugural accelerator program.

LaunchHouse – started in 2008 by CEO Todd Goldstein, COO Sam Krichevsky and “director of awesomeness” Dar Caldwell – is a business accelerator that has since helped get 30 startups off the ground.

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The firm is now launching its first-ever LaunchHouse Accelerator program, offering 10 entrepreneurial tech teams $25,000 each and 12 weeks of work space in a Silicon Valley-type of location in Cleveland on September 1.

The teams, LaunchHouse said, must be made of two or three cofounders in a techrelated field and will have ongoing, collaborative brainstorming sessions with other innovators. At the end of the term, the teams will have the opportunity to present their ideas to local and national venture capitalists and angel investors, the firm said.

“This is our pilot of the accelerator,” Krichevsky told The Jerusalem Post Monday night. “Our matrix for success at the end of this program is how many of these companies will get follow-up funding.”

LaunchHouse is trying to provide these entrepreneurs with “real-life experience” rather than an academic setting.

As they reach each of several specific goals and milestones, they will receive different allocations of their $25,000 funds, he said.

“We really have a true entrepreneurial community,” Krichevsky said, stressing that the incubator setting will offer connections and an “entrepreneurial environment, ecosystem.”

The setting is minimalist – the LaunchHouse building is in a former Oldsmobile dealership – but the new Accelerator program has secured $200,000 in funding for this pilot round from the Ohio New Entrepreneurs (ONE) Fund, as well as a $50,000 match from a private local resident, he said. The ONE Fund has assured Launch- House that assuming they can demonstrate a matrix for success, they will continue to fund the program in the future, Krichevsky said.

Two out of the three cofounders – Krichevsky and Goldstein – are Jewish, and all three are deeply interested in Israeli innovation.

“Israel has some of the best entrepreneurs in the world, and we know that,” Krichevsky said. “We would love to be able to be part of the movement.”

LaunchHouse has already been approached to open up a branch in Israel, he said.

While Israel has many venture capitalists, it lacks programs like LaunchHouse, where people are willing to take the biggest risk and invest in an initial idea, Krichevsky said.

“It’s an interesting niche that we’re filling on both ends,” he said.

Meanwhile, separately from Accelerator, LaunchHouse is in the process of setting up a Jewish entrepreneurial fund that will be a future incubator specifically designed for Jewish entrepreneurs from all over the world, Krichevsky said.

“Israel is very near and dear to my heart,” he said.

Entrepreneurs can submit applications on Launch-House’s website until July 1.

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