LaunchHouse grows new business, recruits talent

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LaunchHouse grows new business, recruits talent

Cleveland Jewish News – Shaker Heights may be on the cusp of becoming Northeast Ohio’s mini-Silicon Valley.

Two young movers and shakers, Todd Goldstein and Dar Caldwell, have flung open the doors of Shaker LaunchHouse (SLH), a unique public-private partnership that invests in and nurtures new ventures and recruits entrepreneurial talent to the region. At its official grand opening June 1, which U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is slated to keynote, the business incubator will provide a glimpse of how it’s going to do all that.

LaunchHouse provides pre-seed money for new ventures, an average of $10,000. It assists the entrepreneurs with educational programs on topics such as raising capital and search-engine optimization and supplies back-office support including bookkeeping and marketing. It also offers networking opportunities so startups can land venture capital.

SLH founders Goldstein and Caldwell, both not yet 30, have set up shop in the former Zalud Oldsmobile dealership on Lee Road in Shaker Heights and already have a dozen entrepreneurial companies in their portfolio.

The jeans-and-tennis-shoe-clad partners expect to have close to 30 new ventures under their wing by the end of 2011. The duo’s equity share in each business ranges from 2% to 10%, depending on the extent of their involvement. Goldstein and Caldwell currently do not draw any salary from SLH, which has seven paid employees, Goldstein said.

The business incubator has teamed with the city of Shaker Heights, which has taken a 3% equity stake in the for-profit SLH. In exchange, Shaker has provided SLH rent-free and tax-free space for four years in the city-owned former dealership.

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