UM’s Blackstone LaunchPad Hires Director

February 11, 2014

MISSOULA – Paul Gladen, an entrepreneur and co-founder of the Hellgate Venture Network, has been selected to be the director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana.

Blackstone LaunchPad will help UM students jumpstart their own businesses. Gladen will work to foster connections among campus, the business community and local entrepreneurs to create an environment that nurtures young entrepreneurs and provides them the skills and network necessary to succeed.

“This is a very exciting time for entrepreneurship in Montana,” Gladen said. “The Blackstone LaunchPad will play a valuable role in equipping students to pursue their passions and create the next generation of entrepreneurial Montana businesses. I’m excited to have the opportunity to help University of Montana students bring their innovative ideas to life.”

As co-founder of the Hellgate Venture Network, a 500-member networking group for entrepreneurs in the Missoula area, Gladen has strong connections with the Montana entrepreneurial community.Paul Gladen, an entrepreneur and co-founder of the Hellgate Venture Network, will serve as director of UM’s Blackstone LaunchPad

He also has experience engaging with UM School of Business Administration students and faculty. As co-chair of the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs, which organizes the John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition, Gladen has judged and coached student entrepreneurs. He also has been a guest speaker for numerous business courses, presented real-world business challenges to students via class projects, and has been a member of SoBA’s Management Information Systems Advisory Board.

“We are thrilled to welcome Paul into his new role as a member of UM’s entrepreneurship team,” said Joe Fanguy, director of UM’s Office of Technology Transfer and President of Missoula business incubator MonTEC. “Paul’s global expertise in strategy, innovation, marketing and business development, coupled with experience and enthusiasm for working with students will help shape the future entrepreneurial ecosystem on our campus and in our community.”

Unlike traditional college curricular programs available to limited school populations, Blackstone LaunchPad is open to all UM students regardless of major. A $2 million grant announced last summer established a partnership between UM, Montana State University and Headwaters RC&D to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and provide students with a network of venture coaches and entrepreneurial support to transform new ideas into sustainable companies.

“The Blackstone LaunchPad at UM offers us another tool to promote and encourage economic development in Montana,” UM President Royce Engstrom said. “Paul already has launched a successful business in Montana, and he connects well with students. He is the right person to launch an important new program here on campus.”

With a physical presence at UM and MSU, Blackstone LaunchPad has the potential to generate 150 new ventures in Montana over the next five years. The program is modeled after a successful program developed at the University of Miami in 2008, which has generated 1,413 business proposals, created 210 new jobs and drawn nearly 2,600 participants. Each new regional program will be linked together, drawing ideas and best practices from the existing programs, while giving student entrepreneurs at UM and MSU access to a national community of more than 200,000 of their peers across affiliated campuses, as well as expert advisers.

A grand opening for UM’s Blackstone LaunchPad is set for 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, in the University Center. The event will be held in conjunction with UM’s annual Celebrate Academics and Charter Day activities.

Montana is the fifth Blackstone LaunchPad region, following Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.

For more information about the Blackstone Charitable Foundation program, visit


Photo caption: Paul Gladen, an entrepreneur and co-founder of the Hellgate Venture Network, will serve as director of UM’s Blackstone LaunchPad.





Contact: Joe Fanguy, director, UM Office of Technology Transfer, 406-243-2148,