Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where Is Boise's Next New Business? B-Launched 2.0 On the Launch Pad

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Potential participants listen to b|launched mentors (left to right) Layne Simmons, Steve Hodges, Ken Holsinger, Aaron Stanton, Kristi Saucerman
  • George Prentice
  • Potential participants listen to B-Launched mentors (left to right) Layne Simmons, Steve Hodges, Ken Holsinger, Aaron Stanton, Kristi Saucerman on Wednesday.

Anxious to launch Boise's next big idea, organizers unveiled their second season of B-Launched Wednesday afternoon, the competition among young professionals to dream, plan and launch the Treasure Valley's next software company.

Boise Young Professionals, an offshoot of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, began taking applications this week for hopeful B-Launched competitors. The seven-month challenge is much more than a competition; winners become part-owners and possible employees of the new companies. More importantly, they graduate from a highly concentrated mentor-based real-world learning experience.

"To have the level of mentors for this, only our second season of competition, is pretty remarkable," said entrepreneur Faisal Shah, founder of MarkMonitor and co-founder of B-Launched. "I don't know of any other group that has this caliber of mentorship in its program."

Shah will serve as one of B-Launched's new mentors: eight individuals who will be paired off to oversee four teams, each including 10 competitors.

"Our No. 1 mission is to educate Boise young professionals on how to start a company," said Shah. "This is not a science project. We're creating real businesses. It's that big of an endeavor."

Other mentors will include Jason Crawforth, Steve Hodges, Ken Holsinger, Kristi Saucerman, Layne Simmons, Aaron Stanton and Mark Winkler.

Applications, open to members of Boise Young Professionals, are being accepted until Aug. 29 at blaunched.com and at the BYP website.

Teams will be announced and mentors assigned in September. But participants will be on a fast track.

"In reality, you have two months, because you're going to want to use your final four weeks to refine your presentation," said Shah, referring to Dec. 11, when each team will present their business concept to a blue ribbon panel of judges.

Judges will select two teams to fund a next step—building a prototype to be unveiled in May 2013, presumably leading to the creation of a new company and employer. Each of the mentors has contributed a minimum of $5,000 to a so-called "angel fund," which will pump a minimum of $25,000 into each of the two winning companies to develop a prototype.

Potential participants will get another opportunity to consider the competition at an entrepreneurial panel discussion on Wednesday, Aug. 22, at the Water Center.

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