Al and Alex Goldstein University of Illinois alumni and founders of CashNetUSA
Photo Credit: Al and Alex Goldstein
What do the founders of Delta Airlines, You Tube, BET, and The Pampered Chef have in common? They all went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In an effort to continue in the long line of successful businesses coming out of the University of Illinois, the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership (AEL) housed in the College of Business at Illinois has started a new program called Illinois Launch.
In 2009, two young brothers donated the money needed to get this program up and running. Al and Alex Goldstein founded CashNetUSA and sold it for $265,000,000 in 2006. They decided to not only give back to the university, but also to help fellow entrepreneurs realize the same success. Using their generous donation, the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership has developed a new venture pipeline program to link existing campus efforts and initiatives and to create new opportunities for mentoring and funding.
The initiative the Goldstein brothers envisioned is now an incubator program that helps transform the ideas of young entrepreneurs into successful businesses. Illinois Launch’s participants can benefit from the plethora of resources found in the University and the surrounding community, including diverse academic units, entrepreneurial faculty, and local businesses. In the summer of 2010, Illinois Launch held an eight-week startup development program that gave qualified participants substantial funding, mentors, course seminars in business planning and growth, and incubator space at EnterpriseWorks in Research Park. Participants had the chance to pitch to Illinois Champions, a group of successful Illinois alumni who lend their time and funds to helping young entrepreneurs grow. Illinois Launch is now in its second startup development program cycle, and you can learn about the current participating teams here.
Click on the video to learn more about the Illinois Champions and community partners who have made Launch possible.
"Illinois Launch Partners and Champions"
By Melissa Chua, Student Entrepreneur