Turning Ideas Into Reality With Microgrants
Young entrepreneurs are able to pursue their dreams thanks to LaunchNET microgrants at Kent State University.
After COVID-19 shut down many of its main events, LaunchNET was looking for another way to help entrepreneurial students. Staff realized the money dedicated for in-person pitch events could be turned into small grants for students looking to pursue a business endeavor.
“During the pandemic, we were noticing that regardless of the opportunities that were there, it wasn’t making sense to continue to run those competitions virtually,” Zach Mikrut, director of LaunchNET, said. “We were trying to brainstorm another way to still use the resources that we had to help our student entrepreneurs.”
The grants range from $99 to $500 and are intended to help students gain materials for their business ideas. To apply, students must submit an application that includes a video describing their plan for the money. A group of panelists then meets with prospective students to learn more about their business plans before a grant is offered.
If a student is offered a grant, they continue to have meetings with LaunchNET, so they can learn more about growing their business and other essential tools.
“These are some of my favorite meetings,“ Mikrut said. “You can see the beginning, middle and hopefully conclusions because we’re seeing the original pitch and have the opportunity to provide something. Then we’re hearing their follow-ups after utilizing the grants. It’s very exciting.”
The grants have been used for a wide range of tools such as microphones for podcasts, signage, textiles or anything else a student may need. Students range from all majors, with applicants coming from majors in fashion, digital media production, architecture, marketing, entrepreneurship and even Arabic translation, just to name a few.
There are no limits on students’ creativity with the grants. One recipient was a recent fashion student who used the grant to pursue his career before graduating.
“One of my favorite stories from the microgrant was Braedy Luxenburg,” Mikrut said.“He went to a concert and saw that the opening act was someone he really connected with. He pitched to them that he could create and design jackets for the group. When he applied for the microgrant, it was about getting the design materials and what he needed to produce those jackets.”
LaunchNET has already provided 40 students with microgrants in the spring-fall application season.
To learn more about LaunchNET microgrants, visit www.kent.edu/launchnet.