Linda Dickerson Hartsock On Leadership: Find A Mentor, Be A Mentor, Think Like A Startup

By Stan Linhorst
Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great Q&A with the executive director at the Blackstone Launchpad at Syracuse University. SU is one of 20 universities around the world with a Launchpad to support and mentor entrepreneurs.

Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.

Linda Dickerson Hartsock has spent much of her career working with startups in the Hudson Valley and in Central New York.

Last year, she became executive director at the Blackstone Launchpad at Syracuse University Libraries. SU is one of 20 universities around the world with a Launchpad financed by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to support and mentor entrepreneurs.

The foundation is associated with the Blackstone Group, a large equity group based in New York City. Its CEO, Stephen Schwarzman, has a particular interest in entrepreneurship and growing the next generation of business, community and civic leaders.

Question: Tell me about the Blackstone Launchpad. What is it?

A: The Blackstone Launchpad at Syracuse University Libraries is a campuswide experiential education program, designed to help faculty, staff, student entrepreneurs and alumni acquire the skillsets of startup thinking. We take them through the stages of creating and launching a company. We connect them with campus and community resources as well as resources in the Blackstone global network.

We invite students from all disciplines to think about entrepreneurship and develop start-up mindsets. We have about 1,100 students from more than 40 countries that are part of the program.

The program started about 2012, when Blackstone began exploring models for entrepreneurship. We went through a very competitive application. The foundation picked five universities in New York state: Syracuse, Cornell, NYU, SUNY Buffalo and SUNY Albany. So we’re one of five in New York, and one of 20 in the world.

The Blackstone approach is not to locate in business schools. The assumption is that students who are in world-class programs like we have here in the Whitman School already have great resources on campus.

We are the first in the country to have been located in a library. Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, also has their Launchpad in a library. For us, the library is significant, because it makes a profound statement when you place the center of entrepreneurship at the center of academic life. Bird Library is the busiest building on campus, and it’s open 24 hours during the school year.

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